Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

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Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby BUBear29 » Thu May 18, 2017 10:54 pm

Hello Bogleheads,

The wife and I just visited the doctor, and we have a strong heartbeat at 8 weeks! Now expecting a new baby around Christmas!

Any suggested readings or advice for first time parents or a first time father?

There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no one independence quite so important, as living within your means.

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Re: Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby Lacrocious » Thu May 18, 2017 11:06 pm

It's been 19+ years for us, but the "What to Expect..." books were always helpful. No clue if they have been updated or anything.
- L

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Re: Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby daveydoo » Fri May 19, 2017 1:37 am

BUBear29 wrote:
Any suggested readings or advice for first time parents or a first time father?

Still early -- but the fact that you're even asking this question suggests that you'll be a terrific father. I was lucky. I hope my kids are.

Be kind, honest, and patient. I managed the first two; the third is a work in progress.

Spend time with your kid(s) and wife. Take vacations and take pictures. It's true what they say: the days are long but the years are short. Be there for them -- I hope I was.

Introduce them to your interests but let them cultivate their own from day one -- encourage them play the instrument or sport or game that they love. Set appropriately high expectations.

Read to them. Play with them. Sing with them. They will outgrow it, but slower than you'd think. And it's your chance to be a kid again.

Rejoice in their success.

Know that they will never do what you say but they will do what you do. Live accordingly.

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Re: Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby ICMoney » Fri May 19, 2017 1:39 pm

Congratulations to you and your spouse! What an exciting time for you. We've had 4 kids in the last 10 years, and honestly, almost all of the books I read in those early years on childrearing/baby care I would no longer recommend now that I've gained more parenting experience. Here's what I would tell our pre-baby selves to do before having our first:

1. Figure out a plan to feed baby - i.e. research breastfeeding vs. formula vs. both, how long you want to bf if you go that route - and be willing to go to Plan B if needed.

2. Research sleeping arrangements for baby - i.e. roomsharing (the latest SIDS prevention recommendation), bedsharing, baby-in-separate-room, etc. Our views of these various arrangements shifted dramatically as we had more babies and got more experience, and I wish I would have researched more options prior to baby #1.

3. Spend some time researching vaccinations and decide if you want to go with the standard schedule or something nonstandard.

4. Decide on cloth vs. disposable diapers, research if necessary.

5. It will be easy to get sucked into registering for every baby gadget under the sun - you will be marketed to extensively during the next year. This is exciting to be a part of as a parent-to-be, but a lot of it is unnecessary and stuff you can borrow/get for free from other parents of young kids. Buy your own car seat, a nice stroller, any feeding supplies you might need (including bf supplies if you choose), diapers, sleep surface (bassinet, crib), some colorful board books, and something for babywearing if you choose (i.e. ErgoBaby). In our experience, clothes and toys will just show up from well-meaning family/friends and other parents who have older kids and are trying to get rid of stuff (literally, we have been given enough hand-me-downs in great condition from several parents over the years to clothe three families of children for 10 years, and will similarly pass them along when we are through with them).

Also, realize that the recommendations for #1 and 2 above by pediatricians have changed significantly since your parents/grandparents had babies (and cloth diapers have changed significantly as well), so their advice and what they did may not be what you decide to do with your baby. Just be aware of this and ready to tread carefully while still giving proper respect to people who may take offense if you do not do things the way they did. In some ways, baby rearing is reverting more to historical practices used for centuries and in less affluent cultures, and I'm sure it will come naturally to you and your spouse once baby arrives as well.


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Re: Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby squirm » Fri May 19, 2017 1:48 pm

I'm not going to write a book here, but give you simple advice. Be ready for the lack of sleep. Take turns sleeping. I went to bed very early and then took over baby chores at 2am so wife could get solid sleep.

Be a real father, I did everything to help, I had diaper changing down to a science, under 90 seconds. Made meals, fed, burped, etc. Also take pictures and video, it goes fast and you'll regret it goes so fast.

Don't read books or go to classes, we did and afterwards realized it was a huge waste. Just get your family onboard to help. We also took a vacation once in a while and left grandma with baby so we could get some alone time.

Kids are the best...
Good luck.

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Re: Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby Isabelle77 » Fri May 19, 2017 3:26 pm

Congrats! Mine are just middle school age now but I've learned a few things :)

The first couple years are hard. Wonderful but hard. Hold tight to your spouse and try to enjoy the chaos. Share responsibility even if one of you is at home full time.

Try not to over parent. I tend naturally to want everything to be perfect and I spent too much time in the early years worrying about doing everything well. It took me a long time to realize that our kids are going to just fine. Even if I don't feed them perfectly, put them in the right activities or provide the ideal academic environment, they will be fine.

ETA agree with the poster above. There are very few parenting books that are worth the read, trust your instincts!

Start a 529 or other college savings asap. You'll be thankful when they're in middle school!

Enjoy it. Kids are fun and funny, it's been the coolest journey of my life. Cheers :)

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Re: Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby Go Blue 99 » Fri May 19, 2017 3:32 pm

Congrats! We have our second child on the way next month.

I enjoyed the parenthood books that are geared towards fathers. They were a good mix of humor and information. The ones I read were "The Expectant Father" and "Dad's Pregnant too!".

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Re: Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby darrellr » Fri May 19, 2017 9:12 pm


Lenore Skenazy Free Range Kids

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Re: Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby Vanguard Fan 1367 » Fri May 19, 2017 11:44 pm

I got distracted by golf and some other things. My advice would be to realize that childhood is like driving through a small town. You blink and it is over.

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Re: Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby roadking2615 » Sat May 20, 2017 12:06 am

If you end up having a girl, I highly recommend reading "Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know" by Dr. Meg Meeker. I read it when my daughter was first born because I wanted to understand what my role should be as a father in my daughter's life. The book opened my eyes and gave me clarity. A young woman's relationship with her father is far more important than we sometimes realize. To become a strong, confident woman, a daughter needs her father’s attention, protection, courage, and wisdom. Whether you have a boy or girl, enjoy the journey.

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Re: Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby daveydoo » Sat May 20, 2017 1:45 am

ICMoney wrote:
3. Spend some time researching vaccinations and decide if you want to go with the standard schedule or something nonstandard.

Yes, OP, do this. Know that vaccine research costs millions of dollars and can take decades to succeed, but if you're able to make meaningful progress on your own in the next few months, that would be an enormous boon for society. A former classmate was a driving force behind Gardisil, and some co-workers are at the global forefront of AIDS vaccine research. It's truly inspiring work.

Oh, wait, or did you mean the "vaccine research" that involves scrolling through Facebook while you're on the toilet? That's actually very different. I did "research" like that on oxygen and I did not like what I saw. It's a toxic, flammable poison that can reduce an iron bar to a pile of red dust! And it's everywhere these days. I hear it's even in our water now. Spouse and I committed to raising our kids oxygen-free. Pediatrician didn't agree and was downright dismissive -- but she's in the pocket of Big Oxygen, no doubt.

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Re: Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby scienceguy » Sat May 20, 2017 5:35 am

I have three roughly middle school aged kids. I look back on that time with teeny little kids as a total blur, even though I know intellectually that I held tiny babies and toddlers all the time, changed innumerable diapers, fed many many little kids dinner, etc I don't really remember it. I think the main piece of advice I would give, despite being totally non-pollyanna-ish is: It is really really challenging because of the lack of sleep and constantly being under attack from a tiny being who is cute but totally irrational (I know! can you believe it?). It is NOT easy. It is the hardest thing I have ever done in terms of its demands on me - way harder, for example, than medical school. It will put a strain on your marriage at times (unless, perhaps, you have a lot of help - we did not). Not necessarily a problematic strain - but it is not easy. People will idealize your scenario and have absolutely no idea how tough it is, and you will be tempted to think - maybe they are right and there is something the matter with me. FALSE! If I had to do it over again, I would throw some additional money at that problem and get more help (although at the time we did not have the $ to throw).

That said, they do get older, and having smart, engaged, friendly elem and middle schoolers who sit and have breakfast with me, read the paper, talk, go to chipotle, want to talk late at night, have surreptitious ice cream, go on family road trip vacations, hide their crushes from me, need help with Spanish, talk about values, laugh at their ridiculously successful stock picks (grandmother, not me!), and watch have successes and failures, is totally awesome. I love having fun, smart, energetic, little friendly humans around all the time. So for me the early years were less enjoyable, whereas the years now are way different and better.

In retrospect, how would I change things so I would enjoy the early years more? I'm not sure for me that would be possible. I've heard people say that some people love small babies, others do not. Maybe that is right, and if so I am definitely in the second camp. Maybe those people in the first camp are just tougher than me (definite possibility!).

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Re: Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby onmyway33 » Sat May 20, 2017 7:34 am

Multiple hospitals in my area had a "Daddy Boot Camp" program where many dads-to-be met with some more experienced dads on a Saturday to just discuss fatherhood and what to expect. It was great to see dads from very different backgrounds all come together with the goal of improving their parenting skills and supporting each other. I suggest you look for a similar program in your area.

Also, you may want to consider taking a baby and toddler CPR/first aid class. We have had a couple choking scares where our quick action to remove an offending piece of food may have saved our son's life. It is hard to know how you will react when you see your child in urgent need of medical action, and a class may better prepare you to act when necessary.

Lastly, another poster mentioned about breast feeding vs. formula. In my case, my wife had a very strong desire to breast feed our son. Unfortunately, multiple issues prevented success and we were forced to supplement with formula after a tremendous amount of effort, stress, and consults with lactation experts, then we entirely switched to formula. You (and your wife of course) will need to make the decision about what is best in your situation, but I recommend that remain flexible and adjust to the needs of your child.

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Re: Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby J295 » Sat May 20, 2017 7:45 am

Our family is grown
Wife and I used to joke when we would encounter dicey parenting situations that "there's no manual for this!"
Acting out of unconditional love was a good fundamental.

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Re: Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby Loik098 » Sat May 20, 2017 5:12 pm

Congratulations! Advice:

Don't cheat on your wife. Don't ignore her. Don't take her for granted. Don't put your relationship with her second to your relationship with your kids.
However harder it becomes with children, you make your marriage work. You make it last. Be a real man: admit when you're wrong, be above playing silly games, maintain open conversation, and be the first to try to solve any problems that create tension between the two of you.

Above all else, that is the best thing you can do for your children.

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Re: Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby GrandMasterBlaster » Sat May 20, 2017 8:00 pm

Reading list:

#1 The Happiest Baby on the Block - this is the most important one. It's essentially a five-part calming process that replicates the environment in the womb and works INSANELY well at calming fussy/colicky babies. You're going to need these techniques if you want your sanity relatively intact.

#2 Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby. If your baby sleeps well, you will, too.

#3 Super Baby Food. Nutrition is one of the most important facets of a happy, healthy baby.

Congratulations and good luck!

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Re: Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby ThankYouJack » Sat May 20, 2017 8:10 pm


Get advice from family, doctors and friends who are amazing parents instead of getting it online :)

Don't worry about any small stuff. Go on as many date nights now with your wife before your baby is born. Have fun, realize the tough times won't last and cherish the precious moments :)

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Re: Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby jpn » Sun May 21, 2017 1:09 am

I second "The Happiest Baby on the Block". Our kid was/is an easy sleeper but there were times when the book was very helpful. Mind you, the book is useful for the first 3 months. The tricks decrease in effectiveness after that.

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Re: Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby investingdad » Sun May 21, 2017 7:15 am

Get a baby monitor, but get baby comfortable falling asleep on his or her own as soon as possible. Rocking them to sleep rather than letting them fall asleep on their own past six months is a nasty trap to fall into. Made that mistake with the first, corrected with the second.

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Re: Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby Barefoot » Mon May 22, 2017 2:05 pm

I only give one piece of advice to expectant first time fathers:

Do whatever it takes to be there for the birth.

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Re: Suggested Reading or Advice for Father-to-be

Postby MadDwag » Mon May 22, 2017 8:17 pm

The Moms on Call books were key--get that kid on a schedule and before you know it you'll be sleeping again and foolish enough to consider having another. Congrats! :sharebeer

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