Advice for New Dads

Compiled by Zvi Band

We’re expecting our first child in July ‘16. Like most new fathers, I have absolutely no idea what to expect.

That’s where friends come in.

What are the 3-5 most important things a new father should know that you wish you knew before your first came about?
Worry less. By being so worried with your first child, you unnecessarily stress yourself out AND accidentally spoil them. The first child gets TOO MUCH attention... except during the first 3-4 months when you can wear him/her all the time in the Ergo or Baby Bjorn.

What is the best resources (websites, blogs, books, etc) that you highly recommend we go when we're looking for help?
Watch two videos:
The Business of Being Born and then The Happiest Kid on the Block

C'mon - we're probably freaked out by all the changes that are about to happen. Give us a pep talk. What changes? Is life better, worse?
Less sleep. More meaning.

Russell Heimlich (like the maneuver)

What are the 3-5 most important things a new father should know that you wish you knew before your first came about?
1) Document the "normal, every day" things your baby does because they change so fast.
2) Pack your hospital bag early. We wanted to wait until the hospital tour so we would know what we needed. Zadie was born the day before our scheduled hospital tour.
3) Don't stress out about getting the nursery perfect before the baby's arrival. It's a good 4-6 months before they will sleep in their room. It will be waaay harder for you then for your baby when that happens.
4) Don't stress out about not knowing how to change a diaper. It's easy. You'll pick it up. The first time I did it was at the hospital. It's way easier when it's your own kid and they're so new and still.
5) Figure out a way to manage all of the photos of your kid you're going to take. You're going to take 10x more than you think you will and they're the most special artifact you will have. I find myself firing up Google Photos and browsing old baby photos from time to time.
Maybe start a photo blog that pulls photos from Instagram
https://github.com/kingkool68/zadieheimlich
6) This one is for the mommy: My wife really enjoyed the
PACE mommy group for first time mothers. She liked bonding with other first time mothers and found it extremely helpful. We still hang out with her PACE mom friends and go to the kids birthday parties etc.
What is the best resources (websites, blogs, books, etc) that you highly recommend we go when we're looking for help?
Greg Lavallee (see his page) gave me the book "
Be Prepared" which was my most helpful resource. I only read the first half from about birth to 6 months. You pick things up after that.
Poison Control is a good number to have on hand in case you gave your baby too much baby Tylenol and have no idea if it's bad or not (spoiler alert: It's fine!)
You're going to want to Google everything you have a question about which will be both helpful and worrisome at the same time.
Talk to your parents. They've been there. Ever since the birth of my daughter it's given me more things to talk about with my parents and in-laws. Get togethers are way more fun now.
C'mon - we're probably freaked out by all the changes that are about to happen. Give us a pep talk. What changes? Is life better, worse?
Life totally changes with your first kid and it's absolutely awesome even if it looks insane from your current perspective. You're going to experience a new kind of hecticness you never thought possible. Take it all in. Before you know it everything goes by way to fast. The movie Inside Out will make you cry even harder. News stories about unfortunate things that happen to children will be even tougher to hear. You're probably going to get more emotional. I sure did.
But you're also going to crazy awesome joy like when they smile for the first time or they laugh or just watching them fall asleep while they're swaddled. It's totally worth it and then before you know it you'll be chomping at the bit to dole out your new found wisdom to other soon-to-be Dads.

What are the 3-5 most important things a new father should know that you wish you knew before your first came about?
Start sleep training early! The less he sleeps the more he will cry, but he doesn't know he needs to sleep.

You will hopefully sleep more than you think you will. Not a lot you can do in the middle of the night if you're wife is breastfeeding. But don't quote me on this, all baby's are different from what I understand.

The first two weeks are nuts, but it settles down.

Get a swing, a bouncer, two bassinets (one for your room one for living room) and a crib...sounds nuts, but do it.

What is the best resources (websites, blogs, books, etc) that you highly recommend we go when we're looking for help?
The Sleep Lady Book
What to expect the first year
Mamma Baby App
Sound Sleep App

C'mon - we're probably freaked out by all the changes that are about to happen. Give us a pep talk. What changes? Is life better, worse?
Life is way better! Just different.

What are the 3-5 most important things a new father should know that you wish you knew before your first came about?
I don't have any advice that you haven't heard before. But I will reiterate something. Having a kid is one of the hardest transitions you will ever go through. Your whole life changes in an instant. You already know that. What you may not know, is that it is okay to have a hard time with it. It is okay to struggle with your new identity. It is not a transition that happens over night, becoming a dad is a process. Give yourself the time to transition and don't get frustrated with the process.

It's also really fun grooming your new best friend. They are a blast.

Lastly, remember you have 3 relationships that all need attention and work. The relationship to your new family, the relationship to your partner and your relationship to yourself. Make time for all of them.

What is the best resources (websites, blogs, books, etc) that you highly recommend we go when we're looking for help?
The best resource available is a small group of other parents who's child's birthday is within a few days of your own. Find them and establish an open communication channel. This is especially important for your wife. They will be the best people to get feedback from. They will also be the best people to do brunch with.

C'mon - we're probably freaked out by all the changes that are about to happen. Give us a pep talk. What changes? Is life better, worse?
Let's be real. The first 3 months are TOUGH. But its only 3 months. Then is all gets better and really, really fun. The best proverb I heard was "the days are long but the years are short." Our son is 8 months old now and it seems like we were just in the hospital, looking at him for the first time. But I can remember many LONG days, full of stress, sleep deprivation and love.

What are the 3-5 most important things a new father should know that you wish you knew before your first came about?
1. If you don't have family close, especially the kind that will walk in, take the baby and tell you take a nap, it's going to make things harder. Identify friends who can fill this role and take advantage of them!
2. You may be very worried about your baby's health _all the time_. They make strange noises. Post-partum anxiety is a thing and it can affect both parents. With our first, I'm pretty sure we both had it and just thought that being that nervous about the baby was "part of being new parents." I'm not saying to go get diagnosed, just recognize that if you suddenly have some sudden new neuroses, there's help out there. You have to have a pediatrician lined up before they'll let you leave the hospital, and most pediatricians also have 24 hour "nurse hotline" to prevent worried-ass parents from coming in too often. Use this hotline whenever you feel nervous! On the other end is someone who has dealt with a bazillion more kids than you and can calm your nerves.
3. Folks will get you really nervous about having people around your baby the first few weeks because of illnesses, etc. Think about this, and then think about the fact that second-born kids have the first born kid coming home from the petri-dish that is daycare and then stop worrying so much.
4. Be wary of advice. Humans have been doing this for a loooong time without magical wraps, white-noise machines, warmers for baby-wipes, trash cans that hermetically seal in poo smells. What works for some babies won't work for yours and vice-a-versa. There are no patterns. The moment you think "oh maybe now they'll start doing X all the time" they will stop doing X and start doing Y.
5. There will be fluids. All of them. Lots of them. Get used to it. Your baby is no grosser than any of the other ones and they are all horrifyingly gross.
6. If your wife is breastfeeding, you may feel useless a lot of the time and/or emotionally distant from the kid because of this rad bond that Mom and kid get from all the time they spend together. Do not let these feelings effect your attitude towards mom. This is her role and it also sucks for her (literally!) Wallowing in self-pity is not helpful for her in the slightest. I only felt small pangs of this and then found other ways to get my own time. For instance, I've pretty much given 98% of my kids' baths for the last 3 years, spend time introducing them to music, etc. You can determine your own level of involvement in this as a father.
7. If you haven't heard of a Doula, look it up. We hired one and not only was she great to have around for my wife, it was wonderful for me to have a person I'd met a few times and who had seen a few hundred births there at the hospital helping us along.

Greg also put together a really great guide that he hands out as well.

Greg Lavallee (continued)

What is the best resources (websites, blogs, books, etc) that you highly recommend we go when we're looking for help?
"Be Prepared." It is awesome. We both read a fair amount of "What to Expect When You're Expecting" before the big event and "Your Baby's First Year" which does week by week stuff for the first year.

But please don't read what they're supposed to be doing in week 4 and get all down in the dumps when they aren't coo-ing yet. I'm pretty sure every baby coos and if yours isn't going to, a doctor will tell you something's wrong, not a book.I liked the Total Baby app for keeping track of diapers, feedings, etc. And I liked the Full Term app for measuring contractions on the big night.

C'mon - we're probably freaked out by all the changes that are about to happen. Give us a pep talk. What changes? Is life better, worse?
You can totally do this! Humans have done it for eons and they didn't have smart phones to kill the soul-crushing boredom that comes along with rocking a baby in a chair from 2am-4am while slowly humming row-row-row your boat. Every time you think everything is terrible, the baby will do something new and amazing and you'll think "oh this isn't so bad, look at that adorable smile!"

Your relationships with friends who don't have kids will likely change in significant ways. You may find them contacting you less because they feel like they're intruding or they've written you off as not being able to hang out. If you miss them, call them! Make a point of bringing that kid out and showing them that you can still hang.

Your ability to be spontaneous will change drastically. Make sure people in your life know that you can spend time with them, but that you might need a little more runway to do it.

You may feel guilty leaving your partner at home to go do something fun with friends.

Just know that most of these things are totally normal.

I remember before I had the first kid, I felt busy all the time. I wondered "where am I going to find time to raise a kid?" Now my kids go to bed, I spend 30 minutes doing dishes and then I flip through pictures of them while they sleep.

What are the 3-5 most important things a new father should know that you wish you knew before your first came about?
There is only one thing a new father should know:

Do what you feel is best.

Any time I assume there is some "reason" for people's advice, I was usually disappointed because most advice is based on a single (flawed) data point or a research study that is pretty much bunk. So don't assume anyone is smart about this shit. By going in with an open mind, doing a bit of deeper research into the study and being somewhat "humanly logical", you'll come to the right decisions.

People have been doing this for thousands of years. Trust your gut.

What is the best resources (websites, blogs, books, etc) that you highly recommend we go when we're looking for help?
Expecting Better by Emily Oster (read anything by her -- she's the best data-driven writer about the process)

C'mon - we're probably freaked out by all the changes that are about to happen. Give us a pep talk. What changes? Is life better, worse?
It's all about perspective. For me and Allison, it's definitely better. But it's different.

The key is remembering that the baby comes to live with you -- you don't go live with it.

And let the baby sleep in his/her own room as soon as you feel comfortable ... like frankly sooner than you feel comfortable.

What are the 3-5 most important things a new father should know that you wish you knew before your first came about?
Children are surprisingly difficult to kill. So don't be too worried if you accidentally bonk them on the head, twist their arm, let them roll off the couch. I mean, take good care of them and be worried if there is blood or swelling, but otherwise, they will be fine.

Children also cry. They sometimes cry for no discernible reason. That's not a reason to pull over to the side of the road, again, unless there is bleeding or swelling.

Pacifiers are god's gift to parents, until the kid is a year old. Then, you need to accidentally lose them and tell your child (who won't remember anyway - which is why this has to be done at 1 year) that they aren't making them anymore.

What is the best resources (websites, blogs, books, etc) that you highly recommend we go when we're looking for help?
In general, consult other people who have raised halfway decent children. Take everything else you read with a grain of salt as you can likely find a credible source to say the exact opposite.

C'mon - we're probably freaked out by all the changes that are about to happen. Give us a pep talk. What changes? Is life better, worse?
Nothing beats when your child smiles at you, laughs at you, or poops on you.

Your body has natural defense mechanisms (selective amnesia) to help you with the sleep deprivation. That's why people have second children.


First, you don't need a bunch of stuff. Babies just sit there. They don't do much. They drink milk, poop, and sleep. So, avoid all the crap that you can get. Keep things simple.

Secondly, there's a process where you mourn the transition. You and the Mrs were able to go on vacay. You were able to just leisurely sit on the beach. Yeeeeaaah you'll try that sometime and it'll fail miserably and you'll be really pissed.

Right now you and her can do whatever you want whenever you want it. Kids need routine. And it'll feel like routine is the death of freedom. But you'll realize that routine is freedom. Routine means I know what's going to happen

It's AMAZING. But it's a big change. It's natural to be like WTF.

What are the 3-5 most important things a new father should know that you wish you knew before your first came about?
Having kids is the best!!! They joy Julie and I experience from our son is uncomparable to anything else we’ve ever experienced. Yes it takes work. And yes it requires sacrifice (time and money) and also introduces new challenges to your relationship with your wife. But if you have the perspective and positive attitude about this new life in your world, it is absolutely worth it!!! That idea should entirely be obvious, however, unfortunately, there are those who focus on the sacrifice rather than the joy and they then carry a negative attitude. So what you should know is: if you happen upon people with negative attitudes about their own babies and children or the effort required - - cut them out of your life! Don’t let negativity in. It all about perspective, keep the right one.

As you welcome this child into the world, you should remember that it’s your world! Kabed et avicha veh Imecha - not Kabed et yeldecha. The point is two fold: i) our child is not an idol to be worshipped, and ii) you shouldn’t stop living your life and tip toe around your home. Show your kid the world and don't coop yourself up at home like a hermit.

C'mon - we're probably freaked out by all the changes that are about to happen. Give us a pep talk. What changes? Is life better, worse?
Nothing to freak about. It’s all good. Just invoke your inner Bob Marley

Short story for you: I was with a friend and his father at a conference where most of the attendees were in their late 20s, early 30s. I had observed although amongst many peers and friends, throughout the conference, my friend and his father were together. I found it remarkable that my friend chose to spend his time that way and I wanted to know why. So I asked the father, "how is it that you two are close?" (I too am close with my father, so I could immediately relate to his answer.) He responded with two points. The first "show up/be there for him" and the second was an observation where he said, "if you care enough to ask that question and are willing to search for the answer, then you will be just fine." Looking at this book you have compiled, I feel the same applies to you as well.

Mazal Tov!!!!!!!!!!

What are the 3-5 most important things a new father should know that you wish you knew before your first came about?
- I was worried about paternity leave. My business grinds to a halt when I'm not actively moving it along. I was able to line up my projects to have a two-week gap. I thought I'd be worried about work the entire time, but it was really easy just to focus on him and my wife...and time I'll always cherish. I ended up taking closer to three weeks. Clients and prospects were all very respectful and always very excited.
- You have to track (wet/poo/both) diapers. This is how you know if the baby is getting fed enough, especially if breastfeeding. I had no idea. After trying a few free and paid apps, we ended up really liking Medela's (free) app. Best UX/UI, and it tracks breastfeeding, pumping, and/or formula.
- Everyone told us how superfluous a wipes warmer was, which seemed to makes sense. The first night in the hospital, I went to change his diaper. He was sound asleep, until the cold wipe touched his bottom. He jerked awake and started screaming. Once I calmed him down, I pulled up Amazon and had a wipes warmer waiting when we came home.
- If your wife is prescribed anything for pain, especially for a C-Section, pick up the prescription while still at the hospital. I went to three pharmacies and called nearly a dozen more looking for the painkiller she was prescribed. I ended up driving back to the hospital's pharmacy to get it. // Also, don't call pharmacies asking if they have a narcotic in stock. They apparently always say no. Which makes sense on one level, but sure isn't helpful when a brand new mom is home alone with a 3-day old. //
- Changing diapers isn't that bad.
- The first time the light catches your child's eyes, and you can see your reflection, you will melt.

What is the best resources (websites, blogs, books, etc) that you highly recommend we go when we're looking for help?
My best resource was my wife. She is a research junkie and provided me with a lot of already digested information. She also found things like pre-natal yoga and the birthing class (we did Bradley) to be very helpful. We were the first in our group of friends to have kids, and those two groups have provided us with a community of other new parents. Bringing up Bebe and Parenting Without Borders were interesting reads. Also, I love this book -->
The Baby Owner's Manual

C'mon - we're probably freaked out by all the changes that are about to happen. Give us a pep talk. What changes? Is life better, worse?
First and foremost, congrats! Honestly, it's a lot like a startup. There are times when it's exhausting and difficult. However, the lows are as low and the highs are exponentially higher. We had rotating (grand)parents come and stay for the first couple of weeks. I delegated. Asked for help. Let them worry about meals and laundry while we focused on Simon. It was invaluable bonding time with him, and the whole family.
Then they leave. You are freaked out all over again, but soon realize that you have it under control. The routine starts to present itself, and everyone settles in. It's still hard, but it's pretty awesome.

What are the 3-5 most important things a new father should know that you wish you knew before your first came about?
- sleep deprivation is real, you won't notice it always, but you need to be aware of it with your relationships with your spouse and at work
- early on, demand visitors bring/help something (dinner, dishes, watch baby for even 20 minutes)
- DO NOT ORDER ANYTHING BUT IMMEDIATE ESSENTIALS AHEAD OF TIME - seriously, you live in a city, Amazon.com, and everything within 1 day ,o r even more urgent stuff at CVS. Immediate essentials being a small pack of diapers (youll get stuff at hospital) and a few onsies, car seat, crib or bassinet.
- communicate - see sleep exhaustion - you need to communicate effectively with your spouse - you wont know who needs to do what until that baby is home with you, but you've got to have safe, open conversations with your spouse about what you/they are thinking and feeling and wanting to do - the choices you're going to be making are different than anything you've done, and things you thought you'd be like as a parent will be challenged

What is the best resources (websites, blogs, books, etc) that you highly recommend we go when we're looking for help?
Single best book I read in the week or 2 leading up and cover to cover in first weeks 2-3 times, referenced back daily for first couple months, and still reference weekly:
Baby 411- non judgemental, real, practical advice.
companion to buy now/with it:
Baby Bargains - similar practical advice
googling at 3 am is dangerous, but you will do it - grains of salt required.
if breastfeeding, kellymom.com is the only resource that we trusted (from our hospital nurses and pediatrician)

C'mon - we're probably freaked out by all the changes that are about to happen. Give us a pep talk. What changes? Is life better, worse?
Everything changes. Every single baby and parents are different, so seek advice from everyone and discount as appropriate. Your baby may sleep well or not, may breastfeed or not, may grow fast or not... and your family and friend's advice is based on their own experiences and personalities. It’s still helpful to gather AS MUCH advice as you can. Some you'll throw away immediately, others you'll use. I always ask everyone I meet for tips, b/c you never know.
The change for me was scary - mostly positive - but it was chemical the minute she was born. I felt it. I embraced it. But it was real and powerful.
Its not all roses - spouse relationships can be strained. WOrk suffers. Social life for us disappeared. Schedules have to be altered dramatically.
But i can not say enough, when my daughter smiles - every single negative experience disappears.
And when they say it takes a village - it does - and you'll discover the child rearing village - of family, friends, and we all welcome you and will always understand.

What are the 3-5 most important things a new father should know that you wish you knew before your first came about?
It gets easier and better, but it's not a linear progression. Basically, the first two weeks were insane for me and Vera, then we thought we figured it out, then it was tough again, then we broke through and thought we were the best parents in the world. We're now nearing five months. The good spells are easier and more rewarding, but it's always a rollercoaster.

During the bad stretches, you're only goal is to help your wife survive, often by reassuring her that she's not going to kill or permanently damage her baby (despite what all the books will tell you). I still remember Vera freaking out because we resorted to bed sharing in the first few weeks, out of desperation. Eve survived and sleeps all night in her crib today.

Ignore most of what people tell you and do what feels right. Almost every parent will assure you that whatever big decision they made is the key to raising a happy and healthy kid. They're just trying to justify their own decisions. The best decisions are the ones that come instinctively.

What is the best resources (websites, blogs, books, etc) that you highly recommend we go when we're looking for help?
Watch the Happiest Baby On The Block videos, but mostly just to laugh at the single creepiest doctor on this or any block. Ignore everything else.

C'mon - we're probably freaked out by all the changes that are about to happen. Give us a pep talk. What changes? Is life better, worse?
I can honest say that I wish I had done this years earlier. It's exhausting and stressful but has left me feeling so much closer to Vera and calmly grounded as a man. And I'm utterly, head-over-heels infatuated with my little girl.

What are the 3-5 most important things a new father should know that you wish you knew before your first came about?
1: You're not going to break your kid, they're tougher than you think. Let them holler some sometimes. I mean, don't neglect them, but independence helps you later.
2: Don't forget you're still an independent human too. Make sure you take time to refresh yourself, especially when your kid is asleep.
3: There's a lot of literature out there about what to worry about. It's not all wrong, for sure, but maybe the incentive to sell books can lead to more dramatic interpretations of the truth than need be.
4: Don't expect much for awhile and you won't be disappointed ;)

What is the best resources (websites, blogs, books, etc) that you highly recommend we go when we're looking for help?
I read reddit parenting pretty often (
https://www.reddit.com/r/parenting), also I listen to The Longest Shortest TIme (a podcast).

I've read a bunch of books, most weren't as helpful but I did personally enjoy "Be Prepared"

We got a lot of great free stuff from our local Freecycle group. If you're not plugged in yet there's a really great sharing economy around kid stuff. Check out https://www.freecycle.org/ or other local groups depending on where you live (MOTH for example)

Oh and for when the rugrat has grown a little, I've heard http://kidfriendlydc.com/ is invaluable.

C'mon - we're probably freaked out by all the changes that are about to happen. Give us a pep talk. What changes? Is life better, worse?
It's hard work! You will lose sleep! You will shift your personal priorities. It's going to happen, but after the first 3-9 months things get way way better and then all the giggles, smiles, and really obvious love your kid will show makes it all amazing.

And really, when compared to launching a startup, it's not so bad ;)

And finally...

What are the 3-5 most important things a new father should know that you wish you knew before your first came about?

  • First, take a close read through the other pieces of advice given in this ebook. So much of it made such a huge impact in the days leading up to/after birth. I’ll give some advice that I didn’t see on these pages that I found helpful.
  • I (we) were unprepared for how tough it is on the mother, both physically and emotionally. You just hear about pregnancy being painful, but it’s a long recovery after delivery (regardless of method). Coupled with that, the challenge of feeding and caring for a brand new human being is both a challenge and emotionally tasking. You have to be solid as a rock to counter that (regardless of familial support).
  • Get back into a normal schedule as quick as possible - just with a baby. That includes forcing yourselves out of the house as much as possible.
  • Split duties as much as possible - that has helped keep us sane and good partners. Both pumping + formula means that I can handle the 11 and 6 AM feedings, while my wife does the 3 AM feeding. Both of us get enough sleep. I also handle most of the household duties, as she is focused on childcare.
  • We set up a separate private Instagram account just for pictures of her, and post all the time. I set up an IFTTT flow to email the pictures to family. My grandparents love getting multiple photos a day.
  • Feed/care for the baby and love the baby. It’s a balance of the two. If you are so obsessive or worried about caring that love takes a backseat, fix it. That means, for example, if trying to breastfeed constantly is too stressful and causing you to be miserable around them, fine, add in pumping or supplement with formula.

What is the best resources (websites, blogs, books, etc) that you highly recommend we go when we're looking for help?
I read a bunch of the books, largely a waste of time, but you’ll probably read them anyways in search of
some type of knowledge. I downloaded a bunch of apps and used only a few. Who’s Your Daddy was fun during pregnancy. Any contraction counter app is a necessity when the time comes. And we used Glow Baby in the first few weeks, where you want to closely track feedings and bathroom stuff.

Having a friend or two who’s a pediatrician has been really helpful. If you don’t have one, make friends with one or pay for one of your friends to go to med school.

C'mon - we're probably freaked out by all the changes that are about to happen. Give us a pep talk. What changes? Is life better, worse?
There’s no pep talk one can give that hasn’t been given before. All I can say is trust everyone else, you’ll get through it, your child will be great. Things change, but mostly for the better. Just to warn you, the *biggest* negative I’ve encountered is the significant decrease in “free time.” Except watching Wire re-runs at 2 AM :-)

Feel free to share this with new dads!

http://zvi.me/newdadebook