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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 absolutely crucial during this transformative time in your lives. Take the opportunity to have candid conversations about your expectations, concerns, and parenting styles to ensure that you are on the same page. This will not only strengthen your relationship but also create a solid foundation before the inevitable lack of sleep kicks in.

In addition to discussing the joys and excitement of pregnancy, it is important to address any potential difficulties or conflicts that may arise. By openly talking about how you will navigate these challenges together, you can proactively prepare yourselves for the postpartum period and beyond. Remember, effective communication is key to maintaining a healthy and thriving partnership throughout the journey of parenthood.

3. Attend prenatal appointments

Attending prenatal doctor’s appointments with your partner is an incredibly valuable experience. Not only does it provide an opportunity to bond with the baby, but it also allows you to stay well-informed about the progress of the pregnancy. Make sure to ask plenty of questions and actively participate in the process. By doing so, you not only become an integral part of the journey but also share the stress with the new mother, providing her with the much-needed support. Moreover, these appointments offer a wonderful chance to listen to the baby’s precious heartbeat and witness the magic of ultrasounds firsthand. Embrace this special time together and create lasting memories as you embark on this incredible chapter of parenthood.

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4. Create a support network

Connecting with other fathers and parents in your community or online is a great way to expand your network and gain valuable insights. By sharing experiences and advice, you can build meaningful connections and establish a strong support system. Reach out to your friends, family members, or even consider building your own community of fellow parents. Together, you can navigate the journey of parenthood and find support along the way.

​5. Financial planning

To prepare for the arrival of your baby, it is crucial to evaluate your financial situation and create a comprehensive family budget. Consider opening a savings account specifically dedicated to covering expenses associated with the baby, including medical costs, childcare, and baby supplies. Take into account factors such as the possibility of taking leave, potential income reduction, and the cost of childcare. Additionally, discuss and determine who will be the primary caregiver for the baby and whether you will share the responsibilities. Dive into the details and thoroughly analyze the numbers to find ways to make everything work smoothly.

​6. Embrace lifestyle changes

Understand that when you become parents, both you and your partner’s lifestyle will undergo significant changes. Mentally preparing yourselves for less sleep, altered routines, and reduced personal time is crucial. There’s only so much you can anticipate before bringing your bundle of joy home from the hospital. So, how can you create more space in your life to be flexible and meet your baby’s needs? It’s a journey of adaptation and discovering new ways to prioritise and embrace parenthood.A toddler wearing a jacket smiles while standing in a grassy outdoor area surrounded by trees and plants.

7. Prepare the home

To ensure your home is safe for your little one, take the necessary steps to baby-proof your space. This includes securing furniture, covering outlets, and removing any potential hazards. Create a cozy and functional baby’s room by stocking it with essential items such as baby clothes, blankets, diapers, and more. Additionally, don’t forget to prepare a diaper bag and have a hospital bag packed well in advance of the mother’s due date. Furthermore, consider creating a baby registry to let your loved ones know what essentials you need. This way, they can contribute to your baby shower by gifting you those much-needed items.​
8. Prepare your car

When preparing to bring your baby home from the hospital, there are a few essential things to keep in mind. First and foremost, make sure you have a car seat ready and properly installed. It’s important to note that if you have multiple vehicles, you may need more than one car seat.

In addition to the car seat, consider adding window screens to shield your baby from bright sunlight during car rides. This will ensure a safe and comfortable travel experience. It’s always better to be prepared and take the necessary precautions for your little one’s well-being.

9. Brush up on your childcare skills

To prepare for the arrival of your little one, it’s important to practice essential parenting skills such as diaper changing, feeding, and soothing techniques. Additionally, familiarize yourself with baby CPR and first aid for any unforeseen situations. Remember, this is an ongoing process as each baby may have unique challenges, requiring your support in finding effective solutions. Embrace this opportunity to bond with your partner because, ultimately, you are in this beautiful journey together!A person holds a baby.

10. Take care of your health

To ensure the well-being of both you and your partner during pregnancy, it is crucial to prioritize physical and mental health. Supporting your partner in their prenatal health journey and making any necessary lifestyle adjustments can contribute to a positive experience. Additionally, taking care of your own well-being is essential in order to have the necessary energy to provide the care and support your little one needs. This is also an excellent opportunity to address and manage any stress or anxieties that may arise along the way. Remember, a healthy and happy you is vital for a healthy and happy family.

​11. Work-life balance

When preparing for the arrival of your little one, it’s crucial to have open discussions with your employer about work arrangements. Consider exploring options like parental leave or flexible hours to strike a balance between your work commitments and embracing your new role as a father. It is also important to have those difficult conversations with your partner about caregiving responsibilities. Discuss whether one of you will be the primary caregiver or if you will manage things together by reducing hours and taking parental leave. Start these conversations sooner rather than later so that both of you can fully understand your roles before your bundle of joy arrives.

​12. Be emotionally present

It is crucial to be emotionally available for your partner during the journey of pregnancy and childbirth. These transformative experiences can bring about various emotional challenges, and your unwavering support plays a vital role. This phase presents an opportunity to prioritize someone else’s needs above your own, which will not only strengthen your bond but also prepare you to provide unwavering support to your future child.The hands of someone hold a baby's hand in a close-up.

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. It’s important to share responsibilities and tasks with your partner, whether it’s late-night feedings, diaper changes, or household chores. By working together, you can create a supportive and nurturing environment for your child. We know this may seem obvious, but it’s always worth emphasizing the significance of teamwork in parenting.

​15. Plan for future goals

When discussing your long-term goals as a family, take into consideration various aspects such as education, housing, and career plans. It’s important to bear in mind that you don’t need to have all the answers right from the start. However, having a general direction in mind can guide you in taking the necessary steps towards achieving your goals. By openly communicating and collectively envisioning your future, you can pave the way for a brighter and more fulfilling journey together.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.

People sit in a grassy field.

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.

The sky is illuminated with a pink and white fireworks display.

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. It’s important to remember that you are not responsible for managing other people’s expectations or opinions. Your focus should be on creating a safe and happy environment for your growing family.

Establishing boundaries can be challenging, especially when it comes to family members and close friends. However, it is crucial to set limits and communicate them clearly in order to maintain a healthy balance between your personal life and relationships.

Here are some tips for setting boundaries with loved ones:

1. Understand your needs: Before setting boundaries, it’s important to understand what you need in terms of privacy and support. Take some time to reflect on what makes you feel comfortable and respected as a new parent.

2. Communicate openly: Be honest and direct when communicating your boundaries with loved ones. Let them know that while you value their support, there are certain aspects of your new family life that you would like to keep within your own space.

3. Be firm: It’s normal for loved ones to push boundaries, especially when they are excited about the new addition to the family. However, it’s important to be firm in your boundaries and not give in just to avoid conflict.

4. Set consequences: If loved ones continue to cross your boundaries despite your communication, it’s important to set consequences. This could mean limiting their visits or talking less often if they constantly disregard your wishes.

5. Seek outside help: If setting boundaries with certain individuals is particularly difficult, consider seeking outside help from a therapist or counsellor. They can provide unbiased support and guidance in navigating these difficult conversations.

Remember, setting boundaries is a healthy and necessary part of creating a positive and stress-free environment for your new family. Don’t be afraid to communicate your needs and stand firm in enforcing them. Your loved ones will ultimately respect and appreciate your efforts to create a happy and harmonious space for everyone.

27. Foster healthy communication

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

Empathy is a key aspect of effective communication. It allows us to understand how others feel and respond appropriately. Encouraging your child to put themselves in someone else’s shoes can help them develop

A person is holding a hand out in the outdoor sky, with a nail filled with water and fluid.

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. Teach your child the importance of being a good person, not just achieving success or material possessions.

At KiddyCharts, we believe that raising kind and compassionate children is just as important as providing them with educational opportunities. That’s why our brand voice promotes positive values and encourages parents to lead by example in their daily lives.

We understand the challenges of parenting in today’s fast-paced world, which is why we strive to provide helpful and practical advice for modern families. We want to empower parents to create a loving and nurturing environment for their children to thrive in.

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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