Since becoming a parent, one thing I can say is that I spend a lot of time talking to other parents or parents-to-be. And one thing that always comes out is that first week after getting home from the hospital. So many people end up asking themselves “what have I done?” The sudden change in lifestyle is a serious culture shock, and can really take its toll on you if you’re not prepared.

So, I wanted to share some tips on how to get through that first week of being a parent, from the Dad’s side of things. Because, Dads, let’s face it. We don’t really do anything to help with the actual birth, so we really should pull our fingers out of our arses when the mother and child get home! So, where to start… I know!

Pre-Birth Preparation

It’s always good to be prepared, right? And in this case, believe me, it’ll make life so much easier! Now, a lot of books will tell you there’s a huge abundance of things you need to buy ready for your little one’s arrival, but to be honest, most of it is pretty useless at the start. Here’s a list of things you absolutely need. Anything else is pretty much optional.

  • Bottles, whether breast feeding or not. Because trust me, there is no way you can expect your other half to do all the feeding.
  • A breast pump if using breast milk. These things hurt like hell, but if you are breast feeding you need to be able to fill those bottles up so that you can feed some of the time as well.
  • Nappies/Diapers (or whatever you want to call them). You’re going to need a lot of these, and I mean a lot. Not just 3 packs either. We must have gone through a pack a day for the first couple of weeks! Also, don’t go out and stock up on luxury Pampers or anything like that. We got by with either Tesco or Lidl nappies here in the UK, because they don’t stay on long enough to make any difference!
  • A cot, because obviously… But keep it right next to your bed. Your little one won’t be sleeping more than 3 or 4 hours at a time, and you want to be right then when they wake up. We got ours from IKEA, and almost 2 years on it is still going strong! Get an adjustable height one so that you can use it as your child grows.
  • Changing mats, and not just the main foam one! The amount of mess your little one will make will blow your mind! So, as well as the foam changing mat, get some disposable ones as well! You can put them on top of the foam one to save on cleaning. That extra energy you save will be important!
  • Nappy cream or talc. We went with cream, because it was easier to get it in the right place! If you’re in the UK, I highly recommend Tesco Loves Baby nappy cream! We’ve used various others, and all of them ended up with a rash, but that one has done us great!
  • Baby wipes, and a lot of them! Once again, just like nappies, you’re going to go through these like there’s no tomorrow! We use the ones from Lidl, but any that are specifically for babies is good. Just, go with the no fragrance ones to start with, due to the sensitivity of your baby’s skin.
  • A bouncer, so that your baby has somewhere to sit during their day time (since normal day time won’t exist anymore). Get a good one that is suitable for newborns. We got ours from Argos for about £30, and it worked wonders… In fact, my daughter didn’t want to get rid of it, even when she had outgrown it be 6 months!
  • A travel system, not just a pushchair. And not for the first week… You won’t be taken your little one outside for a few months yet, but that’s exactly why you should get this sorted in advance. It’ll be hard to find the time later. We got ours from Toys R Us here in the UK. Make sure it comes with a push chair and car seat suitable for newborns!

And there’s loads more that you can get, but those are the absolute essentials! So, with that out of the way, let’s move on to the next part!

The First Day

Okay, so you’ve just got back to the house with your new bundle of joy, and you’re both tired and exhausted, right? Wrong! The mother is, you’re not. You may have stayed awake during the whole birthing process (unlike a lot of men on One Born Every Minute) but all you really did was stand around and be supportive (I hope). You didn’t really do much else.

So now it’s time to kick things into gear! If you are breast feeding, then put some nice, relaxing movie or tv show on for your partner whilst they use the breast pump to fill some bottles. And make sure they are comfortable too, because that thing hurts like hell! What? You thought you could relax as well? Oh no! You’re work’s just getting started!

Whilst your partner rests up and tortures herself with the breast pump, or just flat out crashes out from the tiring ordeal she’s just been through, you’re going to be changing nappies and running around after your kid!

Your baby will need at least one bottle every 3 hours, and how much they take can vary wildly! So, even if you are breast feeding, I would take the opportunity to stock up on bottled, ready-mixed baby forumla as well, just to make sure there is enough. Because trust me, your partner is going to run dry sometimes, and you don’t want to cause her stress and make her feel bad because the baby isn’t getting enough from her. You are there to support them both, after all!

The first day is pretty simple really. Make sure there’s enough milk for your little one, make some coffee or tea and food for your partner, keep everyone comfortable, and get sleep whenever your little one does! There won’t be any other opportunities!

The Rest Of The Week

The rest of the week will be pretty much the same. There’s going to be a lot of mess, believe me! And get ready for your child to poo whilst you change their nappy! Oh, and they will go to the toilet on you! And on everything else… My daughter managed to do a projectile poo that went across the changing mat, across the bed, over me and up the wall!

Bathing them is also important! But don’t go rushing to use a baby bath! They’re not going to be big enough for that yet! Instead, use that mass of baby wipes I told you to get earlier (you did get them, right?) and wipe your kid gently all over. Make sure you keep the house at a good temperature (between 24C and 27C)! Also, whilst your family is going to be bugging you to let them come over and see your new family member, tell them to wait. It’s not rude, it’s being careful. You do not want to fill the house full of germs and risk your newborn getting sick!

Also, don’t expect to be watching The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones for a while. In fact, don’t even think about the TV or your favourite game. You’ve got more important things to do with the 3 hours you and your child are awake!

The best advice I can give a new Dad for the first week of life is this:

Sleep when your baby sleeps, make sure you do as much of the feeding as possible, don’t leave your partner to rock your kid to sleep, and make sure you and your partner get as much food and drink as possible as well, so that you don’t burn out!

Honeslty, nothing I can write in this post will truly prepare you for what’s to come. But hopefully these bits of advice will, at the very least, help you be a bit more ready for this huge change in lifestyle! In coming posts, I’ll discuss aspects of looking after your child in more detail, but for now, scroll back up to the list at the start of this post and make sure you have what you need! And also, congratulations on the new arrival! They’ll be worth it, trust me!

Thanks for reading, and if you have any advice for new parents, or any funny stories, why not share it in the coments below?

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