Best advice for new dads


I’m always a bit surprised when I see companies and advertisements speaking only to mothers about parenting.

Everywhere I turn, I see dads wearing their babies or strollin’ them around town, coaching their kids at little league and running beside them in mini-triathalons.  They’re kneeling down to fix their daughters’ braids, reaching up to help them reach the highest rung of a ladder, and riding their sons to school in trailers and bike seats. They’re up in the middle of the night, rocking newborns to sleep, and they’re changing wet mattresses in the middle of the night after sleep-walking limp preschoolers to the toilet.

And these are not super-dads—well, not necessarily. They’re just dads. And there’s not an armchair-one in the bunch.

So I asked some of my favorite dads to share:

Here are their top tips (and top gear picks) for those new to the parenting role…

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Make solo-parenting a part of your routine. “My best advice for new dads is to take the baby each morning for a walk, without mom. First, I think it’s really important to allow new moms to get some extra rest in the morning, or if nothing else, allow mom to have some time to sip her coffee and read the news (or whatever she liked to do in the morning before she had her baby). During the week, obviously with work, the walk may need to be short, but on weekends or holidays, I would suggest walking for an hour. I would bring a to-go cup of coffee (or walk somewhere to get coffee) and, in my experience, my boys would sleep or calmly sway in the Ergo or the stroller. I think new dads will find their morning walks to be the easiest way to incorporate consistent exercise, coffee, fresh air, and a relaxed newborn, into the crazy, generally unpredictable, new world of fatherhood.”

Set aside time to be in the moment with your kids. “My realization came early on that you should not kid yourself that you will be able to achieve other important tasks that are work related when its your time to look after the kids. I’ve always been a multitasker and always have a long list of work-related tasks that are pending. But when I try and get stuff like that done while looking after the kids, they get annoyed and I get frustrated. Delegate kid time as exclusively kid time and wait until those elusive periods when you don’t have to look after the kids directly to get other tasks done.”

Appreciate the big picture. “After the intial glow, certain aspects of baby care can begin to feel like a grind. Check yourself in moments of frustration, and make sure remind yourself how lucky you are to have the privilege of being an involved parent. My most rewarding moments are when I am fully ‘present’ and engaged.”


Look forward to understanding your own parents in unexpected ways. “My dad always carried a handkerchief and I never thought to ask him why. But having kids opens your eyes to all sorts of things previously unconsidered, doesn’t it? Now, for me, a foldable, cotton-based handkerchief ranks up there with phone, keys and wallet as I’m patting myself down on my way out the door—and its usefulness is up there with diapers and wipes when it comes to solving kid-related conditions. Yogurt face? I got that. Skinned knee? No problem. Found a dead mouse that you want to show to Mom? Well, sure.”

Keep your partner in focus. “If a solid marriage and each partner making the other the ultimate priority is the focus, then the kids will be okay and things will work out. Reverse that order and things fall apart.”

“Never call it ‘babysitting.'” Not when it’s your kids.

Expect it to be hard, and celebrate small victories. “Stop and take note when things go smoothly, because they often don’t.”

Trust your gut. “Make light of all the advice out there.”

And finally, get involved in the gear decisions. “Dads should fight for a gender-neutral diaper bag (don’t get two, because one is always better stocked than the other).”

“And they should test and pick out the carrier they will use. I like the K’tan, but my wife prefers something else. We’re built differently and use carriers for different purposes. So, it makes sense that we each use a different carrier.”

In fact, all the baby-wearing dads I spoke with had a different preferred carrier. The Moby Wrap and K’Tan were both recommended, as were the Ergo 360 and Baby Bjorn. The latter two ranked high for the option of allowing the baby to face out: “The ability to multitask with two hands free is completely essential if you ask me, and I always found that our three actually really loved being in that position where they could see what was going on. Our baby girl actually giggles out loud everytime that she sees me about to put her in the Bjorn.”

Here are some other top picks that made the list of essentials these dads mentioned: 


  1. A carrier that fits.
  2. A lightweight, easy-to-use stroller you can push comfortably. Test them to be sure you won’t be kicking it as you walk or slumping over to push. (The one pictured with Aron is the Summer Infant 3D Lite and we brought it along with us to Italy last summer. It’s unusually tall for an umbrella stroller—which is important as he’s 6’8″.)
  3. A diaper bag “that isn’t lame.” And/or a small, portable diaper case with a changing pad.
  4. Bottles, so you can get involved in feeding when the time comes. “There are few things as precious as your infant staring into your eyes as you feed them. It’s wonderful to get to share in that bonding moment.”
  5. A Houdini-proof swaddle. (We liked this one, but the SwaddleMe is also super-easy to use.)
  6. The Happiest Baby on the Block. “Dr. Karp taught me all my best moves.”
  7. “Though I end up using my phone to take most pictures, it was really important to me to have a good camera before our son arrived.”
  8. A stack of fresh handkerchiefs. (See advice above.)


I think this is great advice for any parent—especially any who is co-parenting.

What would you add? 

Thank you to all the dads who contributed to this post! I know I couldn’t imagine parenting without a partner by my side. In fact, I remember fighting back tears the day that Aron went back to work after Hudson was born—because I couldn’t imagine getting through that first day without him.

P.S. My registry checklist, what to bring to the hospital, and one of my favorite parenting anecdotes from last Father’s Day.

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