Top Tips for First-Time Dads

That time is approaching and you’re about to be a dad for the first time! This is an exciting yet daunting experience for every new parent, so, we’re here to help you out with some first-time dad tips during pregnancy.

Learning the ropes can take a little time and your life will evolve in the process. But with some preparation before the baby arrives, you may ease some of the stress and allow for more time to enjoy the precious moments of your baby’s first weeks.

If you’re preparing for fatherhood, check out our helpful tips for new dads and fatherhood advice, to help you prepare and manage the arrival of your little one.

Health and Fitness

With a new baby, the way that you spend your time and energy will change. Taking some time before your little one arrives to focus on building a healthy lifestyle will help give you the stamina for this new experience.

As a dad-to-be, eating well, sleeping enough, and exercising regularly are all steps you can take to help prepare for becoming a father.

1. Build Healthy Eating Habits

A well-balanced diet will help dads-to-be maintain a healthy weight, which in turn can help prevent or manage stress, obesity, and other health conditions.

The key to getting – and staying – fit starts in the kitchen. Building good dietary habits in the weeks and months leading up to the birth will help later on. This is especially true after the baby comes when many expectant dads find themselves with less personal time to focus on physical fitness.

Getting plenty of water is essential for good health, even if you’re not becoming a father. It’s recommended to drink at least six to eight glasses of water per day, as well as the liquids you consume in certain foods.

2. Get Regular Exercise

Experienced parents know that once children arrive, they’ll be putting their children first and spend less time on themselves. First-time dads might be surprised that the time they have for workouts plummets on the priority list. On top of that, parenting will take a lot of your energy, and general fatigue is going to take its toll on your physical fitness.

As you’re preparing for fatherhood, you might want to think about putting an emphasis on being active and staying fit to help keep up with the demands of parenthood. Before your newborn’s arrival, you could consider an exercise routine that fits into your new lifestyle as a parent or find something you and your partner can do together. Once your little one arrives, you can incorporate taking the baby for a walk in their pram as part of your daily exercise.

3. Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep allows the body to function properly, and first-time dads will learn that it’s a precious commodity. Getting enough sleep is crucial for allowing your body and mind the opportunity to recharge – much needed when you're becoming a father.

Once your baby arrives, life will become a little busier for you and your partner. So, you may want to make a sleeping plan for when your baby arrives and make adjustments as needed. You may even master the art of napping!

4. Look After Your Mental Health

If you’re about to be a dad, know that taking care of a newborn will bring joy and excitement into your life, but you’ll also encounter difficulties. Combatting stress and fatigue may be a challenge as you encounter a rollercoaster of emotions on top of the day-to-day activities of looking after your little one. Developing good habits to manage stress will help you maintain the energy you need to care for your little one.

Do your best to find time for yourself, which can be a tough task in the early days of parenthood, and make sure that your partner also has some personal time. Before the baby’s arrival, consider picking up a hobby or another activity that can be done at home, such as yoga or listening to podcasts. And remember to take time to talk to friends, keep communicating with your partner and be kind to yourself!

5. Be Aware of Your Emotions During the Postpartum Period

During the first year after your baby is born, the mother may experience postpartum or postnatal symptoms, which can also affect the father or partner.

Be vigilant in watching for signs of postnatal depression, which can affect fathers as well as mothers. Keeping open lines of communication with your partner will be crucial after the baby comes and is something you and your partner can work on while you’re preparing for fatherhood.

A major life change (and a lack of sleep) can stress out anyone. Be careful not to get so wrapped up in looking after your newborn that you forget to take care of yourself or pay attention to your own feelings and that of your partner.

Domestic Tasks

Becoming a dad for the first time means adjusting your lifestyle and preparing your living space for the arrival of a newborn, including assembling the many things babies will need (both nice-to-haves and must-haves in their first weeks and months.

6. Make and Freeze Some Meals Ahead of Time

When you're tired and hungry, nothing beats pulling a ready-made meal out of the freezer. Not having to think about what you want to eat, and being able to get a hearty plate of food in front of you or your significant other within minutes, will be a relief, especially during some of the more exhausting days.

Dedicate some time leading up to the baby’s arrival to cook up batches of your favourite foods and have a freezer full of healthy meals that you could eat at a moment’s notice.


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7. Begin Babyproofing the House

Babies become mobile quicker than you might expect, so why not get started on baby-proofing your home now. This can involve everything from installing locks on cupboards and blocking stairs with safety gates to covering plug sockets with a cover and moving cords and breakable items up and out of your little one's reach.

Try getting on your hands and knees and crawling around your living space, the way your baby would! You might be surprised at what you see from the perspective of your little one and it’ll help you anticipate what to expect when becoming a father.

8. Choosing Baby Equipment

When you walk into a baby and nursery shop for the first time, whether to buy something or add it to your baby registry, you’ll likely feel overwhelmed at the selection of equipment available. However, not all these items will be essential, though they will all likely be tempting. Here’s a short newborn baby checklist of basic things every dad-to-be needs in terms of baby equipment and furniture:

  • Cot

  • Car seat

  • Changing table

  • Nappy bin or bucket

  • Baby bath.

Babies sleep a lot, so when you’re choosing a cot, make sure that the one you select meets British safety standard BS EN 716 (You should find the BS in the instructions or on the cot), with a snugly fitted firm mattress, and sturdy and secure bars on the cot that are no more than 6.5 centimetres apart.

9. Clear Up Storage Space

Preparing for fatherhood will likely require making some changes to your living space. One thing that a father can do before the baby arrives is to help design the living space for functionality. Be sure to share your ideas with your parenting partner, since they’ll likely have a lot of thoughts about your shared living space as well! Putting things within easy reach of when and where they will be used will save time as well as help prevent accidents.

As a new dad-to-be, consider parting with things that you no longer use or getting rid of extra furniture that takes up space. With an extra (little) person on the way, it may be a good time to declutter the home. This way you’ll be bringing your newborn into a welcoming, organised environment. Plus, with fewer items in the house, you and your partner will be better able to visualise all your baby nursery ideas.

10. Deep Clean Your Living Space

A clean, healthy environment is important for your little one, so it may be a good idea to give your living space a thorough cleaning before the baby’s arrival. Plus, in those first few weeks, you and your partner will likely be busy with a litany of baby-related tasks and may not be especially inclined to do a deep clean then. Best of all, your partner will probably thank you!

11. Get Your Car Checked and Install the Car Seat

If you’re going to be a father soon, it may be a good idea to make sure your car is running smoothly before the baby arrives. And now’s the time to install the car safety seat, which you’ll need when bringing your baby home from the hospital. The car seat should be placed facing backwards in the back seat of your vehicle for maximum safety, and you'll want to pay careful attention to the manufacturer's instructions as well as the section on car seats in your vehicle’s manual when you’re installing it. If it’s only possible to install the baby seat in a front seat, the passenger-side airbags must be disabled. In the UK, Only EU-approved height-based or weight-based child car seats can be used. Look for the label on your car seat showing an ‘E’ in a circle and R129, R44.03 or R44.04.


When you’re becoming a father, your relationships with your partner, colleagues, friends and family will become a very important source of support. However, they may change in some ways as your own perspective shifts into that of a first-time dad.

12. Talk About Parenting With Your Partner

You probably already know that becoming a father means that you and your partner are equally responsible for your baby’s care and well-being. In the upcoming months before the baby’s arrival, it would be well worth it to spend time with your partner to agree on an appropriate division of tasks.

You’ll be able to co-parent as a team more effectively if you draw up a game plan together beforehand. Divvying up the main tasks (who changes the nappies when, who gets up at night for feeds, etc.) clearly and appropriately will ensure that the parenting load is equal. As a father, you may enjoy helping with bath time. It’s a great task to help you bond with your newborn and gives mum a much-needed break. These tips on how to bathe your baby may help.

Planning for this division of tasks ahead of time will prevent one parent from doing more than the other and reduce the risk of conflict. Reducing any negative feelings between you and your partner will make your parenting journey a little smoother.

13. Don’t Neglect Romance

Dads-to-be can expect a lot of things to change when the newborn comes and takes over the top spot on the list of priorities. It may be worthwhile to acknowledge that your sex life may change under these new circumstances, but that romance, affection and intimacy can take on many forms.

Being physically present with your partner-parent will strengthen the bond between the two of you. Some thoughtful planning (and date nights) can go a long way – and if you’re wondering if sex during pregnancy is OK, then – unless you’ve been advised not to by your doctor or midwife – it definitely is!

14. Connect With Friends

Your friends will all likely be happy and proud to watch you take the next step in your life’s journey. While you might be in the thick of planning for your baby’s arrival, consider making plans to make some pre-baby memories with your friends.

Taking some pre-baby time to bond with your friends over a drink or good conversation may pay off down the line if you feel overwhelmed with figuring out how to be a good first-time dad and you need some external support.

15. Find Fellow Dads

If you're going to be a dad soon, it may help to speak with other dads who have gone through the same process as you and encountered the new feelings that come with first-time fatherhood.

It’s well worth it to be a part of a community of people with shared experiences and better yet to have a support system of similar perspectives to help discuss tips for new dads.

Colleagues at work or in other social groups you’re a part of would be a good network to tap into, and you might be surprised to find out how many dads will be enthusiastic about sharing their experiences or giving fatherhood advice.

Financial and Legal Tasks

First-time dads can benefit from having a game plan for approaching all the financial and legal things to do before a baby is born. Setting up a plan and following through will help you provide a secure future for yourself and your family.

16. Work Out the Family Budget

Having a baby will very likely shake up your finances if you don’t prepare ahead of time. Taking some time to create or update a family budget, in conjunction with your partner-parent, will help you financially navigate your parenting journey.

You can make the transition a little easier by reassessing your household budget and determining what’s essential for your lifestyle, given the new expenses that will come with raising a child. Some costs you’ll need to consider will include childcare, healthcare and insurance changes among others specific to you and your partner.

17. Make Workplace Plans

It’s worth finding out if you’re entitled to statutory paternity pay or leave for when your newborn arrives. You should inform your employer of your paternity leave (when and how much time) at least 15 weeks before your baby’s due date.

It’s also worth finding out if your employer offers any benefits on top of your paternity pay or leave. Every company will likely have a different set of internal policies regarding this.

18. Consolidate Important Financial and Nonfinancial Information

Topping the list of financial and legal things to do before the baby is born is making sure that your important documents are organised and centralised for easy access. In case of an emergency, it may also be a good idea if someone you trust knows how to access any important legal or financial information as well.

You’ll want a safe space (physical and/or digital) to keep the following:

  • Bank and/or investment accounts

  • Health/life insurance records

  • Your will or trust

  • Medical power of attorney (as in whom you grant the ability to obtain medical care for your child)

  • Information regarding household bills with account numbers

  • Documents that you may need to provide at the hospital, such as birth plan and hospital notes (along with other hospital bag items)

  • Key contact info (like your GP or accountant)

Developing a system for your important financial and medical information before the baby’s arrival will help you later as well when you also will need to keep track of your child’s records.

19. Automate Your Accounts

You might find yourself with less time and capacity than you’d like to keep track of your bills. After all, you’ll be busy with the full-time job of caring for a newborn, and it’s easy to lose track of when things are due.

You can make your life a little easier by signing up for automatic bill payments wherever it’s possible. Automated payments may help you manage your expenses and help make sure that you don’t miss any due dates.

20. Consider Opening a Savings Account for Your Little One

Opening a savings account will pay dividends (literally) down the line as your child gets older, so it makes sense to do this as soon as you can.

21. Clear Up (Digital) Storage Space

Make sure that your digital space (cloud account, hard drive) has enough room to accommodate the presence of your new little one. You and your partner will likely want to document this special time by taking baby photos and videos.

Skills to Work On for First-Time Dads

‘Dad, how do I...?’ is a phrase that you can look forward to hearing quite often as your child gets older. Part of what makes becoming a dad so meaningful is being able to impart the knowledge you’ve gained to your little one.

Before you get to that phase, though, keep in mind there are some skills worth brushing up on while you’re preparing for the baby’s arrival.

22. Using a First-Aid Kit

Another smart move is to both prepare and learn how to use a first-aid kit. It’s a good idea to be ready for cases of mild illnesses or injuries like cuts, scrapes or burns. Some useful items to have (and know how to safely use) include:

  • first aid manual

  • baby thermometer

  • plasters and bandages

  • antiseptic wipes or cream

  • age-appropriate painkillers.

Learning how to treat minor scrapes and bruises, as well as being able to recognise when there are larger issues that require professional attention, is a key step in how to prepare for a baby.

23. Communicating and Listening

Over the course of the parenting journey, you’ll waiver between feeling overwhelmed and unsure to feeling confident that you’re the only one who knows how to properly care for your little one, particularly during the early stages.

Your partner will likely be feeling a similar way, so remember that while you’re learning how to be a dad to a newborn, your partner is encountering their challenges as well. Anticipating that the stresses of parenthood can sometimes overwhelm the lines of communication is something to keep in mind if you’re wondering how to mentally prepare to be a father.

Good communication will be key: with your partner, anyone else who might be involved with your baby and with your child as they grow older. Empathy and active listening are skills that you can work on leading up to your baby’s arrival.


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24. Packing a Nappy Bag

You probably already know one of the main things dads need for newborns: nappies. Do you know how to pack a nappy bag, though? When you’re out and about with your little one, a properly organised and well-stocked nappy bag will provide everything you need to make sure your baby stays clean and dry (and happy). And of course, learning how to change a nappy is a skill you may be thankful of once your little one arrives!

Another quick tip for new dads: You can use large resealable bags (or other plastic bags) to conveniently divide items in your nappy bag. In addition to nappies, useful items can include:

  • Spare change of clothes for your baby and yourself

  • Wipes

  • Nappy rash cream

  • Hand sanitiser

  • Nappy bags and muslins.

With a nappy bag in your car or pram, your baby essentials are always conveniently within reach. Under the right circumstances, a nappy bag can be one of the dad’s must-haves for a new baby!

The Bottom Line

You’ll have your hands full when the new baby arrives, and both you and your partner will likely encounter a rollercoaster of emotions. To get ahead of this lifestyle shift, consider implementing some of these preparation tips ahead of time regarding your health, first-time dad skills, as well as all the financial and legal things to look after.

As you think about how to prepare for a baby, keep your shopping list in mind. Becoming a dad for the first time will involve not just new experiences but also new equipment and household items. Stocking up on all the things dads need for newborns in the weeks or months before the baby’s arrival will pay off later on, in terms of reducing the impact of unexpected expenses.

One expense that you’re likely already prepared for is nappies. Join the Pampers Club and we’ll help you earn back on all those future nappy changes.

How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

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