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Ask HN: How did you prepare for being a first-time parent?
90 points by georgehdd on Sept 23, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 109 comments
I wonder what's the best/recommended way to prepare for being a first time parent? Any recommended books/blogs/videos... ?

Something that I wish was made clear to me beforehand is that there is a huge variance in children, even between siblings.

This means that what works well for some kids will fail terribly for others. Half of parenting is trying out a bunch of different things to find out what works well for your kids, and is also acceptable for you. This variance is also a big reason why there is no "one true way" of raising kids, and why you shouldn't take parenting authorities too seriously.

It's also helpful to know when comparing yourself and your kids to other couples with kids. The worst is parents of a single kid with an easy disposition. They can sometimes be judgy and wonder why you don't just do what they did, because clearly they are amazing parents, and you are failing hard.

My mom told me that the most surprising thing to her was about being a parent of a second child, and finding out that she had just as much to learn as with the first one, because everything worked differently.

This is what every person I know with grown children says. Also my grandmother said for that reason be wary of advice from other people. Especially new parents with young children.

>This variance is also a big reason why there is no "one true way" of raising kids, and why you shouldn't take parenting authorities too seriously.

I have a 7mo old and, naturally, for the first couple months my wife and I drove ourselves bonkers worrying about whether or not we were any given task "the right way". I mean, don't get me wrong, we still check with his pediatrician and do basic online research about certain things, but for the most part you just develop an intuition about your kid and what their needs are.

> there is a huge variance in children

This was a surprise to me too, to the extent that I started wondering where I got the notion that all infants should be that same right out of the womb.

Not sure if I got the answer, but one reason might be found in our historical heritage, i.e. the influence of the enlightenment and the furious fight that was fought out between those who believed heredity was everything (ultimately supporting the Kings right to rule) and democrats to whom heredity in such matters was so abhorrent that they tried to wipe out such "a priori" nature from reality using a "tabula rasa"[0] view of humans, a view that prevailed but is ultimately false as parents of several children are left to discover to their surprise.

A case of conceptual overreach it seems, since accepting hereditary or other a priori traits in humans surely don't mean we can't have democracy.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabula_rasa

As the parent of fraternal twins, I can say this was the biggest surprise. We have two absolutely and incredibly different children in one delivery.

I guess the other lessons learned were:

- as soon as you get comfortable with a routine, it changes

- they come into this world as their own people. You can guide them to find their strengths and weaknesses and give them tools to work with those, but it really is nature at the core and nurture only helps them to be better versions of who they intrinsically are

We had twins too (and one older sister). I _was_ amazed that, despite spending less than 48hrs apart in their first couple of years of life, they were _completely_ different. I mean, their personalities are chalk & cheese, and neither of them are anything like their sister. They're really very individual, all of them.

Basically, this is just echoing what the rest of people say on here. There's no "one true way", every child is so different, you have to just trust your instincts. Lots of people will give you advice, you basically have to just nod your head and ignore it 95% of the time.

The only thing I can suggest as preparation is get as much sleep as you can for the fortnight before the little one(s) due. You'll need some in the bank!

They are 6 years old at this point so we are past the point of banking sleep, for the most part. Scarily, they also had different sleep schedules and one had colic and the other one didn’t (fortunately). It was difficult, but we had help so I can’t complain in earnest.

Hear hear. My first was easy and level 1, but apparently with our second I cheated to the endboss. She is all "won't do" (she's two years old now) and really does everything how she wants it.

I came here to say this. Parenting is the hardest thing I’ve ever put my hands to. Something that works one day might be a disaster the next day.

You have a multitude of well-meaning friends with gobs of parenting advice.

Everyone knows what’s best.

But you have to figure out what works for you.

I would encourage two things: First, be consistent, but give your kids grace.

Second, keep in mind this is a marathon and not a sprint. Have a long-term mindset.

Amen about parents with easy-to-parent kids.

There’s nothing that can prepare you. Just take a deep breath, enjoy it, and don’t overprepare.

One piece of advice though: ask for help. Don’t be shy. Western culture prizes independence. This is not a time for independence. Ask the grandparents to help even if they don’t offer it. Pay for babysitting. Get lots of help. It takes a village is absolutely true!

(Oh and it’s absolutely ok to ask for help just so you can have fun)

I agree with this a lot - asking for help can be tough when you're used to solving your own problems. Paying for help - such as a regular house cleaner if you can afford it - is totally worth it.

One thing that we did that was unreasonably helpful was to sign up for a meal kit service (we used Good Eggs, but I assume there are loads of them around). It just meant that we had less decisions to make about food, and removed a lot of friction there.

Last thing - try to sleep when the kid is sleeping. Better to do that than catch up on TV.

As a newish parent of a 6 month year old, one thing I've found hard is the amount of misinformation/opinion pieces online when trying to research things. The best resources I found are from the NHS [1] for things like breastfeeding/first solid foods, and Emily Oster's two books [2] which provide a fairly unbiased summary of the current state of research both before and after birth.

I found prenatal classes really informative with regards to what to expect while at the hospital, but I found they didn't really prepare me for the first few days back home after the hospital.

I wrote a few notes [3] on things at 1 month. As my wife was the one giving birth, I was told and read that I would essentially be useless during labour, and after the birth I couldn't do much for the baby and my job was to support it indirectly by supporting my wife. In reality the only thing you can't do that your partner can potentially do is breastfeed, and that isn't guaranteed.

[1] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/

[2] https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=emily+oster

[3] https://www.reddit.com/r/predaddit/comments/b9g9p5/graduated...

> prenatal classes

+1 for prenatal classes, the more granola the better.

Bizarrely, we had a married pair of clowns in the class before my older kid was born. All I could think of was, what if their kid is scared of clowns?

I had my first child several days ago. I am half asleep typing this. This isn't preparation as much as it is a warning. Here's what I think I have learned so far and what I didn't know:

1. The lactation specialists at the hospital can be rude, aggressive, and pushy. Or at least come off that way when you're pissed and desperate to get your child some food. We have ran into many issues breastfeeding and the lactation specialists (3 at the hospital during our stay) seemed to be very against using any kind of aids to feed. Despite what they say, don't be afraid to try nipple shields, bottles, and, gasp, formula as a supplement or replacement. Your kid has to eat.

2. Every family situation is different, but if you and your partner can you should work in shifts. Particularly if you are breastfeeding and ESPECIALLY if you are pumping, the parent doing that work is not going to sleep more than 2 hours at a time the first few days. If that. Ideally, partners shirts be up as little as possible at the same time so everyone has a chance to sleep.

3. Every minute matters when you're on a baby's schedule. It's the difference between sleeping or not.

4. Have quick, filling things available to eat. I had to choose between sleeping and eating a lot and it sucked.

5. Who knows if any of this will be true for your baby or birthing expert. Everyone is different. Some doctors or nurses don't get this. They suck. Many do and they are great.

6. We took a birthing class and it seemed great at the time, and I'm sure it's helped, but man oh man is the real thing different.

7. Learn to swaddle.

8. Learn to enjoy both the quiet and the chaotic moments. Living is hard, and I've done it for a while. Your baby hasn't and is learning.

My wife had a lot of difficulty with breastfeeding for the first month, and our experience with lactation specialists was mixed. Several were horrible like the ones you described. One was amazing and her primary advice was "feed your baby", formula was fine. Her other primary advice was "take care of yourself" such as using nipple shields. Not only can the nipples be sore, but too much damage can lead to more serious complications. Everything else could be fixed/improved over time. Sometimes the baby is tongue-tied, like ours, and the breastfeeding advice is unlikely to work until that is fixed. Again the lactation specialists didn't think to look for that except the amazing one.

BTW Congratulations!

Thanks :)

My child is tongue tied, lip tied, and my wife has inverted nipples. Nipple shields are past just being a comfort thing, which is useful on its own, to being the starting point to even attempting anything. Even with those there things, the specialists in the hospital were aggressive pushing against using shields and kept saying we'd regret using them. It's like they were disinterested in my my baby even eating if it didn't fit an aesthetic ideal if what breastfeeding should be.

Good advice. We found (in SF) that the lactation consultants and many of the neonatal healthcare providers came across as quite pushy promoting breastfeeding when the reality is that it doesn't work for every parent. I think it's good to try it, but if it doesn't work out then just feed the kid with formula and don't beat yourself up about it.

Agreed here. If any breastfeeding issues definitely check for tongue tie. Also know that some hospitals won’t diagnose it at all (but not tell you that’s their policy) or only the severe cases. Check with an independent specialist if that’s the case.

Baby is tongue tied, lip tied, and my wife has inverted nipples. Basically the there things that make this hard :/.

I think the jury is still out on swaddling: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/parenting/to-swaddle-or...

My baby seems to like it, most people do it, and if it's helping my wife and I while not EXPLICITLY hurting my child I will keep doing it.

We didn't swaddle. I think we tried once with our older one and it made them more fussy. Kids vary.

Kids need A LOT of sleep; more than you think. I would say that 80% of the time you see a kid crying or throwing a tantrum, it’s a combo of not having enough sleep and not having the emotional toolkit or communication skills to express their needs. My single recommendation is to get your child on a sleep schedule and stick with it aggressively.

Check out the book: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Weissbluth.

BTW, I noticed my older daughter getting super cranky when using iPads/phones when she was about 2.5, so we stopped giving them to her and her mood vastly improved as a baseline. You’ll have to make your own decisions about tech and kids, but just keep that in mind. My kids now will happily go on a 12 hr car ride without ever asking for an iPad, etc. YMMV.

Something I didn't realise, along with how much sleep babies need, is that they don't know that the solution to being tired is to go to sleep. I just assumed that if they were tired they would sleep. But they don't know how to go to sleep, or that the horrible feeling of being tired is solved by going to sleep, so they just get wound up instead.

It's important to give kids food every few hours for the first few months. When they are hungry, they'll let you know. At some point (4 months? not sure what the experts say) you can start trying to get them to sleep at night.

When you finally get them sleeping through the night, it's important for them to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. It puts a huge dent in your social life, but it results in happy, pleasant kids.

If you provide an environment where your kids are on a regular sleep schedule every single night, that's way more than half the battle.

More than anything else, mentally prepare for world where everything you do is controlled by a little baby, and their needs.

This * a lot. I have 5 kids (2 in grad school during PhD).

Ages 0-3 are when kids need physical order in their lives (they will spontaneously separate colors, they misbehave less when they get enough sleep at routine times, eat at routine times in routine places, etc.)

Ages 3-6 are when they start wanting order in the mind and care less about physical order and routines.

Fully agree— routine is important starting around 4-6 months. As is often said, well rested babies sleep better.

I also recommend “Happiest Baby on The Block” by Harvey Karp. Read one or two of these types of books but don’t go overboard.

I thought the child-birth classes we did were amazingly helpful for a number of reasons:

* You become familiar with the terms (procedures, drugs, etc) so that during delivery they don't sound scary and unknown.

* We met other people in our relative neighborhood at the same stage. We're still friends with many and it was a HUGE support network before and after our children were born. I think this is especially helpful with a first kid.

That aside, I recommend 'The Expectant Father' for dads as a decent book that I found helpful.

Final preparation tip: Lie about the 'due date' to everyone. Add an extra 2 weeks. It helps getting those annoying calls so close to delivery date. (Like if you don't return someones call in 5 minutes they assume you're in labor...) It gets annoying and fast.

And for after the baby is born: Just remember that you will get your 'sleep' back one day. It will be worth it. I have such a HUGE appreciate for un-interrupted stretches of sleep now. Hang in there :)

This is all great advice

I was twenty-one. I didn't intend to have children until my late twenties.

I was married and we intended to have kids, someday. But my method of birth control failed and I was unexpectedly pregnant.

I spent my pregnancy trying to figure out how I would talk to my child about their origin story. I didn't want them to feel unwanted or something.

I eventually realized they weren't unwanted. They were just unexpectedly early.

I have read that the final product when you are done raising your children isn't the child. It's you.

It's a wonderful opportunity to clarify for yourself who you desire to be and what personal baggage you would like to set down and leave behind instead of passing it down and saddling your children with it.

We did a local "parenting course" (changing diapers, putting on clothes on a new-born, etc.). Its main purpose in fact was to get us to calm down and listen to the baby instead of all the advice.

And that's what I want to say to you: Forget about all the things people tell you. Most certainly, it won't apply to your kid. Just stay calm, you're in charge, the kid will need you calm, everything is new to him/her as well. It's OK to be overwhelmed. Be authentic, slow down, and you'll get through it together, just stay calm.

These small helpless creatures are significantly more empathic and sensible than we imagine. Try to listen. Some parents know the difference in cries for "hunger", "poop", "sleep" after days, some not even after weeks.

Also, if the baby is unhappy: Try "hunger", "poop", "sleep" in that order. That will be the only things they care about for the first few weeks. Warmth/cool is your business anyway, they can't feel it the way we do. Otherwise it just needs you to be there and keep him/her safe.

And don't overstimulate. They were in a bathtub for the first 9 months. Give them time, shut off most noises and other stimuli. Put your smartphones away and on vibrate, pause netflix, there is no point in watching TV anyway, dim the lights, don't expose them to noisy baby-toys etc.

You'll be fine.

An expectation for a complete lack of control.

You can plan, prepare, and do what you feel is best, but at the end of the day you have to be flexible and know that you will learn. I wish I could say there was a method or a book or something, but just knowing that some parts would be hard and confusing helped set my expectations. I wasn't surprised I was cleaning poop off the floor of my in-law's because I knew I would experience failure, but I was surprised babies pooped that far.

Set 7 alarms on your phone, one to wake you up each hour.

Go to work the next day and try to do your best work.

Do this two months before the baby comes and you'll already be adjusted to your new mental norm.

I'm only half-kidding. The eradic sleep is tough - babies through toddlers wake up for all sorts of reasons. Depending on the child, it could be years before you sleep consistently through an entire night.

That being said, the first time your baby smiles at you, or when they offer a drink of their juice because they are being thoughtful, when they say "love you" the first time, when they are genuinely excited to see you after a long day.. No other feeling like it.

My wife and I worked out a deal so we didn't have to do this. She was pumping so either of us could do a feeding.

I would take the feeding around 1am so she could pump then. Then I would go to sleep. She would pump and feed overnight. I'd wake up around 7 or 8, and then do the next few feedings while she slept till around noon, when she'd get up to eat and pump. Then she'd take a nap at some point with the baby midday so she could get her hours in, albeit split up. We did this through the entire paternity leave.

By the time I went back to work I was able to get about six hours a night after doing the late night and early morning feedings.

We did shifts like this too, it worked really well.

Read "What to Expect When You're Expecting", looked around at the baby store, maybe did a little research if I saw something interesting, talked to other new parents, talked to the OB, selected a pediatrician prior to the due date, went to a class recommended by the OB where they teach you how to swaddle and do some other basic tasks. It's pretty easy. You get ready really quickly because you don't have a choice. Don't forget people used to do this in caves and humanity made it this far so don't stress it. Enjoy this time because it's fun and it's over with way too fast.


What to Expect When You're Expecting: a baby.

If you live near a hospital that offers classes, go to all of them. If you've never handled a baby before, they have pretend babies that you can handle and change diapers. If the hospital doesn't, check out the local public health department as they will likely know who offers classes.

If your baby is to be breastfed, then check out Le Leche League for information on how all that works including pumping. The breastfeeding parent will take on a lot of work to produce and sometimes express milk, so work out a schedule where you can help out with the non-feeding aspects. (Also most insurances cover one pump and some cover supplies throughout the year.)

Procure or make freezer meals. If you can get through the first 4-6 weeks without really doing the whole food production, you'll be okay.

Get some books: the Expectant Father is good for non-birthing parents. What to expect when you are expecting is a really good book to have on hand for all potential scenarios.

Babies change a lot in the first year, so whatever you think is hard about that moment.... just remember it is just for a moment and will eventually pass. We have a walking talking toddler... and I miss her potato days when I could cuddle her and stare into her eyes without her sassing me about not reading her book fast enough. And potato days were sooo hard since I got no sleep with a 90 minute breastfeeding schedule (baby set it, not me).

Just had my daughter a month back :) I don't think you can prepare much..lol. As @lastofus said, each kid is different so what worked for someone else, may not work for you.

Follow the KISS principle! Don't get too many things. The only thing to be mentally prepared for is for the unpredictable timings of the baby. They will sleep and wake up at odd hours and many times they will cry for no reason which can be stressful. Other than that, diaper change and all is pretty easy after the first few days.

Here are a few things I think many books/doctors fail to mention:

- Breastfeeding: People swear by it but many times the mother will not be able to produce enough milk initially or baby won't latch correctly. Be prepared to feed formula to the baby and order it before delivery. Try to get a good organic one from Europe: Holle, Hipp, Bimbosan, etc. Enfamil and Similac are not that good. You can read about it online.

- Make sure the baby bottles you order are compatible with the breast pump and the nipples are wide neck ones similar to breast. It's damn confusing and they don't make it easier for you! Don't get too many bottles also. Having 4-5 is more than enough.

- Learn to swaddle :) Practicing on dolls is pretty much useless.

- Learn how to massage your baby. It's the best thing and they will doze off for hours after it. I do it every alternate day.

- Read about flat head and get a pillow from the start if you are worried about it.

Other than that, enjoy your time with them! They do grow up fast and time will fly! :)

Congrats and gluck!

I joined /r/babybumps on reddit. It's technically for expectant mothers, which I wasn't, but it was enlightening as a way to better empathize with my spouse. I could also participate by relating what was happening to my wife to the other women there (with her permission of course).

I also joined up with babycenter.com, which has a newsletter that they will send you each week saying what size the baby is "pea, lemon, etc" and things that you should expect like physical body changes as well as logistics like "this week you'll probably get an ultrasound for the anatomy". Stuff like that.

I tried reading some books, but they all sucked and bored me.

Other that that, I tried to get as many big chores done as possible. I cleaned out the garage and storage, trimmed all the trees outside and all the bushes, got the cars fixed and had their oil changed, bought and built the crib and stroller, the kind of stuff that is tedious and hard to do with a baby strapped to you.

And lastly, I tried to get a lot of good sleep. It'll be hard after the baby comes.

Good luck! It'll change your life but for me all the joy and fun has been worth every moment!

> Other that that, I tried to get as many big chores done as possible

Oh yeah, I cooked 10 kilos of pasta sauce & mince and froze it so we didn’t have to think about cooking.

This... You can get so tired that cooking a meal from scratch is just not something you feel like doing. Having frozen meals or being able to throw some pasta or rice together with something prepared earlier is preplanning well spent.

And if someone asks if they can do anything to help - suggest cooking a meal.

Prepare? That's adorable. Everything you think you know about parenting will be routinely debunked (by your child) every six months for the rest of your adult life.

The good news is if you remain humble and work on managing your emotions everything will turn out fine.

When in doubt just make sure they know they are loved.

Source: My kids (5, 13, 18) seem to be turning out ok.

Since I'm a skeptical nerd I started getting more and more cynical about all the anecdotal stories from friends, books, and on the web. Then I found Emily Oster's books.

Wikipedia snippets: "Emily Oster is an American economist and bestselling author. After receiving a B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard in 2002 and 2006 respectively, Oster taught at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She later moved to Brown University, where she holds the rank of Professor of Economics. Her research interests span from development economics and health economics to research design and experimental methodology.... She is the author of two books, Expecting Better and Cribsheet, which discuss a data-driven approach to decision-making in pregnancy and parenting."

In short they are meta-research papers on pregnancy and parenting in the form of fun readable books.

You more or less don't. Breathe deep, seek peace, and roll with the punches.

Especially in the early months:

- prioritize sleep.

- use your damn words with your partner.

- try real hard not to get angry. more than normal, act on the assumption that the other party isn't hostile, just at least as tired as you are. Everyone's going to be on edge; be gentle.

- remember that you more or less get a new kid every 48 hours. that sleeping trick that worked on monday won't work on wednesday _and this is not your fault this is a good sign of progress!_ After 6-8 months, you merely get a new kid every week! then every month...

Having a first child can be an incredibly stressful and confusing time. I think the best preparation is to have a solid support network ready to support you and your family while you adjust to your new life.

In my city, there is a nonprofit that connects groups of parents of newborns together so they can process the crazy stuff that's happening in their lives. I would heartily recommend finding this kind of support to any new parent. https://www.peps.org/

Sleep now, next 18 years will be hard. :) Enjoy the sleep during the second trimester.

In the first baby, the time from the contraction to the delivery is something like two days, with random contractions every two hours or something, it's (more) difficult to sleep. When the contractions are frequent enough you go to the hospital and wait a few more hour. Ask the doctor for the details.

It's not like in the novies! Nothing is like in the movies!

The first two days after the delivery are terrible. The baby has tummy ache and cries and cries and cries and cries. You can try to fix it with some tummy massages. Ask the nurses in the hospital for help, they have a lot of practices, it's like magic. Usually after two days it get's better, hopefully.

As another comment said, babies have a lot of variation. Don't get too worried if they don't follow exactly the calendar. I've never seen a calendar with sigmas. Ask the doctor.

Doctors also have a lot of variation. Try to get one that is good and that fits yours preference. Bonus points if s/he understand what you want when you ask for a calendar with sigmas.

Once the kid enters kindergarten, s/he will get all the silly contagious illness. Expect to have her/him at home like 50% of the days during the fist 2 or 3 months.

There are a lot of great answers so I'll just provide some general advice.

1. Baby sleep is not intuitive at all. Learn as much as you can before the baby comes. Read "Precious Little Sleep" by Alexis Dubief. Figure out how to get a baby to sleep without them being on you, even if you are patting and shushing them in your bed. Having a baby fall asleep on you constantly may cause massive problems after the first 4 months. You don't need to use "cry it out" if you get the basics of baby sleep right early.

2. Pick a reasonable amount of time (e.g. 6 months, 1 year) and say the baby and your family are a priority. For this period don't get too caught up in when life/work/friends/hobbies, etc will get back on track. Just say "I said X time, and right now baby and spouse are the priority."

3. Remember to forgive yourself and your spouse for the fights, bickering, and mistakes. At some point you will take a week to figure out something and feel you should have figured it out in a day. You will feel like a failure. Then something else will change and another week will go by and you will feel like a failure again. Just take a deep breath and keep trying. Kids don't come with a manual.

4. Some kids are easier. Some are harder. If you are doing your best, that's all you can do.

The best resource I stumbled upon that I now recommend to everyone is Brain Rules for Baby. It's an evidence-based guide from the prenatal period through basically age 5. And it has key tips for parents, reminding you that maintaining your own relationship as partners will be surprisingly challenging.


I like that book, too. There were two others that we thought were helpful:

"The Baby Owner's Manual: Operating Instructions, Trouble-Shooting Tips, and Advice on First-Year Maintenance" which is just an overall guide to everyday things you have to do (and it's pretty funny.)

"Precious Little Sleep" on improving our sleep situation.

Well, I don’t have any books or blogs, but I can list a few things I’ve learned raising 4 toddlers in the last 6 years:

1. Don’t be over protective. It’s hard not to be. But you’ll need to remember that you’re their security blanket, not their parachute. You need to let them fall down, get ouchies, throw fits and make mistakes. You’re value is in being there to comfort when it hurts, not save them from the hurt itself.

2. Don’t go buying everything in the store. Wait till you REALLY know you need it. So many people get caught up in the “I NEED EVERYTHING AND HE/SHE DESERVES IT!” Mentality. Don’t do that. A couple exceptions: a good swing and a pack’n’play.

3. Buy diapers at Costco or Sams Club. Don’t fall for the brand name marketing, they just need to catch shit and it doesn’t have to be organic, grown from pure heavenly angel hair to do that. The best ones we’ve found are the Costco diapers.

4. Enjoy the little time. Everyone says it, so it’s almost cliche, but it really does go by in a flash. That little chubby hand gripping your finger will soon fade away to a little kid and eventually a grown person. It’s the hardest part of being a dad I deal with, you wake up and the little hand is gone... So, just slow down. It’s hard because people tend to have kids right as careers and life is taking off. Prioritize the kiddo time, even when you don’t feel like you can.

5. Talk to your kids even when they’re little. Don’t baby talk, but actually talk. It helps them develop and you’ll teach your little one to express themselves with words instead of uncontrollable emotion.

Lots more, but every journey is different. The above is the more ubiquitously applicable ones I can think of. :)

First: I married a pediatrician!

IMO, if you're friends with a pediatrician, just have a conversation or two. My wife is always happy to answer a friendly question from a family member or close friend.

Remember boundaries: Assuming you're a techie, you're probably happy to answer some basic technical questions; but you won't fix someone's computer for free. The same thing applies for questions about breastfeeding, diapers, ect.

Second: Always be weary of someone trying to sell you something. There's plenty of marked up baby junk to buy, and pseudoscience to twist you into doing this or that. Guard your wallet closely. (Example, a bottle drying rack costs twice as much as a dish drying rack, but it's the same exact thing. Another example is the means that the formula companies go to convince mothers to skip breastfeeding.)

Third: The nurses and doctors in the delivery room are there to answer any questions. No question is too silly.

Fourth: If you plan on breastfeeding, talk to the breastfeeding consultant with your hospital early. Some women need to do some tricks to bring up their milk supply.

Finally: People have been having babies since before we were human. You'll figure it out!

I'm in the same boat right now. Our first is due at the end of October.

Generally, my wife and I feel as prepared as we can be. We've been fortunate to see most of our friends have children over the past 5-6 years. Like @Lastofus mentioned below, we saw a huge variance in both the children and the parenting styles.

For me, the best things I've learned come from our friends that are teachers. We've seen a level of patience and consistency with them that we haven't seen in others. They also made a concerted effort to regularly engage with questions, quizzes, reading and playing music. It did a lot to keep the kids engaged and learning early.

We've also been happy with how supportive and generous our friends have been. Definitely lean on them with questions as you're prepping. And they'll also likely have a ton of stuff to pass down, so take advantage of that. Just trying to pick a baby seat is one of the most confusing exercises, and our friends saved us hours of hassle with some simple advice and recommendations between two.

Good luck to you!

It’s very hard to prepare. I had two sons in 16 months, and the hardest part is not knowing what will happen today.

Better than any book or video about parenting it’s better to learn to be calm and collected.

Your life is over, what ever it is / was it’s done. You now get the opportunity to build a new life, with a new family. When you have a baby it’s like getting a significant other which needs your assistance to do everything.

I found that just starting by giving everything up and slowly adding back a social life, work, etc worked best for me. For both kids I basically cleared my slate and saw what I could do.

In terms of preparing, I’d recommend any local parenting classes (get to know people too). You can also get the book “Nurture” (I believe it’s called). But the reality is little can prepare you, but you’ll figure it out with time. A lot of one off searches like “what to do when toddler won’t stop vomiting” are things you’ll probably need most.

Also! Set a schedule and stick to it. It makes it easier to at least know you’ll have your significant other take over in 15 min so you can sleep.

Yes! A schedule was imperative for me to feel like I had some expectations and control. Waking up with absolutely no structure was just a little too overwhelming for me, so having "naptime is ___, lunch is ___" really put me at ease. I didn't read many books on parenting, but one that was immediately helpful was on sleep schedules of children and how they evolve as the kids age. This helped us figure out a schedule that worked for us.

Another thing we did that really helped was artificially limiting inputs regarding advice. In those first weeks, we had a handful of books and dozens of blogs and websites that all had contradictory advice; it was really overwhelming. We decided we would only subscribe to three primary sources of info where possible: Mayo Clinic online, some book we had on sleep schedules, and our pediatrician. Only having three places to consult when we had questions (as opposed to the entire Internet) was an enormous help.

One thing I learned from being a first time parent is that you really can’t prepare much. I read every parenting book I could get my hands on, and every time I tried a technique from them to, say, get my son to sleep, or calm him when he was crying, didn’t work. I felt pretty helpless for awhile, and then realized my gut instincts worked more often, and I had to get to know my son as a person and discover what worked for him.

So I think the best way to prepare for being a parent is to 1. get ready to feel more love for this tiny human than you ever thought possible. 2. prepare financially. 3. gather your supplies (diapers, changing table, etc.) 4. have strategies in place to deal with lack of sleep. 5. have strategies in place to deal with stress and anxiety. 6. decide how you will support your partner. How will you make them feel important when the baby becomes your whole world? 7. breathe. It’ll be okay. It’s easier than you think, and you know more than you think. Trust your instincts.

New father myself. Honestly, you can't prepare. You just have to be flexible and agile because every kid is different and what works for you might not work for other kids.

Personally, I project managed and over-engineered the hell out of this parenting thing. Alway iterating. Always A/B testing. Always trying to improve my metrics. That's how I personally managed not to get overwhelmed.

The other thing to consider is that people have been doing this for thousands of years. If a single teenage parent can do it, I think two 30 something adults with good high-paying jobs can manage.

I seem to be having a much easier time than everyone else I know, so maybe this strategy is working.

If you want concrete tips:

- Learn to change a diaper like a pro. Practice this. It should take 30 seconds for pee diapers. Practice this left and right handed.

- Learn to soothe a baby like a pro. Practice this. Try everything. You can learn this. It's not magic.

- Wear a carrier so you can do hands-free parenting. In the first few months, the baby spends most of its time sleeping. With a carrier, you can still do things with two hands.

- Retrain your sleeping schedule. Don't fight it. Adjust. You'll find you'll have more energy than before with less sleep.

- Don't fear co-sleeping, but start crib training as soon as possible (we started at 2 months). Don't expect it to work overnight. Plan for at last 4 weeks of gradual sleep training.

- First 3 months are pretty "easy" because the tasks are very straight forward and well-suited for engineering minded people. It gets tough when they can start walking, which happens around 12 months. Then it really gets tough when they start forming opinions around 24 months.

I've gotten my advice on parenting down to two things: 1) feel free to ignore all the well meaning advice people give you about being a parent, and 2) put your mattress on the floor. Your baby can't fall if it's already on the floor. And you can either take that advice, or use it as practice for ignoring well meaning advice.

Had a baby a year ago, my mattress is on the floor and it really is comforting to not worry about him waking up before us and falling us. He's sneaky and doesn't really scream when he wakes up, he just explores.

Not sure where you're from but I enjoyed Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman. It's all about French style parenting as she's an American raising her children in France.


Loved that book! I highly recommend it.

That said, nothing will prepare you for the reality. It’s like learning to swim in a lap pool, then getting dropped into the ocean in the middle of a storm.

Just learn as much as you can, talk to as many people as you can, and prepare yourself for the fact that you will not be prepared.

All good! Other than that, there’s nothing like a child saying “I love you too.” So, it’s all worth it once you get to it.


The most important thing I think is to have friends in a similar situation. If you dont know anyone in your immediate area with a newborn, try very hard to find some. Actually they dont have to be friends, just anyone in a similar situation whom you can swap ideas with and find sympathy.

Presumably you're a guy. Make sure your wife gets some spare time. Let her go out for an hour or three and look after the baby by yourself. Its really hard work being the main responsible one. If you have Grandparents that can help this is invaluable.

The Baby Book: How to Enjoy Year One Paperback by Rachel Waddilove, was the best book we read. Its very structured, which is good to enforce some routine in your life. Dont follow all the rules, but is a good guidance.

Dont forget you'll often feel terrible at the time, but you'll look back fondly at the memories.


Prenatal classes are great for increasing your awareness ahead of the inevitable whirlwind of medical jargon you may experience. We did a Bradley Method[1] class and were planning a home birth, but discovered at 34 weeks that my wife and child were in a situation called "Placenta Previa" which predicated a cesarean delivery. I hope you never experience the terror and helplessness of watching the mother of your child (if you're the father; sharing the experience of a father) in pain, wondering what in the world is happening. I'm not saying this to scare you, but to say that learning as much as you can about birth is invaluable but only half the battle. There's no way to know everything, just get your bearings and find good sources and buckle up.

You will not be able to read everything, but getting the lay of the land of how birth works and what people will tell you ahead of time is incredibly helpful.

One thing I would say also about having my little guy about a year ago is that I would work on my relationship with my wife more if I could do it again. We have a lot of trust and we're fully committed, but having a kid takes almost all of your time for a long time. Sleeplessness, my return to work, her feeling of isolation and "confinement" for a time with him at home was hard on her and on us. I would encourage you to talk about those times, plan ways to get over those bumps, and get closer to each other. Other couples in our birth class talked about hiring a nanny to free up time and make things easier around the house. I thought they were posh and crazy, now I think they were brilliant and posh :)

Put the time in up front, get every help your system/insurance affords you - doula, pump, lactation consultant, pillows for the couch in the recover room - and drink it in. No matter how bewildering, scary, surprising, each and every individual moment may be, it is a beautiful time. Enjoy it!

[1] http://www.bradleybirth.com

Might not fit everybody, but I decided to not read books or prepare ahead of time, outside of the genuine state of excitement of this beautiful thing coming to complet eour lifes.

We're machines built to reproduce. We are meant to take care of our children. I believed that all would be fine because I was programmed for that.

Then later, I asked around for advice about particular things I doubted about. But for everything I first trusted my guts. It worked out OK so far. In my opinion, consistency is key. Whatever you do, keep it doing the same way all the time. If you do A one day and B the day after, you are putting your baby in a insecure modus. Be a strong pillar that he/she can rely on, by being consistent.

You'll do great!

Know that fresh babies come out a dark red purple colour. I didn't know, and given the complications we had in childbirth, there was a good 30 seconds where I thought my baby was stillborn.

Also, if your baby doesn't sleep well, nobody will truly understand your hell.

I'm not sure that's true. Both of my babies were grayish-red, and they often cry almost immediately after they come out. I remember a checklist where the doctor checked skin color and crying to gauge baby health.

Still, it sounds like you got a healthy, happy baby. Congrats :)

Yeah she had inhaled meconium and didn't cry; combined with a lot of nervous glances between midwives I was primed to think the worst.

Anyway, babies range from dark red to a blueish-plum colour when they first pop out, and don't turn pink immediately. It's confronting if you're not expecting it.

I selected a few parenting books which didn't sound complete shit and started reading. Now mind you, one of the books was so bad I could not finish. One of the books was too old to have any actionable information and later turned out the writer thought Asperger's are children with not enough love received(1960ish book...) And the one was simply so out of my personal feelings of what I consider a good parent I stopped reading.

BUT. All these books helped me formulate my own viewpoint of the subject and tackled problems I didn't know I will meet. It all helped me imagine how a good parent would behave. So I would recommend the same route (hopefully with better books:))

I strongly recommend the book The Nurture Assumption by Judith Harris. It has done more to shape my mindset about being a parent than anything else I have read. You could also wait a few years to read it, as it is more relevant once your child is old enough to start having social interactions outside the home.

Honestly, the changes in my marriage were much more difficult to handle than actually being a parent. You and your spouse (assuming you are married) will change as individuals once you become parents, and issues that never came up before may suddenly feel like relationship deal-breakers. I have no advice to offer because frankly I didn’t handle it well—just a word of caution.

Do not think you can prepare:)

I have two - 5 and 2. We did these birth preparation courses that are offered here in the hospital. It was good to get a glimpse of what follows. However, it is theory that works until reality hits hard. It helped to feel prepared for the first kid. Would recommend if there is something like this where you live.

My personal experience: The first half year is mostly ground stuff. Eat, shit, sleep, fresh air, contact, ... Make a checklist (in the brain) ... Crying means always one of the ground stuff is missing. Do not buy stuff until you need it. Follow your instincts. Do not hesitate to ask a Doc if you are not sure. No Doc will send you away.

Wish you all the best!

Started reading a couple books (never finished them though), went to every single doctor appointment and asked questions, talked to parents/in-laws. The last 2 were the most helpful. I still attend every doctor appointment and ask questions.

With a good support system it's not too hard. Lots of it is instinctual. Doctors and nurses will brief you on the big no-nos.

My advice: Don't try too hard to be fully prepared. You won't be. Learn how to establish a relationship with your doctor, learn how to communicate with your significant other, learn a healthy way to deal with stress (there will be stress), and learn how to make funny faces and noises.


I'm fifteen years in now, but I remember that classes were usful. Living in the UK we signed up for a set of evening courses run by an NCT [1] course leader. It was a good way to learn basic skills, set expectations, and also meet other parents (mostly expecting their first, some coming back for refreshers).

Also, don't over-think it. Newborns have very immediate and (mostly) obvious needs: so be observant and take each day as it comes. Accept help. Sleep when you can. You're going to be tired, but try to look for joy in the experience too.

Good luck!

[1] https://www.nct.org.uk/

Saw some midwifes, bought some baby stuff. Oh, and I let my work know so I could take some paternity leave. Probably a good idea to get a few nappies, the hospital gave out a couple of freebies but you’re going to want to use more.

The serious answer is, there’s nothing we can think of and say, oh I wish we’d done/had that. Be ready for a lot of disruption and learning on short notice and bonding with a new person who’ll depend on you for everything and is working really hard on improving their communication.

Oh you’ll probably also benefit from knowing where the hospital is, how to get there, where to park/get off the bus, &c.

There's a great series of books called 'What To Expect' ... When Expecting, The First Year, etc. They are an awesome resource.

Other than that I wouldn't over think or analyze preparation too much. You'll be surprised how much instinct kicks in and you just know what needs to be done. Just do it!

If you have multiple kids, they'll all be different and it can take some time to figure out what works and doesn't with each one.

It's a fun journey. I'll never forget the first night home with our first born. It was just us and her and it was quite a shock to the system. But you learn quick!

The Expecting book is kind of good. But I often think of it as "200 things to scare the sh*t out of you when expecting". Most of the book is a long list of things that could go wrong, and most of those have a very, very low chance of happening.

I'm kind of glad I read it, but it did a job on me, worrying about about so many things that never came to pass.

In the UK, I can thoroughly recommend NCT. I suppose any group-based meet up might be as good.

NCT got us and half a dozen other parents of similar age all in the same room for 18 hours split over six weeks. We also met up outside classes and carried on socialising afterwards.

So not only did we get a pile of information about what to expect and what to do for birth and early days, but it gave us a network of people to chat to while going through the rough stuff. That's far more precious a resource than any book when your up five times a night with teething.

Have my first child, now 7 months old. If I could only say one thing it's make sure to have a trusting & productive relationship with your partner. Problems or going to come up every day and solving for them is a function of how well you two collaborate.

I had the benefit of co-founding a startup with my partner so we had already cut our teeth on this. A child is like a type of startup. Identifying and managing problems/complexity is a daily activity. If you have a good working relationship there than you can have a blast being parents together.

My wife has worked in child care for years so that helped a lot. One of the coolest things she showed me was teaching our daughter sign language, before she could speak. My wife said that babies can get really frustrated when they know what they want but can't communicate it, but fortunately they learn gross motor control way before they can talk. So we taught her basic, simple signs like "more", "please", "thank you." I couldn't believe how quickly she picked it up and started communicating.

The best piece of advice I got was to only read one book.

There's tonnes and tonnes of diverse opinions about what approaches to take but I think that's because what matters is not the approach you choose but the consistency in applying it, which is what babies thrive on.

So it's a good time to be a hedgehog and not a fox, just find one book which fits your world view and then follow that guide religiously. This is also much less stressful than juggling all of the conflicting advice you're going to receive.

Have a blast and best of luck on your journey!

90% of parenting is just being there. You have to show up and most everything else falls into place. Get lots of diapers. Don't give them alcohol or drugs. Baby powder. Wipe front to back and always put the baby onto something in case they blew the diaper out. Be kind to your sibling when you get tired and frustrated. Be kind to yourself. A trick that worked to get my child to sleep was gently tapping between the eyebrows. It made them blink which if they are already tired can help speed the process along.

“Happiest Baby on The Block” (DVD) was a blessing for having a few simple steps that generally work to calm down a newborn when none of the usual suspects like hunger, burping, poop, etc are causing it.

But really the best advice you're going to get is sleep when they sleep. Don't try to "catch up" on work or whatever when your newborn is asleep, you'll regret it. Get rest, take a lot of deep breathes, enjoy your little one sleeping in your arms when you can. It only last a while.

Practically there isn't much to prepare for for the first few months. Feeding, pooping, sleeping, clothing and bathing are the main things to deal with. Make sure you are comfortable with your pediatrician, a good one will tell you to call whenever, especially during the first few weeks/months.

Saying that, its exhausting. Beware of the baby blues, in both you and your partner.

The only piece of advice that stuck with me was "be patient, laugh often". At certain difficult times that became my mantra.

- First aid for infants course: self explanatory. - "Baby Bargains" book: does a fairly good job at creating a list of important data points to consider when purchasing a class of of baby products (strollers, car seats, etc.). You can then use it to optimize your purchase to your needs (price point and features). - Babycenter website had a nice weekly email you could sign up for that describes the various milestones you could expect for your child.

Penelope Leach's book seems sensible to me.

One minor warning: baby-proofing products are not created equal. We got some plastic inserts for the electrical plugs, and were horrified to see our son crawl up to one, remove it, stick it in his mouth and then try to replace it. I wish I remembered the names of the two brands, the one whose inserts could be removed by an eight-month-old, and the one whose inserts couldn't. But check the stuff they sell you.

The best preparation is to make sure you have plenty of time away from work. In Australia with 'double-dipping' maternity leave, my wife had a year off and I took 6 weeks with paternity and other leave. Incredibly glad we did it.

Learnt everything we needed to learn then.

By the time the 2nd one came around, we realise how much we had overthought the first one though. Baby rearing isn't complicated with a healthy child - it's just very very tiring.

"What to expect when expecting", and the follow up books on the first few years. What it did mostly was address anxiety issues of 'omg is that normal....'

The other thing was telling my wife: 'Do not worry about if we are going to screw our child up. It is guaranteed. Only thing you can control is how badly you screw them up. That and hope Jerry Springer is canceled before they get old enough'

There are so many articles, books and what not out there on the subject. The best thing I did was not read any of it. Many first time parents have a consistent feeling of ‘doing it all wrong’. The more you read, the more you’ll just feed that emotion. Best thing, IMHO, is to just approach it like the child itself: figure it out as you go and enjoy every micro second of it. Be in the moment.

I think responding to a child’s emotional needs from age 0-3 is perhaps the single most underrated thing a parent must do to ensure their kids grow up emotionally well-adjusted and capable of secure attachment.

Sadly I don’t think this is widely known or taught to new parents. I fear we will see a generation of emotionally neglected children of distracted parents.

As soon as you see a pattern what works best for your baby it will change again. Don't try to force a system that 'works'. Be ok with it changing all the time.

Read up what is normal for the age you baby currently is. It helps a lot accepting that it can be a difficult phase when you know what your baby might be going through.

5 weeks out from my first. Read 4 books. Went to 6 classes. Made lots of spreadsheets for some reason.

Mostly, just getting as comfortable as possible with "me and wifey will figure it all out, like we always do." What's coming will come, and we'll face it when it does.

Also, "have fucking fun, dude" reminders on the hour to myself.

I liked this book, which was given to me by my older brother (who became a father before I did): https://www.amazon.com/Be-Prepared-Gary-Greenberg/dp/0743251...

Best preparation in my opinion is "On Becoming Babywise" the the other "On Becoming ....wise" books. They're the instruction manuals that should come with a new kid.

We got them before #1 arrive and they've worked great for all 7 of our kids with very different personalities and temperaments.


Baby 411 was a good book.

The hospital also offered a class on things like how to swaddle and change diapers, which was helpful.

And we liked an app called The Wonder Weeks that describes some of the milestones / developments the baby is going through.

Otherwise we didn’t do much else and we were just fine. There’s always google if something comes up!

i honestly didn't. it just sorta ended up happening and then i did my best to take care of my son and make sure his needs were met. best two years of my life until my ex left me and took him away. but ultimately my advice is that while you can definitely learn from others, read books, and such, a lot of parenting is instinctual and about having an empathic connection with your own flesh and blood (or adopted child if that's the route you choose to take as my mother did with me). we have deeply encoded responses to children within our genetics and i think that it's really important to trust those rather than ignore them specifically for data that was acquired externally from a third party source. every situation is going to be different, and it's important to remain fluid and flexible

Maybe also some reading on economics part of parenting. I have the "Cribsheet" bookmarked.


Eat out a lot before you have a kid. I cherish the memories of quiet romantic dinners with my wife.

I wasn't mentally prepared and the enormity of what we were undertaking hit me hard for the first few months. My youngest is now a year away from college and I'm happy to say that having kids has been one of the best aspects of my life!

Here's the advice I gave my brother when he first became a father. https://andrewducker.dreamwidth.org/3746257.html

only advice to both parents: take as much time out of work as you can.

Kids grow quickly, and they feel stress. It’s good for you and your kids that you have a lot of time for them and for yourselves.

The best thing we did was to pick up a well established book and avoid click bait articles. So many articles out there are pure garbage.

This is a pretty short and likely inadequate answer, but: I would definitely read books on child development and whatnot. :)

When you're in the thick of it, just remember, it won't be like this forever.

Just sleep as much as possible before the baby comes. And maybe take a vacation. :)

For the first 3 months


“Happiest baby on the block” book

And buy


It’s like magic to get your baby to fall asleep and stop crying in less than 60 seconds

I did nothing. It's easy and natural. Just be a good person.

You're down voted, but I think this is a basic truth too, to some extent. But it is natural to try and prepare as well, and to do nothing would not be very natural for most first-time parents. That said, there is a lot to be said for just listening to your child, and taking it from there. They tell you what they need, and you provide it (especially if it is an infant, otherwise if you think it is good for them), just like good people have always done.

Some children are relaxed, others are like hurricanes, you will learn after your first child which you have, and only truly confirm that after your second child arrives and you have a means for comparison.

Some children will be easy to take care of, will drink milk without issues, others will loathe milk, have tongue ties and find eating and drinking tedious and laborious... It totally depends on your son/daughter.

Be prepared not to sleep much, by sleeping as much as you can now. It won't help in the long term, but may give you more opportunity if your baby is finding their start difficult for the first few weeks.

Some babies will be okay for a few weeks, then suddenly change their general nature so try to be attentive. After a few days, babies tend to start cluster feeds, so if they are breast feeding you may find the strain a lot to bare at the beginning (hence the sleep advice). Try not to let emotions rule your choices, as it can be hard if you are sleep deprived. If you are bottle feeding, then this might not be as big of an issue/it might.

Lots of people have advice and good intentions, but like many have said... Lots of people have kids, but nobody has yours... So try stuff out, see how it plays out and try to find the best solutions. Try to gain some support from others around you if you can, friends, family, etc... As it can be hard to remember what talking to adults feels like at times.

If you are the person having the baby, try to keep a support network of friends/people to reach out to, and try to go out and see the world with the newborn as isolation can have it's downsides on you. If you are the partner, keep an eye on the pregnant party as the baby blues can be real and difficult situation for a parent to deal with. Even if you are the partner, it could also affect you, so try to stay in contact with people you trust and get time outside where possible. It can be very tiring on you as a person.

By the time your child gets to a few years of age, you will likely have a good poop/urine story somewhere in the bank, so make sure you have some deep cleaning detergents to hand incase. Babies love pooping, and you are likely not as proficient at applying a nappy as they are at exploding its contents.

Sometimes babies get colic, there are some special holds to help with this. Your child may/may not get it. But there are definitely holds that can help, for my children I used the superman hold (http://www.quicktipsfornewdads.com/blog/4-ways-to-safely-hol...), and it worked a treat, again YMMV.

But most of all, try to enjoy it where you can. They are babies for an extraordinarily short period of their lives, and it disappears before you even know where it went. Take photos, enjoy cuddles, and appreciate the moments you will have as a new family.

It's tough work, there's no manuals, and everyone has advice, but nobody is going to have your child. Best of luck

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