Things to do for a Dad-to-beCongratulations! You're a brand new dad-to-be, you've visualised every possible father-and-son/daughter moment for the next few decades and are either supressing your excitement or blurting it out to anyone who will listen. But pregnancy is a long wait. The focus is on the mum-to-be and you're left wringing your hands because you feel you should be doing something but nobody's told you what. Allow me.
- Love and respect your partner. If nothing else, do this. Hopefully you already do but even so, make an even bigger effort to ensure the mum-to-be's life is as blissful as possible. I'm no doctor but I strongly believe that both before the birth and beyond, the baby is exposed to large doses of mummy's vibes which have a big influence on the baby's character. Your role, therefore, is to help generate as many warm, fuzzy vibes as possible both during and after pregnancy and enjoy the rewards in the future. This means back rubs, candles in the bathroom, handing over the remote control, kitchen tasks and occasionally biting your lip and taking a deep breath. The only way to create a charming, adorable, forgiving, kind-hearted, exemplary individual is to be one yourself.
- Get the car ready. As well as keeping the petrol topped up and getting maintenance work done, as well as planning the route to the hospital, as well as getting a seatbelt tension-reliever thing to take the pressure off any fat tummies, you need to get a rear-facing group 0 car seat. Do not skimp. Read product reviews, ask other parents for advice and try fitting a couple (of child seats, not other parents) in your car at the shop. You will not be allowed to take your baby home from hospital without a child seat. While you're at it, put some cushions and blankets in the car - in a few months you're likely to have a passenger in pain and we know how much women like cushions.
- Stock up on baby stuff. The old cliche of daddy decorating the nursery is still relevant as your baby has to go somewhere when you first arrive home together. You don't need to go overboard, however, as not only will you receive various baby presents after the birth but baby's don't actually need as much stuff as you might expect. In fact, you can get away with just nappies, a cot (with a new mattress, of course) and a few sleep suits at first and then buy things as you need them. Put the money you save into the following tip:
- Plan your child's financial future. Now, now, now is the time to put money aside for child, whether it's savings and investments in their name or a nestegg you can nurture to cover future education or housing expenses. Either way, you need lots of time to allow interest to build upon interest and lots of time is what you have. Did I mention starting now?
You don't need expert knowledge or experience to be a great dad.
- Stock up on mum-to-be stuff. It's not just baby clothes you need. Before you know it, your partner will balloon to an unbelievable size (don't tell her I said that) and won't slip into her little black dress like she used to. No problem - order free maternity catalogues from JoJo Maman Bebe and Blooming Marvellous. It doesn't cost you anything (yet), she gives you a little "aah, you shouldn't have" peck on the cheek, the baby gets warm, fuzzy vibes and 15,000 brownie points are in the bag. Everybody's happy. The Future Mother travel pack by Avent is also a sure-fire winner.
- Share in the baby's development. It's difficult when we can't physically feel the daily progress of our little marvel, but it's definitely worth making the effort to find out how big they are, how their organs are shaping up (literally) and what sounds and sensations they may be experiencing. Also recommended is going along to the 12 week (or so) check-up and the ultrasound scan later. In fact it's a must. If you don't think you can get time off work, instead of asking your boss if you can go to a pregnancy check-up, tell them you want to hear you baby's heartbeat for the first time. Still brings a lump to my throat just writing about it.
- Think about baby names. Stun your partner with your forward thinking/foresightedness by making a shortlist of potential names and even buying a baby names book. Try our baby name generator for ideas and tips.
- Check out toys. Yes, this is the time in your life you've been waiting for - you are officially allowed to start playing with toys again! Of course, the interesting ones are still a few years away but there's nothing to stop you looking. Imagine how proud your partner will be when she sees you flicking through the back section of the Argos catalogue "for the baby"...
- Ignore the 'mummy media'. Although they're getting better, pregnancy and baby magazines still put too little focus on fatherhood and when they do it is often patronising. Unfortunately this can lead to a lack of self-confidence and the temptation to take a back seat. Don't let them win! Instead, try FQ, a magazine for fathers, and some of the growing number of fatherhood websites out there, as well as other dads-to-be. They will help you gain or maintain enthusiasm and inspire confidence that you don't need expert knowledge or experience to be a great dad.