What First Time Dads Need (They Thought They Didn’t Need)


And so it begins. Being a father starts at conception. It can be both exciting and thrilling at the same time. But for new dads, perhaps the better word for fatherhood is overwhelming, or even confusing.

Do expect to receive a blitz of information after you make the news public. You will suddenly be bombarded with tips, shopping lists, and countless things you must do to prepare for the arrival of your child.

What you will commonly read are baby clothes, infant car seats, baby carriers, or even an espresso machine to keep you awake.

While these are all good suggestions, are these what you really need as a first-time father?

We are here to help you cut through the noise.

Here are eight things first time dads need that they thought they didn’t need:

  1. Books
  2. Game plan
  3. Budget
  4. Backup fund
  5. Support group
  6. Business or investment
  7. Cloud space
  8. Mini Bluetooth speaker

1. Books

Do you think once your baby comes out, instinct will kick in, and you will suddenly know how to become a dad?

No, sir.

You have to do the work. Equipping yourself mentally is the utmost priority as a first-time dad. You should be at the bookstore buying parenting books when all the other new dads are shopping for baby stuff. You should study while your friends are painting their nurseries or installing new baby furniture.

Learning impacts your parenting journey the most. It will help you start off on the right foot and make you a more confident father once the baby is born.

Here are a few titles I recommend:

  1. The World Needs A Father by Cassie Carstens — You can also sign up for the two-hour FREE training in Udemy.
  2. The Five Love Languages of Children (and Teenagers) by Gary Chapman
  3. On Becoming Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo — a controversial book, but one of my mentors recommended this to me. I found some nuggets here.
  4. Be A Better Dad Today! — 10 Tools Every Father Needs by Gregory Slayton
  5. The Complete Book of Christian Parenting and Child Care by William and Martha Sears
  6. Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

Read: 9 Good Financial Management Ebooks Worthy Of Your Time and Money

first-time dad
Our first family picture

2. Game Plan

What is your game plan when the baby arrives? The usual response I get is “What game plan?”

Most fathers do not even consider having a strategy or an approach for their newborn. They think, “As long as I can pay for the hospital bills, I’m good.”

But good parenting is more than paying the bills. It requires careful planning and teamwork. You and your spouse should talk and come up with a battle plan for raising your child that would work for both of you.

Here are some of the things you guys need to talk about:

  • Bottle feeding or direct latching?
  • Demand feeding or hyper scheduling?
  • Co-sleeping or crib-sleeping?
  • Who takes the morning shift, and who takes the night shift?
  • Hiring a babysitter: yes or no?
  • Division of tasks?

In our case:

Bottle feeding or direct latching?
Joab: Bottle
Jrue: Direct latch

Demand feeding or hyper scheduling?
Joab: Hyper schedule
Jrue: Demand feeding

Co-sleeping or crib-sleeping?
Co-sleep

Morning and night shift?
Jed: Morning
Lalaine: Night

Babysitter?
No.

My tasks:

  • Morning sunbath.
  • Burping.
  • Taking care of the bills.
  • Diaper changing.

WARNING: You will encounter people who will have strong opinions about your parenting style. But do not fret. Consider them as allies and hear what they have to say. Even so, in the end, no one knows what is best for you and your child except you. As long as you have done your homework, go with your gut.

Joab — Minutes after he was born.

3. Budget

First-time parents are prone to suffering financial setbacks. You may end up overspending or even get into debt due to the waves of emotions you may experience. It is buying season and many marketers will surely take advantage of your vulnerability.

Putting a budget in place will protect you from unnecessary expenditures. It will allow you to look at the bigger picture and help you decide logically.

A simple way to budget

Here is how I budgeted for my firstborn four years ago.

Out of 100% of my income, I broke it down into percentages:

  • 10% goes to tithing.
  • 20% goes to saving.
  • 40% goes to living expenses.
  • 30% goes to baby expenses.

Let us say I am earning Php 30,000 a month. Here is how my budget would look like:

  • Php 3,000 will be tithed to our church.
  • Php 6,000 will be saved in a money market fund or high-interest savings account.
  • Php 12,000 will be spent on food, bills, medicine, etc.
  • Php 9,000 will be dedicated to baby related expenses.

Here are some of the biggest baby expenses you have to take note of during this season (estimate only):

Medical Bills
Doctor’s feePhp 50,000 to Php 70,000Ob-Gyn, Anesthesiologist, Pediatrician
SupplementsPhp 1,000 to Php 2,000Monthly
HospitalPhp 90,000 to Php 150,000Private hospital
UltrasoundPhp 1,500 to Php 3,500Per scan and depending on the type of scan
VaccinesPhp 50,000 to Php 70,000Total
Baby Essentials
Bottles and breast pumpPhp 20,000If you are going for bottle-feeding
DiapersPhp 1,500Monthly
Car seatPhp 20,000
StrollerPhp 8,500
Baby carrierPhp 12,500
CribPhp 8,000

Tip: Buy as you need

One tip that can extend the life of your budget is to only buy what you need.

Here are a couple of reasons:

You will receive gifts — Not that we expect it, but for practical reasons, we should not neglect the gifts we might receive. Buying only what you need will lessen the chance of having duplicated items.

Children grow up fast! — Do not buy too many clothes or shoes. It won’t fit them anymore in two weeks.

There is no need to panic buy. If all else fails, there is Shopee, Lazada, or even Amazon to save the day.

Parenthood is a long journey. It is wise to look a little further than today to prepare for what is ahead. But it is also prudent to take it one step at a time.

If you want to learn more about budgeting, follow the link below:

Read: How We Killed 8 Credit Cards

4. Back-up Fund

My eldest came out at thirty-five weeks and five days and was pulled out with a pair of forceps.

My second child was diagnosed with mega yolk-sac and has undergone an extra series of tests.

First-time fathers have the tendency to get drowned in the surrealism of having a baby, but the reality is that pregnancy entails a lot of risks — and those risks cost money. A C-section delivery alone can add up to Php 100,000 to your hospital bills.

Having a backup fund is another need most new dads overlook. They focus more on buying stuff and forget about stashing an extra sum of cash just in case things go south.

High-interest Savings Account

Here are some suggestions on where you can stash your backup fund to incur reasonable interests.

BankInterest Rate Per Annum
CIMB (GSave)2.6%
CIMB (UpSave)2.5%
ING2.5%
Tonik (Stash)4%

Follow the link below to learn more about how these banks work:

Read: Why It’s Smart to Save with GCash Today

Read: How To Use Tonik Bank? (Here are 7 Uses)

5. Support group

There are times when it is cool to be a lone wolf, but this is not the time for it. One of my best-kept secrets in parenting is having a community of fathers behind my back. They are like my cabinet members whom I talk to anytime I need guidance.

Here are the types of people you want to have in your support group:

Mentors

These are the people who are ahead of you in terms of age, experience, and wisdom. They serve as your role models from whom you can seek advice. It is an advantage if you can have mentors who are married couples. That way, you can get insights from two different perspectives.

Fellow dads

These are people who are in a similar life stage as you. They are your friends who can make your parenting journey fun and less scary. They can serve as your sounding board and accountability partners.

Responsive pediatrician

Emphasis on responsiveness. As a first-time dad, there may be instances when you will observe something weird with your child — which can make you anxious. Having a responsive pediatrician will help you a lot when it comes to your medical concerns.

Can’t I Google it?

I would strongly discourage you from Googling the “symptoms” you have observed from your baby. It may lead you to information that will only cause more anxieties.

Family counselor

Parenting is hard. There may be times when it could affect your marriage or even make you hate your child. It is best to have a family counselor who can give you professional advice. My wife and I always schedule a session once or twice a year with our trusted counselor — even “when things seem okay”. We cannot be too complacent with today’s culture.

Read: Is it okay to hate parenting? (Real talk)

6. Business or Investment

A world without dads has a devastating impact. Almost every major disorder has been linked to the absence of fathers. Violence, teen pregnancy, suicide, drug use, and alcohol abuse are all more strongly correlated with fatherlessness than any other factors.

Being involved in the lives of your children is the core of your responsibility as a dad. But one of the biggest hindrances I observed to this is work. Unless you can earn money while you sleep, I don’t think you will be able to find the time to be really present in their lives. Time at work will always compete with time with your children. This is the reason why I am a big advocate of having a business or investment.

I see fellow dads working extra hours “for their children.” But is it really what they need? What they truly need is you. You cannot outwork the time you have with your kids. By the time you already “have the money”, they may be no longer children anymore.

Having a business and investments can put you in the position of power to choose your kids over your work.

Here is a quick list of businesses you can start at home:

1. Online buy and sellFacebook Marketplace, Carousell, Lazada, Shopee
2. E-commerceSpreadSimple, Shopify, Wix
3. Freelance workFiverr, Upwork, oDesk
4. Content creationBlog, Vlog, Podcast
5. Property rentalAirbnb
6. Write and sell e-booksDesignrr

Read: How much do stay-at-home dads make? — My Actual Numbers

7. Cloud Space

I bet you will be taking a lot of photos of your baby with your phone. Am I right? Of course, I am. Who doesn’t want to document those precious moments with their little one? Some parents would even upgrade their phones to have the best camera they can afford. *Guilty party here.*

But what happens when you lose your phone? I am sure you will grieve over the lost pictures and videos more than the phone itself. Those are priceless possessions you have no way to recover. This is the reason why you should always back up your data in the cloud.

Cloud storage is an online service for storing data, software, images, videos, and other types of digital assets. It offers a convenient way to keep your files in a secure environment and access them from anywhere using an internet connection.

Having files in the cloud will reduce the risk of data loss. You will be at peace knowing the photos of your child are safe even if your devices get stolen or destroyed.

Here is a list of reliable cloud storage providers you can subscribe to:

But out of this list, I am a little biased toward pCloud and Icedrive because of their lifetime deals. It is a deal where you only pay once and the storage is yours for life. No more monthly subscriptions!

Check out my in-depth post about cloud storage here.

Google Photos used to offer free unlimited cloud space, but that has now ended. Bummer.

8. Mini Bluetooth Speakers

If I can only write one need on this article that most new dads think they don’t need, it is this one. Mini. Bluetooth. Speakers. I am not kidding. These speakers saved me from a lot of emotional distress.

You will soon understand what I mean.

When a baby cries, it is usually about these three things:

  • Needs food.
  • Need to change diapers.
  • Needs affection (hug, talk, carry, etc.)

But there will be times when you have already done everything, yet your child still wails. Experts often call this infant colic.

Colic is frequent, prolonged and intense crying or fussiness in a healthy infant. Colic can be particularly frustrating for parents because the baby’s distress occurs for no apparent reason and no amount of consoling seems to bring any relief. 

Mayo Clinic

The problem with me is I loathe the sound of a crying baby. It ticks me off pretty badly. I thought it is only applicable toward other people’s children, but how wrong I was. I feel even more frustrated when it comes to my own kids.

If you are the same as me, here is the trick:

  1. Set the Bluetooth speaker near your baby.
  2. Sync it with your phone or other devices.
  3. Open YouTube or Spotify and search for “white noise for babies.”
  4. Play it and be amazed at how peaceful your baby sleeps.

This is the particular video I play on YouTube:

Here are a few notes before applying this technique:

  1. You should have done EVERYTHING to calm down your baby before doing this. Treat it like your trump card.
  2. It will not work 100% of the time.
  3. Some babies find more comfort with water flowing or rain sound.

Read: 7 Things To Do When You Hate Parenting

Closing Thoughts

Congratulations on being a father! Not everyone gets the privilege of having a child. But being a father does not mean you only look after your children. It also means looking after your wife and yourself.

We can only share what we have. So keeping ourselves physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually fit is one of the best parenting we can give our kids. I know it is an exciting season, but be mindful of your tank. Never let it get empty.

You may think you don’t need this, but you need to take care of yourself.

Enjoy fatherhood!


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Thank you for reading!

Jed Chan

Jed is a husband to Lalaine, and a work-at-home dad to Joab and Jrue. He got himself into debt in 2016 and is currently on his journey to being debt-free. To date, he has already paid off 85% of his obligations and is hoping to wrap it up in a year or two. (Updated: August 2021)

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