There are many important aspects of fatherhood that don't get talked about before becoming a dad for the first time. Our First Time Dad Tips will help you conquer the most important journey of your life.
Becoming a dad for the first time is the most brilliant event that will ever happen to you. When you decide to break the magical news to friends and family people will be joyous. Flowers will be thrown into the air. You will receive hugs, laughter, congratulations, and warmth on unprecedented levels.
Men will secretly be in awe of your manliness and alpha male abilities. Lovers of yesteryears will secretly mourn the loss of such a male specimen.
But alongside all the jubilation are a set of dark secrets. Secrets only known to those dads that have dared to tread the ground of parenthood before. It is these secrets that will be kept away from you for as long as possible in fear of making you run for the hills.
We have collated these dark secrets and turned them into First Time Dad Tips to help you successfully prepare and navigate your way through the arrival of your first child.
First Time Dad Tips
#1 Reassure Friends & Family That You Are Prepared
Your parents & friends will silently pray for you.
Just a few short moments after the greatest announcement of your life those dads around you will be filled with the dark inner thoughts on your predicament. These will be thoughts of all the things nobody tells you about becoming a dad. The experiences of becoming a dad for the first time that only dads who have trodden the sacred path truly understand.
Convincing Your Parents You’ll Be a Great Dad
Every parent goes into panic mode about their son having a baby for the first time. This normal parent behaviour takes place because they will always see their son as their baby. Your parents know you better than anyone and will be concerned about the forthcoming parenting woes.
The lack of sleep and relentless schedules. Having to worry about feeding, bathing, dressing, and nappy changing - seven days a week. How will our little boy cope with all that responsibility and hold down a stressful full-time job?
It is perfectly normal for your Mum and Dad to be thinking that you are going to struggle (collapse, buckle, hit the bottle, cry etc.) dealing with such a life-changing situation. Parents worry about the wellbeing of their sons and you are no different.
But of course, you will adapt and cope with the responsibilities of raising your own child. Just like your parents did and their parents before them. Once the initial shock of becoming grandparents has subsided, your parents will be the happiest proudest people on the planet.
Reassure your parents that you know all about the challenges of the fatherhood path that lies ahead and reach out to them for advice. Every parent on the planet loves to give advice on the pitfalls of raising a new child to their children. Tap into this knowledge as soon as you can and talk through any fears you have with your parents.
Most dads try to bury the darker parenting memories in a box in their brain and hide the key but you can open these memories if you dig a little bit. Like that time your dad put you on his shoulders at the local fair parading you around, the proudest dad in the world. Right up until someone pointed out the wet poo that was creeping down his back. That's a First Time Dad Tip on the importance of doing a nappy up properly.
Tap Into Your Dad Friends and Acquaintances For Support
When you tell your friends and acquaintances the joyful news about becoming a dad for the first time they will likely be thinking about all the important things.
What does this inconvenience mean for our annual ski holiday? Will he still be okay for our all-night drinking sessions? I guess his wife wasn’t flirting with me after all. He can’t do this job on 3 hours sleep.
Trust us, you won’t want to drink all night with your mates when your baby arrives. You will get very little sleep caring for your baby in the first few months and the last thing on your mind will be going on a huge bender with your buddies.
Male friends that are already dads will know the tough battles that lie ahead for you. Let your mates know how excited you are about becoming a dad. Share your plans with them about preparing for your baby's arrival and how you envision your future as a dad. Your enthusiasm will be contagious and help your friends remember the best bits about becoming a dad for the first time and feel positive about the situation.
It's okay to have fears and concerns about becoming a dad. Let your friends know what you're worried about, but also let them know what you're doing to prepare for these challenges. This will help your friends see that you're taking your role as a dad seriously and are actively working to overcome any obstacles.
Don't be afraid to ask your buddies who are already dads for First Time Dad Tips. They can offer you tips on everything from preparing for the baby's arrival to dealing with sleepless nights. Having a support system of experienced dads can be incredibly reassuring.
Extract Dad Truths from Your Work Colleagues
Becoming a dad for the first time is a major life event, and it's okay to be excited and share the news with your colleagues.
But dads at work will never ever tell a fellow dad-to-be the full truth of just how tired you will be in the office. That would be cruel. They will smile, laugh, throw some banter around but silently they will say a short prayer for you.
They will remember the endless fatigue. They will recall the work-related horrors, like how they alt-tabbed their laptop screen, whilst presenting to a packed room, and witnessed the gasps from the audience as they accidentally shared their inbox showing 1,000 unread emails. That Teams call they joined with a lump of baby sick still stuck to their cheek.
There will be times in those early months when you simply feel unable to perform your job to the best of your ability. None of your work colleagues will tell you these horrors but those dads with children all went through it. They got through it. And so will you. Maybe. Eventually.
#2 Watch Childbirth Videos on YouTube
Childbirth Is Like a Scene from the first Alien Film. That scene where a baby Xenomorph Alien violently bursts out of John Hurt's stomach could easily be a c-section video. Don’t you dare click that little x in the top right-hand corner of the screen just yet! C-section births are brutal experiences for most dads but thankfully there is a curtain between you and the lower half of mum so don’t run off just yet.
First Time Dad Tips When Preparing for A C-Section Birth
As a dad preparing for a possible c-section childbirth, here are some tips that can help you be a supportive and helpful partner during the birth:
Educate yourself: Learn about what to expect during a c-section birth, including the procedure itself and what your partner might experience during and after the surgery. Ask your partner's healthcare provider any questions you may have.
Be there for your partner: C-section births can be stressful and scary, so make sure you're there for your partner physically and emotionally. Hold their hand, provide words of encouragement, and help them stay calm.
Help with practical matters: During the birth, you may be asked to help with things like holding your partner's legs or cutting the umbilical cord. After the birth, you can help with tasks like changing diapers, bringing your partner food and water, and assisting with breastfeeding.
Stay positive: Even if the birth doesn't go exactly as planned, try to stay positive and focus on the fact that you're about to welcome a new member into your family. Keep reminding your partner that you're there for them and that you're proud of them.
- Take care of yourself: While it's important to be there for your partner, it's also important to take care of yourself. Make sure you eat, drink, and rest as needed so that you can be fully present and alert during the birth.
Vaginal Birth First Time Dad Tips
The most important First Time Dad Tip in this section is to remember that most women poo themselves when giving birth. Yes, guys you did read that correctly. Legs up, screaming the ward down, ripping flesh from your arm, all the time not even realising that amongst all that medieval carnage, inadvertently, your better half is curling one out at the same time. If you only take one First Time Dad Tip from this article it’s this one.
When preparing for a vaginal childbirth, here are some other helpful tips that can help you be supportive during the birth (not vomiting your cheese and cucumber sandwich goes without saying here):
Prepare yourself: Understand about the different stages of labour, the signs of labour, and the pain relief options available. Attend childbirth classes with your partner to learn more about what to expect during labour and delivery.
Be present: During labour and childbirth, your partner will need your support and encouragement. Be present, hold their hand, and offer words of encouragement. Let them know that you're there for them. At the right end of the birth…
Help with breathing and relaxation techniques: Breathing and relaxation techniques can help your partner manage the pain and discomfort of labour. Learn these techniques together and help your partner practice them during labour.
Be an advocate: During labour and childbirth, you may need to advocate for your partner and their wishes. If your partner has a birth plan, make sure that their wishes are communicated to the healthcare team. Be prepared to ask questions and speak up if you have concerns.
Stay calm: Labour and childbirth can be intense and emotional, but try to stay calm and focused. Your partner will look to you for support and reassurance. Keep reminding your partner that they're doing a great job and that you're proud of them.
- Be prepared: Pack a hospital bag with essentials like snacks, water, phone charger, and comfortable clothes for yourself. Make sure you have a plan for getting to the hospital or birth center and have someone on standby to take care of any other responsibilities or children you may have.
Erase Any Romantic View of Childbirth You May Have
Perhaps you can remember seeing a beautiful film where a dashing hero delivers a baby in the back of a car and saves the day? You may recall seeing a video of childbirth at school where the camera angle very rarely left the face of the mother as she huffed and puffed calmly as a beautiful clean baby popped out into the world.
Now is a good time to forget any preconceived views you currently have on childbirth.
No camera can capture the true volume of bodily fluids, smells and blood that results when a woman delivers a newborn baby into the world. All those warm funny stories you've heard growing up about a dad fainting in the delivery ward at childbirth, or worse being physically sick everywhere are not make-believe.
These are not stories of man legend but real events and for very good reason.
Prepare For the Gory Reality of Giving Birth
Imagine seeing a bizarre frizzly haired little alien-looking head popping into the world from your partner's vagina. Or a frighteningly odd snake-like umbilical cord coming out connected to this screaming blob covered in mucus and blood. Try to visualise the absolute horror of seeing a placenta plopping out into a surgical pan (thud).
If this makes you feel nervous about what truly lies ahead, you should spend some time preparing for battle. There is a lot of research out there on how some fathers are severely traumatised by watching their partner give birth.
If you are someone that doesn't do well with blood and gore then it's time to communicate this to your partner so you can prepare to avoid a horrific situation. Don’t head down 'the game end' of childbirth. Let your partner rip your arm to bits and provide soothing comfort from a place of relative safety at the top end of the bed.
#3 Know Your Limitations as a First Time Dad
First Time Dads feel like they have no idea what they are doing for a good reason. It’s because they don’t. Lots of dads read books on parenting before the big day arrives. Others like to read First Time Dad Tip articles like this one and many of the other thousands of dad resources that can be found online.
Now is the time to crawl the web of the endless parenting resources and seek out dad related content to help you become the greatest father in the world.
Knowing your limitations as you prepare for this exciting new role is crucial and there are some ways you can prepare:
Be Aware of Your Own Emotions and Mental Health
Becoming a new parent can be stressful and overwhelming, and it's important to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your child. Becoming a dad is a significant life transition that can impact mental health.
It is normal to feel a range of emotions during this time, including excitement, joy, anxiety, stress, and uncertainty. Taking care of your own mental and physical health will help you be a better dad. Prioritize activities that help you feel relaxed and rejuvenated, such as exercise, meditation, or spending time with friends and family.
Talk to your partner about your concerns and fears, as well as your hopes and dreams for parenthood. Being on the same page can help alleviate stress and anxiety. Try to surround yourself with people who can offer emotional support and practical help, such as family members, friends, or support groups.
Recognize That You May Not Know Everything About Being a Dad
As a dad it's perfectly normal to have questions, concerns, and doubts about how to best care for your child. Talk to friends, family members, or healthcare professionals who have experience with parenting. Don't be afraid to ask questions or seek guidance when you need it.
Seek out advice and support from trusted sources, such as family members, friends, or parenting classes. It is very important to understand that there isn't a book out there that will adequately prepare you for all your individual experiences as a father.
When you are being rushed into an emergency C-Section, when all you wanted was a birth pool, whale music and a few candles, you will feel like you have no idea what you are doing.
When your baby is kicking and screaming for no reason as poo sprays up the wall on the nappy changer. You will be thinking that you have no idea what you’re doing. It will happen so let it.
Be Realistic About Your Time and Energy
Becoming a dad for the first time is a big life transition that can bring many changes to your daily routine. It's important to be realistic about your time and energy, so that you can adjust your expectations and prioritize your responsibilities accordingly.
Parenting is a full-time job, and it's important to prioritize your responsibilities and make time for self-care:
Expect to have less free time: A newborn requires a lot of attention and care, and you may need to adjust your schedule to accommodate their needs. Be prepared to spend less time on hobbies or other activities, at least initially.
Plan for more interruptions: Your baby may need to be fed, changed, or comforted at any time of the day or night. Be prepared for interruptions to your sleep and work schedule.
Share responsibilities with your partner: Parenting is a team effort, and it's important to work together to manage your time and energy. Communicate openly with your partner about your needs and limitations, and share responsibilities as much as possible.
Prioritise self-care: Taking care of yourself is important for your own well-being, as well as for your ability to be a good parent. Make time for activities that help you relax and recharge, such as exercise or spending time with friends and family.
- Be flexible: Parenthood can be unpredictable, and it's important to be able to adapt to changing circumstances. Don't be too hard on yourself if your plans don't always work out as expected.
Understand That Your Child Will Have Their Own Personality and Needs
As a dad, it's important to understand that your child will have their own unique personality, needs, and preferences.
While you can provide a nurturing and supportive environment for your child, you cannot control or shape every aspect of their development. Parenting requires constant adaptation and learning, and it's okay to make mistakes and learn from them.
Here are some tips for dads to prepare for accepting your child's individuality:
Observe and listen to your child: Pay attention to your baby’s cues and reactions, and try to understand their individual personality and needs.
Avoid comparing your baby to others: Each baby is unique and develops at their own pace. Comparing your baby to others can create unrealistic expectations and put unnecessary pressure on them.
Support your baby’s emotional needs: Help your baby develop healthy skills, and be available to listen and support them as they navigate different challenges.
- Recognise that being dad is a learning process: Parenting requires constant adaptation and learning, and it's okay to make mistakes and learn from them.
By understanding and accepting your baby’s individuality, you can create a supportive and nurturing environment that helps them thrive. Remember that your baby is their own person, and your role as a dad is to guide and support them as they grow and develop.
Help Your Partner Prepare for Childbirth
Whatever way you look at this, you can’t give birth to the baby for your partner.
There is nothing more humbling than watching your partner struggle to cope with the excruciating pain of childbirth as you sit helplessly having your hand broken.
So as much as you’d like to be the alpha male and fix things, delivering a baby to the world is a process that has to run its course.
Here are some useful ways that dads can help their partner prepare for childbirth:
Attend antenatal classes: Many hospitals and birthing centers offer antenatal classes to help expecting parents learn about the labor and delivery process, as well as pain management techniques and postpartum care. Attending these classes together can help you both feel more prepared and confident. The NHS offer Antenatal Classes and so does the NCT.
Be a good listener: Pregnancy and childbirth can be overwhelming, both physically and emotionally. Be there for your partner to listen to her concerns and fears, and offer words of encouragement and support.
Help with household chores: As your partner's due date approaches, she may find it more difficult to perform certain household tasks, such as cooking and cleaning. Take on some of these responsibilities to ease her workload and allow her to focus on preparing for the baby's arrival.
Offer massages and other forms of physical support: Back pain and other discomforts are common during pregnancy, and your partner may appreciate a foot rub or back massage to help relieve some of the stress and tension.
Pack the Hospital Bag together: As the due date approaches, it's important to have a bag packed and ready to go with essentials for the hospital stay. Make sure to pack items that will be useful for both your partner and the baby.
Advocate for your partner's wishes during labor and delivery: Your partner may have specific preferences for her labor and delivery experience, such as a certain position to give birth in or a desire for a natural birth. Be her advocate and communicate her wishes to the medical staff.
Be prepared for unexpected changes: Childbirth can be unpredictable, and things may not go exactly according to plan. Be flexible and prepared to adapt to any changes that may arise.
- Make sure you are there for your partner throughout the labour: Serve water, energy drinks (pro tip: straws are essential!) and if you’re feeling really manly, offer to help deliver your baby and help cut the umbilical cord. You will feel totally helpless at times throughout the labour, but remember there are things you can do to help and make yourself useful. Just being there for your partner can be enough.
#4 Napping is Important for First Time Dads
Think back to the last post stag weekend away Monday morning back at work feeling.
It was bad, right?
Funny up to about 11am on the group WhatsApp with the boys but not much of a laugh for the rest of the day as group participants drop like flies and you desperately try to stay awake.
You don't know what sleep fatigue really feels like until you’ve been a dad for a couple of weeks.
The lack of sleep for first time dads last years
Although a newborn baby tends to sleep around 8 to 9 hours in the day and about 8 hours at night, unfortunately they have small tiny stomachs.
This means they wake up every few hours for food by screaming the house down. This is very demanding for a mother breastfeeding and an absolute shocker for a husband who happens to share a bed with them and work a full-time demanding job.
How To Handle Work After Little or No Sleep
Heading to work after a night of very little sleep is a nightmare, especially if you have a high-pressured stressful job.
There are things you can do to keep the dribble hitting your desk to respectable levels. Avoid sitting down for too long in a hot office unless you want to be woken by a colleague. Make sure you tell everyone at work about your new baby. This will buy you some much-needed grace for looking like death warmed up.
If you have a job that involves operating dangerous machinery, or vehicles (think pilot!), then you will need to talk sleeping patterns through with your partner and possibly look at sleeping in separate rooms.
Take Your Naps Where You Can Get Them
Make sure you are napping where and when you can. You need to use each and every nap opportunity to replenish your energy levels as a First Time Dad.
Don't be one of the guys reading Twitter on your phone when you manage to get a few hours break at home.
Try to avoid using your mobile phone when you are trying to nap. Blue LED lights can slow, or halt, the production of melatonin, the hormone that signals to our brain that it's time for bed. The blue light of the LED screen which slow the production of melatonin, a hormone that signals to the brain that it's time to go to bed. Looking at a screen (mobiles, televisions) before you go to sleep is scientifically proven to hinder your ability to sleep.
There is another reason why napping is so important for First Time Dads. Your partner actually needs nap time more than you in those first 6 months.
If your partner is breastfeeding and happy to express think about picking up some of the night feeds to provide a much-needed break, especially at the weekends.
#5: Learn How to Change a Nappy
Changing a nappy can be a new and daunting experience for first-time dads. Men are normally exposed to changing a nappy at antenatal classes.
The NCT Classes in the United Kingdom cover nappy changing with dolls and it can be quite an amusing and disturbing first experience for many men.
Here are some pro tips to help make the process smoother:
Be prepared: Before you start, make sure you have all the necessary items nearby, including a clean nappy, wipes, and a changing mat or towel.
Find a flat surface: Choose a flat and stable surface to change the nappy, such as a changing table or the floor. Make sure it's a clean and safe environment for your baby. Be careful when you are out and about changing nappies. Lots of public places where new dads go with their baby’s (think Coffee shops, parks, pubs….ok don’t be that pub guy) have baby changing facilities. These usually have a pull-down plastic baby changer but they can often be in a very poor state of repair and a bit grim. If in doubt, a portable changing mat on a clean floor is always the safest place to change a nappy.
Keep your baby safe: Always keep one hand on your baby during the nappy change to prevent them from rolling off the changing table (see above bullet point!).
Be gentle: When wiping your baby, be gentle and use a sensitive baby wipe or cotton wool. Avoid using any harsh products that can irritate their skin. Do not use normal toilet paper on your baby to wipe their poo away.
Check for leaks: Before putting on a new nappy, check for any signs of leaks or skin irritation. If you notice anything unusual, speak to your partner and consult with your GP or midwife.
Use the right size nappy: Make sure you use the right size nappy for your baby. A nappy that is too small or too big can cause discomfort and leaks. Pro tip - the size of the nappy is often not on the nappy but the box it comes in.
Dispose of the used nappy properly: After changing the nappy, wrap it up in a nappy bag and dispose of it in a sealed bin. Don't leave any dirty nappies lying around.
- Buy nappy bags and lots of them: Trust us on this tip. When you roll up a nappy with overflowing yellow mustard poo you will want to drop it into a scented nappy bag and seal it up as quickly as possible.
Remember, changing nappies can take practice, so don't worry if you don't get it right the first time. With time and experience, you will become more confident and efficient at changing nappies.
As we arrive at the end of our First Time Dad Tips, we want to leave you with a wonderfully brillaint POV video of a First Time Dad doing an amazing job changing a nappy for the first time...
Read more of our helpful Parenting Tips For Babies and Toddlers.