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Top tips and gear buys for new dads

Adam Burmister
May 5th, 2020 · 5 min read

I’ve recently been blessed with becoming a first-time dad to a beautiful baby girl.

Here’s a collection of advice I’ve collected over the first couple of months, with a focus on the newborn stage. I hope this might be of some use to other first-time dads.

Advice from a dad 5 days into newborn child care.

Tip #1 for first-time dads with no parenting experience: Try throwing some money at the problem.

Here’s my list of tips, as well as Great, Good, Bad, and Meh things to buy.


Sleeping at the hospital

Here’s the thing; nobody is going to be sleeping that well during your hospital stay (or the first 2 week for that matter). But, you can help yourself out with some good gear.

Depending on your hospital, you’ll probably be getting woken up ever couple of hours by a nurse. There’s tests to run on both mum and the baby, as well as shift changes, incessant beeping from medical devices… the list goes on. Do not expect to be well rested.

The good news is you’ll probably sleep better than your partner, but you’ll still be up as often as you can to help change diapers and burp the baby.

My advice to dads:
  • Sleep. If you can, sleep more than everybody else in the room. Why?…

    • You are not particularly useful for the first wee while as you have useless nipples…
    • You’re more useful being more optimally mentally functional.
    • Somebody needs to fill in the hospital administration forms, birth certificates, SSN registration forms, and at the end of it all, drive your precious family home in a sleep deprived state.
Things to bring/buy:
  • Sleeping for you, the support person is probably provided, but minimal.

  • Bring a good pillow from home. The hospital ones are disposable and sucky.

  • A good blanket goes a long way. I used a Rumpl, a sleeping-bag style blanket.

  • Eye mask and Ear plugs

    • Mum and/or baby will be woken by a nurse every hour or so, so there is practically no sleep during your stay.
    • You should sleep in order to be useful to mum and baby.
    • Driving home is scary, not so much because of the baby, but because you’re operating on 3 hours sleep over the past couple of days too.
  • Grandma support gear

    • Buy anything you need to get grandma to stay with you for a couple of weeks… somewhere to sleep, toiletries, food, flowers… whatever it takes.

Great buys

You can’t go wrong buying the things in this list.

  • Emily Oster books
  • Baby owner’s manual
    • If an engineer were to write a baby manual, this would be it
  • Doula
    • tldr; This is a birth/labor coach.
    • Guides mum through the delivery, offers suggestions on when to switch positions, what position, etc
    • Act as an advocate for mum.
    • Confidence booster for everyone. They’ll fill in any of the gaps you have with helping mum get through the labour, helping coach you on how to coach her.
  • Doona
    • My top buy!
    • A carseat that converts into a stroller. It’s pretty compact, light, and perfect for easily popping a sleeping baby in and out of the car (or airplane seat, it’s airline approved).
    • Perfect for getting the baby home from the hospital.
    • Comes with a LATCH base, but can be used without (just using a car seatbelt)
  • Nanit Plus
    • My other top buy. (now FSA-able)
    • “The Tesla of baby monitors”
    • Good install method: You drill a couple of holes, secure away the cords with included guards.
    • Good quality video stream.
    • Baby SIDS breathing monitoring and red alerts. The camera watches special fabric patterns on the swaddle for breathing, actively alerting you if it detects abnormalities in the baby’s breathing.
    • Sleep Insights — nightly analytics on sleep quality, with suggestions to improve.
    • Nice velcro sleep sack swaddles which are super easy to use.
  • Pampers (with pee indicators)
    • Cheap.
    • Pee can be hard to spot in a diaper, and is a vital stat to collect early on, as you’ll need to be reporting a poo/pee count to the nurses and doctors regularly.
    • We bought more expensive Honest diapers which were bleach free / organic etc, but didn’t use them until she was about a month old, by which age you are less concerned about the counting and more capable of detecting a pee in a diaper without the pee-indicator strips.
  • Boppy breastfeeding pillow
    • Has been awesome.
    • Supports baby while breast feeding.
    • Takes weight off mum, positions them nicely for a good latch. It’s also useful for just propping up the baby while you attend to something else.
  • IKEA crib
    • Cheap! $79
    • It’s made of wood, so a nice natural material.
    • Simple to setup and simple in operation.
    • Good height for getting the baby in and out of the crib without breaking your back or falling over.
  • Newton mattress
    • 100% breathable material.
    • Less stress if baby rolls over face down as they can breath right through it.
    • Super expensive. It costs 3 times more than the IKEA crib itself.
  • Hands-free pumping bra
  • The hospital issued breast pump
    • Better than most the ones you buy for home use
    • Works really well, encourages increases in supply
  • Lactation consultants
    • Take up any offers to consult with lactation consultants at hospital and visits
  • Frida Mom Peri bottle
    • Better than the one you’ll get at the hospital
  • Take as much of the hospital stuff as you can
    • They’ll generally offer it to you
    • We also stole a couple of swaddle sheets, which are cheap and good sizes for swaddling
  • iOS app:Baby Tracker,Website
    • Baby analytics tracking
      • Poo/Pee/Mixed/Dry
      • Feeding
      • Pumping
      • Sleeping
    • Your new life is sort of like moneyball… but for baby optimisation stats
    • Your doctor will ask you for times, volumes, etc, so this app is super useful
    • Free version is great. Haven’t seen any need to upgrade to the (cheap) paid version.
  • Snoo
    • It’s nice
    • Not sure it really helps. We put ours in the Crib with the Nanit straight away and she was fine with it.
    • Update 1 month in: Actually, we use this most nights now. It does seem to work. If we have a fussy baby we up the level one step and she seems to usually settle down.

Good buys

  • A bassinet so you can move them around the house with you during the day
  • Mockingbird stroller
    • DTC brand
    • Similar to the much more expensive Upper Baby brand
    • Nice options like bassinet (which you can detach and use around the house during the day)
  • Baby Brezza Advanced Pro
    • Lazy man’s way of making a bottle of formula milk
    • You put in powder and water, it mixes it to the correct recipe, temperature, and dispenses it straight into a bottle ready to go
    • You may not need formula, but if you do, this is a good tool to have. Nice to have this for peace of mind.
    • Expensive. You could get away without it.

Bad buys

  • Expensive formula
    • Lactation consultants say get anything in the supermarket. It’s all marketing and they’re all good.
  • Massive muslin swaddles
    • I found the hospital cotton swaddles the perfect size, easier to use, and warmer
  • Legless clothes
    • Makes changing diapers easier
    • But not as warm. It’s hard to get sock on (and to stay on) a wriggling baby

General thoughts

  • You will be very tired, but surprisingly operational
  • Throw away your schedules. The first 2 weeks are 24 hour oncall. You respond to your baby’s demands for food, diaper changes, fussing.
  • Newborn care is a series of smaller schedules and strategies.
    • Check the diaper. Feed. Burb. Feed again if needed. Pump. Clean pump and bottles, sterilise. Swaddle. Everyone sleep (or perhaps not)! Repeat in 2 hours time.

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