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 correctly will greatly reduce the scale of the task, and will certainly remove a ton of stress from your life.
I thought to myself ‘If I were to do it all over again, how would I prepare for fatherhood?’
So, I come up with a list… a huge list of 20 points that would definitely prepare me for becoming a dad.
A complete guide, if you will. And here it is…
Table of Contents
- Fatherhood Preparation – Infographic
- Your Complete 20 Point Guide on Getting Ready For Fatherhood
- Increase Knowledge – Book Resouces For Fatherhood Preparation
- Store and Organize Important Information
- Be Involved in the Pregnancy
- Common Pregnancy Issues to Look Out For
- Equipment Needed – Buy Them
- Local Resources – Use Them
- Prepare the Baby’s Room
- Prepare Your Home
- Complete DIY Jobs
- Arrange Work For Near Due Date
- Cover Maternity Finances
- Labor Knowledge – Get It!
- Local Groups – Join Them
- Infant First Aid – Learn It
- Common Childhood Illness and How to Treat Them
- Hospital Bag – Pack It
- Car Prep For The Newborn
- Learn to be Selfless
- Learn the Core Principles That a Child Needs
- Learn About Postpartum Depression
- When Should I Start Learning How to Prepare For Fatherhood?
Fatherhood Preparation – Infographic
Your Complete 20 Point Guide on Getting Ready For Fatherhood
Being a new dad is going to be tough, but luckily, I have this complete, 20 step guide here for how you can prepare for the big, life altering day. The day when you wake up and realize that you have a tiny human who needs you do do everything for them…
Increase Knowledge – Book Resouces For Fatherhood Preparation
First things first, you need knowledge!
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”Socrates
To get knowledge, you need to learn. That is usually accomplished by watching, reading, asking, and listening. Whilst I learn better by experience, I don’t think that is the best way to approach fatherhood.
Books are an awesome way of reading about being a dad, as long as they cover a little about how to take care of a baby too. I put together a list of excellent first-time dad books, so I won’t go into any detail about each of them.
If you want more information on each, then take a 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 highly recommend each of these books. They will arm you with knowledge for when the baby arrives.
Store and Organize Important Information
During our first pregnancy, I had a sudden and overwhelming urge to ensure I had the contact details for the midwife. I asked my wife:
How do I contact your midwife?
Her response was – the phone number is stored in my contacts.
Right… so if my wife was not around, I had no way of contacting the midwife.
That is just one example of the information that 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
All of these things need to be stored in one place. Preparing to be a dad takes high levels of organizing, as well as mental prep.
Be Involved in the Pregnancy
Be involved in the pregnancy as much as you possibly can.
Sure, you are not carrying the baby, but you can do a ton of things to help mom out. You should do these things because you want to make mom’s life a little easier, but also because it 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.
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 I suggest reading through those.
Equipment Needed – Buy Them
This is a very large 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!
Just one quick note about baby monitors. I opted for a baby monitor with a breathing sensor – basically a mat that is underneath the baby as he or she sleeps. In the event that 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. Thankfully, it was a false alarm, and me bursting into his room woke him up enough to stop the alarm.
- The fact that I had this alarm is the sole reason I was able to get good, peaceful sleep during the first 6 months. Honestly, I was extremely happy to have that to wake me up in the event of an issue, and I totally recommend that you do too.
Local Resources – Use Them
The time between now and when your baby is born is a good time to draw up a list of resources that you might need before the 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, or services that can help you prepare your finances ready for the due date.
You may not need them right now, but keep their contact details close, just in case.
Prepare the Baby’s Room
It goes without saying that 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 go over everything you have prepared before the 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 certainly did.
The baby’s room should be a relaxing environment for your baby with all the most essential things in there.
Prepare Your Home
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, and 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.
Complete DIY Jobs
You have a chance now to 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 simply need to look relaxed and my wife will feel the need to run through the entire list. It’s amazing that she can remember this list but not to turn the light off when she is done with a room.
The upshot is that you will not get a lot of time to finish these jobs when the baby is born, so now is a good time to finish them off.
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 for me 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.
In fact, I pretty much 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.
Cover Maternity Finances
If mom works, then you will notice a dip in the house finances as the maternity time kicks in, unless you are lucky enough to work for an awesome company that covers it for you.
It is important that you spend some time running through how your finances are going to look during this time. Money is the biggest stress in a lot of people’s lives, and add the fact that you are a new parent to the mix and you are asking for trouble.
Ensure that everything is covered, and if it isn’t, then make arrangements to cover those payments. You do not need the additional stress.
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 you can be fully prepared for the event.
Local Groups – Join Them
Put together a list of local groups that 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!
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 that I always prepare for the worst. That means thinking about the worst possible outcome. Then, I can prepare for it.
In an infant first aid class, you will learn vital, life-saving skills that you can apply to your own child, or to anyone else.
Find a local class, and book it in!
The best-case scenario is that you will never have to apply the knowledge.
Common Childhood Illness and How to Treat Them
When your baby is born, he or she is no longer protected by amniotic fluid. That means they are susceptible to all the same illnesses that you and I are.
Take some time to learn about the most common childhood illness and learn 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.
Hospital Bag – Pack It
You will need to 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. Just 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 entirely on what you need, but as long as the basics are covered, you will be cool.
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, because you don’t want to struggle to put it in your car when there is a newborn chilling out in it.
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!
Learn to be Selfless
You can no longer be selfish. That means stop scrolling through mindless memes or social media posts when you are called upon.
Get used to not doing what you want, when you want to do it. Because now you have a small human that can’t do much outside of 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 to be changed, or fed. There are not many things that are more important that 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.
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 of the 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 of that, they like your time.
You don’t even have to do anything, you just need to be there. As long as you are there with them, then you are showing 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 carry on learning!
- The discipline you give your child – it is vital that you add discipline from an early age. I don’t mean punishment, by the way, positive discipline is the way forward in my opinion.
Ok, so you have your knowledge covered, but what else do kids need?
They also need knowledge. From you, dad!
You will be looked at as the font of all knowledge. The person who can answer all of their questions, even when they are adults!
Get used to it.
Find a way to learn information quickly, and try to 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, then learn how you can play your part.
Understand how to store breastmilk, how to express breastmilk, and what you can do to support mom during, before, and after breastfeeding sessions.
Honestly, once you have changed 1 of each diaper (pee and poop), then you are covered. Some are going to be heavier, more filled, filled with strange colored stuff, but each change is pretty much 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, then you will hopefully have booked in on a course for the baby basics. Diaper changes will be covered here. If not, there is always YouTube:
Learn About Postpartum Depression
Baby blues are very common… both for mom and dad (dad can have baby blues too).
The next step from the ‘baby blues’ is postpartum depression, and it is your job as a dad to learn about the symptoms and the treatment for the mental health condition.
If you think you or your partner is suffering from postpartum depression, please seek medical assistance ASAP.
Here is a list of the most common symptoms, which you can see here at healthline.com.
- You feel sad or cry a lot, 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 suddenly 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 you’d be.
- 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 too much 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 at all and you are hurtling toward the end of the pregnancy then you had better get your A-Game ready for the next few weeks. My suggestion is that you fix up your baby’s room, get all the most essential items, prep the car, and get your hospital bag ready.
The learning can be picked up once your new baby is here.
Oh, and sort yourself out! Dads need to be organized.
You can’t leave things until the last minute anymore, trust me, I am a seasoned procrastinator.
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 can confidently say that this list is complete!
In fact, 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.