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First-time dad tips: Hands-on Advice

Knowledge Hub

10 mins readFact Checked
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Written By:

Atif Riaz

Medically Reviewed By:

Mr M. Usman

first time dad tips on holding baby

Becoming a first-time dad is an exciting and daunting journey. As you prepare to welcome your little one into the world, it’s essential to equip yourself with the knowledge and skills to navigate fatherhood successfully. In this article, we will explore a range of helpful tips and insights to support you on this incredible journey.

Understanding the Basics of Fatherhood

As you prepare to embrace your new role as a first-time dad, it’s crucial to understand the basics of fatherhood. This involves not only providing for your child’s physical needs but also being emotionally present. Fatherhood is a rewarding and transformative experience that offers a unique opportunity to bond with your little one in ways you may not have imagined before.

While mothers often have a plethora of resources at their disposal, it’s crucial for first-time dads to also educate themselves about the pregnancy, birth process, and postnatal care. Attend antenatal classes, read books, and consult with healthcare professionals. Being informed will not only make you a supportive partner but also instil confidence in your parenting abilities.

Embracing Your New Role as a first time father

One of the first steps in becoming a father is embracing your new role. It’s normal to feel a mix of excitement and nervousness as you navigate this transition. Embrace your emotions and be open to the changes that fatherhood brings. Remember that it’s okay to ask for help and seek guidance from experienced dads or parenting resources.

The journey of fatherhood is filled with countless joys and challenges. From changing diapers and soothing cries to teaching life lessons and being a role model, you will play a vital role in shaping your child’s future. Embrace the responsibility and relish in the moments of connection and growth that fatherhood brings.

The Importance of Paternity Leave

Paternity leave is crucial for first-time dads. Taking time off work to be with your newborn allows you to bond with your baby and actively support your partner during the early weeks. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow together as a family while adapting to the demands of parenthood. Talk to your employer about your options for paternity leave and make the most of this invaluable time.

During your paternity leave, you’ll have the chance to witness the incredible milestones of your baby’s early development. From their first smile to their first steps, you’ll be there to celebrate and cheer them on. This uninterrupted time with your little one will strengthen the bond between you and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Additionally, paternity leave allows you to actively participate in the daily care of your baby. You can take turns with your partner in feeding, changing diapers, and soothing your little one to sleep. This shared responsibility not only lightens the load for your partner but also deepens your connection with your child as you learn their unique cues and preferences.

Paternity leave provides an opportunity for you to support your partner as she recovers from childbirth. By being present and offering a helping hand, you can alleviate some of the physical and emotional strain she may be experiencing. This collaborative approach to parenting sets a strong foundation for a healthy and balanced family dynamic.

Understanding the basics of fatherhood is essential as you embark on this incredible journey. Embrace your new role, seek guidance when needed, and make the most of your paternity leave. Remember, being a dad is not just about providing for your child’s physical needs, but also about being emotionally present and actively involved in their lives. Enjoy every moment of this transformative experience and cherish the bond you’ll create with your little one.

Preparing for the arrival of your newborn as a first-time dad

first time dad preparing for newborn baby arrival first time dad tips

As the due date approaches, it’s essential to prepare your home for a safe and welcoming environment for your little one. The anticipation of bringing a new life into the world is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Ensuring that your home is ready for your newborn’s arrival will give you peace of mind and allow you to focus on the joyous moments ahead.

Baby proofing home

Creating a baby-proofed home eliminates potential hazards and ensures your child’s safety. It’s crucial to take proactive measures to protect your little one from accidents and injuries.

  • Safety Gates: One of the first steps in baby-proofing your home is installing safety gates. These gates will prevent your baby from accessing areas that may pose a risk, such as staircases or rooms with fragile items.
  • Electrical Outlets: Another important aspect of baby-proofing is securing electrical outlets. Babies are naturally curious and love to explore their surroundings. By covering electrical outlets with safety plugs or using outlet covers, you can prevent your little one from accidentally inserting their tiny fingers or objects into the sockets.
  • Furniture: Furniture can also present potential dangers for your baby. It’s essential to secure any unstable furniture, such as bookshelves or dressers, to prevent them from tipping over. Anchoring furniture to the wall or using furniture straps will provide added stability and ensure that your baby is safe from any potential accidents.
  • Review & Reassess: As your baby grows, it’s important to reassess and update your baby-proofing measures. What may have been safe for a newborn may no longer be sufficient as they become more mobile and curious. Regularly inspect your home for any new hazards that may have emerged and make the necessary adjustments to keep your little one safe.

Choosing the Right Baby Gear

Investing in the right baby gear can simplify your life as a first-time dad. The market is flooded with various products, making it overwhelming to choose the ones that are best suited for your baby’s needs. Researching and selecting quality products such as strollers, car seats, and baby carriers is crucial to ensure your baby’s comfort and safety.

  • Baby Strollers: When choosing a stroller, consider factors such as manoeuvrability, durability, and storage space. A stroller that is easy to manoeuvre will make your walks with your baby more enjoyable. Durability is also important as you want a stroller that will last through different stages of your baby’s growth. Additionally, having ample storage space in the stroller will allow you to carry essential items such as diapers, wipes, and bottles conveniently.
  • Car Seats: Car seats are another vital piece of baby gear that requires careful consideration. Look for car seats that meet the latest safety standards and are suitable for your baby’s age and weight. It’s important to install the car seat correctly and ensure that it is properly secured in your vehicle to provide maximum protection for your little one during car rides.
  • Baby carriers: Baby carriers are a great way to keep your baby close while having your hands free. There are various types of carriers available, such as wraps, slings, and structured carriers. Consider factors such as comfort for both you and your baby, ease of use, and the level of support provided. Trying out different carriers before making a purchase can help you determine which one works best for you and your baby.

When making your choices, don’t hesitate to seek recommendations from other parents, or first-time dads or consult trusted parenting guides. Their experiences and insights can provide valuable information that will assist you in making informed decisions. Remember, the right baby gear can make your parenting journey more enjoyable and convenient.

first time dad tips and holding newborn baby on his shoulder

The first few weeks with your newborn can be a challenging adjustment period for both first-time fathers and mothers. However, with the right strategies and mindset, you can navigate this time with confidence and grace.

Mastering Diaper Changes and Bath Time
Diaper changes and bath time are two activities that you will become intimately familiar with as a new dad. Take the time to learn proper diapering techniques and establish a routine that works for you and your baby. Similarly, create a calming and safe environment for your little one during bath time, making it an enjoyable bonding experience for both of you.

Understanding Newborn Sleep Patterns
Sleep deprivation is a common challenge for new parents, especially first-time dads and mums. Understanding your baby’s sleep patterns can help you establish a routine that promotes healthier sleep for both of you. While it’s normal for newborns to wake frequently during the night, explore different soothing techniques and establish a bedtime routine to encourage more restful sleep for your baby and yourself.

Understanding Newborn Sleep Patterns

Sleep deprivation is a common challenge for new parents. Understanding your baby’s sleep patterns can help you establish a routine that promotes healthier sleep for both of you. While it’s normal for newborns to wake frequently during the night, explore different soothing techniques and establish a bedtime routine to encourage more restful sleep for your baby and yourself.

How hard is being a first-time dad?

first time father asleep with newborn baby - first time dad tips

Being a first-time dad can be both rewarding and challenging, just like being a first-time parent in general. The difficulty of the experience can vary from person to person, and it depends on various factors including your circumstances, support network, and personal traits. Here are some aspects to consider:

Emotional Impact

Becoming a parent is a significant life change, and it can bring a wide range of emotions. You may experience joy, excitement, and love, but also anxiety, stress, and fear. It’s perfectly normal to have mixed feelings.

Lack of Sleep

Newborns require frequent feedings and diaper changes, which can lead to sleepless nights for both parents. The lack of sleep can be physically and emotionally draining, but it usually improves as the baby grows.

Learning Curve

Parenting comes with a steep learning curve. You’ll need to learn how to care for a newborn, from feeding and changing diapers to soothing a crying baby. This can be challenging, especially if you have limited prior experience with infants.


Being a first-time dad means taking on a significant amount of responsibility for the well-being of your child. This includes making decisions about their healthcare, education, and overall upbringing.

Time Management

Balancing work, personal life, and childcare can be challenging. You may need to adjust your schedule and priorities to accommodate your new role as a parent.

Financial Considerations

Raising a child can be expensive, and you’ll need to plan for the financial responsibilities that come with parenthood, including diapers, clothing, food, healthcare, and education.

Relationship Changes

Parenthood can change your relationship with your partner. It’s essential to communicate openly, support each other, and find ways to maintain a healthy partnership despite the added responsibilities.

Support System

Having a support system, including family and friends, can make a significant difference. They can offer advice, assistance, and emotional support during challenging times.

Personal Growth

Many first-time dads find that fatherhood leads to personal growth and development. You may discover new strengths and abilities as you adapt to your role as a parent.


Despite the challenges, many first-time dads also find immense joy and fulfilment in the experience of raising a child. Watching your child grow and develop can be incredibly rewarding.

Remember that it’s normal to feel overwhelmed at times, and it’s okay to seek help and advice from experienced parents, healthcare professionals, or support groups. Being a first-time dad is a learning process, and with time, patience, and love, you’ll likely find your way and develop a strong bond with your child.

The hardest thing about being a first-time dad

Everything & nothing! The hardest thing about being a dad can vary from person to person, as it depends on individual circumstances, personal strengths and weaknesses, and the age and needs of your children. However, some common challenges that many fathers face include:

Balancing Responsibilities

Finding a balance between work, personal life, and parenting can be challenging. Juggling multiple roles and responsibilities can lead to stress and exhaustion.

Lack of Sleep

Especially during the early years of parenting, sleep deprivation is common. Babies and young children often wake up during the night, and this can take a toll on a father’s physical and emotional well-being.

Financial Pressures

Raising children can be expensive, and providing for their needs, including education, healthcare, and extracurricular activities, can put financial strain on a family.

Parenting Challenges

Every child is unique, and parenting can be a constant learning experience. Dealing with behavioural issues, tantrums, and other parenting challenges can be emotionally draining.

Time Management

Finding time for self-care, hobbies, and spending quality time with your children and partner can be difficult. Many fathers struggle to strike the right balance.

Emotional Toll

Parenthood often brings a range of emotions, from joy and love to frustration and worry. The emotional toll of parenting can be challenging to navigate.

Changing Relationships

Becoming a parent can change your relationships with your partner, friends, and family members. Adjusting to these changes and maintaining healthy relationships can be a challenge.

Work-Life Balance

Balancing the demands of work with family life can be a constant challenge. Meeting work commitments while being present for your family can be a juggling act.

Support System

The availability of a support system, including family and friends, can greatly impact how challenging fatherhood is. Lack of support can make it more difficult.

Personal Growth

Fatherhood often requires personal growth and development. Learning to be patient, empathetic, and a good role model can be challenging but rewarding.

It’s important to note that while fatherhood can be challenging, it is also incredibly rewarding. Many fathers find great joy and fulfilment in their role as parents, and the challenges they face often come with valuable life lessons and personal growth. Building a strong support network, seeking advice and guidance when needed, and maintaining open communication with your partner and children can help you navigate the challenges of being a dad more effectively.

first time mum and first time dad holding their newborn baby

Building a Bond with Your Baby

Embarking on the journey of fatherhood introduces a profound emotional landscape that is both exhilarating and, at times, daunting. Central to this journey is the establishment of a deep bond with your newborn. This connection, while instinctual to some, may require conscious effort and patience for others. From the moment your baby arrives, every touch, every gaze, and every word contribute to the foundation of your relationship.

Skin-to-skin contact, often encouraged immediately after birth, is not just for mothers; it allows fathers to introduce themselves to their newborns in the most primal and comforting way. This tactile connection regulates the baby’s heartbeat, temperature, and breathing, fostering a sense of security and attachment.

Engaging in daily routines, such as feeding, bathing, or bedtime storytelling, not only provides relief to your partner but also offers consistent opportunities for interaction, allowing you to become attuned to your baby’s cues and needs.

Vocal interactions, even simple lullabies or narrating your activities, can stimulate your baby’s auditory development and familiarise them with the cadence of your voice.

As weeks turn into months, playtime becomes an invaluable bonding tool. Gentle tickles, mimicking baby sounds, or just laying down beside them, observing the world from their perspective, can create moments of joy and discovery. Remember, the bond with your baby is a dynamic relationship, evolving with each stage of their growth. While the initial days might be more about providing comfort and security, as they grow, they will be about exploration, guidance, and shared experiences. It’s essential to be present, both physically and emotionally, to navigate and cherish each phase.

Over time, these consistent interactions and shared moments will weave the intricate tapestry of trust, love, and understanding between you and your child, laying the foundation for a lifelong bond.

Is there a best age to be a first-time father

There isn’t a universally “best” age for becoming a first-time dad, as the right age for fatherhood can vary from person to person and depend on individual circumstances and preferences. Here are some considerations:

  • Biological Factors: From a biological perspective, men can father children throughout their lives, as sperm production typically continues into old age. However, as men age, there is a slightly higher risk of genetic mutations in sperm, which may increase the risk of certain health conditions in offspring.
  • Emotional Readiness: Being emotionally ready to become a father is crucial. This readiness may come at different ages for different individuals. Some people may feel prepared for parenthood in their twenties, while others may not feel ready until their thirties or forties.
  • Financial Stability: Financial stability is an important consideration for prospective fathers. It’s essential to have the means to support a child and provide for their needs, which often becomes more feasible as one progresses in their career and financial stability.
  • Relationship Status: Whether you are in a committed relationship, married, or a single parent can also influence the ideal age for fatherhood. Some people prefer to become parents within the context of a stable partnership, while others may choose single parenthood.
  • Career Goals: Consider your career aspirations and goals. Some individuals want to establish their careers before starting a family, while others are comfortable balancing career and parenthood early on.
  • Health and Fitness: Good physical and mental health is important for parenting. Being in good health can help you keep up with the demands of parenting, especially when children are young and require a lot of care and attention.
  • Support System: Evaluate your support system. Having a network of family and friends to help you with childcare and emotional support can be beneficial at any age.
  • Personal Preferences: Personal preferences and life goals play a significant role in determining the best age for fatherhood. Some people prioritize having children early, while others prefer to wait until they have accomplished other life goals.

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the best age for becoming a first-time dad. It’s a deeply personal decision that depends on your unique circumstances, goals, and readiness. It’s essential to think carefully, discuss your intentions with your partner (if applicable), and consider seeking advice from trusted friends, family, or professionals when making this important decision.

Supporting Your Partner Postpartum as a first-time dad

While it’s essential to focus on your role as a first-time dad, it’s equally important to support your partner during her recovery and adjustment to motherhood. 

  • Create a Supportive Environment: The postnatal period can be challenging for both parents. Ensure your home environment is conducive to the needs of a newborn and a recovering mother. This might mean reorganising spaces, soundproofing rooms, or investing in essential baby gear.
  • Be Hands-On: From changing nappies to soothing a crying baby, and be actively involved. These actions not only provide relief to your partner but also strengthen your bond with the baby. The more you engage, the more intuitive and confident you’ll become in your parenting role.
  • Prepare Financially: The addition of a new family member brings about financial changes. Consider setting up a budget, exploring parental leave options, and understanding the costs associated with childbirth and childcare in the UK. Planning will alleviate potential financial stresses.

Recognising Signs of Postpartum Depression as a first-time dad

postnatal depression - first time fathers

Postpartum depression is a common condition that affects many new mothers. Be attentive to your partner’s emotional well-being and educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression. Reach out to healthcare professionals or support groups for guidance if you suspect your partner may be experiencing this condition.

Sharing Household and Baby Duties

Adjusting to life as parents requires teamwork. Share household and baby-related duties with your partner to ensure an equitable distribution of responsibilities. This allows both of you to bond with your baby, take care of yourselves, and maintain a nurturing environment for your family.

While the initial stages of fatherhood can be demanding, they’re also filled with moments of profound joy and connection. Cherish the small milestones, the quiet moments, and the firsts. They are fleeting and precious. Stepping into the role of a father is a journey of continuous learning and adaptation.

By staying informed, being proactive, and approaching challenges with a positive mindset, you’ll not only be a pillar of support for your family but also find immense fulfilment in the joys of fatherhood.

Becoming a first-time dad is a transformative and immensely rewarding experience. By understanding the basics of fatherhood, preparing for your baby’s arrival, navigating the early weeks, building a bond with your little one, and supporting your partner postpartum, you’ll embark on this journey with confidence, love, and a wealth of knowledge.

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