Becoming a father will change your life. You already know that, right?
From my perspective, it changed my life for the better. It is awesome!
It can be daunting, though, and it can be stressful. Preparing for fatherhood will reduce the task’s scale and remove a ton of stress from your life.
I thought, ‘If I were to do it all over again, how would I prepare for fatherhood?’
So, I came up with a massive list of 20 points that would prepare me for becoming a dad.
A complete guide, if you will. And here it is.
Your Complete 20-Point Guide on Getting Ready For Fatherhood
Being a new dad will be tough. Whether you are ready for a baby or not.
Luckily, I have this complete, 20-step guide here to prepare for the big, life-altering day when you wake up and realize that you have a tiny human who needs you to do everything for them.
1. Increase Knowledge – Book Resouces For Fatherhood Preparation
First things first, you need knowledge!
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
To get knowledge, you need to learn. That is usually accomplished by watching, reading, asking, and listening. While I learn better by experience, that is not the best way to approach fatherhood.
Books are an incredible way of reading about being a dad, as long as they cover a little about caring for a baby. So I put together a list of excellent first-time dad books, so I won’t go into detail about each of them here.
If you want more information on each, then look at the post.
- We Are Pregnant! the First Time Dads Pregnancy Handbook
- Pocket Commando Dad: Advice for New Recruits to Fatherhood: From Birth to 12 months
- The Baby Owners Manual: Operating Instructions
- Dude, You’re Gonna be a Dad
- Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads
- Heading Home With Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality
I recommend each of these books. They will arm you with knowledge for when the baby arrives.
2. Store and Organize Important Information
During our first pregnancy, I wanted to ensure I had the contact details for the midwife. I asked my wife:
How do I contact your midwife?
Her response was – they are all on my contact list.
Right… so if my wife was not around, I could not contact the midwife.
That is one example of the information you need to store in a safe, accessible place. Here are some more:
- Midwife name/number
- Birthday center number
- Contact details for people on standby for last-minute babysitting (for older siblings)
- Cab firm (If needed)
- Medical records
You should store all these things in one place. Preparing to be a dad takes high levels of organizing and mentally preparing to be a father.
3. Be Involved in the Pregnancy
Be involved in the pregnancy as much as you can.
You are not carrying the baby, but you can do many things to help mom out. You should do these things to make mom’s life a little easier. It also brings you closer to the experience.
Make sure you learn what your wife is going through. Learn about how your baby is progressing in the womb, week by week.
4. Common Pregnancy Issues to Look Out For
Pregnancy can be a fraught time for all involved. Trust me. I’ve been through the worry of a pregnancy after the agony of a miscarriage. One thing I was desperate to learn was the things that raise a red flag during pregnancy.
The quicker you act on these situations, the better the chances of a positive outcome.
The CDC has an up-to-date list of pregnancy warning signs, so read through those.
5. Equipment Needed For The Baby – Buy Them
This is an extensive post in its own right and one that I have already covered.
The 14 most essential items that you need for a newborn baby are:
- Calm, Quiet Environment
- Somewhere to Sleep
- Bathing Equipment
- Changing Mat
- Car Seat
Make sure to get them all!
One quick note about baby monitors. I opted for a baby monitor with a breathing sensor – a mat underneath the baby as they sleep. If the mat does not pick up any movement, an alarm will sound.
I must admit 2 things:
- The first time it went off, I shot in my son’s room like the special forces, prepared for the worst. It was a false alarm, and the process of me bursting into his room woke him enough to stop it.
- The fact that I had this alarm is the sole reason I could get a good, peaceful sleep during the first 6 months. I was delighted to have that to wake me up in the event of an issue, and I recommend that you do too.
6. Local Resources – Use Them
You should list resources you might need before birth and after.
I am talking about resources here, not classes.
- Resources can be:
- Baby scanning services
- Services that answer questions about pregnancy and/or childbirth
- Services that can help you prepare your finances for the due date.
You may not need them right now, but keep their contact details close, in case.
7. Prepare the Baby’s Room
You should be preparing the room for your baby when they arrive.
I recommend completing the work in this room before week 32. That will give you enough time to review everything you have prepared before birth.
Baby rooms do not need a huge amount of stuff in them, and to be honest, most parents have their baby in a crib near their bed for the first 1-2 weeks anyway… we did.
The baby’s room should be a relaxing environment for your baby, with all the essential things.
8. Prepare Your Home – Check Around The House
It is not just your baby’s room that needs to be prepped. You need to take a look throughout the whole house.
In the early stages of being a parent, you can get away with leaving things around the house that babies shouldn’t go near. You will want to move these as soon as they begin to move around, especially when they start to walk!
I become obsessed with securing my home and making it baby-proof. I always imagine the worst, so that is what I prepare for.
9. Complete DIY Jobs
You can now complete those jobs around the home you’ve been putting off for months… if not years. Just me?
I have a long list of tasks that I need to do. Even now.
I don’t have to write them down, I need to look relaxed, and my wife will feel the need to run through the entire list. Amazingly, she can remember this list but not turn the light off when she leaves a room.
The upshot is that you will not get much time to finish these jobs when the baby is born. Now is a good time to finish them off.
10. Arrange Work For Near Due Date
I have a job that requires a lot of meetings away from home. Some involve several hours of traveling to get to the site for a meeting.
Needless to say, I did not arrange any of these meetings around the time of the due date.
I stopped booking meetings 1 month before the due date up to 1 month after the due date.
I had 2 months of almost free time in my diary for when the baby arrived.
11. Cover Maternity Finances
If mom works, you will notice a dip in the house finances as maternity time kicks in. Unless, of course, you are lucky enough to work for an awesome company that covers it for you.
You must spend some time running through how your finances will look during this time. Money is the biggest stress in people’s lives. Add the fact that you are a new parent to the mix, and you are asking for trouble.
Ensure that you have covered everything. If it isn’t, then make arrangements to cover those payments. You do not need the stress. Being a new dad is going to add enough stress!
12. Labor Knowledge – Get It!
You may think that labor is easy, but let me tell you that it can drag on, and so many things can go wrong.
Do you know what pain relief is given during childbirth? Do you know what is normal? How long does labor last? What are the warning signs to look out for?
Learn what happens during childbirth so that you can prepare for the event.
13. Local Groups – Join Them
Put together a list of local groups you can call upon before, during, and after the birth.
I am talking about groups such as:
- Dad groups
- Mom groups
- Prenatal exercise groups
- Postnatal exercise groups
- Infant first-aid groups
- Baby Yoga
- Baby massage
Not only will these groups improve your knowledge, but they will also get you talking to others in your situation.
There is strength in numbers!
14. Infant First Aid – Learn It
I cannot emphasize this enough. If your child needs first aid, trust me, you will want to know exactly how to apply it.
Earlier in this post, I mentioned I always prepare for the worst. That means thinking about the worst possible outcome. Then, I can prepare for it.
You will learn vital, life-saving skills in an infant first aid class. You can apply this to your child or anyone else.
Find a local class, and book it!
The best-case scenario is that you will never have to apply the knowledge.
15. Common Childhood Illness and How to Treat Them
When babies are born, they are no longer protected by amniotic fluid. That means they are susceptible to all the same illnesses you and I are.
Take time to learn about the most common childhood illnesses and how to treat them. The CDC has details for the most common conditions for infants and toddlers under 3, so save this resource!
It has details for the most common conditions, such as:
- Common cold
- Ear Infection
- Hand, Foot, and Mouth
There are more, though, so check with the CDC.
16. Hospital Bag – Pack It
You must prep your hospital survival kit a few weeks before the due date. I have written a post on the subject and have identified 12 items. In case you are too busy to read it, here are the 12:
- Swimming Gear (If it is going to be a waterbirth)
- Painkillers for dad
- Neck Support
- A push gift
- Tech (tablet, laptop)
It depends on what you need, but you will be cool if you have covered the basics.
17. Car Prep For The Newborn
Prepping your car for a newborn needs to happen 6 weeks before the birth. Any time after that, and you are cutting it fine!
The most important thing is the baby seat. Get used to putting it in and taking it back out again. You don’t want to struggle to put it in your car when a newborn is chilling.
Make sure to secure it correctly too.
You should always prepare for car sickness too. Always pack the equipment needed to deal with a bout of sickness on the road.
Oh, and don’t forget the hospital bags when they are ready!
18. Learn to be Selfless
You can no longer be selfish. That means stop scrolling through mindless memes or social media posts. Especially when you are needed.
Get used to not doing what you want when you want to do it. Because now you have a small human who can’t do much outside, eating, pooping, and sleeping.
Your baby relies on you to do everything else, and when you are needed… you are needed right now, not in 5 or 10 minutes… now!
This can frustrate many new fathers. I’ve seen it.
I’ve been there when they look stressed because their newborn needs changing or feeding. There are not many things more important than you need to do right now.
Prioritization is the word of the day. If your newborn needs you, it is a high priority. If it is 2 am, then it is an ultra-high priority.
19. Learn the Core Principles That a Child Needs
Now that you are due to have a new family member, you need to know how to look after them and give them what you need.
Love is the most important thing you can give your new baby. Love and all things that come with it, such as:
- Fierce Protection
When I say time, I mean being there with them. Kids like toys, games, and things to do. Above all, they like your time.
You don’t even have to do anything. You need to be there. As long as you are there with them, you show them the love they need.
Kids love routine. I recommend that you set up a routine for the following:
Discipline can mean two things here.
- Your discipline – which means the way that you have built your knowledge. Is it enough? Are you confident in your ability to be a dad now? If not, keep going down that rabbit hole! Keep learning… it is the only way you will understand how to prepare to be a dad. If you think you know it all, you don’t, so continue learning!
- The discipline you give your child – you must add discipline from an early age. I don’t mean punishment. Positive discipline is the way forward.
Ok, so you have your knowledge covered, but what else do kids need?
They also need knowledge. From you, dad!
You will be considered the font of all knowledge. The person who can answer their questions, even when they are adults!
Get used to it.
Find a way to learn information quickly. Stay ahead of the curve, so you are ready for the next phase of questions.
Learn how to feed your new baby.
If you (as a couple) have decided that breastfeeding is your feeding strategy, learn how to play your part.
Understand how to store breastmilk, how to express breastmilk, and what you can do to support mom during breastfeeding sessions.
Once you have changed 1 of each diaper (pee and poop), then you are covered. Some will be heavier and filled with strange-colored stuff, but each change is the same as the last.
It is not difficult.
You need to learn how to do it. It is as simple as that.
If you have checked out the local groups or resources, you will have booked a course for the baby basics. The groups will cover diaper changes here. If not, there is always YouTube:
20. Learn About Postpartum Depression
Baby blues are prevalent for mom and dad (dad can have baby blues too).
The next step from the ‘baby blues’ is postpartum depression. It is your job as a dad to learn about the symptoms and treat the mental health condition.
If you think you or your partner is suffering from postpartum depression, seek medical support ASAP.
Here is a list of the most common symptoms, which you can see here at healthline.com.
- You feel sad or cry, even when you don’t know why.
- You’re exhausted, but you can’t sleep.
- You sleep too much.
- You can’t stop eating, or you aren’t interested in food at all.
- You have various unexplained aches, pains, or illnesses.
- You don’t know why you’re irritable, anxious, or angry.
- Your moods change quickly and without warning.
- You feel out of control.
- You have difficulty remembering things.
- You can’t concentrate or make simple decisions.
- You have no interest in things you used to enjoy.
- You feel disconnected from your baby and wonder why you’re not filled with joy like you thought.
- Everything feels overwhelming and hopeless.
- You feel worthless and guilty about your feelings.
- You feel like you can’t open up to anyone because they’ll think you’re a bad mother or take your baby, so you withdraw.
- You want to escape from everyone and everything.
- You have intrusive thoughts about harming yourself or your baby.
When Should I Start Learning How to Prepare For Fatherhood?
The fact that you are here reading this post means you have already started. That is the correct thing to do!
It is not too early now to begin preparing for fatherhood.
Your preparation is different depending on the stage of pregnancy. If you are in the first trimester, don’t worry about decorating the baby’s room or putting the hospital bags together. Instead, you should concentrate on learning how to do things.
If you haven’t prepared and are hurtling toward the end of the pregnancy, then you had better prep your A-game. Fix up your baby’s room, get all the most essential items, prep the car, and prepare your hospital bag.
Oh, and sort yourself out! You need to be organized.
You can’t leave things until the last minute anymore. Trust me. I am a seasoned procrastinator.
Fatherhood Preparation – Infographic
Being a new father is going to be tough. The learning curve is steep! Your drive for knowledge and success has got you to his page, where I have run through 20 steps on preparing for fatherhood.
I have wracked my brains, and I have spoken with other dads, and I can say that this list is complete!
If I were to do it all over again, I would be running through this list to gather all the info I can about each step.
Once you get them covered, then you are ready!
Good luck, future dad.