Here’s the situation. You’ve (helped) create a human. The final frontier. Your existence will never be the same, and there’s no turning back. Life as you know it has been drastically altered and nothing will never be the same (in the best possible way).
Point is — you’re about to be responsible for more than just yourself, which most certainly should give you a little bit of concern. Regardless, there are at least a few things you can do to prepare. Congratulations on unlocking the highest level in the game of life, achieving the title of Dad. Here’s a list of things we compiled that you’ll want to pull the trigger on.
For the record, there’s a very good chance that you may be lucky enough to receive some of these items from a baby shower.. if that’s part of your plan. This by no means, is a comprehensive list of things that mom will need.. we’re talking just a few of the basics here for your new dad survival kit.
1. Baby Monitor
Here’s something to get excited about – babies like to take naps. Lots of naps. While you shouldn’t stray too far while your little human is resting, technology will allow you to get a little bit of relaxation in another room when your baby finally falls asleep. A quality baby monitor can offer a sense of relief when you are left to watch the baby but the game is also on in a different room. The important stuff.
While there are thousands of monitors to choose from, this one from Infant Optics is a safe bet. Rated #1 on Amazon for a reason.$165* from Amazon
Infant optics has high resolution images with night vision capacity. It can make new dads feel like a Navy seal on a night mission — when you can peek at the monitor and see a happily snoozing infant in nightvision mode.
The sound quality is great, even rooms away. You can adjust the volume in case your baby is a noisy sleeper and the remote controlled movable camera allows you to pan the crib once your baby starts to wiggle all over. The two-way microphone also lets you chime in with witty one-liners as your baby sleeps. It’s also helpful when needing to instruct your unruly toddler that it is in fact, really time for bed.
Overall this camera has a great battery life, incredible image resolution, night vision and a two-way microphone. Even the least tech-savvy dad (or let’s be real in-law) could figure this out and it offers a great sense of comfort knowing you can peek in on your child as it finally sleeps. Definitely better than others in the sense you can talk to the baby through the monitor and has high quality resolution. The charging time provides (not sure how long but product website probably says) hours of use and with a movable camera you can place the monitor anywhere in the room to capture the best angle of the baby. The only thing that I don’t absolutely love about this monitor is that the image quality dips with poor lighting — it’s great during the day but slightly less crisp at night.
Once you’re finally ready to brave this big new world with your little one, you’ll want a durable stroller to make life easier. Strollers double as a baby mover, as well as storage for all things your little human needs when out and about. You’ll want to consider what kind of lifestyle you and your little dude/dudette will have (active adventures, city strolls, parade performances, game day stadium navigation, etc). You’ll also want to determine if you will be off-roading on trails, traveling on sidewalks, going for jogs, or any other outdoor activities.
Of course, strollers come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s important to factor in how easy it is to open and close the stroller. Accessibility and ease-of-use are pretty important when it comes time to put it to use.
Some are suitable for car seat conversion where you can place your sleeping newborn in their car seat in the stroller base and carry on with your day. Others require you to place your child directly in the stroller. Consider how much you want to roll the dice on moving that sleeping baby from their car seat into a stroller when you’ve got things to do! You also want to consider if the stroller converts to toddler size and bigger. If you only have an infant stroller, it’s likely that you’ll need to purchase one once that baby hits a certain size. Also, if you plan on having more than one child it may be worth investing in a two-person stroller now.
Out of all the strollers we tested, none were better than the Chicco Bravo for 2. Overall design, sturdiness, and straightforward assembly. You can’t go wrong here.$199* from Amazon
The Chicco Bravo for 2 is convertible stroller, meaning it grows with your baby, so it’s important to pay attention to what setting you want to use it on. When adopting the car seat mode, the front seat collapses forward to accommodate the car seat (only compatible with keyfit, keyfit 30 or fit2 infant car seats). You can also turn it into an upright stroller, which is only recommended once your little one can support their own neck. Safety first people.
The Bravo for 2 seat does partially recline for a child to nap, but does not completely lay flat. As an added bonus, this has a dedicated spot for an older child to stand on. Take all the fun your kid has riding on a grocery cart, and apply that logic to the stroller. Obviously, the Bravo for 2 is perfect for people who think they may want more than one child. There’s also a handy tray on the handle that has a cup holder (and cellphone holder). I will say the cup holder is quite small, but chances are pretty solid that you’ll be toting your diaper bag with you anyways, so you can stick your beverage in there. Or, just order the smallest drink possible.
The bottom of the stroller has a very roomy mesh compartment to tote diaper bags, blankets, snacks, etc. It can even tote a small dog if desired! The stroller itself is not overly heavy and folds quite compactly for storage in the car or garage. It’s quite capable on both roads and sidewalks, but I would use caution taking it on unpaved trails. It could probably handle some off-roading, but this one is definitely not a jogging stroller. The wheels do have nice mobility and 360 degree turning. The ride appears smooth for the passenger and the brake is easy to use. This is definitely a worthwhile investment for any parent looking for a stroller for day to day needs.
3. Car seat
No longer will your backseat be a place to collect dirty gym clothes, takeout trash and old work notes, but it will be transformed to your little one’s travel system. A car seat is often required by law to leave the hospital so this is definitely something you’re going to want to plan on having before you head to the hospital for the main event. When selecting a car seat, there’s a number of factors to consider, such as:
- Does the car seat it fit in the stroller you bought?
- Do you want an infant carrier car seat or a convertible car seat?
- How heavy is the car seat?
- Does it fit in your car? Probably pretty important.
The list goes on.. but most importantly you want something that’s safe and capable of comfortably toting your new baby from point A to point B. Our recommendation is that you invest in an infant carrier car seat, as a convertible seat might seem tempting.. but infant carrier seats offer better protection and practicality.
The Chicco KeyFit 30 does everything you’d want in a carseat, and it’s compatible with their well-reviewed strollers as well.$199* from Amazon
Babies sleep, A LOT, and if your baby happens to nod off while in their car seat it is much easier to just pop the car seat out of the carrier and tote that sleeping babe inside than it is to wake the baby by unbuckling them from a convertible seat to carry them into the house and place them in a new spot to hopefully keep sleeping. While this is a convenience factor for sure, you’ll soon learn a sleeping baby is a happy baby (and mom/dad).
This car seat comes with a base which has bubble level indicators to verify proper positioning in the car. This also allows for latch attachment if your car accommodates (essentially those metal things that stick out of the bottom of your seat—your car seat has hooks to attach to it) or it has very easy to identify seat belt positioning to ensure the car seat is securely in place.
Another consideration when purchasing a car seat is the weight of the seat. Especially if your partner had a c-section they are limited to lifting approximately 10 pounds for a few weeks so most cars eats (plus the infant) are over that weight limit. It’s also important to consider how heavy the seat is without the baby because that baby will only continue to grow and get heavier so you’re adding to the weight of that seat monthly!
4. Crib / Pack ‘n Play
So while you may not need both a crib and a pack ‘n play, you probably won’t regret buying either. Personally, I recommend a pack ‘n play as it saves on space compared to a crib, is movable, and grows with baby. Pack ‘n play’s are great for travel and moving your baby from room to room. When you head out to the in-laws, the pack ‘n play can be folded up and toted along. Most of the time the mattress has multiple heights to accommodate a growing baby and it can also be used as a play yard once the child becomes old enough to get mobile. Nowadays many pack ‘n plays also come with additional features. Some have changing tables, nappers, removable seats/bassinets, mobiles and covers. All the fun.
Finding one to suit your specific need should be easy as there are so many options and the best news is that THEY ARE AFFORDABLE. They also come with mesh siding which is great for allowing airflow and letting baby breathe. Many retail stores also sell pack ‘n play sheets which allow you and your partner to make the bed look cute. The pack ‘n play is easy to assemble and easy to break down. It is important to read through the instructions to understand how to properly set up and take down, but once you’ve got it, you’re golden.
From what we’ve seen, Graco is the undisputed champion in the pack ‘n play category. They can easily replace a crib.$60+ from Amazon
Pack ‘n plays will greatly simplify your life. The portability alone and versatility to grow with your baby is worth it’s weight in gold. The easy wipe down material is great for accidental blowouts or spills and keeps the pack ‘n play looking clean and new. Being able to move it room to room makes it great for impromptu naps and parental needs (i.e. watching football while watching your baby nap). The wheels also make a huge difference when transporting it, sliding along. They also fit through most standard door frames without having to be disassembled. Many cribs are stuck once they’re in the room! Pack ‘n plays for the win.
Let’s talk about diapers. All the Diapers. While there are MILLIONS of diaper brands and styles (cloth/disposable/etc) I will give recommendations on how to find the best diapers for your baby and how to not spend your retirement paying for it. If you are interested in cloth diapers, I applaud you and there are many helpful websites out there for guidance on how to navigate that process. My biggest recommendation is to use a cleaning service and make sure you have good absorbent pads. For us, cloth diapers wasn’t something we even considered, so let’s talk about disposable diapers.
Now, most hospitals will use pampers for whatever reason (preference, quality, spending, etc). Pampers are a great brand and many babies do well with Pampers in terms of allergies and rashes. I will say, it is VERY difficult to find preemie diapers and thus far only Pampers and Huggies offer preemie diapers (in a 30 count for about $9.00/piece—which with 8-10 wet diapers a day gets QUITE pricey). At any rate, most other companies offer sizes starting at newborn and upward.
For preemies we recommend Pampers Swaddlers, hands down.$46* from Amazon
Honest company, Seventh Generation and Babyganics are the most common brand name for organic diapers, but pampers has also developed a ‘sensitive’ and ‘organic’ version of diapers. Quite honestly **personal opinion alert** unless your baby has an allergy or sensitive skin, organic diapers aren’t worth the extra cost. You can get the same coverage with Luvs, Pampers, Huggies or even the generic store brand.
Things to consider with your baby and diapers – the size of your little one’s cute little thighs. Some babies have long skinny legs, while others have chunky monkey tree trunks. Both are perfect for your little babe BUT can have serious consequences in the diaper department. You want to make sure the diaper is snug against the thigh at the groin (but not too tight) to prevent leaks when they fill their diaper. Additionally, you want something that is snug against their lower back or has elastic to prevent up the back blowouts. Some long lean babies do better with one brand (often Pampers, but search until you find what is affordable and works for you!) while the more voracious eaters do better with another (Huggies). Luvs has a soft scent that some enjoy and other find nauseating.
I will say, in my experience, Luvs provide excellent coverage but there is a potential for skin irritation with the scent. Another awesome feature is that most diapers have a color indicator to let you know when a diaper is wet/dry. Most diapers have a line that turns from yellow to blue (or something similar) when soiled. It is definitely helpful for those late night cries where you aren’t entirely sure what that little baby needs and you don’t necessarily want to undress them — so you peek and see diaper is wet or dry. Overall you really can’t go wrong with whatever works for your family, your budget and your tiny human’s skin.
6. Sleeper Gowns
Trust me when I say this, boy or girl, you need sleeper gowns or sleeper bags. Have you ever tried fumbling around with buttons on infant clothes at 3 am, with a lamp on and about 2 hours of sleep? Trust me it’s less fun than it sounds. It also usually ends with a screaming baby, mismatched buttons, and an even more exhausted tired parent.
Have no fear, sleeper gowns/bags to the rescue! These handy items look a bit like a dress (trust me your son will have no idea and they come in boy patterns so don’t freak out) but these will save your life. They go over the babies head and their arms go into the arm slots but the bottom remains open for easy diaper changes! The sleeper bags are easy to open with a zipper bottom so gowns, in a sense are a bit easier as you just slide them up, but the sleeper bags do enclose baby’s feet. The gown should be long enough to completely cover the babies legs and have a bit of extra room, and it probably is a good idea to put socks on babies when they have these on as their feet can become cold!
Shouldn’t your baby be comfortable when they’re sleeping? The answer is yes. The good news is that most baby clothes are relatively affordable.$14* from Carter's
As far as specific brands.. again, I’m pretty indifferent here. No specific recommendations, so again whatever falls within your budget will work. Carter’s is always good for cute patterns and durability but Wal-Mart and Target carry super cute patterns too. They can also be found on buy buy baby, which overloads pregnant women with coupons, or sites like aden and anais.
One complaint for the gowns is they can move up on the babies legs once they get wiggly (but by that point they’re in footed jammies anyway so I guess pick your battles). The bags also should have baby in a onesie underneath the bag as it’s more of an addition to an outfit vs an outfit. At any rate, these will be lifesavers with a newborn and will make life that much more simple. They also will be lifesavers for 3am diaper changes when all you want to do is go back to sleep.
7. Baby Bath Tub
Bath time is hopefully an enjoyable time for you and baby. I will warn you, some babies, especially early on do NOT enjoy bath time and it’s more of a WWE screaming match than the happy smiles you see on television. In the first few weeks baby should really only be bathed with a washcloth in order to protect the umbilical cord but after that falls off you’ll want a nice tub for the baby to get clean in.
Some people prefer a tub they can fill and place on the counter and bathe baby there. Others prefer one that sits in the adult bathtub and the parent leans over the side of the tub to bathe them. I personally recommend one that can sit on the counter as leaning over the tub will take it’s toll on your sleep deprived adult body. Now, with all things, personal preference is important.
The tub we recommend is the Boon SOAK Newborn to Toddler bath tub.$29.99* from Amazon
The tub I decided on was the Boon SOAK Newborn to Toddler bath tub. This was an easy choice, because it grows with baby and can adapt to different sizes. It also can be filled and placed on a counter top for easier bathing.
The insert in the tub can actually be rearranged to accommodate growing baby size and there is a color changing drain plug that ensures the perfect water temperature. This seemed most practical to us as kids can’t really be in a tub alone until their toddler years so the fact this grew with the baby seemed ideal. We also liked the durable plastic it is made out of and the easy to clean material. It also conveniently slips into our linen closet so we didn’t need to worry about how to store another baby item or have it taking up space in our guest bathroom.
I’m sure this goes without saying, but always remember safety first when bathing the infant and never leave the baby alone in the tub or use water that can burn their sensitive skin!
So once this baby arrives, the primary responsibility of both parents is to make sure sure that your little human stays alive… and one of the most important ways you can do that is by feeding the baby. Whether baby is formula or breast fed, at some point bottles will come into play. There are thousands of options for bottles and with everything else—use what works with your baby and your budget! Our recommendation is for Dr Brown’s Natural Flow bottles.
Dr. Brown’s bottles are touted to help with common baby tummy trouble (gas and colic) and you can’t go wrong here.$24.99* from Amazon
There are also different stages of nipples for the bottles (level 1 and level 2 most common) which allow for adjustments in flow rate to ensure baby is getting enough or not too much milk at a time. The bottles are also BPA , lead, phthalate free and BONUS dishwasher safe! One concern we have noticed is that because of the great gas prevention system cleaning can be a bit of a pain (the bottle does have a few more pieces than others) but seems like a fair trade off when you consider a little more cleaning time for less crying time.
9. Nursing Pillows
It’s a safe bet that as the child’s father, you won’t be called into nursing duty per se, however it’s a pretty smart idea to make sure you support mom in this beautiful, natural process! While it may seem like no big deal to hold a small 6 lb. baby, doing so for 20 minutes at a time can create for sore arms and shoulders. Boppy makes incredible nursing support pillows (and pregnancy pillows for restless nights before baby comes!) and they’re also affordable. Sweet!
This pillow is designed to boost baby closer to breast when feeding and help eliminate having to hold their full body weight when nursing.$29.99* from Amazon
It also wraps around mom to create more comfortable holding positions for nursing and allows mom to try different positions with support.
The pillow also can be used to help support baby as it grows by offering support during tummy time, playing, sitting, or just lounging on the floor. An added bonus to this product is the cover is removable (and they sell additional covers!) so that you can easily wash if soiled or have a backup for accidental spills.
Boppy’s are also great for assisting new siblings with holding their new baby as it can provide the needed head support infants require. The soft fabric and sturdy build allow for comfortable positioning and durability. Boppy’s are easy to transport and can be very useful in helping with those first feedings and getting baby and feeder comfortable.
10. Rock n Play / Swing
Who doesn’t love holding a sleeping infant and just admiring the miracle of a baby? While there are few better feelings than that sweet bundle of joy in your arms, there is also something sweet about setting that baby down and changing a load of laundry (or sneaking in a game of FIFA—am I right?). This is where swings and rockers become a valuable investment.
For the longest time, swings had a monopoly on the market and every parent was told, “You have to have a swing, it’s a lifesaver.” Don’t get me wrong, swings are fabulous and do provide a lot of soothing comfort (and rocking motion) for babies. However, there is this little thing called a rock ‘n play that is making its way on the scene and creating some competition for dear old swings. Now, both accomplish the same purpose—provide baby with a secure surrounding and some soft motion to soothe them and/or keep them entertained.
Swings often have a mobile or something overhead for baby to look at which is nice and keeps them curious about their world. An enormous pro to the rock n play is many of them fold up with the push of the button and can be transported room to room. Swings can also be moved but are often heavier and require a bit more oomph to move about the house. The rock ‘n play (and be sure you get an AUTO rock ‘n play, not one you have to manually push) plays soothing sounds and has variable speeds (as does the swing). These are great for soothing your baby and helping baby explore their surroundings.
The ingenious Rock ‘n Play can truly be a life saver. So yeah, you need one.$50+ from Amazon
Rock ‘n play’s can be easily transported to and from grandma’s house and can fold up nicely and store behind a couch when not in use. Swings are a bit bulkier and likely are staying put once they are up. Swings do offer multi directional movement and like previously mentioned they do usually have some mobile or item above for baby to look at and be entertained. To be honest, we have both, and I would encourage both.
Your baby deserves an inclined sleeper that gently rocks on it’s own, has settings for nap-time and nighttime, two auto-rock speeds, 12 soothing songs and nature sounds, and removable washable pad for easy cleaning.
However, if you only have room for one I would recommend the rock ‘n play. The ability to fold up and easily move about the house is a big plus, and the space saving aspects of it are ideal. It does essentially the same thing as the swing, just in less space (and often less money).
There are products like mamaRoo which some people swear by, and I’m sure is a great product as well but for a quarter of the cost and easier to use product the rock ‘n play or swing are the best bets! Plus I have been around for many babies and I still don’t’ know how to operate a mamaRoo and the last thing I want is to be finally out on a date night and my parents or the babysitter calls me asking for a tutorial on how to use the baby swing. Also, it’s just fun to say Rock ‘n Play, so there’s that.
Are you excited for fatherhood? You should be. It’s totally overwhelming, completely exhausting, free-time limiting, and yet it’s the greatest thing ever. Trust us, mom is doing all the heavy lifting here, but she’ll certainly appreciate an informed and helpful assistant. That’s where you come in!
If you’re at the point where you’re ready to create a baby registry, it goes without saying that Amazon is a great place to start.