Preparing for Fatherhood: 26 Practical Tips For New Dads
Preparing for fatherhood can be one of the most intimidating things a man experiences in his lifetime. As a new father, the changes to your life will be every bit as important or as challenging as any other transition in your life.
You must know what needs to be done and do them well.
Fatherhood is a huge responsibility and I’m glad to share insights and tips on how to mentally prepare for this new phase of life.
As a first-time dad, you will probably read books, blogs, watch videos, or even attend seminars to equip yourself mentally, financially, and physically for the challenge and blessing ahead.
You are also likely to conduct months of research on the best furniture and gears to buy to make your soon-to-come baby comfortable. Also, you will do a lot of planning and decision makings with your partner while you await the birth of your newborn.
However, many new dads still do not feel ready for such a challenging and rewarding endeavor that comes with being a new dad after much planning and preparation.
So, how do you prepare for fatherhood? What are the basic mental shifts you must make before you begin this new adventure of being a dad? What are the tips that can make being a dad one of the best moments of your life?
These and many other questions are what I tried to answer in this comprehensive 9 ways to mentally prepare for fatherhood.
Please feel free to drop your questions and comments in the comment fields below.
26 Ways to Mentally Prepare for Fatherhood
Fatherhood is a huge milestone in life, and it’s one that most men decide to postpone or avoid. Why? Because stepping into the role of daddy is not just about responsibilities and saying “I do.” It’s a new adventure that will require you to deal with challenges and emotions that your wife probably can’t imagine.
Certain research shows that 10 percent of men had prenatal and postpartum depression and was significantly higher in the 3 to 6 months postpartum period.
So, the first few months will be a whirlwind of emotions, and it’s essential to prepare for them mentally to avoid going crazy during those moments. Below are 9 ways to mentally prepare for fatherhood so you can be a great dad from the start.
1. Decide What Type of Dad You Want to Be
Some people don’t have a great relationship with their fathers. However, if you have an awesome dad, you may wish to be the same way, and that is fantastic.
You are likely to feel apprehensive about your role as a father if you had an unsatisfactory relationship with your father. But the good news is that you get to choose how you approach parenthood.
It’s up to you to decide how this role will look. You’re creating it from scratch, so you have to decide what the outcomes should look like.
2. Read, Read, and Read
Many women often carry out extensive research on different topics related to parenthood after they become mothers or even before they get pregnant. But your spouse should not be the only one doing this research.
We recommend that fathers do their research before their baby arrives to become familiar with caring for infants. Check out and read books about preparing for fatherhood or blogs and other publications where other new fathers narrate their experiences during pregnancy and birth.
Researching such topics is very helpful for men, and their spouses will appreciate their in-depth knowledge. This may ease his worries when it comes to pregnancy, birth, and parenting.
3. Attend Antenatal Classes
Many hospitals should provide recommendations on what to do. The tips and lessons you get from them are priceless.
You will learn about applying breathing techniques for your spouse, delivery day expectations, helping your wife control pain control, properly bathing a newborn, how to change nappies, and many more.
4. Enroll in Parenting Classes
Most future or expecting mothers often register for as many parenting classes as possible to stay up-to-date with their responsibilities.
Doing things like this, just as you would when reading up on newborns and pregnancy, gives a person a glimpse of what is to come when their infant arrives.
Thus, father-to-be should include going to a parenting class on his dad-to-be checklist when preparing for fatherhood.
Moreover, these classes will offer new dads more than just the advice that your friends can give you. They will provide practical tips, hacks, and support.
5. Hang Out With Other Dads
Most men are nervous about what will happen once their babies arrive since they don’t know what to expect. They also feel worried that they will not take care of their babies, and it is horrifying for the individual who is new to raising children.
Spending time with other fathers can be beneficial, as it will help new dads gain a basic understanding of what it is like to have a child.
Staying in close contact with other fathers and their children will show men how to bond with their children.
Furthermore, they will gain some hands-on experience with babies and see how fathers connect with them. You can also take this time to address any concerns about parenting that might occur before your baby arrives.
New dads greatly benefit from having more experienced dads around to learn from; it’s like getting a mentor for the new job.
6. Make Lasting Memories
If you have the time, take pictures or videos to chronicle every growth, pregnancy, and delivery process. Whenever you watch a video clip or look through old photos, it reminds you of what is important in life, no matter what life throws at you.
7. Prepare to Fall in Love with Your Baby
People often say that when parents hold their children for the first time, they fall in love with them, but that moment is indescribable. In reality, the experience can be so simple magical that there are not many words that could accurately express it.
A father’s love for his child is usually immediate, and he feels relief that his mother is okay.
It is natural for fathers to want to protect and love their babies from the moment they are born. Therefore, men preparing for fatherhood will likely feel some of the same emotions when they see their new child for the first time.
8. Learn How to Hold a Baby
I probably would not be surprised when you display anxiety when asked to hold your newborn. While it is normal for new parents to feel scared or freak out, it will get better with time.
My husband was so downright scared when told to pick our newborn up. He felt that our daughter will slip through his hands and drop dead. But it’s usually not the case.
Nevertheless, you will have to learn ahead of time, the proper way to hold an infant. You might want to check out Healthline’s detailed guide on how to hold a baby. Better still, mingle with and even carry babies around you to boost your confidence when close to your infant.
9. Plan Your Time Accordingly
Time planning is the simplest of all, but you might overlook it. Ensure you have enough time off to be there for your baby’s first week home, as your wife or partner will need any available help.
In addition, request time off from work cos you’ll need it. All non-emergency times at work must change ahead of time. Therefore, notify your boss you won’t be available for a while, especially during the delivery period.
At other times when you might be exhausted from experiencing a sleepless night or running errands to support your partner, you can get some time off from work.
You need to stay healthy, fit, and strong to take care of your newest housemate and cater financially for the family. So, ensure to plan accordingly as you don’t have the luxury of time and can’t afford to waste time unnecessarily.
10. Practice Patience
During pregnancy, hormones may affect your partner. One minute she may feel fantastic, and the next, she becomes an emotional wreck. Understand that patience, understanding, and love will pay off all through the pregnancy journey.
11. Get Your Accounts Up-to-date
Irrespective of when the bills are due, set aside the time to bring all accounts current if they are not on automatic payment. As a new dad, you will only add to the heap of stress when bothering about the bills and utilities you haven’t paid.
It’s also awful to get dinged for late payment when you’re doing something noble like making sure your newborn feels secure.
12. Build or Buy All Baby Furniture
Even though it seems obvious, some expecting parents defer building the changing table or other furniture. They often think since they will be co-sleeping, they can make the crib later.
However, no sleep-deprived parent would want to build baby furniture when they feel fatigued unless you plan to buy baby furniture once your little one arrives.
13. Set Up the Baby Nursery
Choosing a nursery is likely to be part of the nesting process for parents with extra space.
Nonetheless, you should do it well before the baby is due. In addition to providing plenty of time, parents can use the nursery space to relax and daydream about the expected life change.
Your baby will also sleep in a room free of wall decals, chemical off-gassing from new foam mattresses and paint fumes, and window treatments.
14. Get an Infant Car Seat
The safety of newborns depends on the presence of an infant car seat in the hospital. The child won’t be allowed to leave the hospital unless nurses verify that parents can put the child in a proper car seat.
This means it’s not enough only to buy the infant car seat.
Also, you can reduce the stress of fixing your baby in a car seat safely when you practice strapping a stuffed animal or baby doll into the car.
15. Stock Up on Diapers & Baby-Care Essentials
Therefore, there should be enough baby essentials to keep the supply cabinet stocked for over a month. This will take away unnecessary pressure and give room for everyone to relax more and bond.
16. Do a Last Time Thorough Cleaning
Parents will spend so little time shopping and cooking in the first few weeks; they may feel even less inclined to clean.
Hence, you should take a week or two before the delivery day to do a final thorough cleaning in the house.
Dust the light fixtures and fans, arrange the furniture, clean the carpets, bleach the bathrooms, and organize the cabinets.
As a result, new moms and dads can shove the residue of a new baby into a storage bin when the ubiquitous visitors drop in, ensuring the home doesn’t look like a barnyard.
17. Keep Your Sense of Humour
Taking care of children is messy. It is challenging, complicated, and tiring.
Regardless, it is fun and rewarding. A great way to endure any situation – good or bad – is to laugh through it.
The ability to laugh through challenging times such as lack of sleep and accidentally spilling breast milk in your coffee, and diaper blowouts will enable you to get through.
18. Acknowledge Your Sex Life May Change
It’s no secret that becoming a parent or dad can change your sexual life.
The moment you find out your partner is pregnant, you might feel an assortment of feelings. This includes intense connection to them, craving intimacy, being nervous about doing anything that might affect the pregnancy, or just being confused.
Again, you will have to engage in open communication in this situation.
People will often make jokes about your sex life-ending or the changes that occur to the body during pregnancy. Comments like these aren’t helpful, and they ignore the emotional complexity of parenthood and sex.
It is a fact that sex after pregnancy will take some time – and I’m not just referring to the 6-week recovery period after childbirth.
As you and your partner face all of these changes – lack sleep, breastfeeding, the emotional toll of a newborn – it’s vital to be in tune with each other’s needs in terms of intimacy and sex.
However, sex after a baby is even better. Your relationship has taken on a new dynamic as you become parents, and this shared experience can make many couples closer.
19. Learn to Cook and Freeze Meals
The convenience of premade frozen casseroles is priceless for new parents.
Eventually, the meal train from church and friends will end, and parents will have to provide meals independently. No one will want to cook.
Therefore, double your meals in the weeks before the baby’s birth. Eating half and freezing the rest is a smart approach to reduce your stress level.
As for making a post-baby meal, you can either set a timer in the oven or pop some Tupperware into the microwave to heat it.
Furthermore, learning to cook will save you cost, reduce the stress on your spouse, especially as she’s close to delivery or even postpartum.
20. Get Healthy
You should focus on your health before your baby arrives. Quit smoking if you do. Studies have shown that prenatal exposure to smoke increases the risk of congenital heart defects in newborns.
Do you eat well? New parenthood will be a long and exhausting time, so eating well now will help keep you going. Think about making healthy swaps if your diet could use some adjustments. Also, include fiber-rich food sources or immune-boosting foods in your diet.
Has it been a while since you had your annual physical? Schedule an appointment with your family doctor or internist.
21. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is necessary for you, your partner, and your baby.
You may need to try out a few different sleeping approaches to find the one that works best for your family.
But the most crucial factor is that everyone gets a good night’s sleep. Even if you’re both working tomorrow, you’ll feel better about it.
Furthermore, consider sleeping in shifts whenever possible, taking naps when you can, and dividing responsibilities so the other person can take a break.
22. Expect to Have Reduced Sleeping Time
As I stated above, you and your partner need to have enough rest before the baby’s arrival. However, don’t expect to enjoy sleep the way you used to, especially after your little one comes home.
Mostly, during the first three months post-delivery, your baby hasn’t started adapting to the real-life active and sleep time schedules. When it’s time to sleep after the day’s task, that might be your baby’s day.
While preparing for fatherhood, know that you may have to wake up sometimes in the middle of the night.
This could be because of your baby’s endless crying and fussiness, or you have to help your spouse feed the child overnight.
23. You’d Wish You Had More Than 24 Hours
You know as an adult, 24 hours never seem to be enough to get things done. As a father, just prepare for less personal time. It may get worse after delivery. Not to worry, you can manage the situation by planning your schedules and trying to stick to them. Value every little free opportunity you get to rest, work, and achieve a pending task.
24. Learn Baby Songs
Singing children poems, rhymes, or lullabies shouldn’t be the mother or grandma’s work alone. You have to be fully involved in your little child’s life as well. Therefore, take time to learn baby songs before the arrival of your newborn. All thanks to the internet, you can now browse, watch or download some songs online, then practice in your free time.
25. Be Prepared to Support Your Spouse
This is one of the moments your partner needs you the most. She requires your attention, helps around the house, some form of assurance that you still desire her in the present state, etc.
Moreover, she may also need you to accompany her to medical appointments, yoga classes, and other events that can ease pregnancy anxiety.
On the other hand, post-delivery is where the major parenting task begins. And so, you’ll need to avail yourself, help out with house chores, bottle feeding, tummy time, etc., so that your spouse can rest a bit.
26. Accept that You Are Not Prepared Enough
While you strive to be the best dad in the world, never forget that you can’t know it all – you cannot be prepared enough. In fact, the best way to learn is from the experience you gather from being a dad. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach as babies are unique in their behaviors.
However, try to learn what you can and ask questions from experienced parents, medical and psychological professionals. No knowledge is enough, neither is it a waste.
Preparing for Fatherhood Summary
While preparing for fatherhood, keep an open heart and get ready for what is to come after delivery.
There’s no magic formula for being a good dad, but these simple tips above will help you prepare mentally, emotionally, and financially for fatherhood.
So congratulations on your upcoming bundle of joy!
Preparing for Fatherhood FAQ’s
How should a man prepare for a baby?
Most of the ways a man should prepare for a baby have been listed and explained in this blog post and they include:
- Preparing for Fatherhood: Define What Type of Father You Will Be
- Read, Read, and Read
- Attend Antenatal Classes
- Enroll in Parenting Classes
- Hang Out With Other Dads
- Make Lasting Memories
- Get Ready to Fall in Love When You See Your Baby
- Plan Your Time Accordingly
- Practice Patience
- Get Your Accounts Up-to-date
- Build or Buy All Baby Furniture
- Set Up the Baby Nursery
- Purchase a Baby Car Seat
- Stock Up on Diapers & Baby-Care Essentials
- Do a Last Time Thorough Cleaning
- Keep Your Sense of Humour
- Acknowledge Your Sex Life May Change
- Cook Two Weeks Worth of Freezer Meals
- Get Healthy
You can get more guidance and advice from a therapist, a doctor, or a counselor.
How much sleep do new dads get?
Once your baby arrives, the hours of sleep you get will reduce.
While there is no one-size-fits-all amount of sleep, try to get as much sleep as possible. Seize every free opportunity you get to sleep.
What do first-time dads need to know?
Asides from all I mentioned above, first-time dads should learn everything there is to know about parenting.
However, you cannot know it all. While you get advice from your physician, therapist, and experienced parents, you should figure out what works for your family.
There is no good or bad parenting style! So take it easy on yourself, be responsible, look at your new experience positively, and support your partner through this parenthood journey.
How can I be the best dad possible?
Generally, spending time with your kid and partner, being an exemplary role model are some of the ways you can be the best dad possible.
Also, teach moral values, correct with love, and involve in your child’s milestones.
How can I be a good father during pregnancy?
Here are some of the ways to be a good father during pregnancy:
- Try to attend doctor’s visits/ appointments with your partner,
- Read, talk, and sing to your unborn child
- Eat and encourage your partner to adopt healthy eating habits.
- Read books, attend classes or seminars for expectant parents.
- Be available during labor and delivery.
Do dads help with night feeds?
Yes. Dad should still get up for nighttime feedings.
Firstly, it will help him and his partner build a deeper sense of teamwork to show that you are in this together.
Secondly, it will allow the mom enough time to rest after a stressful day.
Lastly, dads get a chance to develop their special bond with their children, which has lifetime benefits.
Are the first 3 months with a baby the hardest?
Of course! A lot of first-time parents report that it gets more difficult after the first month of parenthood.
Experts often refer to the first three months of a baby’s life as the “fourth trimester” due to this surprising fact.
You’re not alone if the second, third, and fourth months are tougher than you expected.
What is considered a bad father?
A bad father is either present in the child’s life or who is there but is a bad influence.
Bad fathers neglect many of their responsibilities to their families. The father is neither a good masculine example for his sons nor a loving (husband) model for his daughters.
How do I know if I am a good father?
What makes you a good father is your involvement in every step of your child’s life. This involves taking an interest in your child’s hobbies and schoolwork.
Also, when you are affectionate towards your wife or partner in front of your kids.
Furthermore, when you ensure that they uphold good morals and speak respectfully to you and each other.
What should dad do after the baby is born?
- First, hug and kiss your partner.
- Take photos or videos
- Watch over your baby.
- Dress and cuddle your little one
- Assist your spouse or partner
- Contact close friends and relatives.
- Sort out the labor bags
- Make your partner feel at home
You don’t have to stick to this list because you can do so much more depending on your situation.
What is the most important role of a father?
A father is not just restricted to one role. However, you can classify these roles into four groups.
- Instill values and influence
- Confer a healthy sense of identity
- Provide physical and emotional security
- Affirm potential
What do dads struggle with?
Three in four fathers find it challenging to juggle work and family responsibilities.
Almost two-thirds feel ‘great stress’ trying to achieve a work-life balance. Nearly 80 percent of dads feel responsible for being the “rock” of their families after the birth of a child, and half report stress and anxiety caused by this responsibility.
Additionally, one study observed that the pressure to provide for a family’s needs could be devastating for fathers, especially when they are the only breadwinner.
If you found this blog post helpful, check out other similar guides below:
- First Time Pregnancy Advice: 10 Helpful Pregnancy Tips for New Moms
- Effects of Sex During Pregnancy: Good and Bad Sides
- How to Get Rid of Heartburn During Pregnancy Fast: 11 Effective Ways
- Babymoon: What Is It and How to Plan for a Perfect Trip
- Surrogacy in Canada: Top 25 Things Intended Parents Must Know