The New Dad Tips (Practical, Mental, Baby Gear, and More)

I’m three months into being a dad. So I’ve now spent the last full year learning lots of new dad tips and dad things. 

Some of these are small, some are big and have made a huge difference for me and my wife, and some are oddly specific to some products we’ve used. They span from ideas for during pregnancy to during labor/delivery to the months after your little one is born.

I hope this gives an idea or two that helps make dad-ing a bit easier and takes some of the mystery out of what to expect.

New Dad Tips: Practical Stuff

1. Take all you’re given at the hospital

Our delivery room (we took everything helpful!)

We were glad someone told us to take home all the diapers and freebies given to us at the hospital. 

There were several items helpful for my wife in her recovery that we wouldn’t have thought to take with us if we hadn’t made a point to check the room before we left. 

Heck it’s already paid for and given to you by the hospital. Take it home!

(Also have suggestions on what dads should bring to the hospital.)

2. Use the post-shower registry discount

Depending on where you register for a baby shower, a lot of stores will give you a discount on any items you buy off your registry after the shower but before a certain cut-off date. 

We registered through Target and were able to buy one of the more expensive items that wasn’t gifted to us at our shower afterward at 15% off because of their registry coupon promotion. Amazon does it too. Check with wherever you register for their policy. 

3. Alternate sleep times with your significant other

There was a time when our son was first born that my wife and I would both stay awake if our son was feeding or just crying. I have no idea why we did that.

Two tired parents makes things harder. If you can do it (especially if your baby is bottle feeding), take turns feeding and sleeping. You’ll be grateful for every moment of sleep you get.

4. Take (all) your paternity leave

If you get paid paternity leave, clear your work (and personal) calendar and take it all

You’ll be tired and thankful for every day you take to rest and be with your family. 

I recommend taking at least 2 weeks and more if possible. (Here’s more thoughts on how to do paternity leave well.)

5. Choose when you want family to visit (and receive help)

This is a fairly obvious tip, but I write it this way because everyone has different family scenarios and experiences. 

I’d tell you to have family visit immediately after the birth, because that’s what my wife and I did and we were very glad, but I don’t know your family situation. 

If you expect your family to be helpful and you like having them around, I’d recommend having them visit or come to help as soon as possible. My wife and I were exhausted and were so glad we had help.

If having family visit would make you more anxious than at ease, then give it some time before they arrive so you’ve got a few days to settle in.

6. Preboard on airplanes when pregnant

A very kind flight attendant informed us that pregnant women can board flights in the pre-boarding group along those needing assistance. 

All we had to do was go to the counter before boarding, tell them my wife was pregnant and they let us board early. 

With Southwest, it was a big relief. We didn’t have to worry about getting seats next to each other, having time for carry ons, or ending up at the very back of the plane.

(You can also board early with kids, which is one of the things I’d recommend when flying with a baby.)

7. Plug your stuff in with a newborn

This will seem like a very minor detail, but I write this after having woken up last night to our sound machine beeping (rather than shushing like normal) because the battery was dying. I panicked and thought our little guy might wake up.

Get a power strip, plug your sound machine, night light, and any other bedside stuff into it. And forget about it. 

Trust me – waking up unnecessarily will make your head want to explode. 

New Dad Tips: Mental Stuff

8. Remember the first time is often the hardest.

The first week at home. The first time your baby gets a cold. Your first time you change a diaper or get poop on your hands.  

Having a baby is like getting new experiences dumped on your head like it’s an ice bucket challenge.

Don’t freak. You’ll get more comfortable with time.

(Though I do have some suggestions on how to prepare for labor as a dad and the two things I wish I knew before my son was born.)

9. Don’t feel like you need every baby product

You could buy endless baby products. There are so many that seem important. 

But I can say from experience they’re not all as important as their websites make them seem.

We got a diaper pail and haven’t found it to be much better than any garbage can. 

We’ve done lots of formula feeding and never got a Baby Brezza. We’ve never felt like we were missing one.

There are cameras, monitors, and devices galore. They can be helpful but don’t spend tons of energy stressing about getting them all. 

A lot of what my wife and I bought had been things we realized we needed once we ran into the challenge. (Like new swaddles or a different diaper brand.)

10. Find ways your significant other is doing well and tell her

Being the dad who can’t carry the baby during pregnancy, give birth, or breast feed (among other things moms do) can make you feel pretty unhelpful sometimes. I know I’ve felt it. 

But I’m also around to see everything my wife does and a reminder of how great she’s doing and how much I appreciate the effort she’s putting in makes both our days a whole lot better. 

There are mom things I can’t do. But I do know I (and you) can be supportive and encouraging.

11. Don’t get ahead of yourself (or try not to)

While my wife was pregnant, I started reading a book I’d heard was good called “Boundaries with Kids”. 

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great book. Some of the ideas in there are incredibly smart. (I’m a big fan of the author, Henry Cloud.)

But I realized I was reading about how to parent kids I didn’t yet have. A good thing to know and be intentional about learning, but I didn’t know what to expect in labor or much about newborns. 

I was ahead of myself. Here’s your reminder you don’t need to figure out how to aren’t a teenager or even a toddler yet. That time will come.

12. Remember HALT

Miles Adcox is the founder of a retreat and counseling center in Nashville. And a guy I have ton of respect for. 

One of the wisest things I heard him say in an interview once was they first cater to their counseling patients’ needs related to Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, or Tiredness. Or HALT. 

When things are hardest and I’m most frustrated with new dad stuff (or most things in life), I find it’s very often true that I’m one of those things: hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.  

I don’t mean this to sound like a broad “just do personal development!” suggestion. Like duh. Everyone would like to personally grow. 

But I mention it here with the hopes that HALT might come to mind even once when you feel frustrated and will remind you to take a step back and give yourself a moment. Maybe to grab some food or call a friend or take a walk, then go back to what you were thinking about or working at when you got frustrated.

13. Postpartum emotions are a thing

I’m no expert in: pregnancy, birth, or hormones – among other things. What I know is my wife had up and down emotions in the weeks after our son was born, which I had read many women experience. 

I don’t have much for suggestions (remember when I said I was no expert?), but wanted to mention it as I was glad I’d heard that emotional ups and downs could take place and wasn’t shocked when they arrived.

14. Ask how you can help

This applies during pregnancy, birth, and with a newborn. I’ve found there a lot of times when my wife is the one doing the work and I don’t know how to help. 

When my wife is trying to get my son to sleep. When my wife was uncomfortable during pregnancy. Or in labor. Or breastfeeding. 

So I’ve tried to frequently ask how I can help and what she needs. Sometimes it’s nothing. Other times it’s been a pillow or a snack, and she just hasn’t asked. 

It’d be tough to go wrong by trying to be helpful.

New Dad Tips: Baby Gear Stuff

15. Get a baby carrier

If you’re home with the baby and need to get stuff done, I’d recommend having a baby carrier so you can wear them. 

We’ve used a Solly Baby Wrap and a Baby Bjorn Mini Carrier. Our son likes both but I’d get the Baby Bjorn Mini if I could only get one. The Solly can be a challenge to learn how to wear and it’s not as secure. So it’s stretchiness wouldn’t be as good for any time you’re not at home.

16. Get a pair of ear plugs

This may sound ridiculous, but a pair of earplugs to ease the pain of a crying/screaming baby may save your sanity more than once. It has for me.

It was recently my first time putting my son to bed by myself while my wife was at a concert with her friends visiting from out of town. 

I knew the bedtime routine to follow and thought it’d be pretty smooth. I was right about the routine and wrong about the expected smoothness.

His nap schedule was messed up during the day so he cried frantically for over an hour at bedtime because he was over tired. It was terrible. 

Only three quarters of the way through the bedtime routine did I realize I had noise canceling headphones I could put on that’d keep me more calm and drown out his crying more. 

It worked well. And I ended up doing the same thing the next night (thankfully he cried less) but I put them on immediately when the crying started. The headphones made it so much easier to focus on the feeding/diapering/changing I was doing and not get frustrated. 

You could use noise canceling headphones too, but ear plugs are much cheaper and would do the job.

17. Download the Nara App

A friend told my wife about the Nara app and it was a huge help. It helps easily keep track of dirty diapers, feeding schedules/amounts, and sleep schedules. 

You’ll be especially glad you used it when the doctor asks how frequently your baby does things like eat and poop and you can just check the app. (Instead of trying to rack your tired brain that can’t remember anything that happened before you got out of the car.)

18. Get multiple sized bottle nipples

I had no idea there were different types of nipples to go on top of bottles. There are different “flows” that allow more food out faster. 

Apparently the rough guidelines are slow flow for 0-3 months old, medium flow for 3-6 months old, and 6-12 months old. It wouldn’t have made much sense to me until my son turned 3 months old and we realized he ate a lot more if we gave him a medium flow bottle rather than slow.

19. Get multiple types of bottles

If you’re going to be bottle feeding at all, I’d recommend getting multiple brands of bottles. My son particularly likes Comotomo bottles, but he never liked drinking from Dr. Brown’s or Medela bottles for whatever reason.

I’m not sure Comotomo is better for all kids. But I sure am glad I had multiple brands to try when we realized he wasn’t eating from the other brands well.

20. Get a nail grinder tool

Babies’ nails can get surprisingly sharp and we heard clipping them can be a huge pain. I also heard some moms chew at their baby’s nails to shorten them, which was an idea neither my wife or I were wild about. 

You can get small battery powered nail grinders on Amazon that are inexpensive. That’s all we’ve used on our son’s nails and he doesn’t mind it in the slightest. And it works great. 

21. Don’t worry about a MamaRoo

On the topic of bouncy/swinging things, I wouldn’t stress over getting a MamaRoo. Our 3 month old hasn’t really enjoyed sitting in it and they aren’t cheap. They also aren’t easy to pick up and move like a BabyBjorn bouncer. 

I’ve heard some babies love MamaRoos. But I’d go with a BabyBjorn bouncer if you could only choose one or want to save a few bucks. (You can also get either for much cheaper on Facebook Marketplace or other reselling apps if you don’t mind them being used.)

22. Get the Taking Cara Babies sleep course

This probably isn’t the first or last you’ll hear of Taking Cara Babies. You can’t look up new dad tips for a baby’s sleep without coming across it. We heard the hype and have found it to be as good as everyone says. 

A lot of it was stuff my wife and I knew to do and we don’t follow every detail, but there were suggestions about swaddling, sleep schedules, naps, and the progression of how babies fall asleep that were all a big help. 

As a tired new dad, I can confidently say any sleep help you can get will be greatly worth it.

23. Get Medela steam bags

Another product I had no idea existed. You can boil your bottles and pacifiers and other baby objects to sanitize them, but the steam bags are super easy. 

Medela is the brand we use but I’d expect any stream bag brand to work the same. (Here are details on Medela steam bags if interested.)

24. Get Hate Stains Co. stain remover

Unusually good at getting out poop, blood, or grease stains. Would definitely recommend.

25. Get a formula holder

It has three separate sections to hold three servings

It took me two trips to church where I attempted to dump baby formula powder from a plastic bag into a bottle to realize there must be a better way. 

As you might guess, that plastic bag method was a huge pain. You can get formula holders that make pouring the powder so much less of a headache. 

26. Get a car seat base

I didn’t know car seat bases were a thing. I’m glad my wife knew to get one. 

So much easier to pop the car seat in and out of the base than to have to buckle the whole seat in every time you go in and out of the car.

27. Buy lots of bottles

Few things are more frustrating than having your baby screeching out of hunger and not being able to find a clean bottle.

Buy a lot of bottles. They’re cheap. And worth it. 

I recommend at least 6.

28. Get zip up baby onesies (not buttons)

Getting a onesie over a baby’s head is frustrating. Also frustrating is trying to snap the ridiculously small buttons while your baby is viciously wiggling.

I highly recommend zip up onesies instead.

29. Get a portable sound machine

You don’t need a fancy one. A Hushh is durable, has good battery life, goes in a stroller/car seat/backpack easily, and isn’t that expensive.

New dad tips: Miscellaneous stuff

30. Go over the feet, not head

If you ignore my above tip about zip up onesies, at least save yourself some stress. Many onesies have collars that be folded back to make the head opening larger, which makes it doable to get the onesie on/off feet first rather than head first.

Much less annoying for both you and your baby when you don’t struggle to get the onesie over their head.

31. Open a 529 account (maybe)

If you’re not interested in saving for a college fund or prefer to save/spend another way, you can ignore this one. 

I include this because I knew I wanted to start saving for my son’s college fund early but I didn’t know what the type of account was called. 

Different states have different 529 investment plans and some states even give incentives to sign up with theirs. 

If you’re not in a position to save for college or prefer to save/spend another way, skip this one.

32. Go with what you decide is best

There are unlimited new dad tips out there and opinions about how to take care of a baby. Some are universally right like feed your baby enough, let them sleep enough, and love them a lot. 

Others like what bottles or sleep schedule or swaddles you use aren’t universal.

Don’t stress yourself out trying to do everything perfectly taking absolutely everyone’s advice. It’s just not doable. 

Go with what you think is wisest.


These new dad tips are from my own experience, but use your own intuition. No tips will serve you as well as your own wisdom on what’s smartest for you and your growing family. 

Have your own new dad tips you think should be added? Email me at