Waiting on a baby to arrive is an exciting time. It can also be a little nerve-wracking, so it’s important to keep yourself busy and not get stuck in a worry loop. The best way to prepare for a baby’s arrival is to, well—prepare. We’ve put together a little dad checklist to help you keep your head on straight and focus on what’s important, so you’ll be able to give all your attention to mom and baby after the birth.
Discuss the Issues
Issues being things like, do you plan on using cloth diapers or disposable diapers? Will you be co-sleeping with baby or sticking to a strict “crib-only” rule? How do you both intend to divvy up baby duties once the bundle of joy arrives? Consider asking your friends if they have any newborn advice for dads that may help you make these important decisions.
Discussing stuff like this ahead of time can save you a lot of grief later. Emotions run high when a newborn baby first arrives because everyone is stressed out and sleep-deprived. Something that seems like a tiny problem can blow up into something bigger than expected, unless you’ve already discussed and agreed on a plan of action ahead of time.
Prep the Nursery
That means if you plan on painting or re-flooring or doing any kind of major renovations, you need to do it well in advance. Not only is it less stressful to do it in advance, but it’s also healthier for your newborn baby, too. The last thing you want to do is bring the baby home to a nursery full of drywall dust or paint fumes.
It’s also a great time to put together all the baby furniture you and your lady (partner? wife? spouse? baby mama?) have purchased but have been staring down for the last several weeks. It’s easy to procrastinate on this stuff, but you don’t want to be putting together the changing table while struggling to keep your eyes open. Plus, putting the furniture together before your baby is born lets you know well in advance if something needs replacing because it is not going to work.
Baby Proof the House
Since you’re putting the nursery together anyway, you might as well go ahead and baby-proof the rest of the house, too. While the baby won’t be mobile for several months after his arrival, it’s one less thing you’ll have to worry about if you do it now. You can do things like install closures on all cabinet doors, find new places for items that could be dangerous to a toddler, and put covers over all electrical outlets before your baby is born.
Shop for a Baby Carrier
This one is mandatory. Your child can’t leave the hospital without a proper infant car seat. Once you choose your car seat, you can then practice taking it in and out of the car and even practice strapping in the “baby” using a stuffed animal or doll. This will help you get familiar with all the straps and buckles so that when you’re ready to come home from the hospital, you’re not dealing with unfamiliar territory. Pro tip - if you’re having a baby shower, add a baby carrier to your list of expectant dad gifts to have someone pick one out for you!
Pack Your Go Bag
Your wife will need her bag for the hospital with necessities, but you should pack a little bag for yourself as well. You can include items like a change of clothes, clean underwear, a blanket and pillow, snacks, and things to keep yourself busy while waiting for the baby to arrive. Don’t forget to pack essentials, like your phone charger, your camera with extra batteries and SD cards, and chargers for any other electronics you bring with you.
Freeze Some Meals
No dad-to-be checklist is complete without strongly recommending that you make some meals ahead of time to stock up the freezer. Once the baby arrives and you bring your family home from the hospital, the last thing you and your lady love will feel like doing is cooking.
Granted, you can accept help from family and friends who offer to prepare meals for you -- and that’s wonderful --but not all couples have that option, so if that’s you, plan ahead. Cook some meals you know to freeze well, divvy them up in single-serve portions, and pack that freezer to the gills. You’ll be super thankful during sleepless nights when all you have to do is thaw something and pop it in the microwave for dinner. Not to mention, you’ll be a hero to mom!
There are so many other things we could add to this dad checklist, but hopefully this list of tips for first time dads is enough to get you pointed in the right direction. Waiting for your baby to arrive is both exhilarating and an exercise in patience. Focus on things you can control right now and do as much pre-prep as you can. Your future self will thank you once the baby arrives.