Becoming a father is one of the most exciting things you’ll ever experience in your life. Don’t let your baby having experience become a problem due to lack of preparation. There are so many things you as the father can do to help out far beyond putting together a crib.
Dads are more involved now than they’ve ever been, so jump aboard and follow through this checklist to make sure you’ve got it all covered.
The Complete Dad-to-be Checklist
1. Discuss baby care roles
The worst thing you can do is “figure things out as you go.” Before the baby is born, you and your partner should have a concrete understanding of who does what when the baby arrives. I don’t mean you need to assign tasks and stick to them like your life depends on it; focus on the following areas:
- Who gets up at night and when?
- When will we each sleep?
- How are we delegating diaper duty?
- What about bath time?
You might think, “we’ll simply do every task together!”
That plan might last a week or two, and when you’re both completely exhausted, there will be harsh feelings and words.
Figure it out now, so you don’t have to worry about it later.
2. Figure out a route to the hospital or facility
Movies dramatize the act of “going into labor,” and it’s different for every woman. When my wife’s water broke, it was like nothing happened. I was sitting in the living room, she came in and told me it happened, and we went to the hospital.
We didn’t need a police escort, and I wasn’t driving 90 miles per hour cutting through lanes to get there before the baby shoots out like a cannon.
But, anything could happen. Make sure you have the quickest route figured out, and you factor in things like rush hour traffic and holidays.
3. Arrange for child or pet care for any other little ones in the home
Another thing you want to have figured out before the baby comes is what you will do with any children or pets you currently have. Do not wait until your partner goes into labor to start calling around because the delivery room is no place for your Border Collie.
Before the baby comes, ensure you have ample childcare or petcare figured out and be realistic about how long it may take. Sometimes labor can run for days, so you want to find a responsible and reliable person to help you.
4. Look into paternity leave
Unfortunately, many of us don’t have this luxury, but if you do, make sure you get it. Paternity leave varies depending on where you work, but some employers will give you as much as three months, which is critical for both you and your partner.
If you don’t have paternity leave, alert your employer about the upcoming birth and make sure they understand that you may need to take some time off at a moments notice. I have never encountered a situation where an employer was difficult or uncooperative about this situation.
5. Learn about and figure out family healthcare
If you have healthcare through a job, you’ll receive a special enrollment period that allows you to add your baby to the plan. You would want to have this figured out ahead of time, so you understand any added costs or fees.
Generally, your insurance premium will go up because you’ll move from a “+1” or single to a family plan, but it varies based on your situation.
If you do not already have insurance, you need to get it immediately. The cost of having a baby in a hospital is astronomical, and there are few people on this planet who can afford it without insurance. Check out “How Much Having a Baby Costs.”
Additionally, you never know what could go wrong. Things happen, and every move they make is associated with dollar signs.
Babies also get sick and go to the doctor frequently during their first few years; you need to have healthcare to ensure your baby is well taken care of.
6. Consider starting a “baby fund”
We’re all on different budgets, and while it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to raise an infant, there are plenty of costs to think about. Bottles, diapers, clothes, furniture, wipes, shampoo, soap, car seats, strollers, more diapers, more clothes, more bottles, you get the point.
If you don’t have any money put aside for your baby’s arrival, now would be a good time to start. In the event that you don’t use all the money you save, you can always turn it into a college fund.
7. Take a look at personal finances
Speaking of money; you want to take a look at your current financial situation. Having a baby changes everything, and you start to think less about yourself and more about your new child. Ensure that your financial house is in order. If you have any outstanding credit card bills, try your best to pay them down before the baby arrives.
8. Buy and learn how to use a car seat
You want to make sure that you have the right size infant car seat and that you know how to install it and use it. One of my fondest memories is walking out of the hospital with my baby and putting him in the car for the first time. Ensure it’s a smooth experience and one worth remembering by learning the car seat ahead of time.
9. Don’t forget the diaper bag
Attention, new dad! You need to bring supplies to the hospital! Have a diaper bag all packed up with everything you need when you first go to the facility. I would recommend putting it in the car and leaving it there when you know your partner is expecting. This strategy will make the big day run a little smoother.
10. Understand that laundry is a necessity
Boy oh boy, laundry will quickly become a full-time job. If you have a laundry situation where you need to go to a laundromat or to a group laundry facility, you’re in for a ride. Nothing says fun like cleaning up vomit-covered sheets and clothes at 3 am and leaving them in the house until the morning so you can go to the laundromat.
If you can, try to have your own washer and dryer. I understand that it is not logical for everyone, but if you can, you will thank me later. Even if you have a nearby friend or family member you can lean on, try to stay away from public laundry facilities.
11. Baby proof the house
During the first few months, you don’t have to go crazy. I would recommend taking care of simple and obvious things first and worrying about the rest when your baby starts moving around. Consider removing low picture frames, candles, pet food, and other obvious hazards.
12. Where’s baby sleeping?
Make sure you and your partner have discussed sleeping arrangements. It’s great to think that your spare bedroom will make a perfect nursery, but it doesn’t matter if your baby will never sleep there. Many experts recommend keeping your newborn in their own room in due time, but it’s entirely your decision. The main thing is to have it figured out.
13. Have plenty of dates leading up the baby’s arrival
It’s easy to get so caught up in preparing for your baby that you forget the love you have for your partner. Take some time out to spend quality time with her before the baby comes. Go on plenty of dates, enjoy time in the house alone, and get all of your “desires” out of the way while you still can.
14. Spend time with friends and family as much as possible
In addition to your partner, you want to see your friends and family a lot leading up to the baby’s arrival as well. You’ll feel like a hobbit for a while once your baby comes, so go out and enjoy yourself while you still can. Remember that you’re still a person too, and you deserve attention and relaxation.
15. Talk to your friends about upcoming life changes
Communication is key with your friends, especially if they don’t have children of their own. They may not understand or realize that you can’t go out to the bar and celebrate your newborn baby the next night. Make sure you’re all on the same page and that they know you may have to disappear for a while until things settle down.
Fathers are more involved in the life of a newborn than ever before. It’s a great time to be a dad, and you have the responsibility of preparing for the arrival of your baby.
Truthfully, you can never be prepared, but you can come close by running through this list and checking things off as you go!