Parenting is not a test, but it can be a challenge. Not only do babies come without instruction manuals, but we’re often unprepared for the changes that take place when we welcome a baby into our family.
You may believe that you do need to learn about pregnancy but that parenting will come naturally once your baby arrives. In truth, though, no one can truly prepare you for parenthood, and it takes a lot of hard work, planning, and conscious effort to become a supportive partner as you parent your baby through their 1st year.
We’re Parents! The New Dad Book for Baby’s First Year: Everything You Need to Know to Thrive and Survive Together is the 2nd book in the First-Time Dads series written by Adrian Kulp.
Following on from We’re Pregnant! The First-Time Dad’s Pregnancy Handbook (reviewed here), this book is an indispensable guide for new dads. It begins at birth and concludes at the end of the baby’s 1st year.
Navigating the book
This 1st-time dad’s guide to thriving and surviving the baby’s 1st year is divided into 4 main chapters, each covering 3 months. You can choose to read it all at once or work through each chapter as your baby reaches that milestone.
The chapters begin with a handy checklist of things you may need to have or do and appointments or events that may occur, plus a separate section to make sure that mom’s needs aren’t overlooked. They then provide an overview of the 3 months ahead, offering advice and guidelines on a variety of topics, such as mental well-being, feeding, soothing, learning, playing, and seeking medical advice. Based on his own experience, the author also includes a list of what he feels are the essential items for each stage and what can be considered “nice to have’s.”
After the stage overview, the book looks at the baby’s development month-to-month. Each section starts with a guideline on the average baby size, mom stats, baby stats, and a list of unmissable appointments.
Just like Kulp’s pregnancy handbook, The New Dad’s Book for Baby’s First Year provides goal categories that are conveniently marked with different icons. These goals are there to help dads focus and prioritize while adjusting to life with a child.
These categories are:
- Staff meeting, which is all about communicating with your partner to make sure you’re on the same page;
- Health and wellness goals to focus on care, nutrition, and general well-being;
- Plan ahead sections to help dads plan for the unexpected;
- Cruise director suggestions that include activities to do as a family or with other parents and children;
- Self-care goals to remind dads that they also need to address their own needs;
- Daddy Doula tips that provide ways in which dads can support moms as they heal and recover from the birth;
- Bonding time, which contains activities that reinforce the bond with both baby and mom;
- Mr. Fix-It goals that suggest maintenance and cleaning chores for dads to do;
- Brownie Points, which includes thoughtful everyday things dads can do to show their partners that they value them.
What can I expect to learn?
The 1st chapter begins with what is also known as the 4th trimester. It gives some insight into what to expect when you first arrive at home with your baby, and how you can manage your expectations in these first few weeks. If you have very little experience holding or soothing babies, you’ll appreciate the simple illustrations for burping and swaddling your newborn. There are also pictures to help you identify the baby’s cues when hungry or sleepy.
This chapter covers basics such as bathing, early playing or stimulation activities, and introducing the baby to your pets. In the sections for each month, the “dad goals” for that month are listed using the icons described earlier, and highlighted sections will draw your attention to anything important. The main takeaway from this chapter is that significant life changes are taking place, and it’s helpful if you are able to manage your expectations.
Chapter 2 is all about months 4-6. It talks about the introduction of solid foods, teething, and allergies. If you’ve been co-sleeping and are ready to move your baby into their own room, this chapter covers the transition.
It also continues the conversations around cleaning, playing, and baby-proofing your home. Your baby’s gear list is updated, and in the month-by-month sections, there’s a separate discussion about reintroducing intimacy to your relationship. The goals for this period continue to cover all the bases to ensure that you grow as a family, while maintaining your relationship and taking care of yourself.
The 7-9 month stage is covered in Chapter 3, which opens with tips for preparing your baby’s food and provides a comprehensive list of suitable starter foods. As sleep regression sometimes features at this stage of development, a section covers this topic, and there are tips for getting dental hygiene off to a good start. With your baby becoming more mobile, there’s a long list of baby-proofing checks and tasks, complete with a handy reminder to look at the world from your baby’s perspective to make sure you don’t miss something that might endanger a curious little person. Many babies have entered daycare by this time, and with an increased likelihood of exposure to germs, the author takes the time to describe some common childhood ailments.
Chapter 4 begins with month 10 and ends at baby’s 1st How to host the perfect kids birthday partybirthday. The focus of this final chapter is on expanding your baby’s diet and increasing creative play and social play. There are some great tips for first playdates, introducing the concept of helping, and managing both bedtime and daytime nap changes. At this age, interactive play and good communication are important for cognitive development and the development of language skills, and Chapter 4 includes some great suggestions for these. As you read the last few pages, you will be reminded of how far you’ve come over your 12 months of parenting.
The book ends with a short glossary of the important terms as well as a comprehensive list of resources for fathers, parenting in general, loss, depression, coping, and parent care.
What makes this a great book for new dads?
Whether your partner is still pregnant or has just given birth to your baby, We’re Parents! is a perfect choice. It’s an easy read and provides practical advice, checklists, goals, and information for new dads.
In his introduction, Kulp describes how he just couldn’t engage with the big, bulky pregnancy and parenting books his wife bought despite all his good intentions.
I needed something easier—a kinder, gentler way to quickly learn what I should be doing and how I could step up and become the dad I knew I could be.
This and the other books in the series fit the bill perfectly. The writing is relatable and entertaining, and the descriptions are clear and easy to understand. The book is based on the author’s own experiences and is not meant to be prescriptive but encouraging and empowering.
Who should buy this book?
If you are a dad-to-be or have a newborn, this one is for you. If you loved We’re Pregnant!, you’ll find this book just as informative and practical. It would make a great baby shower gift, and the mom-to-be or new mom will appreciate it just as much as she will benefit from a partner who is involved and invested in their new family unit.
If you’re a little further ahead in your parenting journey or simply like to be prepared, you may want to get the next in the series: We’re Parenting a Toddler!: The First-Time Parents’ Guide to Surviving the Toddler Years and We’re Potty Training!: The First-Time Dad’s Potty-Training Survival Guide.
The author has a lifestyle and parenting blog, contributes regularly to parenting platforms, and has penned 6 books. His memoir, Dad or Alive: Confessions of an Unexpected Stay-at-home Dad, offers a personal glimpse into his experiences of life and fatherhood.
- Dads can also ensure the baby is well cared for and healthy.
- Always communicate with your partner to ensure you're on the same page while raising your newborn.
- You should support mom as she heals and recovers from the birth, but remember to also take care of your own needs.
You need this if...
- You are a dad-to-be looking for insight from someone who's been there.
- You have a newborn and want to be involved and invested in your new family unit.
- You're looking for quick and practical childcare tips from a convenient dad guide.