This is a guest post from Paul Zalewski, the the co-founder of Fathercraft, a company focused on creating in-depth product reviews and resources for new and expecting parents. He lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife and their two daughters, Kenzie and Ruby.
Hey dad-to-be (or mom-to-be considering forwarding this to your guy). Fatherhood has changed a lot over the last few decades, and all signs point to a continued evolution. As a dad myself, I’ll note that at least in my household and in many of the people I talk to, my wife still shares more of the parenting load than I do.
But, on average, guys are doing more, and that’s a really good thing. Gone are the days where it was typical for brand new fathers to be relaxing in the hospital’s smoking lounge with cigars and then immediately heading to the golf course every Sunday.
In this post, we’re sharing 5 ways that new dads can start that involvement in parenting even before their new baby arrives. We hope you’ll find not only that these both give you a sense of contribution, but that they can be fun too.
Number one: become a baby gear guru
The overwhelming majority of buying decisions when it comes to baby stuff are made by women. But turns out this is a great way for expecting dads to help out. First of all, you’re going to be using this stuff a lot, so you may as well get a say in it. Secondly, baby gear has, believe it or not, gotten a lot cooler than it used to be. Companies like ABBY&FINN have made getting great diapers a breeze. Baby monitors, which just 5 years ago looked like they hadn’t advanced since the 90s are now high-tech gadgets perfect for guys to play around with and become the household guru.
So, go find a good list of essential baby stuff and start researching!
Number two: take the lead on paperwork
As you prepare for your new arrival, there are three logistical things you need to make sure are taken care of:
- Health insurance. Talk with your insurance company to let them know you have a baby on the way, understand what you’ll need to do to add your baby to your insurance plan. While you’re at it, ask about typical costs for birth and prenatal care. This will help avoid any surprise bills. Bonus: ask about whether your carrier provides a free breast pump.
- Life insurance. Now that you’re responsible for the care and wellbeing of another human, you’re almost certainly going to want more life insurance coverage. Your job may provide some coverage, but this is almost certainly not nearly enough. Explore options, including term life insurance, which is surprisingly affordable.
- A new or updated will. Even in the best of circumstances, the wishes of parents can become muddled in the event of a catastrophe. This isn’t fun to think about, but it’s important. Even a simple, inexpensive will through an online service like LegalZoom can make sure what you and your partner want is taken care of.
Number three: get educated
When you become a parent, millenia-old instincts will definitely kick in. But, there’s a lot to know about being a parent of a newborn baby, and educating yourself will not only help you avoid common mistakes, it’ll make you more confident so you can relax and enjoy the journey.
It can be hard to know what information you can trust on the internet. Ask your partner’s OB for some recommendations, start with our perennial go-to: this book from the American Academy of Pediatrics, or find a site that prioritizes research-backed information (that’s what we do at our company, Fathercraft).
Number four: prioritize important conversations with your partner
Life as a parent is full of decisions, some of them difficult. So, before your baby is born is a great time to start flexing that decision-making muscle as a couple. Here are a few topics to get you started:
- What does your birth plan look like?
- When will you allow visitors?
- If you’re having a boy, will he be circumcised?
- What does the plan for childcare look like?
- What are your hopes, dreams, and worries about life with a baby?
Number five: rub her damn feet!
Let’s face it, gentlemen: regardless of how much you choose to get involved during pregnancy, your partner is carrying your baby 24x7. So, treat her to everything she deserves.
Whether it’s midnight runs to the store for pregnancy cravings, snacks, finding ways to be extra helpful around the house, a surprise home-cooked meal or a simple foot rub, now’s the time to go above and beyond for her.
There you have it … 5 ways your involvement as a parent can start before your baby is born. Remember that the work you put in now will make everyone’s lives easier when the baby comes. And, don’t forget to take the time to pause, breathe, enjoy each other, and enjoy the journey.