The title of “Dad” is one of the best to have (right alongside “Mom,” of course). As you prepare for the arrival of your little one and even in the first months of your baby’s life, there are things you can do to help your husband feel like a dad, easing the transition for him into this new role and allowing him to bond with baby.
- Download a baby development app on his phone. Dad will love knowing that at 13 weeks in utero, the baby is the size of a peach, or that at 27 weeks, the baby is now sleeping in regular intervals. Having an app on his phone (or tablet) will give Dad the chance to see baby’s development, day by day and week by week. In fact, there is even an app, “Who’s Your Daddy,” developed just for first-time dads. It’s available for $2.99 in the iTunes Store.
Some other popular pregnancy and baby tracker apps include:
- Make your baby shower a couples’. Sometimes, baby showers are thought of as “no man’s land,” a girls-only function. But, baby showers don’t have to be limited to just Mom and her friends or family members—make it a couples’ shower, and invite both Mom and Dad’s friends. Other dads in attendance will offer their words of advice (and maybe even share some “war” stories of their time in the trenches of poopy diapers and spit up). This will help Dad feel more involved while allowing him to build a “tribe” of other dads.
- Register and plan the baby’s nursery together. One thing that I didn’t expect in my first pregnancy was how much my husband wanted to be a part of planning the nursery. I started planning it on my own, and then he expressed interest in being involved. I was so excited! It was fun doing it all together, including creating our registry. We had some good laughs assembling the crib together and trying out some new baby products.
If you’re able to, register in person. Stores like Target and Babies R Us actually give you a portable scanner so you can walk around the store and add items to your registry by scanning the barcode. Not sure what you need? See our list of what you need—and don’t need—for baby.
- Invite him to join you at your OB checkups. Do your best to make your appointments at times that work with his schedule. Allowing Dad to get to know your OB as well as you do (this will come in handy when you’re in labor, too!) and take part in those monthly appointments (and then bi-weekly and then weekly) will help him experience the pregnancy in a whole other way. Obviously, as appointments become more frequent, his schedule may not allow him to be at every appointment, but continue to extend the invite. This is a prime example where it’s the thought that counts.
- Get him his own dad-style diaper bag. My husband was not thrilled when he saw my pink flowery diaper bag, and he was even more elated when he saw that I had purchased a “dad” bag just for him and stocked it full of baby items, like wipes, change of outfit, etc. These “dude” bags are becoming increasingly popular, and there are so many styles to choose from. Diaper Dude.com offers everything from messenger-style bags to Major League Baseball print bags. Your man will be styling with the baby in tow!
- Have Dad take a nighttime feeding. This is really a win-win for all parties. You will desperately need your sleep and Dad will love the one-on-one time. If you’re breastfeeding, pump a bottle ahead of time and have it ready for Dad. Alternatively, plan a morning to sleep in and have Dad take the early shift. Those quiet moments spent just baby and Daddy will help create a strong bond and form special memories.
- Plan a Daddy day date for baby and Dad. Another win-win. Take the afternoon “off” and let Dad and baby have an afternoon out. Maybe they’ll walk the mall, or go running (with baby in the jogging stroller, of course). Send Dad with a camera or remind him to snap some pictures on his phone to document the afternoon, so they can fill Mom in when they return home!
- Bring Dad to baby’s well-child checkups. Just as Daddy came to those prenatal checkups, make sure he is able to join you at the well-child checkups, which typically take place at 2 weeks, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months and 12 months. He’ll be able to ask the pediatrician any questions he has, go through the developmental checklist and help comfort baby following shots.
Parenthood is an amazing journey, and it’s so special to share it with your husband. Best of luck!