50 new dad tips for surviving fatherhood
Nothing can compare or prepare you for the moment when your lovely lady says, “I am pregnant.”
It is a spit out your food – hold on to your butt – ‘are you serious?’ reaction – should I be scared or happy type of moment. Especially if this is your first child and you are going to be a new dad.
While nothing can prepare you for receiving the news…there is plenty you can do to start working towards becoming an incredible dad.
As soon as there is a bun in the oven, you are a dad. So it is time to begin your life as a dad. If you just got the news, then start now.
A few of the best things you can do as a dad is to pay attention to your instinct, use common sense, and if something needs to be done – do it!
Do not expect other people to raise or discipline your child, and do not expect your partner to do everything herself – this is your child too, own it.
Now I am going share 50 ways you can dive headfirst into being an amazing dad. I broke it down into five categories, so it is easy to understand, starting from pregnancy and ending at the toddler stage (when your baby is around two years old).
Remember, being an amazing dad involves being a supportive husband or partner. When you both work as a team, parenting comes together, and surviving becomes possible.
How new dads can help during pregnancy
There is a lot to do during this time. It is the first test for new dads.
1. Go to parenting classes
Many hospitals and local non-profits have parenting classes for new (or rusty) parents. They are informational, and you will learn so much from them.
2. Prepare with your partner
Do not allow your partner to do everything herself. You both need to be ready in a variety of ways: physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc. Get your living situation in order too, prep your home so the environment is safe for a baby.
3. Discuss expectations
Early on in her pregnancy, figure out how you two are going to parent together. Talk about it; communication must be a priority as that belly grows.
4. Give reassurance
If your wife or partner is nervous, let her know you are doing it together. Get on the same page; it is a journey you will both take together.
5. Practice with real babies
You must know someone with a child or baby. If you do, ask them if you can hang out for a bit to see how life is with a little one. If you know someone with a baby, practice holding it and changing its diaper. Hands-on training will help give you confidence.
6. Celebrate milestones
Celebrate every trimester, the first time the baby kicks, successful doctors’ appointments, and everything else in between. Make sure to let your wife know she is doing great; being pregnant is hard and physically challenging. Be her cheerleader.
7. Pack for the hospital
Help your wife pack her bags for the hospital a few weeks in advance of her due date (or sooner if it has been a complicated pregnancy). Pack your bag too and make sure you pack up things your wife may want to comfort her at the hospital (my wife wanted music).
8. Cook for your partner and take care of the housework
Feed your baby’s mom! It feeds your baby too and gives both of them fuel to get through the day. Cooking can be exhausting, it is good to handle as many chores and duties for your wife as possible.
9. Shop together
Do the baby shopping together. There are plenty of things you are going to need to buy, from diapers to car seats, be there to help out. Do your everyday shopping too; you do not want your partner to be lifting heavy things or straining her body.
10. Make life convenient
Open every door, tie her shoelaces, help her out of bed; these are just a few things you need to do for your partner, especially during those last few months. Sometimes you even need to help her shave her legs, her big belly makes things hard to do, so do every little thing you can to make her life more comfortable.
Attention new dads! Find more in-depth advice here:
New dad tips during birth
There is plenty you can do for wife while she is going through labor and delivering your new baby.
11. Be supportive
This is the number one thing you need to do during her labor and delivery – be there for her. Be as supportive as possible. Child labor is not easy in any way. She will need you every step of the way.
12. Breath with her
Practice breathing techniques while she is pregnant, so you know what to do during labor. When she is going through a painful contraction, breath with her. Do not make her do it alone; your coaching can make a big difference. It can calm her and allow her to breathe through the pain.
13. Communicate with the doctors
Pay attention to every little thing anyone at the hospital (or birthing center) tells you about your baby or wife. If you do not understand something, then ask questions. You need to make sure your partner and baby are okay.
14. Communicate with your wife
Listen and understand what your wife says or what she is trying to convey. Words may not give you the whole picture; if she doesn’t feel right or if something seems off, let someone know. You need to be her champion and speak for her if she needs it.
15. Be motivating
Keep your mind in a positive place and motivate your wife. You have been coaching her through her entire pregnancy, now its time for the big game – keep going. When she wants to give up (it happens), tell her how remarkable she is doing. If the pain is too much, reassure her that she is going to get through it.
16. Make the room feel like home
If you can’t have your baby at home, bring your home with you. Do what you can to make your wife feel comfortable. Bring a pillow, blanket, robe, scents, books, music, shows, or anything else you can to make your wife feel like she is in a familiar place.
17. Do what she asks
And even anticipate what she may want or need. Bottom line, do what she wants with a smile and immediately – there is an urgency. Do not make her wait for anything.
18. Keep everyone in the loop
Make sure her family, friends, coworkers, and anyone else that is important to her knows what is going on. Talk about this ahead of time. If she wants you to announce it to the world when she is at the hospital, then do so, if she prefers you tell people once the baby arrives, then do that. Be on the same page about this; you do not want someone to show up to the hospital uninvited or have someone unnecessarily worried about her.
19. Take good pictures
Make sure to take your camera to the hospital. You will be glad when you have great memories of your baby’s first moments. Learn your hospital or birthing centers’ rules on taking photos and videos.
20. Stay attentive
Labor is exhausting for both moms and dads, do your best to stay focused on your wife and baby. If your wife wants her sister or mom in the room with you two, you can tag team and give each other breaks. Just make sure someone is with her at all times.
First days home as a new dad
There is something really special about the first days you are home with your baby. If you have the ability take some time off to be with your new family, I highly recommend you do so.
21. Paternity leave
A great way to get to know your baby is to take paternity leave. If your workplace does not offer that benefit, then do what you can to save up time off so you can take a few days off. Those first few weeks are a great time to bond with your child. They are exhausting too, so tag-teaming will help both of you survive.
22. Change diapers
I hope most dads these days take over diaper duty. I know my buddies that are dads are always changing diapers. Once you learn how to put on a diaper correctly, it becomes automatic.
23. Let mom get rest and sleep
Your wife is going to feel like she has to do everything; most moms do. So give her a break to rest or sleep whenever you can. No matter how much she may refuse, do anything you can to get her off her feet and relax.
24. Wake up at night with the baby
Babies cry at all hours throughout the night. Their bodies are just not used to day and night or your sleeping routine, so do what you can to take over nightly duties. Think about it; your partner probably spent most of her day taking care of the baby, give her a break. She also needs to recover from giving birth.
25. Bathe your baby
Make sure you know how to bathe your baby. Get one of those neat little sit-down bathtubs to make it easy on yourself. Think of bathing your baby as a way to bond with her. If your baby is a heavy sleeper, this is a great time to spend time with her while she is awake.
26. Burp baby
If your wife feeds the baby, then take your baby and burp her. Learn the different methods to get gas out of baby, from burping to farting,
27. Deal with visitors
When you have a baby, people like to go over and visit. If your partner is not up for it, be the bad guy for her, tell people no they can’t visit yet, or you be the host.
28. Soothe your baby
There are tons of ways to soothe a frustrated baby. This includes things such as motion like rocking, sounds like humming, or having the perfect temperature so baby can relax. Figure out what your baby likes so you can become a pro at making your baby feel better, you will learn as you go (and their preferences do change as they grow).
29. Learn your baby’s cues
Baby cues are your baby’s way of communicating to you without being able to speak. A baby crying can mean a hundred different things. To mostly include hungry, tired, and overwhelmed. Study your baby to find out his or her cues.
30. Take tons of photos
I am serious; babies grow at the speed of light, so please take as many pictures as possible. On the same note, back up all your baby pictures as often as you can. You do not want to lose your memories to technology. I know far too many devastated people who lost hundreds of their baby’s photos because their phone broke or got lost.
How new dads can help new moms breastfeed
For a new mom to be successful at breastfeeding, she needs help. There are plenty of things you can do to help her out with breastfeeding.
31. Research breastfeeding
My wife and baby (and I) had a steep learning curve when it came to breastfeeding. Fellas, breastfeeding is not easy! Learn as much as you can about breastfeeding, if it is important to your partner, then make it your priority.
32. Understand your partners breastfeeding struggles
Most women have issues when breastfeeding. Some babies are born with a cleft lip; some babies have allergies and can get sick from breast milk; some babies do not latch on correctly. There are a lot of things that can make breastfeeding difficult, work with your partner to get through her struggles.
33. Take the baby off her hands
Breastfeeding is demanding on a woman’s body, do what you can to give her breaks in between feedings. A good thing to do is be in charge of burping baby once she is done eating. That is an excellent way to divvy up responsibility and give your wife a break.
34. If baby falls asleep be there to relieve her
When your baby falls asleep at the breast, safely remove her from the nipple, pick her up, and put her somewhere to sleep. Most women do not want to take the risk of waking up baby, so they keep baby in their arms for hours. But that can be exhausting and physically demanding. To help my wife take a break, I would roll our baby into my arms, and if she woke, I would soothe her back to sleep; if she stayed asleep, I put her in her bassinet.
35. Make your partner snacks
Breastfeeding makes women hungry, and they need to keep hydrated. Whenever your wife breastfeeds during the day, make her a snack to eat, and ensure she drinks plenty of water. Snacks my wife enjoyed (and kept her full) were: apples with almond butter, oranges, carrots, grapes, almonds, and other nuts.
36. Offer to bottle feed
If you get to the point where you want to bottle feed, make bottle feeding one of your primary duties. It is a great time to bond with your baby.
37. Set up breastfeeding and pumping areas
You will soon realize that there are 2-4 places where your wife enjoys nursing. Set up those spots so she can be comfortable while she nurses. Put a small table or use a nightstand in those spots where she can have a burping cloths, nursing pillows, snacks, water, and easy access to entertainment (books, phone, remote control, etc.). Also, if she needs help with her position, make sure you have pillows around to support her body.
38. Wash her nursing bras/clothes
Besides doing regular laundry – helping wash bras can be a huge help if they are hand wash only. Nursing bras tend to get dirty fast because of breast milk leaking, and spoiled milk is stinky.
39. Go with her to the lactation consultant
Lactation consultants are the equivalent to rock stars! They are fantastic, knowledgeable people who know all about breastfeeding, and their talents will help your baby and wife so much. They can help relieve breastfeeding pain or diagnose a problem. Taking your baby and partner to the appointment will allow you to learn more and show your support.
40. Help her with the latch
If you go to the lactation consultant, and there is something your wife needs to do to make nursing work for her, learn how you can help. Our baby did not latch on right and it was painful for my wife, the lactation consultant taught me how to adjust our baby’s bottom lip. Whenever my wife needed help, I knew exactly what to do.
Unbeatable dads do these things for their newborns and toddlers
As your baby grows, there are things you need to do to teach them about their surroundings. You are ultimately in charge of everything they know about their new world and their early brain development.
41. Spend time with baby
One of the most important things you can do is spend time with your child. Be dedicated and committed to your child’s well being. Also, show up when your family needs you.
42. Introduce her to new things
Your baby is learning about everything in this world, so be her guide. Take her outside, show her plants, flowers, trees, the moon and everything else outside. Go around town and show her cars, trucks, stores, different people, animals, and buildings. Give her learning experiences everywhere you go.
43. Read your baby books
If you haven’t already, start reading to your baby now. Whether she is in the belly or a few months old. It will help with her vocabulary, and she can hear how you pronounce different words.
44. Count everything
Whenever you are around your baby, especially as she approaches the toddler ages, count everything! Count her fingers and toes, the number of crackers on her plate, the magnets on the fridge, the toys in the bath, etc. As she learns to talk, it would be great if numbers are some of the first words she says.
45. Name everything
Before my baby could even talk, she knew the parts of her face. That is because we repeated them so often and talked about them that she learned the words early on. From that point, we told her the name of everything, from forks and spoons to mountains and trees.
46. Help the transition to solid foods
Once your baby is ready to eat solids, take over that part of her diet. Do your child a favor and introduce her to fruits, veggies, and healthy eating. Find yummy healthy recipes for babies and toddlers. Our daughter loved avocados mixed with bananas as one of her first meals, and she still enjoys eating fruits and veggies as a toddler.
47. Be present after work or if you have been away
If you work, when you get home, I know you probably want to just rest and relax after a long hard day. However, helping out around the house and spending time with your child is important. Make spending time with your child a top priority.
48. Do stuff as a family together
When you first have a baby, it’s easy to become homebodies. It is much easier to stay home and not worry about packing and prepping to take a baby out – because it is a drag. But getting out of the house is helpful for everyone, even if it is just a quick run to the grocery store or a nice walk in the park. You all need to get out once in a while.
49. Be a team player
Your place in the family will shift as your baby and your partner, as a new mom, become the center of everyone’s attention. People may forget about you altogether, and that is okay; a new baby needs tons of care, and your wife’s body went through a crazy transformation. It is their time to get attention. The best thing you can do is accept your place in the family at this time and be supportive. Your family dynamic will shift as you get used to your new life with a child. As long as you work on it, your relationship or marriage will also evolve with your growing family.
50. Enjoy music together
Babies and toddlers love music! So introduce them to music early on. Making a playlist of songs that you can play for her is a good idea. If you repeat them often enough, your baby will enjoy them and find comfort in them. One of the ways we got our daughter to calm down as a baby in the car was playing her favorite songs.
There you have it 50 ways to be an amazing new dad. Hopefully, breaking it down into the phases of pregnancy, labor, breastfeeding, and newborn to toddler made the tips easier to understand.
Much of this advice centers around helping out your wife for a reason – when you have a newborn, it is about surviving together. A strong partnership is what helps to get you through the rough days when sleeping is scarce.
The newborn days are the foundation of becoming an amazing dad. You learn how to take care of your baby and evolve into taking your role as a father.
As you can see, there is plenty you can do as a dad, and bonding with your newborn is absolutely possible – even if you feel like your baby is always asleep.
Doing things like talking, singing, and taking care of your baby are the best first steps toward fatherly success and raising an impressive human being. Best of luck, and I will be rooting for you as you become an amazing new dad!