Tips for New Dads

Congratulations!  You just found out you’re going to be a father!  Being a father is an amazing experience, but it can also be overwhelming.  Here are the top 10 things you should know to be an awesome dad.

10. Be Prepared, but Be Flexible – There are a ton of things to consider and plan for. You should definitely do your research and work with your partner on a birth plan. Which hospital, natural birth, c-section, epidural, date, and more should all be questions your ask. You should also prepare and set benchmarks for the first year.  What should you expect in the first month, second month, etc.  (The Mayo Clinic Guide to the first year is a great resource.) 

Just keep in mind, every kid is different.  You should definitely have a plan and expectation in place, but be flexible.  Things don’t always go as planned, so communicating with your partner, the dr, and family will help you make wise decision through your journey.

9. Relationships Change – When you become a father, your life changes dramatically, however everyone else’s life stays the same. While your at home on a Friday night tending to a crying baby, your friends might be out watching the big game. Look, your relationships will naturally evolve and you will develop new relationships. 

It’s so important that you define your goals early.  What do you want to accomplish?  What kind of father do you want to be?  What kind of husband do you want to be?  Surround yourself with other people that have similar goals.  This doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with your buddies, but it means as a father, you may have different priorities and responsibilities now.

8. Babies are Fragile yet Resilient – Before my daughter was born, I was terrified of holding a baby. They are so tiny and so precious (you can’t buy babies in stores). What I soon learned was, babies are relatively resilient.  Yes, they are fragile, but they don’t break on contact.  Make sure to support the neck and protect the head, and you’ll be just fine.

It’s really important to hold the baby as often as you can.  This give your partner a break but also allows you to connect.  When you hold the baby and look into his or her eyes, that’s when the magic happens.

7. Money Gets Tighter – Having a baby can be really expensive. There are a ton of costs from health care, to diapers, to clothes, to formula, college tuition, etc etc. You want to plan ahead and try to save up money for these additional expenses.  You also want to plan ahead by reaching out to other parents to see if they have extra stuff!  Perhaps someone has an old stroller or some shirts they don’t need.

Don’t get baby fever and buy top of the line everything.  Focus on getting good quality items, but avoid overspending.  Use coupons, find deals, and buy used if possible.  Realize you may have to cut back on some of your own expenses, but by being smart when spending it frees up more cash.

6. Breastfeeding is Tough – While you won’t be having to do the heavy lifting, you should help support your partner. Breastfeeding is going to take time and patience. It will take a few days for your partner and your baby to figure out how to do it.  Additionally, there is a lot of pain for the woman.  Be as supportive as possible, but prepare yourself and your partner as it will be challenging.

5. Diaper Changing isn’t that Bad – Look, no one likes changing diapers, but disposable diaper technology is pretty amazing. Think about how bad it would be if you had to use cloth diapers or worse nothing! It will be tricky the first couple times, but after your first week it will be no big deal.  Make sure you do it right though and seal those edges! 

4. People have LOTS of Opinions – If you haven’t already noticed, everyone has an opinion on how you should raise your kid. What they should eat, what they should wear, what time they should sleep, what position they should be in, how long to be outside, how tight the clothes should be…. The list goes on and on. Listen, you should take the time and consider peoples advice, but at the end of the day this is your kid.  Team up with your partner and decide how you’re going to handle the various facets and block out all the outside noise.

3. Lack of Sleep – Many baby’s don’t sleep consistently. The world is new and they’re dealing with a lot of new sensations. Some babies sleep better than others, but I promise you, your sleep pattern will be interrupted.  Lack of sleep can have some interesting affects. 

When you are really tired, it’s much harder to be patient.  You’ll become agitated more easily.  Lack of sleep also leads to sloppiness.  You tend to trip, drop, or forget things more easily.  If you are feeling extra tired or notice your partner is especially tired, trade turns!  If possible, it’s a great idea to trade nights with your partner, so you can both get better sleep.

2. Mistakes Happen – Neither you nor your partner, nor your baby is perfect. Mistakes are inevitable.  Be patient and understand that most mistakes are not a big deal.  You learn from them and move on.  Instead of getting frustrated or freaking out, take a deep breath and look at the big picture.  Read books, use Google, and call your pediatrician if you are unsure!  Better safe than sorry.

1. You’re Life Will Change, but You May Not – Some men feel connected to their baby immediately, some do not. If you aren’t immediately connected, that’s ok! It will come.  Just stay involved in the process. 

Don’t try to change yourself, you are still a unique individual.  Just because you have a baby, that doesn’t mean you will stop wanting to play music or workout at the gym.  Don’t quit all the things you love, because that will leave you hollow and unfulfilled.  This is very dangerous and will not lead to a happy home.  You may need to manage your time more wisely, but if you are passionate about something, you should not give it up.

By taking the time to educate yourself, you're on the right path.  Be confident, keep learning, and enjoy the ride.  You're going to be an awesome dad!

- Mark Savant

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