Pro Tips from Experienced Dads
Let’s begin with a few pieces of advice from my dad, Tom Malloy:
- “This too shall pass.”
- “It’s a temporary inconvenience.”
- “The baby isn’t crying at you, it’s nothing personal.”
- “She’s not yelling at you, she’s yelling at the (imaginary) guy behind you.” (learned from being in the army)
- “You’re right about that.” (ends almost every argument)
When my wife was 6 months pregnant, I emailed 50 of my closest friends who are dads to ask for their advice on 5 pressing topics. I edited and anonymized their advice to share this Dad Advice with you. The five questions are:
- Are there any things I should (not) do in the next 3 months before the baby is born?
- Do you have any insights into what the next 6-12 months of my sleep-deprived life will be like? How can my partner and I survive/thrive while adjusting to 24/7 childcare?
- Product recommendations on strollers and car seats?
- Product recommendations on anything else new parents need, including practical or functional items that made your life as a new parent easier, or things to put on our Amazon baby registry? (much more on this below…)
- Advice you wish you got when you were about to become a dad?
Make copies of these Google Sheet/Doc Templates
Next up, you can click these 3 links to make a copy of them for you and your family:
- Baby Items Template – a copy of the list we used – items you may need for various parenting activities with recommendations (more product recommendations below) – with extra tabs on strollers and gifts we got
- Baby Essentials & Gear Template – a copy of advice that helped us get ready
- Baby Products Checklist Template – a copy of a big spreadsheet from a friend of a friend with an aggregated list of advice from several moms
Resources that were vital to my education before our son was born
Breastfeeding Notes – 15 pages of my notes from the 2-hour online breastfeeding class, which was the most notes I’ve taken since Georgetown because I knew absolutely nothing about the subject before the class. If your wife takes any breastfeeding classes, you need to actively attend, participate, and take notes on how to best support her in feeding your newborn child.
Daily Dad Newsletter – sign up for this free newsletter for a morning dose of inspiration to be the best dad you can be
Daily Dad Parenting Challenge – 30-day email series I enrolled in when we were expecting that gives a thorough email each day about topics you may or may not already be talking to your wife about (i.e., baby CPR, plans for posting baby photos on social media, family visiting strategy, and much more). This was probably the best thing I did to prepare for fatherhood. It will transform you over the course of a month and is well worth 10X the $50 price of admission to acquire so many dad skills in such a short period of time. You can also save > $50 from just Day 9 with product recommendations.
Music – make a Spotify playlist for the hospital (bring a Bluetooth speaker), and then make a playlist of nursery rhymes to play at home. Similar to Pavlov’s dog, I have trained Max to relax and enjoy getting his diaper changed every time I play John Lennon – Beautiful Boy, which is his favorite song at this point. Here’s Max’s playlist for inspiration.
Most useful product recommendations from our first 8 weeks
Baby Jogger City Mini GT2 All-Terrain Stroller, Jet – I invested 50+ hours research strollers, talking to people, buying and then returning the Chico Bravo because it had a squeaky wheel, test driving with Martina and separately with my sister at Buy Buy Baby, before we ultimately settled on this one. We love it and think it’s more bang for the buck than $1,000+ Uppa Baby.
Maxi Cosi Coral XP Infant Car Seat – we also spent dozens of hours investigating car seats and selected this because my HS football teammate, Steve, has it. Steve said he gets 5 guys per day complimenting him on the car seat and asking where he got it and wishing it was available when they had newborns because once the baby is 8 weeks old and can hold its head better, the car seat turns into a duffle bag! It’s got handles to carry like a duffle bag AND a shoulder strap that nicely rests the car seat on your hip with minimal bouncing as you walk through stores or hang out at bars/restaurants. We are about to get to that phase as Max is 7.5 weeks, and saw firsthand how nice it was for Steve to carry his daughter. You need to buy an adapter to connect it to the stroller, but those are very inexpensive compared to the other costs…and you can get adapters to connect literally any brand stroller to any brand car seat. As Will Smith said in Just the Two of Us (this song has way more emotional meaning now…), it does take like an hour to get the car seat in right, so make sure you do that at least a month before she’s due.
My Brest Friend Super Deluxe Nursing Pillow for Breastfeeding and Bottlefeeding with Lumbar Support, Convenient Pocket and Removable Slipcover, Platinum – #1 item used several times a day to support mom and newborn baby. This is especially useful if your wife has a C-section because it can strap to her stomach above the scar. After she has healed from the surgery in 6-8 weeks, you may be able to retire this and just use a boppy nursing pillow.
Miracle Blanket Baby Sleep Wearable Swaddle Wrap for Newborn Infant Boy or Girl 0-3 Months, Forest Owls – my sister got this for us, and it’s our #1 swaddle that he is currently sleeping in. You will need 3+ swaddles because he needs one every time you want him to sleep to keep his arms down at his sides like in the womb and not wake himself up
HALO Disney Baby Finding Nemo 100% Cotton Sleepsack Swaddle, 3-Way Adjustable Wearable Blanket, Nemo Tie Dye, Newborn, 0-3 Months – our #2 swaddle, and we’ve got a few patterns, including one we took home from the hospital
Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment – Advanced Therapy for Chapped Cheeks and Diaper Rash – 3 oz. Tube (Pack of 3) – load up on this because we use it on every diaper change to keep his butt and surrounding area clean
Hatch Rest Baby Sound Machine, Night Light, and Time-to-Rise Sleep Trainer, White Noise Soother, Toddler Kids Alarm Clock, Nightlight, Control remotely via an app – it’s on wind sound with red light (better for your eyes because no blue light) whenever we try to put Max to sleep, and we like it too. Babies are used to a lot of noise (compared to a vacuum on 24/7 in the womb listening to blood rushing by), so the noise machines are way better than silent sleeping
Forehead Thermometer, Baby and Adults Thermometer with Fever Alarm, LCD Display and Memory Function, Ideal for Whole Family – you and your wife will freak out several times about the baby being sick, so having an easy-to-use forehead scan thermometer to test everyone (multiple times) will ease some of that stress. We have never used a rectal thermometer…
Ubbi Steel Odor Locking, No Special Bag Required Money Saving, Awards-Winning, Modern Design, Registry Must-Have Diaper Pail, White – we got one as a gift and bought a second for the second floor. It’s a smell-free accessory to go next to every changing table that uses regular kitchen trash bags.
DockATot Deluxe+ Dock – The All in One Portable & Lightweight Baby Lounger – Suitable from 0-8 Months (Celestial Blue) – this is a safe place to put the baby, especially when swaddled if you or your wife need to do something with 2 hands for a few minutes. It also makes it safer to co-sleep in bed or on the couch, so you won’t roll over and hurt the baby, and it has bumpers so the baby can’t roll. Martina’s friends all chipped in and got it for us off the registry.
Milk Snob Original 5-in-1 Cover – Added Privacy for Breastfeeding, Baby Car Seat, Carrier, Stroller, High Chair, Shopping Cart, Lounger Canopy – Newborn Essentials, Nursing Top (Black & White Stripe) – we use this every time we go out to protect the baby from airborne germs and the sun and strangers trying to touch him
Martina and Mike’s Baby Registry – here’s the stuff we registered if you click the purchased tab
10/10 Recommended Sleep Training Course
Taking Cara Babies Class – you don’t need this before the baby is born per se, but you 100% need to buy this and both watch it before the baby is 4 weeks old. I have never seen a product recommended by so many different people from different friend groups/walks of life. At least 20 people have shouted the praises of this course, and I’m joining the chorus as I’ve been watching the videos and now talking to my wife every day about how to apply what she teaches to get the baby to sleep more each week. It’s fantastic!
New Parenting Book Recommendations
The Shit No One Tells You – real talk about what to expect, and you can skip around to any chapter/don’t have to read cover to cover. The most important lesson was to take everything that’s not tied down home from the hospital and load yourself up with diapers, wipes, blankets, swaddles, mom care products, baby bath products, etc.
Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool – the best analysis of actual data on various parenting topics
Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New DadsThe Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire – my financial advisor got this for me and it’s full of dad advice with pictures and jokes and tangible things you can do
The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire – less about parenting and more about maturing into a grown man who is the best loving partner you can be and prepared to ride the wave of his partner’s emotions. I have it on kindle and read it at least 3 times in the past few years to support my transformation into a more loving, caring, and empathetic partner.