Actionable tips to thrive during your child’s first year, as collected by real dads.
“Are you ready?” is perhaps the most annoying question expecting dads can be asked. There’s no good answer; saying yes makes him sound arrogant and saying no implies he’ll be a dysfunctional dad.
That said, getting ready for fatherhood does take preparation: financial planning, checking health insurance coverage, and preparing the house for the baby are just a few. But this post focuses on something few talk about: the physical demands on dad.
See the doctor. All the doctors.
Toothache? Bad back? Feet hurt in the morning? No one cares. Once the baby arrives, dad’s aches and pains will take a back seat to mom and baby’s needs. Expecting fathers should see an optometrist, dentist, and general practitioner before the baby arrives to uncover and treat any maladies because the last thing a sleep-deprived mom needs to deal with is a second baby.
An even better reason to resolve any pain is to be able to play with a baby on their level: the ground. Half the point of having a baby is being able to play with him, so being able to get down on the ground and back up easily and without pain is a primary goal. Practice by doing burpees.
Drop the extra weight.
Staying fit gets harder with a newborn at home. One study found that men gain an average of 14 pounds in the first year. Losing weight takes disciplined eating, sufficient time for exercise, and good sleep habits; parents have none of those after the baby arrives.
To drop the extra weight, switch to a whole food, plant-based diet. Eat mostly fruits and vegetables and limit animal proteins. Try any of these breakfast options. (Anyone can lose weight by cutting all carbs and eating mostly meat, but that’s a proven path to greater cancer and heart disease risk.)
Learn to cook three quick, healthy meals.
In the first few weeks, the father’s job is to take care of both baby and mom. If she’s breastfeeding, she’s going to want a glass of water every time she nurses, so that’s an easy win for men. A dad who can deliver just 2 or 3 of those glasses of water will be a hero.
Beyond water, a new dad will have to make meals for himself and mom. The healthiest and cheapest way to eat is to prepare whole foods at home. But this takes time and planning. Memorize one heathy breakfast plan and at least three dinner recipes. Potatoes are incredibly nutritious, cheap, tasty and easy to prepare, so we recommend planning recipes that involve potatoes.
Perfect the 20-minute nap.
A baby’s night-time sleep is fragmented for up to 16 weeks, which means new dads can look forward to 4 months of multiple wakings. Periodic 20-minute naps throughout the day can alleviate the inevitable sleep deprivation. Only one in three people consider themselves avid nappers, but with practice, anyone can get rest in 20 minutes.
Cancel the gym membership and develop a fast, effective home-exercise routine instead.
Let’s face it – ultimately, the bar for being a good dad is pretty low; dads just need to be around. But if his daily routine requires traveling to and from a gym every day, he’ll be missing out on quality time at home and putting good dad status at risk. New dads should cultivate a fast, effective home-workout that can be done at any time.
We’re biased, but we recommend Power 20’s Full Body Workout. These 20-minute workouts can be done at home without any equipment.