"What should my husband check out or read before our baby arrives?"
I get that question a lot more these days. It's cool because it's nice to be thought of when people are looking for answers to fatherhood questions! It's also kind of funny, since more moms than dads read this site, by far; every week I hear from a mom who says she passed on a post to her husband to read. Hey, whatever works! I appreciate it either way.
I strongly believe there is no such thing as a parenting expert - we're all just trying our best, except for the Duggars, because wow. Still, there are great new father resources out there that can help you (or your husband) feel prepared and confident going into fatherhood.
I'm really happy I get to put together posts and resources for new and expecting dads, but there is so much to cover and I'm just one voice. Below is a list of outside resources I trust and have found valuable* , plus a few that are, to put it bluntly, garbage advice. Bookmark this page - I'll update it as I come across great content! And you can always share it with a new dad in your life. Think I missed something? Let me know.
* I received no payment for these recommendations
Here's what I've relied on for new dad advice:
"She's pregnant. She knows that. You know that. And her 152 baby books tell her exactly what she can expect." Exactly! This book for dads fills in the gaps. Really enjoyed reading this, as John Pfeiffer dispenses advice on what a guy can do through pregnancy to help his partner.
Cool feature: The book doesn't assume you're an idiot, which is a nice touch. There are lots of new dad books out there, but when I was an expectant dad, a lot of them seemed like I only cared about watching football and drinking beer and maybe I could fit the baby into my life.
Written by Dr. Harvey Karp. This goes through the 5 S's. What are the 5 S's? They might just be your key to surviving late nights with a newborn. I swaddle, shush, and swing a lot in particular, and although it's not foolproof, these techniques really did make a difference. This is prime stuff for guys, as dads can do any of these as easy as moms. Are there other methods of dealing with crying babies? Sure, and you'll find experts lined up swearing their way is the right way. I'm just saying this one worked, and I think it also reinforced bonding with my son in a way some other methods (crying it out) don't.
Cool feature: There's a movie that is basically the same content, so watch that if you're short on time.
Dad's Guide to Twins (Also, Dads Guide to Raising Twins)
Joe Rawlinson, who wrote about twins for my site, speaks from experience. If you're having multiples, A) God help you and B) Check out his guide. There's plenty of practical, actionable advice, such as what kind of stroller to get and how to bottle feed two babies at once. As a guy, I like the fact it was more hands-on and less about the experience of twins - I wanted to know what to do, and this helped get me mentally ready.
Cool feature: He offers specifics on what baby gear is twin compatible.
Unlike regular Web MD, which will tell you that you've got rectal cancer if you list "cough" as a symptom, this app was straightforward, easy to use, and had cool visuals for what the baby looks like inside your wife's belly. Week by week, you can see what progress the baby should be making, and there are nice features such as a contraction timer and Pregnancy 101, a resource of FAQs about pregnancy. My wife and I would check this app each week to get excited about what our kids were doing at that stage.
Cool feature: It lets you specify if you're having multiples and adjusts the info accordingly.
If you or your wife are really dead set on breastfeeding your newborn, using a doula, doing a homebirth, skipping circumcision or any other similar parenting styles - organic? crunchy? natural? whatever you want to call it - this site, created by a psychologist, has got what you need. I find it to be reasonable in how it approaches controversial topics, and at the least, you can feel more informed.
Cool feature: Research rebuttals. Basically, knocking down whatever you just breathlessly heard on Good Morning America.
There's an overwhelming amount of content on here about what it's truly like to be a parent. It's frank, honest, and some of the titles are just hilarious ("Why do kids suck at sleepovers so much?"). I think the site motto is spot on: "Parenting doesn't have to be perfect." Although the site has mommy in the name, there's lots of good stuff for dads - hey, they even let me write for them. Good page to add on Facebook, as they post often.
Cool feature: They do a solid job with categorizing their content, so you can find posts specific to your interest.
If your partner is going to breastfeed, you really, really would do well to know what she's going through, what problems she might face, and how you can help. Breastfeeding can be a really transformative, powerful thing - there's food coming out of your wife's boobs! But it's also difficult. Sometimes, it can seem impossible (as it did for us at one point). If or when your partner hits the breast milk wall, it helps to have some kind of understanding so you don't just say, "Well, that sucks." This site covers it all with resources and posts from moms who have been there, done that.
Cool feature: A certified lactation consultant answers reader questions. Almost guaranteed your wife will have one of these questions at some point. (Get ready for the word "supply" to be used every day.)
Your Freaking Parents
Although I'm not great at it even now, it's kind of silly to not tap into the knowledge of your parents about how to deal with all of this. They may not realize that putting the baby on its back is considered the safe and only way to do it these days compared to when they did it, but they do know what it's like to go into labor. They do know what you might expect emotionally. They do know what challenges you might face. And they did a decent job raising you, right? Just don't discount the experts you already have in your family. Still, make it clear from the get-go that you are doing things the way you feel is best. Don't feel like just because your mom did it one way, you and your wife should try to do it the same!
Cool feature: They saw you naked a lot and can still hold a straight face.
Couples Who Have Kids
This is a guarantee: If you ask couple friends you have who recently had a baby in the past year or two what to expect about having a baby, they will talk your ear off. They are dying to talk to someone about it. But don't fall into a trap! What worked for them, what went wrong, what doctor they had that sucked ... none of those things necessarily would be the same for you. You should soak in whatever they can offer, but, just like your parents, if you try to follow every piece of advice you get, you will drive yourself crazy and your wife will start stabbing things.
Try asking this: "What do you wish you knew then that you know now?" Or "I'm excited to be a dad but I have no idea what to do. What was the thing you struggled with the most off the bat?" Beware the friends who remember newborns with rose colored glasses (If they say their baby slept all night right from the start, they are bullshitting you) or who are super jaded about it (If "the worst" ends most of their sentences, slowly backpedal).
Better yet? Offer to watch their baby for a few hours in a low-pressure way. That can be done by doing it while they do other chores around the house - the stuff they've been dying to do but don't have the hands to do it - or maybe have them take a long stroll or go workout at a nearby gym. That way they are there if you need them, but you can get a feel for taking care of a baby. One of the things I hear from guys the most is that they've never even held a baby and are terrified they will break them. Well, for what it's worth, I barely held a baby before my son was born. It's amazing how quickly you learn. But in hindsight, it would have been awesome to do a little babysitting to dip my toe in the baby tub.
Cool feature: You're helping them, they are helping you.
Other noteworthy resources: I've also used Parents.com and found it to be reliable with an exhaustive amount of content on anything and everything with babies on up. Weelicious is great if you're a culinary type and want to make your baby meals when the time comes.
Good social media accounts to follow for dads:
I'm listing Instagram accounts because I've found that's one of the easiest ways to connect with dads, but they all do Twitter/Facebook too.
Dad or Alive - If you're gonna do the stay-at-home dad route, or if you'd appreciate seeing content from a guy who used to work for Adam Sandler and Chelsea Handler, this is your guy. Check out his site for lots of entertaining fatherhood stories.
My Kid Can't Eat This - Hilarious. Maybe not as much when it happens to you, but while you're still in the pregnancy/newborn phase, you'll go "I can't believe their kid won't eat that." And then later on you'll say, "Oohhhh that's why." If there's one unexpected thing that'll be added to your life because of a baby, it's humor. Lots of humor.
Dadlifebrand - They do dad challenges (asking you to do this or that activity today with your kid), offer motivation, and showcase *ahem* awesome dads.
Avoid these pregnancy/parenting apps and sites:
- Baby Bump App: Only read this if you want to be pandered to in the worst way possible. One example? They regularly include advice for dads. Great! Except they must assume dads who use the app really, really don't want a baby, because the advice is usually "Try to ask your wife about how the pregnancy is going so she knows you're interested." No joke, that was the advice... for the 7 month milestone!
- Forums (Baby Center, What to Expect): Pregnancy/Baby forums are where facts go to die, fear mongering goes to thrive, and your neurotic worst fears are born. Everyone has a worst case scenario. No one has scientific data or researched-backed answers or rationale thinking. Stay away. That goes for your wife, too.
- Facebook posts of friends with kids: I say this as someone who often posts about my kids. You need to beware. It's very easy to see what a friend is posting and take it as the truth for better or worst, as if that's the real baby experience. It is not real. You will have friends who constantly whine about what the baby is doing to them. You will have friends who only post photos of their kid smiling and clean. Both are not realistic. Don't get anxious either way. Parenthood can't be summed up that succinctly.