11 survival tips for the new dad

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Did you say you’re pregnant?

Your wife has just told you that she is pregnant. This might have been planned or taken you by surprise. After the initial shock and the flood of emotions, you begin to think how great it’s going to be to be a father.  You vow to yourself that you’ll be the best dad you can be.

The day has come and the shit gets real. She’s in labour and you are a deer in headlights speeding to the hospital.

You get through the miracle of childbirth and you find yourself in a hospital room with your wife and this brand new person. Then a thought hits you like a sledgehammer. You have no idea how to be a dad. It’s ok, take a deep breath, the world is not coming to an end. All new dads felt this way. Just as the baby is born as a clean slate, so do us parents ( yes, new moms don’t have a clue what they’re doing either ). The fun part is that you and the baby will grow and learn together.

I have two kids, ages 8 and 11. I’ve loved every stage so far. I realized earlier on that I only get one shot to watch them grow and to do things right.  I feel like I’ve done an alright job so far. I don’t think I’ve messed them up too much, I guess time will tell.

Here are 11 survival tips for new dads

1) Her day will always be harder.


That’s right, it doesn’t matter how bad your day was, her day was harder. Assume this before you get home every day and never debate this with her.

  • Remember how stressed and overwhelmed you felt when you started a new job. This is how she feels every day, especially with a new baby.
  • Why is being a stay at home mom so hard? It’s because every waking minute is devoted to someone else.
  • When you get home in the evening, listen to her and let her vent. And if you know what’s good for you don’t offer solutions to her problems, it’s not what she’s looking for.

2) Balance is everything

I don’t mean the balancing act of holding the baby in one arm, carrying a bag of groceries in the other and trying to remember what pocket you put your house keys. I’m talking about your life before a baby and your life after. Yes, they will be different, a lot different.

  • Balance you time between your wife, your baby, friends and leisure time.
  • If you always put your wife and baby first you’ll be ok.


3) You’ll find a new relationship with coffee

It will be the simple pleasures that you will begin to appreciate. I started drinking coffee just before my first kid was born but I really didn’t begin to enjoy it until after she was born.

Each morning when you first put your feet on the floor you’ll be quickly reminded that you will be busy from this moment until your head hits the pillow again.

  • Having that first sip of coffee breathes new life into your body which will help you make it through the day.


4)Routine, routine, routine

When I tell you this please don’t hate me. Both our kids began sleeping through the night between 7 and 9 weeks old. We ( my wife and I ) credit this to our kids being on a daily routine.

We had routines for everything, feeding, naps, bedtimes and everything in between. We had systems for how we prepared the bottles or when we did the laundry  (and when I say we I mean my wife, I just did what I was told ).

Each day pretty much looked the same. It was a good habit to establish.  Seriously of all the tips on this list, this is the one to adopted.

  • It takes some of the stress out of the day.
  • Kids thrive on routines.
  • Studies, like this one, show that routines produce happy, and more secure children.
  • They sleep and eat better and are emotionally and socially advanced.

5) Cherish the times you get to sleep.

Don’t take sleep for granted. Not every baby sleeps well at night. You will have many nights of broken sleep.

  • When the baby is down for a nap take advantage and go for a nap yourself.
  • That’s it, it’s that simple, sleep when you get a chance.


6) Things are going to get messy. Deal with it.

Let’s face it, babies are messy. Stuff comes out of every orifice and it can be unpleasant at times. Get over it and get your hands dirty.

If you start from day one changing diapers and wiping noses you will get accustomed to it quicker than if you wait until they’re older when the messes get really nasty.

Remember, the dirty stuff is also part of being a parent.

  • It gives your wife a break when you help out with the diapers, bottles or just taking the baby for a bit so she can have a break.
  • She will appreciate more it than you know.
  • So pinch your nose, gag if you have to but get in there.

7) Start reading to your kids early

We started reading to our kids when they were three months old. Forget the baby Einstein DVDs or any other videos that claim the images are good for them. You are just starting a habit that’ll be hard to break.

  • You’ll love reading to your kids
  • It will become a bonding moment that you will look forward to.
  • Incorporated reading to your kids into their bedtime routine.
  • It helps settle them and it’s a signal that it’s bed time.
  • It will help them on their way to love reading which will make them better learners.



 8) Learn how to install a car seat properly

Before our first baby was born I learned that the fire department will help you install your baby seat. I was lucky enough to have the fire chief come to our house and teach me how to do properly. I still remember the tips he gave me even to this day.

Whenever I was around someone I knew with a car seat I would check to see if it was installed correctly. It amazed me that every seat I check was installed wrong and I checked a lot of seats. 

  • Call your local public health unit and get the list of authorized car seat installers.
  • Learn from them how to install one correctly.

9) Have the poison control number on the fridge

Our first child was a girl. She was our little princess and rarely did anything unexpected. Our second was a boy. The moment he could crawl he was into everything. He was a curious baby that wanted to touch everything.

He would always seem to find the one thing that we forgot to put out of reach. He liked to colour his tongue, once with a sharpie and another time with a highlighter pen. Luckily both were non-toxic. Another time I walked into the bathroom to find him cleaning the toilet with windex. He was just trying to help I guess.

  • You never know when something unexpected might happen.
  • Have a list of emergency numbers on the fridge that includes poison control, public health nurse and your family doctor.

10) You aren’t going to know what you’re doing.

But that’s ok. The baby doesn’t know what she is doing either. You will both learn as the baby grows. You don’t need to know everything right now.

It might seem like a difficult stage will last forever but it won’t. In the long run, it will be a short time in your life. Be patient and you and the baby will survive.

  • Keep trying until you find what works. If it doesn’t work, try something else.
  • If you are stuck, the best advice will come from someone who has already been there.
  • Don’t try to reinvent the wheel, if it worked for someone else there’s a great chance that it will work for you.


11) They grow up fast. Enjoy every moment.

As tired as you will be and as overwhelmed that you will feel, remember what might feel like years is in reality only a few months. Enjoy every moment you spent with your new bundle of joy.

The amount of satisfaction and purpose you will receive will make all the diapers, laundry, and bottles worth it. Keep the big picture in focus and embrace your new life with kids.

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Some other articles you might enjoy:

Sit down, shut up, and enjoy a cup of coffee

6 powerful lessons to teach kids at home.

The Impact of Negative Opinions on a Parent


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