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Preparing for fatherhood: 30 tips for a first-time Dad

Becoming a new dad can feel overwhelming at first! By preparing for fatherhood, new dads can focus on the most important things so they’ll be ready to meet their new baby and start this new chapter the right way.

It’s normal for new parents to be overwhelmed by all the changes coming their way! It can be really scary to imagine being fully responsible for your newborn baby. Just remember that this is a really special and beautiful experience. Embrace it instead of overly focusing on your fears and worries. These tips will help you prepare for your new role as a father so you can stress less and really treasure this special time.

We realise that there are many shapes and sizes of families, so not all these tips and tricks will apply to you. Take what works, and ignore the rest 😂. We know there are loads of awesome families out there with two Dads, and single Dads too. We are here for you all. If you want to drop us a line about anything, feel free.

A father is being given advice on how to best care for their newborn baby for the first time.

​Preparing for fatherhood: Essential tips & advice

Not sure where to even start? Work your way through this list to get some comfort and clarity about the changes coming your way. 

​1. Educate yourself

One of the first things expectant fathers should do is start learning about childbirth and parenting. Read books, take parenting classes, and seek information about pregnancy, childbirth, and child development. Make it a “thing” you and your partner can do together, for bonding during the pregnancy, or the time you wait for your baby to arrive from a surrogate. Understanding what to expect can help reduce your anxiety and give you practical things to focus while you’re waiting for baby to come.

2. Communicate with your partner

Open and honest communication with your partner is crucial. Discuss your expectations, concerns, and parenting styles to ensure you are on the same page. This is a great time to strenghten your relationship so you’ll both be in a good place before the lack of sleep kicks in.

3. Attend prenatal appointments

Go to prenatal doctor’s appointments with your partner. This will help you bond with the baby and stay informed about the pregnancy’s progress. Ask lots of questions and be an active participant in the process. This will also help you share the stress with the new mother, helping her to feel supported as well.

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4. Create a support network

Connect with other fathers and parents in your community or online. Sharing experiences and advice can be invaluable, so reach out to your friends and family members or build your own support system.

5. Financial planning

Evaluate your financial situation and make a family budget. Start a savings account to plan for expenses related to the baby’s arrival, such as medical costs, childcare, and baby supplies. Will you be taking any leave? Will your income be reduced? How much will childcare cost? Who will be the main carer for the baby? Will you share the duties? Get into the numbers and figure out how you can make things work.

6. Embrace lifestyle changes

Understand that you and your partner’s lifestyle will change significantly. Prepare mentally for less sleep, altered routines, and less personal time. There’s only so much you anticipate before you bring your bundle of joy home from the hospital. How can you make more space in your life to be flexible for your baby’s needs?

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7. Prepare the home

Baby-proof your home by securing furniture, covering outlets, and removing hazards. Set up the baby’s room and stock it with essentials, like baby clothes, blankets, diapers and more. You’ll need a diaper bag, too, and you’ll want to make sure you have a hospital bag packed and ready to go long before the mother goes into labor.

Be sure to add any essentials to your baby registry so people can give you them as gifts at the baby shower.

8. Prepare your car

You’ll also need to get a car seat and have it installed properly before you bring your baby home from the hospital. If you have multiple vehicles, you may need more than one car seat. Consider adding window screens to shield your baby from bright sunlight and anything else you might need for safe, comfortable travel.

9. Brush up on your childcare skills

Practice diaper changing, feeding, and soothing techniques. Familiarise yourself with baby CPR and first aid. This is an ongoing process as well, as your baby may struggle with different aspects of these things and need your support to find solutions that work for them. Practising all of these is a good time to bond with your partner too; you are, after all, in this together!

A person holds a baby.

10. Take care of your health

Ensure you’re in good physical and mental health. Support your partner in their prenatal health, and consider any necessary lifestyle changes. This is also a great way to work out any stress or anxieties and ensure you’ll have enough energy for all the caretaking your little one needs.

11. Work-life balance

Discuss work arrangements with your employer, such as parental leave or flexible hours. Balance work commitments with your new role as a father. Have those difficult conversations with your partner about which one of you will be the main carer, or will you be managing things together, both reducing hours, and taking parental leave. Have conversations about this sooner, rather than later, so you both understand your roles before the baby arrives.

12. Be emotionally present

Be emotionally available for your partner. Pregnancy and childbirth can be emotionally challenging, and your support is vital. This is an opportunity to start putting someone else’s needs ahead of your own, which will prepare you to support your future child.

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13. Reflect on fatherhood

It’s also important to work through your fears and worries about parenting. Many people experienced things in their childhoods that they wouldn’t want to pass on to the next generation. Take the time to think about the kind of father you want to be and what you’ll need to do to get there. It can be helpful to take parenting classes or to read up on different parenting styles.

14. Teamwork

Recognize that parenting is a team effort. Share responsibilities and tasks with your partner, from late-night feedings to household chores. We know this is pretty obvious, but it IS still worth saying.

15. Plan for future goals

Discuss your long-term goals as a family. Consider topics like education, housing, and career plans. Just remember, you don’t have to have everything figured out right away. It’s good advice to know which direction you’re heading, though, so you can take steps to get there.

A person holds a baby.

16. Arrange childcare

If both parents will be working or attending school, you’ll need to figure out who will take care of the baby during the day. Look into daycare centers or babysitters to find a safe environment that works for your budget.

17. Self-Care

Don’t neglect your own well-being. Take time for yourself to recharge and pursue your interests to maintain a healthy balance. It will be harder to find balance with all the sleepless nights of early parenthood, so build those skills now.

18. Develop patience (and empathy too)

Babies and children can be unpredictable. Practice patience when dealing with their needs and behaviors. Spend some time around little kids to practice this skill and learn about the behaviors that trigger a reaction in you. Find ways to feel grounded during those stressful moments so you can respond in a way you feel proud of instead of reacting.

Understand and think about how your child is experiencing the world goes a long, long way to fostering patience as well. Step into their shoes, and practise empathy. It will help you with active listening, and connecting with your child.

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19. Learn to manage stress

Find healthy ways to cope with stress, whether through exercise, meditation, or talking with a therapist. This will also help make your home a safe place for your child to learn and grow in healthy ways.

20. Build a bond with your baby

Spend quality time with your baby, especially during the early months. Hold, talk to, and cuddle your baby to strengthen your connection. Start that relationship strong and spend as much time together as you can.

21. Stay informed about child development

Continuously educate yourself about child development stages and milestones. Babies change too much too quickly to fully understand everything about raising them before they move onto the next stage of development. Take the time to learn about those developmental changes so you can know what to anticipate and identify concerns early on. You can start with the pregnancy of course too, following your partner, or staying in contact with a surrogate, as the baby grows from a pea to a watermelon!

A person holds a baby.

22. Learn about postpartum depression

It’s really important to make sure your partner is recovering well. Learn the signs of postpartum depression to get support if needed.

23. Get active around the house

If you haven’t already been sharing roles around the house, now’s the time to start. When you and your partner are exhausted from sleep deprivation, it will be hard to show up to each other as the best versions of yourselves. Tensions will rise if you’re sleeping through late night diaper changes or leaving all the cooking and cleaning to her.

Get in the habit of doing things around the house. Unload and load the dishwasher, fold the load of laundry, vacuum the floor, order some healthy foods, etc. These little things can really be huge things and they’ll show your partner you’re really committed to be a great dad and a great partner.

24. Plan date nights

Don’t forget about maintaining a good relationship with your partner. Schedule regular date nights to keep your connection strong. Don’t wait for them to initiate things; go out of your way to prioritize your connection.

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25. Master the art of multitasking

Parenthood often requires juggling multiple tasks. Practice effective time management and multitasking skills to stay on top of responsibilities. Spend some time setting up systems to help you stay organized before your baby comes home. 

That might look like setting up bill payments on autopay or getting into a meal planning habit early on so it’s easier to keep it going once the baby is here. You can also batch out some meals and freeze them for quick, healthy meals anytime you need them.

26. Set boundaries with family and friends

While support from loved ones is valuable, set boundaries when necessary to ensure your family’s well-being and privacy. If there are people who will not respect your privacy or are being overly critical, you may need to keep them out of your baby bubble to protect the well-being of your new family.

27. Foster healthy communication

Teach your child effective communication skills by modeling them in your own interactions. Encourage empathy, open dialogue and active listening.

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29. Be a role model

Be the kind of person you want your child to become. Demonstrate values like kindness, empathy, and resilience in your own life.

30. Seek help when needed

Don’t hesitate to seek advice or professional help if you’re struggling with parenting or your child’s well-being. There’s no shame in asking for assistance when it’s necessary. 

If you’re a first-time father, these tips will give you a lens into the life coming your way, but remember that everyone is different. Some of these will come easily to you, and others may take some time. The good news is that you don’t need to be an expert right now, and there’s so much you’ll learn in those first weeks. Just be present, attentive, and honest with yourself and have those important conversations with your partner. You’ve got this!

Why not check out some of the other articles that we have for Dad’s on the site, as well as our Father’s Day info too?

Articles for and about Dads

Articles on KiddyCharts that are for for and about Dads to help them navigate the chaos that is fatherhood!

We hope you like this article – do come back, maybe sign up to encourage the net visit too!

See you again soon,

This image is providing advice to first-time dads on how to bond with their baby and help their partner.

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