How to Prepare First-Time Dads for When the Baby Arrives

As Father’s Day approaches, there are many men for whom this will now become an important day, as they are about to become first time Dad’s So, we thought it might be fitting to write an article on how to prepare the man in your life for this big change.

First Time Dads and Logic

Logically, first time dads know things will be different once the baby comes. However, on another level, he most likely has been waiting for the pregnancy to end and the baby to be born, so life can get back to “normal.” Before you were pregnant, your husband was the center of your attention. Meals are planned around his timing, his likes and dislikes, etc. Romance was probably high on the list, and spending time together, just the two of you, was easy. The extra effort you took to make him feel special was easy and fun.

Once pregnancy hit, your own needs took a front seat; your energy level dictates what the two of you do, where you go, and even when and how often you snuggle and make love. He only has to look at you to be reminded that you are a different “you” than the woman he lived with before you were pregnant, Because you look different, it is a very easy constant visual reminder to him that you are different and that makes it easy for him to do the right things to make life comfortable and great for both of you. He probably pitches in with chores, and understands if you are plum worn-out.

The Expectant Father - It's Only Nine Months

But, deep down in his mind, he is also thinking, okay, this is only nine months, I can make it through nine months, and then everything will go back to being “normal.” You and I both know this “return to normal”, at least his old normal, is not ever happening. Unfortunately, you will have the baby, and pretty soon, you will look like your old self again. The instant visual cue that things are different will be gone, and he will fall into old thought patterns and old expectations.

So, right now, before the baby arrives, while he is still in the mode of catering to your needs, lay down some “guidelines” for after the baby comes home, This will make life much better for the both of you, ease the stress, and maybe help to manage his expectations.

Create a New "Normal" For the First Time Dad

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1. Make him a 50-50-father, What does this mean? Assuming he is working and you are staying home, for at least a few weeks after the birth, it means that when he is home he does all the diaper changing. So, when he is not home, you do it, when he is home he does it. Make this a rule now, so he knows it will be happening.

And be patient with him. No one is born a diapering expert and this is why we offer of Newborn Care Class! And practice does make perfect. Criticize him once and he will never do it again. And guess what, the baby doesn’t know if it’s perfect either.

2. Get help with chores. Make bringing the baby home and the first few weeks as a family special. If you can, engage some paid or volunteer domestic help that will let you and the new daddy both focus your energy and attention on the new baby and each other (and on getting sleep.) This is where your or his parents (or both) can be invaluable, helping with housework and cooking meals to give the two of you both a chance to rest and adjust to your new family life. The two of you take care of the baby and share the time together. Someone else worries about meals and laundry and cleaning.

3. Get used to sleep interruptions. It's only fair, so take turns visiting the crib in the middle of the night (this will be a way shorter trip if baby's sleeping in a bassinet in your room or right next to your bed in a bedside co-sleeper). So my suggestion is that you ignore the books and people that tell you to put the baby in his/her own room from the get-go. There is plenty of time later to “make your baby independent.” Right now, you need to make your baby easy to care for and keep sleep interruptions minimal.

If you are not breastfeeding, let daddy take the 3AM feeding 2 or 3 nights during the week. If you are breastfeeding, and you don’t "need" daddy at 3 AM., make it a standard procedure that he is there for the diaper change part of the feeding some of the nights instead of you doing it. Discuss and arrange this now, Then when it happens, he is not caught surprised, and in actuality, his being more involved with the initial care will benefit both of you, and make him more a part of the new baby world.

4. Share routine tasks. Who does the shopping? For the first few months, let daddy do the major shopping. Give him a list and then do not comment on anything he buys that is not on the list or is the wrong brand or type. Just go with the flow and be grateful for the help. Think back to when you were dating and you just accepted what he did, no matter what. Let him know you are moving this task over to his side of the list now.

5. Let your first time dad celebrate too. The thrill of being a father can make him feel buried with responsibility that he has never felt before. It is also exciting. You might want to encourage him to have some buddies over to “celebrate” Just be sure he also handles the snacks and the clean-up.

6. Pamper time. Make a deal with each other before the baby is born to take some time to pamper each other regularly once the baby arrives. Be sure he knows that you will need extra care. Remind him you need to hear he loves you and to tell you that you are beautiful. And be sure to take the time to give him extra love and attention too. Remember, he is not your entire focus anymore, and he still needs to know you think he is special.

7. Prioritize. Once the baby arrives, if the house is messier, if meals are not as grand, if the laundry piles up more often, make up your mind now that it will just not be that important. Let your standards slide a bit. If the baby is fed and diapered, and if new daddy and you have snuggle time, this is what counts the most. Smile and be happy with it.