20 Ways to Prepare for Fatherhood: What New Dads Need to Know

Published April 3rd, 2022 by Chris Riley
Fact Checked by
Erik Rivera

Becoming a father is one of the most life-changing experiences you can go through. It's an amazing journey, but it can also be a bit daunting if you're not prepared for it. That's why we've put together this list of 20 ways to prepare for fatherhood. From learning about what to expect during labor and delivery to preparing your home for your new arrival, we will give you all the details on important things you need to know about this life-altering experience.

Why do I need to prepare to become a good dad?

Becoming a father is one of the most important and rewarding roles a man can have in his life. It also can be a very daunting task because there is so much to learn and you need to prepare yourself for fatherhood both mentally and physically to be the best dad you can be. If your emotions are running the gamut from excitement to terror, that is okay, it is normal to feel a range of emotions as you prepare for fatherhood. Be honest with yourself as an expectant father and take some time to process all of the changes that are about to happen in your life.

20 Ways to Prepare for Fatherhood

No first-time father is ever prepared for everything but there are some key things we will share with you so you can get ready for fatherhood. Below we will provide you with 20 tips to help educate you on how to prepare to be a good father before your child arrives.

Educate yourself on what to expect

One of the best things you can do for yourself before your child arrives is to educate yourself on everything related to fatherhood which means reading about childbirth, newborns, and parenting in general. Even though you are not the one pregnant, there is plenty you can learn about what your partner is experiencing and what childbirth will be like for them. There are books and websites out there that can help you gain a better understanding of what to expect in the coming months and years. Many hospitals and birthing centers offer classes for soon-to-be fathers that can help you learn about the basics of taking care of a newborn, things to expect during labor and delivery, and how to care for your partner as she recovers from giving birth. Attending a parenting class can be an extremely valuable resource for you as you prepare to become a father.

Talk to other fathers

One of the best ways to learn about being a father is to talk to other dads who have already been through it. Ask them about their experiences, the highs and lows, and what they would do differently if they could go back. Communicating with other people about what you are going through is a great way to get some honest feedback and advice from experienced parents who have been in your shoes.

Get involved with the pregnancy

Another great way to prepare for fatherhood is to get involved with the pregnancy as much as possible. Attend doctor appointments, ultrasounds, and Lamaze classes with your partner. These experiences will help you to feel more connected and be the best father during pregnancy to co-parent from the beginning.

Be prepared for changes in your relationship

There will be big changes in your relationship with your partner when a baby comes into the picture. It is important to be prepared for these changes as first-time parents and to understand they are completely normal. You may need to make some compromises and put your partner’s needs ahead of your own from time to time which can be a change for both of you. It may take some time to adjust to but is crucial for a healthy relationship. Also, do not expect your sex life to be the same after your child is born due to the responsibility for your child and your partner needing time to recover from childbirth.

Create a birthing plan

If you want to be as prepared as possible for fatherhood, one thing you can do is create a birthing plan with your partner. The plan will help to ensure that both of you are on the same page about what you want for the delivery and for the birth experience. You can include things like who you want in the room with you during labor, what kind of pain relief you would like, and what type of postpartum care you would like for your baby.

Make a financial plan

One of the most important things you can do as you prepare for fatherhood as a first-time dad is to make a financial plan. You will need to think about how you and your partner will support your family both now and in the future which may include setting up a savings account for your child, buying life insurance, and preparing for potential college costs.

Get organized

As your child’s arrival gets closer, you will likely find that you have a lot of new things to take care of such as preparing the nursery, buying baby clothes and gear, building baby furniture, and setting up doctor appointments. It is important to get organized and have a certain level of pregnancy planning preparedness so that you don’t feel overwhelmed in the weeks and months leading up to the birth. Make a list of all the things you need to do and when you need to do them, and try to stick to it as closely as possible.

Take care of yourself

It is important for new dads to remember to take care of themselves both physically and mentally. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. Taking care of yourself will help you to be in the best possible shape to take on fatherhood and will also help to keep your stress levels in check.

Prepare to build a relationship with your child

One of the most important things you can do as a new dad is to start building a relationship with your child. Once your baby is born, it is important to create a bonding routine and spend quality time with your baby as soon as possible. Bonding time could involve things like bottle feeding, bathing, and diaper changes. Establishing a routine will help your child to feel comfortable and secure and will help you to develop a strong bond with them. The more time you spend with your child and take on an active parenting role, the stronger the bond will be between you both in the future.

Discuss parenting with your spouse or partner

It is important for you to have a discussion about parenting styles and expectations of aspects of parenting with your spouse or partner before your baby arrives. You will need to come to an agreement about things like discipline, bedtimes, and how much involvement each of you will have in raising the child which can be difficult but is crucial for the well-being of your child and for a healthy family life.

Be prepared for sleepless nights

One thing that all new dads need to be prepared for is the lack of sleep that comes with fatherhood. Babies tend to wake up frequently during the night and it can be difficult to get them back to sleep. Be prepared for sleepless nights or very few hours of sleep in the early weeks and months after your child is born. Due to these sleepless nights, do not feel guilty about napping or sleeping when you can as these sleepless nights continue.

Decide on the parenting style that suits you

There is no right way to parent a child and you will likely find that different things work for you at different times. It is important to decide what parenting style works best for you and your family and to stick to it. Your style could involve being more relaxed or more strict with rules, but whatever style you choose, be sure to be consistent with it and to discuss it with your spouse or partner.

Celebrate each milestone during the pregnancy with your partner

It can be exciting, and sometimes nerve-racking, to watch your baby grow and develop during pregnancy. Be sure to celebrate each milestone together with your partner as you approach them. These celebrations could involve simple things like going out for dinner, buying a new piece of clothing for the baby, or simply taking some time to relax and enjoy each other’s company.

Communicate with family and friends what you expect of them

As a new dad, you will likely start to receive a lot of well-meaning advice from family and friends. It is important to communicate with them what you expect of them and what you do not want them to do. For example, you may not want them to come over uninvited or to give you unsolicited parenting advice. Also, you may need to stick up for your partner at times going against your friends and family. Finally, make sure to decide beforehand with your partner who you want in the hospital or in the delivery room before the day arrives and communicate this plan clearly to friends and family.

Figure out which responsibilities you will share with your partner

You may not be able to breastfeed your child but there are plenty of other responsibilities that can be taken care of by both parents. Decide which responsibilities you will share with your partner such as feeding, bathing, and dressing your child. Figuring out who has what responsibilities now will help you and your partner divide up the work evenly and make taking care of your child easier for both of you.

Learn about baby’s health

It is important for all new dads to learn about their baby’s health and to be aware of any potential health risks. Learning includes informing yourself about common illnesses, such as diarrhea and vomiting, and how to treat them. You need to also learn about what to do in the event of a seizure or an allergic reaction.

Talk openly about your feelings

As a new dad, you are likely to experience a range of different feelings, both good and bad. It is important to talk openly about these feelings with your partner, family, and friends. Being open about your feelings will help you to deal with them in a healthy way and will also help them to understand what you are going through.

Be yourself and realize everything won't be perfect

One of the best things you can do as a new dad is to be yourself. Do not try to be someone that you are not and do not feel like you need to put on an act. Accepting that everything will not be perfect is also important. There will likely be times when things do not go according to plan or when you feel overwhelmed. Giving yourself plenty of time while experiencing new things as a dad is one way to combat this pressure. Just know that these feelings are normal and that you will get through them.

Spend time with other babies and children

One of the best ways to prepare for fatherhood is to spend time with other babies and children. Putting yourself in these situations will help you to get used to being around them and will also give you an idea of what to expect when your own child is born. It can also be a great opportunity to learn from other parents about different parenting styles and can even be done in preparation for pregnancy before your child is conceived.

Stockpile diapers, wipes, and other essentials

As a new dad, you will need to make sure that you have plenty of diapers, wipes, and other essentials on hand. You may have gotten some of these items from a baby shower; however, stockpiling these items now will ensure that you do not have to run out to the store at the last minute when your child is born.

Summary

As a new dad, there are a number of things you need to prepare for. These include sleepless nights, preparing for different parenting styles, and learning about your baby’s health. It is also important to communicate with family and friends about what you expect of them and to spend time with other babies and children among many other things that we detailed above. By preparing for fatherhood in these ways, you will be better equipped to handle the challenges and joys that come with being a dad.

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