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You’re expecting. Congratulations! Even though you are the only person in your relationship that is physically pregnant, your partner is expecting too. Having a baby for the first time brings a lot of unknowns for both of you. Don’t forget about Daddy when you are preparing for life with baby. Dads should be parents with moms, 50-50. While Mama may get all the attention with her growing baby belly, here are 11 tips to prepare Dad for a new baby.
1. What Dad Can Expect When You Are Expecting
As soon as the strip turned pink, you grabbed a copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Belly Laughs, and The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. Dad needs some new reads too. He’s freaking out just like you are, and needs some quality information to calm him down during your pregnancy. Here are three books just for expectant fathers:
2. Shopping for “Dad stuff”
Baby shopping is so much fun. The furniture, the decor, the tiny clothing, little socks that will be kicked off, adorable hats with animal ears… You buy a car seat, a swing, diapers, and wipes. The list goes on and on and on. As soon as you get the tiniest little baby bump, you get to go shopping for maternity clothes. A whole new wardrobe! Yay! Don’t leave Dad out during all the shopping. Go shopping for “Dad stuff.”
Dad is going to need some comfy clothes for the hospital during delivery so go pick out a new outfit. Dad needs to pick out some baby stuff he is excited about as well. Breast pumps, bottles, and pacifiers might not need a consensus. However, Dad should help pick out clothing, toys, and other gear. “Dad stuff” includes baby stuff that he gets excited about. There are a lot of companies now designing baby products just for Dad. Many Dads feel like they can’t bond with their newborn when Mom is breastfeeding. There’s actually a great Dad product to help with this by making skin to skin contact between Dad and baby easy and comfortable. DadWare creates infant bonding shirts just for Dad. The shirts look like a stylish tee but have a velcro opening that allows Dad to tuck his newborn in against his chest for some cuddle time. Encourage him to get some baby stuff he loves, like a Star Wars Onesie or a receiving blanket featuring his favorite baseball team. When you register or shop, always take Dad. Baby shopping is fun for everyone. His opinion is just as important as Mom’s.
3. Get Dad a Diaper Bag Just For Him
Dad definitely needs his own baby bag. You won’t be the only one taking baby out for some fresh air or adventures away from the house. Dad will too, and we can bet he isn’t going to want to carry your very girly bag around with him. Put a diaper bag for Dad on the top of your shopping list.
There’s a new diaper bag in town made for dads by dads, Paperclip. Paperclip is new on the baby scene, and it is changing the way dads care for their babies. Dads are not second class parents; they are not babysitters! They are equal in this parenting gig and need a bag for baby necessities that will work for them. Paperclip bags are styled for dads (although moms will love them too) and they are designed to make it easier for dads to head out around town with baby on their own.
- First of all, these bags are not big purses. They are worn as a messenger bag or backpack, not on one shoulder like a purse.
- The exterior of these bags are grey with leather flaps and trim. They just look manly and are built tough.
- Two design options: The Bear and The Willow
- One of the coolest features is the roll out changing station that makes diaper changes stress free no matter where Dad goes.
- The interior is anti-microbial with liquid resistance fabric
- There’s a laptop compartment that is easy to access, and the front panel of the bag opens completely so Dad can see and get to everything he needs without a struggle.
- If Dad is a photographer, many people also use this bag as a camera bag even when they don’t need to carry baby stuff with them.
Buying a Paperclip bag for a new dad is an investment in his equal role in your new baby’s life.
4. Go to OB appointments together
You have a lot of doctor appointments throughout your pregnancy… a lot! While they begin to seem routine, they are important for the health of you and your baby. They give you a glimpse at what’s happening inside that growing belly, connecting you to your pregnancy even more, and those appointments can connect your husband as well. How amazing is it to hear that sweet heartbeat during every check up? Dad needs to hear that too, so get him to as many appointments as possible. If Dad has questions (and he will have questions) he should come ask the doctor himself. He may not be able to make it to every appointment, but try to have him at every ultrasound and make sure he is at the appointments in the last couple weeks when decisions about delivery like induction and c-section will be made.
5. Hook him up with other dads
Moms need mom friends. We join mommy groups. We go to breastfeeding support meetings and become best friends instantly. Dads don’t do that, but they should. Encourage your husband to hang out with other new dads. If you all have friends with kids, set your hubby and the experienced dad up on a “dad date” and ask the veteran dad to keep it real with the dad to be!
6. Dad’s hospital bag
There are a million blog posts and articles online about packing a bag for mom and baby. We’ve got a fantastic one for moms right here. Dad needs a bag too. He’s going to be there the entire time. He’s spending the night too. Dad needs comfy clothes. He needs his own toiletries. Pack his favorite snacks and a water bottle. If he is a coffee drinker, don’t count on the hospital for his cup of joe. Pack some instant coffee like Starbucks VIA Ready Brew. The camera should go in Dad’s bag.
Let Dad pack the diaper bag for the trip home. If you’ve followed our advice and did some shopping just for Dad, he can pack diapers, wipes, and the other essentials in his new Paperclip diaper bag.
When you are expecting, you go through a rollercoaster of emotions. Guess what? So does the expectant father. Don’t internalize what is going on in your heart and mind. Share it with your partner and ask him to share his feelings with you. You two will grow closer when you remember that you are in this together. You aren’t in this alone, so don’t act like it.
8. Celebrate with a Couples Shower
Baby showers are a lot of fun, but for some reason they are usually just for the mom. Ask your family to plan a couples shower. Baby showers don’t have to be boring and girly. Throw a legit party. Skip the silly games. Serve amazing food. Have some adult beverages for those not abstaining because of pregnancy. You are having this baby together so you should celebrate together. Don’t leave Dad off the registry. If you haven’t already done so, register him for a Paperclip diaper bag. Right now they have two options: The Bear and The Willow. Both designed for functionality, and both will be loved by any father.
9. Research together
There is a lot to learn about when you are pregnant. You are sure to scour the Internet for every ounce of information you can find about everything from breastfeeding to decorating a nursery. Don’t do all the research alone. Sit down with the daddy to be and make a list of all the things you both want to research. Split up the list, go do the research, and then come back together to discuss what you’ve learned. We’ve got a lot of the information you need right here on Daily Mom. You can start with all our EXPECT posts.
10. Prepare to confront dad stereotypes
Dads get treated poorly when it comes to babies. People treat dads like babysitters. Screw that! Dads are just as much a parent as mom. However, no matter how much that applies in your family, the world still treats dads like they don’t know how to care for their own child or that they shouldn’t be left unsupervised. For example, one problem dad’s face is changing diapers away from home. So many public restrooms for men do not have changing tables. What if Dad is out and wants to change and clean up your baby with a little privacy? Equip Dad with the tools he needs to succeed. We really can’t say enough about Dad having a good bag. It will make a difference when he is confronting a world that treats him like he isn’t a capable parent. He can head out with baby only, confident despite any challenges that may arise. As mentioned already, the Paperclip bag has an innovative, built in changing station! This isn’t your normal changing pad you find in any old diaper bag. This bag is amazingly functional. Dad will never worry about changing a diaper on the go with the Paperclip diaper bag.
- The Paperclip changing station rolls out from the bag but does not detach.
- It features little privacy walls that actually keep wiggly babies from rolling away mid-diaper change.
- This design is so new, it is patent pending.
Always speak up for your child’s father. If a friend asks if he will babysit so you can go out, make sure to point out that he is not babysitting, he is parenting. If someone makes a joke about how dumb dads are, tell them it isn’t funny. Trust your partner when it comes to parenting. Don’t second guess everything he does. Don’t correct him if he doesn’t do everything with the baby exactly like you do. Let Dads be themselves with their babies and respect and honor their role!
11. Have a plan for sharing the baby duties
Talk through your future life with baby and go ahead and divide up duties. Avoid fights when you are sleep deprived after delivery. If Mom is doing the midnight feedings, Dad can take the diaper changes. Maybe you will agree to split the bottle washing, 50-50. Decide who will keep up with the laundry. Decide who will make sure you are always stocked up at the changing table with all the necessary supplies. Plan ahead and then know that you can never truly know what life with baby will be like and be ready to adjust the plan as you go. The point of the plan is to go into your first days with baby in agreement that parenting duties will be shared from day one. This isn’t to keep Dad involved. Of course he wants to be involved. This is to keep Mom from taking over and thinking she should be doing it all on her own. Moms have a tendency to do that.
Dads are the best! The love a father has for his child is a treasure. By preparing Dad for fatherhood throughout pregnancy, you respect his role. You need him. You can’t do this alone once the baby arrives, so don’t act like you can when you are pregnant. Parenting is an amazing journey to enjoy together. Make sure you are doing it together from the start.
Before baby arrives, make sure to sit down together and read The Only Advice New Parents Need.
Photo Credits: Paperclip