Preparing For Fatherhood: A Checklist For Expecting Dads

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Only if there was a checklist for being a father. Well, being a father, needless to say, is a bit more complex than that but pointers from people who’ve already been through it do make things simpler to a considerable degree.

It’s been a long journey, but you’re finally here. Your newborn is due in a matter of weeks, and it’s your job to roll up your sleeves and help your wife get your home ready for your growing family. 

Since you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably already made and completed several different to-do lists as your wife’s due date gets closer.

What should dads know about pregnancy?

There are many things a dad should know about pregnancy. As the big day gets closer and you find yourself confronted with more and more decisions to make and details to attend to, it’s easy to forget about all of the common-sense steps you need to take to get your home (and your life) ready for a new baby.

We’re going to cover many of the things on this checklist that we’ve put together are things that you’ve probably already done but that you might need to be reminded of in the hectic final weeks and days before your new baby comes home. Remember that the steps you take now will help ensure a smooth transition into this wild and overwhelming time.

If you’re preparing for fatherhood, read on to get valuable tips on making this life-changing transition smoothly and peacefully. The following tips can help you get your home and your life ready for your brand-new baby.

Be Firm About Visitors

fatherhood be firm about visitors

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this is one of the essential items on the preparing-for-baby checklist. Before the baby comes home, reach out and connect with your family members and your closest friends, and make sure that you have no visitors for the first two months after your baby comes home from the hospital.

Keeping your infant away from visitors for the first two months of life is essential for the interest of their health and safety. While friends and family will undoubtedly complain about this kind of policy, more often than not, they will be understanding and will recognize that a period of short-term isolation in the weeks just after birth is essential for an infant’s health and safety. 

If you need help dealing with overzealous friends and family members who want to see your baby, don’t forget that Zoom visits are a safe alternative until the baby gets a little older. While you and your family are in isolation during the days and weeks after your baby is born, make sure to keep your social media updated with baby photos. 

If dads-to-be need guidance on visitors and newborn infants, see this guidance from the National Institutes Of Health on home visits and infant safety

Spend Time With Friends

If you’re a soon-to-be father, you’re probably preoccupied with practical things. You’ve been making sure the house is baby-proofed, you’ve been putting the finishing touches on your nursery and making sure you have a bag packed. These things are essential, but don’t forget about less tangible things, like making time to hang out with friends before the baby arrives. 

Your friends are excited that you’re expecting, but don’t forget that the earlier life you knew with these people is over; make sure you set aside time to be social and have fun before the baby arrives. Hanging out with your friends during this stressful period is essential to maintaining your mental health and staying grounded during this stressful period.  

The other benefit to spending time with your closest friends during this period is that the act of socializing will strengthen your friendships so that they will endure after the baby is born. Don’t forget the dynamics of your friendships are about to change, and this is especially true for those members of your social circle that don’t have children.

Find Time For Physical Intimacy

fatherhood find time for physical intimacy

This suggestion is another one of those less-tangible items on the prepare-for-baby checklist, but while you’re busy preparing for fatherhood in the last few weeks before your baby is born, make sure you set aside time for physical intimacy with your spouse. After the baby is born, you’re going to have no time for any physical intimacy at all. 

In the same way that your relationships with your friends will change, you can expect your relationship with your spouse to change as well. The last few weeks before the baby is born are incredibly stressful, and making time for physical intimacy with your spouse is essential to stay grounded and maintain your mental health. 

One option to consider is taking a babymoon–a short trip away, usually a weekend, to enjoy being a couple before the baby is born. Of course, traveling short distances while pregnant isn’t something to be done lightly; many expectant couples have found that taking a short trip away just before the baby is born is extremely helpful for surviving the stressful time to come.

Get Your Finances In Order

It’s also a good idea to do some financial house-cleaning in the weeks before the baby arrives. Once the baby comes, you’re not going to want to deal with annoying things like the electric bill or your credit card payment. Make sure your credit cards are paid off and make a list of the due dates for all of your accounts on a spreadsheet.

It’s also not a bad idea to look over your bank statements and identify areas where some penny-pinching is needed. Be on the lookout for online or streaming subscriptions you might have forgotten about and cancel them so you won’t keep getting charged. It’s also essential to make sure you’ve got some extra cash in an envelope somewhere. 

Sign up for online bill pay if you haven’t already. Alternatively, if you want a real set-it-and-forget-it approach to your finances, you may want to consider putting all of your bills on autopay. Finally, this might also be an excellent opportunity to check in with your financial advisor to discuss things like life insurance, college savings, and retirement planning.

Do A Deep Clean

While preparing to be a dad, it’s a good idea to disinfect your house one last time before the baby comes home. Just like you don’t want to worry about bills or personal finances right after the baby comes home, you won’t want to worry about a filthy house either. 

When you’re doing a deep clean, consider purging your house of unwanted or unnecessary belongings. Clean out the closets and the drawers to make room for the baby. Don’t forget to clean out your pantry, the fridge, and the garage. If you have the time, it’s not a bad idea to have a yard sale to get rid of unwanted items.

After you’ve gotten rid of all your unwanted items, scrub the house from top to bottom so that your home is clean for when the baby comes home. Make sure you’ve got plenty of clean sheets and towels. For tips on how to deep clean your home ahead of your new baby’s arrival, check out this handy resource.

Have Two Weeks Of Meals Ready

fatherhood have two weeks of meals ready

In the first few weeks after the baby comes home, you’re probably going to have a steady stream of meals and casseroles coming into your home courtesy of friends and family. It’s important to remember that this train of generosity will stop at some point, and once it does, you’re not going to want to cook, either. 

Before the baby comes home, having two or three weeks’ worth of meal prep in the freezer to make for a smooth transition. In the weeks leading up to the birth, make a habit of doubling meals; cook twice as much as you need to, and then freeze half of it. 

The goal here is to have meals that you can take out of the freezer and defrost with minimal mess and minimal effort. If you have any special dietary requirements, such as a need for gluten-free or vegetarian meals, plan for those now while you have the time. It’s also not a bad idea to invest in a small deep-freezer for the garage.

Do Some First-Round Baby-Proofing

Since your new infant will be mostly immobile for the first six months of life, a lot of the heavy-duty baby proofing that involves locking drawers and securing furniture to the wall can wait a little while longer. In the meantime, there are still many more straightforward tasks you can complete that will help you make sure your home is infant-safe ahead of the big day. 

Set up any baby-monitoring system you’ve chosen and made sure that it works properly, with no interference, or where applicable, last-minute problems with wi-fi or cell reception. You’ve probably got a bunch of new electrical cords plugged in around the nursery and your home, so you need to make sure they’re adequately secured where no one will trip over them. 

You might want to consider installing outlet covers and cord management systems. If you’ve assembled any new furniture, make sure it’s safe and completely assembled. Remember, by being proactive now before the baby is born; you’re creating less work for yourself later on. For some handy first-round baby-proofing ideas, check out this article from The Bump.

Figure Out What Kind Of Diapers You Need

If you haven’t made a firm decision about what kind of diapers you plan on using, make sure you sit down with your spouse and figure it out. At this point, the last thing you want is to figure out after the baby comes home that you find washing cloth diapers disgusting and that you want to switch to disposable. Whatever you and your spouse decide, stick with it. 

By making this decision before the baby arrives, you’ll have the clarity of mind to go over your options with diapers and diaper disposal to find the route that works best for you. If you have the time to think about it, make sure you think about it because it will be hard to switch tactics and learn something new after the baby arrives. 

Whatever you decide, it’s a good idea to make sure that you have a month’s worth of diapers on hand once the baby comes home and make sure you have your changing table and diaper genie set up and ready to go as well. For an in-depth guide on how to decide which kind of diaper to go with, click here.

Buy A Month’s Worth Of Essentials

If you’re preparing for fatherhood, it’s also essential to ensure that you have a month’s worth of baby essentials and other hand supplies before the baby comes home. You’ll want to minimize the number of trips you make to the store and avoid any surprises after the baby arrives. Besides food and diapers, make sure you’ve stocked up on everything else.

Make a list of all of the other things you might need after the baby comes home. Those items might include:

Keep in mind that the above list is only a starting point. Take a moment to think about all of the essential day-to-day items you might need, not only for your baby but also for yourself and your spouse. Stocking up on baby care items is another step you can take to help your family settle in.

By making sure that you’ve stocked your home and nursery with all of the essential items your family needs, you’ll have much fewer surprises after the baby comes home.

Buy The Right Baby Clothes

fatherhood buy the right baby clothes

By now, you’ve probably got a whole nursery closet’s worth of baby clothes for your infant. But make sure that while you’re busy preparing for fatherhood that you buy the right clothes for your newborn. The first thing you’ll want is a massive supply of onesies and a vast supply of baby socks.

You’ll want onesies because your life is about to become a never-ending cascade of spit-up and excrement. You’ll want plenty of baby socks because they’re super-tiny and easy to lose. People lose sight of what’s practical when it comes to baby clothes. Sure, that Steelers onesie is cute, but will it keep your baby warm when it’s a few degrees above freezing? 

Ensure that your baby has safe, season-appropriate clothing for the season of the year that they are being born into to stay comfortable and secure, and be prepared to go through as many as six onesies a day. Easy-on and easy-off features should top your priority list, too.

For help picking out seasonally appropriate baby clothes, check out this article from The Bump.

Divide Up The Chores

fatherhood divide the chores

Another crucial step you can take in preparing for fatherhood is to sit down with your wife before the baby comes and agree on how to divide up the household chores and child-rearing once the baby arrives. Like many other ideas we’ve put together for this article, dividing up the labor beforehand can go a long way in preventing tension later on. 

The first two to three weeks after your new baby comes home will be some of the most stressful of your life, which is why it’s essential to work out a labor-sharing arrangement beforehand. When figuring out how to divide up the chores, start with the basics, figure out who will change diapers, and handle night feeding times. 

While every couple works differently, when you’re dividing up the labor, it’s important to listen to your partner and really hear their needs. As a dad, you might not be tasked with feeding responsibilities if the mom-to-be chooses to breastfeed. But there are other ways you can pick up the slack while she’s up all night.

Either way, by taking the time to divide up the labor early on, you’re taking an essential step toward ensuring a safe household for your infant when they arrive.

Have The Nursery Prepared

If you’re lucky enough to have a nursery for your new baby, expecting dads should aim to have the baby’s room up and ready to go at least a month ahead of the due date. For many expecting parents, setting up the nursery is a significant milestone and a big part of the nesting process. Setting up the nursery is one of the most important things to do before the baby comes.

Having the nursery prepared well in advance is a huge stress reliever and milestone when preparing for fatherhood. Fathers-to-be can find tips on how to set up a nursery from this article at The Spruce.

When you’re designing your baby’s nursery, take the time to make sure that your baby monitoring system works appropriately and that you’ve correctly and securely assembled all furniture. Make sure you’ve arranged and stored your baby’s clothing in a way that makes sense.

For nighttime feedings, make sure you have a safe and comfortable chair set up. Take the time to look over where you’ve decided to store everything and make sure that what you’ve set up works efficiently for you and your spouse.

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