11 pieces of practical advice all dads-to-be need to read

If you want some serious brownie points we recommend reading this 

A lot of couples I know are expecting their first child in the next little while and have been asking for recommendations on buggies and car seats and cots and whatever other paraphernalia people get carried away with when they're preparing to welcome a bundle of joy into the world. I will do a post soon with all my favourite gadgets, the must haves and the gimmicky ones you shouldn't bother with.
But for now, I've decided to write this little guide for dads who will be bringing their partner and baby home from the hospital at some point in the near future. These are some little things that you should remember to do to make her life - and yours - all that little bit sweeter in those first hectic days and weeks post birth. So while she's in hospital (most people stay in three days after having their first) get this stuff organised...
  • Practice installing the car seat before you get to the hospital. Make sure you're confident in fitting it and taking it out before you have to make the journey home with baby. It's nerve-wrecking enough putting a teeny tiny baby in your car for the first time, so you want to be positive that the seat is in correctly.
  • Get in a cleaner and make sure the house is spotless. Chances are your other half will have been nesting in the weeks and days before birth anyway, but there's always stuff that didn't get done. Get in the professionals to do the floors, bathrooms, dusting etc. She's bringing a brand new baby home and will want the place to be perfect. There's no need to mention you've done this and she might not even notice - but she will notice if the place isn't clean or is messy. (If she's like me, that is!)
  • Turn the heating on and make sure it's nice and cosy - but not too hot!
  • Change the bed clothes there's nothing like climbing back into your own bed with nice fresh, crisp sheets after having spent the past few nights in an uncomfortable hospital bed.
  • Make sure the fridge is stocked with loads of handy foods. Think prepared fruits, nice quality ready meals from the likes of M&S or your local deli, fresh juices, salads, breads, her favourite soups and of course plenty of biscuits and cake! Get some bottles of water too, the ones with sports tops - if she's breastfeeding she'll be extra thirsty and will want one to hand for every feed. 
  • Buy her some magazines and books that she can flick through. In the early days, especially if she's breastfeeding, she will be sitting and feeding the baby a lot. It's nice to have something to read or look at - apart from baby of course!
  • Buy flowers. Leave them on the kitchen table and you could even do a welcome banner. Make a fuss over the homecoming. It's a big deal and a little touch like that will make her smile.
  • Get a present for her. I've heard of a lot of people getting a "push present" (I never got one, *cough*) - something nice for yourself to say thanks for the nine months of pregnancy and for going through birth to bring a couple's child into the world. I think it's a lovely idea. It doesn't have to be a big, expensive gift but maybe a handbag or some nice creams, depending on your partner's taste. Scope it out ahead of time and pay attention if she's drooling over any items in a magazine or online. Write a card and tell her how grateful you are for the past nine months and for her going through labour. 
  • Agree with her! Be helpful. Take the baby between feeds so that she can get some sleep. Run her a bath. Give her a foot rub. The first few days after birth are an overwhelming mix of hormones, sleeplessness and euphoria. Be gentle with her and help her in any way she needs. 
  • Do the nappy changes and help get baby's wind up. Have your own baby bonding sessions by doing 'skin on skin' (strip baby to nappy and take your own top off and allow baby to lie on your chest - don't fall asleep!)  
  • Co-ordinate the visitors. Chances are lots of well-meaning people will want to come over and see the new arrival. It can be overwhelming in the early days, especially if mum is trying to get a hang of breastfeeding or isn't getting much sleep. Obviously very close family and friends can be an excellent help in the early days, but you can politely tell anyone else that you'll be in touch with suitable days/times for visits. 
And don't forget to try and relax and enjoy the experience. Take plenty of pictures and savour the moments - even the mad ones. It all passes by so quickly and the next time you do this (if there is a next time!) you'll also have an older child to consider. This is a unique and wonderful time in your lives.
Check out The Baker Farm a new blog by journalist turned farmer's wife Aine Bonner who's charting her family's move from Dublin to West Cork. From a hack chasing leads in the city to a work-from-home mum finding her feet in the countryside, Aine writes about parenting, travel, current affairs and her quest to build the dream family home. 


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