A Man’s Guide to Pregnancy: Getting Ready for the Baby Bomb

by Brett & Kate McKay on June 20, 2011 · 80 comments

in Fatherhood, Marriage, Relationships & Family

A baby will drop into your life like a bomb released from a B-52. All you can do is batten down the hatches and prepare for his or her arrival the best you can. Here are a few ways to get ready for the arrival of the stork, and by stork I mean baby grenade launcher.

Gathering Your Supplies

It’s amazing how much stuff a baby “needs.” Yes, needs is placed firmly inside those quotation marks. Primitive baby probably just rolled around in the dirt and played with twigs and hot coals with his tiny calloused baby hands. Primal baby was tough as nails. But here in the modern West, we surround our progeny with a lot of doodads. Like it or not, you’re probably not going to let your baby sleep on a bed of leaves. So you need supplies.

Baby stuff can get expensive, and the baby quickly outgrows it, so it’s not like the stuff will get a ton of use. Even if you plan on having more kids and re-using things, the total number of months of use still doesn’t add up to much. So I recommend getting as many of your baby accouterments–especially the bigger stuff–second-hand. There are a variety of ways to go about this.

Tag/garage sales typically have the lowest prices on things, especially used baby clothes. But of course you’ll have to drive around, and what you find can be hit or miss. There’s also Craigslist, of course.

These days, “Just Between Friends” has become a popular option. It’s basically like a giant, 100+-family garage sale of only baby stuff. People bring in their unwanted baby items, and if they sell, they get a portion of the profits, while the people who run “Just Between Friends” get a portion of the profits as well. Quite a smart business idea, if I don’t say so myself. The sale is held twice a year and has every baby item you could possibly need–from clothes to books to strollers–all under one roof. Kate and her mom got all of our big items–crib, bassinet, high chair, swing, stroller–at the sale. Some of the items there are overpriced–the selling moms can have an inflated sense of what their things are worth, but you can definitely snag some great deals.

Finally, see if your friends and family are getting rid of their baby stuff. Once you’re done having kids, there’s no need to have all that junk hanging around the house, and people are often very eager to unload it for cheap or even for free.

Oh, and as another bit of advice, when you’re buying stuff, get things that have a gender-neutral color-theme. In other words, don’t get a pink stroller, get a black one. That way your big items can do double duty if the next kid is a Samuel instead of a Samantha.

Product Recommendations

Your wife will likely take care of a lot of the shopping and purchasing of the baby supplies. She’ll probably be the one who goes to register for what she wants and has a shower. But you’ll likely find yourself on a few trips to Babies R’ Us yourself and will sometimes be asked to lend your input and opinions.

Here are a few things that I personally recommend and have found useful during these 8 months of Gus wrangling, along with some things I don’t think are worth the money.



Babies are so new to the world that even their own flailing appendages scare them. So swaddling helps keep a baby calm and happy.  In my experience, dads do a lot of the swaddling; women I know often say, “My husband is an expert swaddler!” Doing it with a blanket is actually really easy. But I have to say I really liked these Swaddleme things. They’re made and cut just for swaddling and have velcro ends which makes turning your kid into a little baby burrito so easy even someone who’s brain dead can do it. Which is essentially how you’re operating at 3 in the morning. Wrapping Gus in these Swaddleme things helped him sleep through the night.

Motorized Swing

Everybody needs a swing. They’re great for calming a crying kid. Get one where it’s easy to put the baby in and get him out. I also recommend getting a portable one, so you can take it over to Grandma’s house. I wish they would make a giant motorized swing for adults.

If you don’t like the Playtex bottles, try these.

Playtex Bottles

Trying to find a brand of bottle that didn’t give Gus crazy colic was an extraordinarily unfun process. So save yourself some time and sanity and go straight to the Playtex Nursers. You place a disposable plastic liner in the bottle, and it kind of deflates as the baby sucks on the nipple, mimicking the breast. We go one step farther by placing an ice cream scoop into the bottom of the bottle (the bottom is open), and pushing the liner up until all the air is out and the milk squirts out of the nipple.

Baby Bjorn

Definitely an essential and one of my favorite things, even if it makes me feel like this when I wear it (Bonus man points to the first person who names what movie that is from). The Baby Bjorn is a papoose that lets you carry the baby around on the front of your chest. So you can tote the baby around while leaving your hands free to do other things. And best of all, it keeps Gus quiet and happy. I don’t think he understands much of anything that we say, but when I ask, “Want to get in the Baby Bjorn?” he smiles and gets excited. And he’s already learning Swedish!


Peepee Teepee

If you have a baby boy, his little sprinkler is eventually going to water pretty much everything–the wall, the changing table, the floor, your shirt, even your mouth (in one very unfortunate incident). Peepee teepees are supposed to be the solution–they’re small cloth “cups” that you place over your little guy’s wiener. But in my experience, they don’t actually work; maybe Gus is especially squirmy, but he moved so much the peepee teepee would fall off his penis, and even when it didn’t, it didn’t trap the pee. I found it more effective to simply place a big burp rag over his nether regions and try to get the new diaper on as quickly as possible. And accept the occasional pee bath.

Diaper Genie

We didn’t actually try this item ourselves, because I read the reviews on it which said it was basically a glorified trashcan. Which it is. You don’t need a special trashcan for your diapers. When your baby drops a load, put the dirty diaper inside a plastic grocery bag (finally you have a use for that giant stash under the sink!), and put it in the trash. Empty your trash regularly. Done. And when your baby is potty trained, you’ll still have a useable trash can, as opposed to a giant plastic thing that no longer serves any purpose.

Wipe Warmer

So this is what it has come to–we don’t want our kids to endure the agony of a cold wipe on their tushes. Kate got a wipe warmer as a gift, and we figured we’d give it a try. The wipe warmer did warm up the wipes a little, but it also dried them out, and so it was abandoned after just one day. Which is good news since now a Spartan doesn’t have to come and punch me in the throat.

Elaborate, Whiz-Bang Toys

I’m not talking about little rattles and plastic keys and stuff. Those are actually pretty good. Turns out you play with a baby much like your play with a cat–dangling things in their face and letting them bat them. But there are a bunch of expensive, elaborate toys out there, you know, the ones with music and lights and spinning things and laser light shows. They only occupy Gus for like five minutes until he gets bored, and/or one of the lasers burns his retinas. What he really likes is the crap laying around the house that costs next to nothing, like cardboard boxes, plastic grocery bags, newspaper, etc. He just played with an empty bag of chocolate chips for ten minutes. And he’s still a Baby Einstein–I just saw him straining to understand the theory of relativity. Or maybe he was just pooping.

Childbirth Class?

For decades, going to a childbirth class has been a sort of pregnancy rite-of-passage for couples. Your parents will probably insist that you take one. But here’s the thing–our parents often had babies the natural way, and so a childbirth class was really useful. They needed to know what the birthing process was going to be like and how do awesome Lamaze breathing exercises, which was all the rage then. These days, the great majority of women choose to get an epidural, so the lowdown on breathing techniques and whatnot is not so essential anymore. We took a childbirth class, and while it was nice to have someone walk us through things and have an opportunity to ask questions, I didn’t think it was too worthwhile. The information in the class was pretty much the same as in the books I had read, and nowadays, the answer to any question that arises is only a Google search away. So to sum up, I would say go to a class if your wife will be doing a natural birth, otherwise, don’t feel like paying for a class is essential.

Special Preparatory Dad Duties

Before your little bundle of joy arrives home, you’ll need to complete a few tasks that are typically relegated to the dad-to-be.

You can never be too safe. So get the crib that’s been protecting chickens for a century.


Setting up the crib. I wish I had the woodworking skills to handcraft Gus a custom crib, but I didn’t (and still don’t), so Gus had to settle for a pre-fabricated crib that simply required the screwing together of pieces of wood. Don’t wait until the last minute to do this or it will never get done. It’s a quick and easy project. Put on some tunes, crack open a cold beverage, and have fun assembling what is essentially a giant puzzle.

Putting in the car seat. You want to get your little guy (or girl) home safely from the hospital, so you’ll need a car seat. Many hospitals actually won’t release the baby and mom unless they see the baby in the car seat and check it out themselves. For newborns and infants, you’ll likely be using a baby carrier/car seat combo. What you’ll need to have installed in your car is the base of the car seat. Follow the seat’s instruction manual and your car’s owner’s manual on proper car seat installation. Take your time with this and make sure you do it right. This is your baby’s safety we’re talking about here.

Will not pass hospital inspection.

Image from Modern Mechanix

If you want to double check your work or if you want someone else to do this job for you, many fire departments in the U.S. have child safety seat programs. Just take your car down to the station along with your car seat, and firemen will check to see if it’s installed correctly or install it for you. Don’t ask to slide down their pole while they do this. Check with your local fire department for more details.

Hanging random stuff. Your wife will likely have a theme picked out for your baby’s room (Gus is a green elephant man). And you might have to hang some pictures or other decorations up to complement this theme. A level, a tape measure, and a hammer are the tools you’ll need to accomplish this job.

A Man’s Guide to Pregnancy Series:
How to Take Care of a Pregnant Wife
How to Deliver a Baby in a Pinch
Getting Ready for the Baby Bomb
Your Progeny Enters the World

Your turn. What are your tips on getting ready for a baby bomb? What products do you recommend? Share your advice with us in the comments.

{ 80 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Foley June 20, 2011 at 8:24 pm

I second the swing and carrier (we have an Ergo vs. the baby bjorn). My wife delivered naturally and the class we took still wasn’t useful. As you said there’s plenty of information online and in books.

Another miss I would say, an expensive stroller. Sure, ours looks very nice, but we definitely didn’t need to spend the money that we did on it. Just get something that works.

I disagree with the diaper genie. I don’t know how big your supply of plastic bags is, but given the number of diapers a newborn goes through, you’ll run out quickly. The diaper genie contains the smell rather well and is hands free.

2 Shawn Elliott June 20, 2011 at 8:31 pm

The movie is “Total Recall”.

3 Lee Nelson June 20, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Through three kids, we’ve learned all you really need are diapers, wipes, white onesies, a carseat, a stroller, and a good babywearing carrier. Cosleeping, breastfeeding, and all-around multipurposing of things can be huge.

For instance – changing tables? Experienced parents don’t use them.

Diaper genie? Seriously. If you wrap the diaper up, it won’t stink that much. Take out the trash every day.

Good point on swaddling blankets. They’re a must. And not any ole baby blanket will do.

4 Red Power June 20, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Not to mention the name “peepee teepee” is so culturally offensive…piss on your own dang house.

5 clare June 20, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Good tips and ideas. But, just to say the obvious, to avoid danger of suffocation, keep plastic bags away from babies and children when not supervised closely. The plastic bag could block nose and mouth and prevent breathing.

6 Puma June 20, 2011 at 8:43 pm

First off – Plan ahead. Get the things you basically need in advance. The AOM has given a good list here, and a baby shower will provide many of the rest.

BE SUPPORTIVE of your spouse. This will be life changing for both of you. Be patient and considerate of her needs before your own. DO take the childbirth class. DO read up on what is happening with your spouse and the child inside of her. Be willing to rub her back and her feet. If you have bad habits like smoking, stop now.

Additional things to do: You know those chemicals under the sink? Start storing them higher up, in a place an adult can reach but not a child. By the time the baby is born you will be used to it, and your child will stay safe. IF There is no way to do this- buy a cabinet door lock made for this purpose.
Look around your home. What would a baby see? What needs repair for safety? Fix those things. Need to prevent your child from falling down stairs or climbing them? Buy the safety gate now. BUY PLASTIC ELECTRIC PLUG COVERS. Use as many as you need.

Handy baby items:
Buy a hand cranked baby food grinder. As long as the food isn’t spicy or harsh for a child to eat you can grind it at the table and serve the child the same things you eat. We raised 3 kids and hardly ever had to buy baby food in jars. It even works when you are at a restaurant!

Carry SMALL toys in the diaper bag, it can help keep the baby occupied when you are changing them. Always have a snack on hand for your child and things to drink.

You will have to adjust to your baby, expect that, but the baby will also adjust to your lives as well. They are usually adaptable, but be thoughtful of their needs. They can’t tell you in words so you will have to learn your child and be observant to know what they want.

7 Bill Akns June 20, 2011 at 8:54 pm

I’ve read this great compendium of man’s life for sometime. Over and above most other topics, it is flat impossible to cover everything to Boy Scout yourself for baby arrival. The basics in this article (not to mention the funny ads) are great. We’ve got three kids – a 4 yo boy and 2 yo twins (boy and girl). From our experience: Swaddling – saved us! Swing – right on! And Nina, bottles are for pumping too, so that daddy can man the 2 am shift. Yeah, I can see that re the stroller, but a bugaboo is a better ROI than most others, in use and resale. Like Lee’s comments.

One thing I would add: a sound machine.

8 Bill Akins June 20, 2011 at 8:56 pm

One other thing – we’ve been doing JBF for years and love it!

9 Paul June 20, 2011 at 9:01 pm

I would like to say “Job Well Done” on this list. I also would encourage everyone to get another kid carrier backpack as the child gets older. It is a way to carry your child on your back, like we used to do our books, and still have hands free. The only catch is that the child needs to have head control…

Enjoy the Art of Manliness,

keep it up,


10 John Vermouth June 20, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Gotta disagree on the diaper genie (or the arm and hammer pail, which we have). If your baby is at day care and you have 2 working parents, you’d be throwing out quarter-bags of trash every day, or have a garbage can full of the little grocery bags. 2 thumbs up on a legit diaper pail by the changing table.

11 Chris Homan June 20, 2011 at 9:13 pm

My future progeny will likely be raised in much the same way I and my future wife were. Which is to say, many of the wonderful tips in this article will be used.

12 Jay June 20, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Unless you’re into a bunch of tree-hugging ’60s nonsense, childbirth classes are a waste of time. The nurses or midwives who teach them spend most of the time making snarky remarks about male doctors and males in general. So unless your idea of a fun evening is hearing yourself and/or your doctor insulted, skip the political propaganda and go with the epidural.

13 Chris Homan June 20, 2011 at 9:23 pm

My future children will likely be raised in much the same way as I and my future wife were. Nothing too fancy, just simple and practical. Oh, and I definitely want to be able to man those middle-of-the-night feedings. It’ll be a wonderful bonding experience for my children and I.

Looking very much forward to being a daddy someday!!! :)

14 James June 20, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Pretty good list here. (A five year old, twin three year olds, a one year old and one bun in the oven here.) Basically (and I think it comes across in the post) less is generally more.

My additions:

While the birthing class was pretty much a waste of time, the hospital tour was not. Knowing where to park, check in, wait, grab food (and the ever important ice chips), send the in-laws, etc. is extremely useful. It helps you be the cool, calm and collected guy you need to be on the big day.

Also, don’t underestimate how much of a physical, emotional and psychological pillar you may need to be for a first time mom — especially in the first few days, weeks or months. This is one hell of an exhausting undertaking for the woman so you’d better bring your A game.

15 Tod Bowman June 20, 2011 at 9:50 pm

@Nina, there are many who would refer to “your type” as a “Nipple Nazi”. As this site is one upon which we strive to be civil, I won’t go beyond that description.

My wife was not able to breast feed. Yes, we went to the counselors, therapists, etc. Breast pumps and other horrors. My beautiful Bride ended up massively depressed. She finally recovered from the damage inflicted upon her by those who know only cold marketing, and I’m happy to announce that we now have three beautiful daughters AND, today, 20 June, is our 30th wedding anniversary!! If my fellow AoM’ers will allow me to risk being a bit obnoxious, we’re also expecting our first grand-daughter this August!!! (can’t wait!).

Folks, the deal is, if the breast-feeding isn’t going to happen (and the reason isn’t relavent), talk to the baby Doc about prefered formula, etc.

Electric swings are good, but if you can find a wind-up, go that route. They have a “click” that seems to be more comforting.The carriers didn’t work out for us, It worked better to have a thick towel on your shoulder to catch the belch and just carry the youngin’ in your arms. If you have a ceiling fan (or can put one in) they love being about 10 ft away and watching it go round and round. But every kid is different. They’re supposed to be fun, have fun.

I promise that this is my last soapbox gig (for tonight). I’m going to be old sooner than I might like, so please raise your child in a kind and decent manner so that they can run my country while I shuffle off to get a glass of lemonaide. Please…

16 Jason L. June 20, 2011 at 9:59 pm

I’m getting ready for my second boy to come here in 3 weeks or less. We’re realizing some of the same things – hits and misses with baby stuff.

Our #1 hit – a Phil and Ted’s Stroller. Yes, it’s expensive, but here’s why you want to buy one before your first child:

1- If you plan on having more than one child, this will last you, because it’s a double-stroller! It doesn’t look like it, but it’s an over-under style, so you have the option of using the second seat or not (the over-under style is wonderful, because it’s not so long that you can’t turn it, and not so wide that you can’t get it through doors).

2- It is also a jogging stroller. My wife doesn’t use it for jogging much, but the option is nice.

3 – If your kid is as fussy as ours was, walks in the stroller can be great – and this stroller is very nice to push.

We have some other loves, like Boon spoons (spoons that hold baby food in the handle and squirt onto the spoon), a simple hiking backpack (my 19 month old son loves to ride in it while I mow the lawn), and a travel-highchair (rather than the full-monty).

17 Joey Espinosa June 20, 2011 at 10:01 pm

We had a diaper genie for first 2 kids, but then realized it was a waste of time. Plus, it just stank. Maybe that’s just because it was our 3rd kid using it.

Our deal with the childbirth class: If I showed up and I was the only guy, I could leave. But I stayed, and it was good for the experience. For example, when they had to use vacuum suction on our first child (cord wrapped around her neck, so they had to get it out fast), it was good that I saw that tool ahead of time.

Agree with James that the tour is great, too.

18 C June 20, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Instead of a Baby Bjorn brand carrier, I would suggest using a simple sling or “Moby Wrap” style wrap first then get an Ergo or Beco carrier. They are a bit pricey, around $150.00, but you can use them for years. We can still put our 6 year old in the Ergo when he gets really tired on a long hike. They are extremely comfortable, can be easily adjusted for different wearers, and can be worn in several different ways.

19 Brian June 20, 2011 at 10:30 pm

The Diaper Genie is definitely a glorified trashcan, but at least it’s poorly made. I too use the grocery bag method now.

I would also suggest a side to side motorized swing.

A crib may be useless for some as well. My daughter ended up sleeping in hers maybe 5 or 6 times. She sleeps better on a bed, or even on a blanket on the floor. Once your baby is old enough to sit, I recommend switching to a lighter, thinner stroller.

Also, many times my daughter was more interested in playing with the packaging that a toy came in than the toy itself. It is pretty amazing how well a baby can entertain his or herself with just a ball, stick, crayon/pencil (you’ll have to make sure he or she will not draw on the walls), paper or cardboard box (even other household items like a broom, comb, hairbrush, sun glasses, toothbrushes etc).

I also recommend having books. Lots and lots of books. With pictures, without pictures, grown up and children’s. My daughter has many elaborate toys that are collecting dust. However, it never fails that after we put her down for the night, we go around and pick up the tens of books that are strewn across the house.

Most importantly, as a father, love your baby. There is no such thing as showing too much love. You can’t spoil him or her with too much love. Hug your baby, run your fingers through their hair, rub their backs, rock them to sleep, kiss them, and talk to them. Physical touch is KEY in the cognitive, neurological and emotional development of children. Remember, babies are born sort of like a blank piece of paper. Their behavior is a DIRECT reflection of YOU. So before you yell at your child, look at yourself in the mirror first. They are ASTUTE observers, and soak everything up like a sponge.

20 Greg June 20, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Great article and good comments. My suggestion won’t be received well by all, but I would recommend using cloth diapers. You avoid the scenarios described above: smelly garbage pail, using a million little plastic bags, throwing out bags of trash barely full, etc. The up front investment sucks. It probably cost us close to $500, but we’ve been using some of those diapers 3+ years now. Yeah, you have to wash them, yeah you’ll get some crap on your hands doing it, but in the long run, over the course of two daughters, we have saved a TON OF MONEY. Plus, it’s better for the earth, if you’re into that.

21 Matt June 20, 2011 at 11:03 pm

I second and third all of the suggestions for various baby-wearing devices, EXCEPT the baby-bjorn. An ergo or beco is easier to use, more comfortable, more versatile, and the baby can be worn for longer periods (which has all sorts of very strong benefits). The best all-around though is, for my money, any kind of mei tai (just google for more info)–they’re fast, comfortable, easy-in/easy-out, and have a very reasonable learning curve. For a newborn, nothing beats the moby or sleepy wrap, and you can even just use a bedsheet if you learn how to wrap it correctly. I have a toddler and another on the way, and honestly I don’t understand how any new parents survive without babywearing. The baby’s safer and more comfortable, you bond better with it, and you have your hands free to do the million other things you need to do now!

I guess whoever “Nina” is got her comment deleted for being uncivil, but I gather she objected to Brett’s endorsement of bottles specifically for formula. I have to say, that was my initial reaction too. It’s not just that “breast is best,” but that formula is actually worse for a baby. You know all those so-called “benefits” of breast feeding you hear about? Another way to phrase those statistics is that breast fed babies have a normal, natural IQ or whatever, in line with our human status quo for the last few thousand years, and the formula fed babies have lower IQs and whatever else. Many women cannot actually breastfeed, despite all of the help and support in the world, but most can. Part of preparing for fatherhood can be learning how to support your partner in giving your new son or daughter a proper start in life. Don’t encourage her to give up–breast feeding can be painful until mom and baby both get the hang of it. It sucks to see your wife in pain, but you’ll cry with joy when you see her gently nursing a happy baby. You can encourage your partner to go to La Leche League meetings before she has the baby to learn more, and keep going afterward for womanly support and camaraderie. I think it’s also a good idea to NOT keep formula or bottles in the house at first, lest you be tempted to give in before you need to. It sometimes takes days to get breastfeed established, and there is absolutely nothing abnormal about that.

Finally, I have to strongly object to your dismissal of childbirth classes. My wife and I are Bradley method instructors, and I can say from personal experience that Bradley is the best method for achieving natural childbirth. It also has the longest and most distinguished track record in that regard. One of the things I love about AoM is how committed everyone on the site is to heeding the rhythms and wisdom of nature and of the human body, and for the women in our lives the most powerful expression of that will be a natural, unmedicated labor and birth. If men in the AoM community are interested in accessing their own primal masculine power, then shouldn’t they be interested in helping their partners access its female counterpart? Luckily, nowadays we men get to take full partnership in that if we want it, but we can only do it by learning how best to support our partners through the Herculean task that is labor and birth. That’s not something you learn in one evening at the hospital, but something you have to explore with your partner and be committed to over the course of several months. Unfortunately, we don’t usually have tribal elders or whatever to guide us, and most of us haven’t seen dozens of births and know what to expect, so an intensive, multi-week childbirth class is usually the best option. This is actually a great tie-in to the “Switches of Manliness” series running right now. Learning how to coach your partner through labor to a beautiful, natural birth is incredibly empowering. The “manliest” moment of my life came when, after coaching my wife through 18 hours of hard labor, I got to “catch” my son as he came into the world and take him directly to his mother’s breast. Nobody should be denied the raw, animal power and emotion behind an experience like that, but you both have to work your asses off for it.

22 Jon June 20, 2011 at 11:19 pm

One of the most manly things a guy can do when it comes to childbirth is admit that they don’t have all the answers. In most historic cultures the birthing process is guided by experienced women. My wife serves many couples as a doula (a professional support person during pregnancy, labour and post partum) and it might be something some men want to consider. She certainly NEVER replaces an engaged and helpful partner, but can empower them to support the mom better than they could ever do on their own. This isn’t a place for advertising specific agencies or people so just google “doula” and explore it from there. My only clear recommendation would be that you look for a doula who is certified through an agency, can provide good references and that you personally click really well with. Don’t sign anything or pay anything until these three things check out.

23 Krista June 20, 2011 at 11:37 pm

I second Matt’s recommendation of using a Moby type wrap over a baby bjorn but I question the wisdom in jumping to judgmental conclusions about the bottles. I was able to breast feed my baby for a few weeks, but when I returned to work I switched to largely pumping, and yes I used bottles, and yes the Playtex ones! So you can use breast milk and bottles.

The biggest thing I’ve learned is never to jump to conclusions regarding other people’s parenting choices.

24 Colin Van Duyne June 20, 2011 at 11:54 pm

I have to second Matt’s comments on the Bradley Method and/or classes. We had our daughter at he with midwives and it was a great experience all around. We had actually planned to use the local hospital, but things worked out based on the baby’s schedule.

It may not be for everyone, but in our opinion having ta baby should be a natural experience. I’ll climb off my soapbox now…

25 Brett McKay June 20, 2011 at 11:58 pm


Nina was deleted because she did not follow the guidelines set out in our comment policy.

As to your own comments, I wonder if you read the post very carefully before jumping in to comment? I did not endorse bottles specifically for formula and did not actually even mention formula. And I also did not dismiss childbirth classes altogether and said very clearly that you should take one if you are planning on having a natural childbirth.

26 Jay M June 20, 2011 at 11:59 pm

It’s amazing how little you actually need for the new baby, especially in the first few months. My wife and I figured if we were going to spend any money, it would be on things that would save us time and make our now hectic lives easier, rather than new clothes or toys that our newborn doesn’t give a rip about.

The only really nice thing I wanted for our baby was a cool jogging stroller. Yeah, it isn’t necessary for pushing around the mall, but it has been a lifesaver walking around our neighborhood of crappy run-down sidewalks. After watching a friend nearly face plant her baby trying to push a flimsy stroller over a tree root, I’m glad we splurged a bit on the wheels.

27 Jennifer June 21, 2011 at 1:24 am

Just wanted to share about the car seat issue: not all firefighters are trained to or know how to correctly install car seats. You want someone who has gone through the class and is a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPS Tech). Some options…
Find a tech in your area: http://bit.ly/iEpUcj
Find a check-up event (pre-scheduled 2-5 hour drive-by service): http://www.safekids.org/in-your-area/events/
Find a permanent fitting station (somewhere near you where CPS techs work on a regular basis year-round): http://www.nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm

Also, the whole point of a CPS tech is not to do the installation for you. What happens when you go visit grandma 1200 miles away and she accidentally unbuckles the seat? A good CPS tech will SHOW you how to correctly install AND use your seat, then have you do the work before you leave, so you’re sure. For other tips, see What To Expect From a CPS Tech: http://bit.ly/iiNbXU

28 Geoff June 21, 2011 at 5:54 am

I swear those child birth classes were a thousand times worse than the actual birth itself

29 Dave June 21, 2011 at 7:13 am

Be prepared to have feelings, including negative ones, about your new child. Don’t be surprised to find yourself crying – with joy one day, and perhaps with terror another [though hopefully not often with terror!]

And start to work on the fact that, however good you are at being in control of yourself around adults [you are good at that by now, aren't you?], staying in control around growing children is harder, and ten times more necessary. Nobody can push your buttons like your own child, for good and ill – and nobody will be more thoughtlessly cruel, or reckless of their own wellbeing around you. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to laugh it off and make up five minutes later, but with even the sweetest-natured child, there will be days [maybe only one, ever, if you're lucky] when you hate yourself for hating them.

Parenthood is work – joyful work, but hard work, worrisome work, delicate and precise work. It’s the one area of my life where I’ve really struggled to come up to the standards I know I ought to set, and I’m not ashamed to admit I’m still trying.

30 Ryan June 21, 2011 at 7:31 am

If you want to get someone excited, just question or make suggestions about their parenting. Nothing seems to make people angrier faster. A lot of the stuff I was going to say was already mentioned, but I figured I’d throw my voice at a few things too.

Breast is best, by far. I know some women can’t and that is fine, but honestly, most can. The formula folks make sure that you know they are there, sending free samples, free bottles, etc. knowing that at some point, it is going to be hard. If at all possible, don’t give in. I was shocked when I found out that the percentage of women who exclusively breast feed in our area was under 10. Anyhoo.

Double Jogging Stroller. It’s like pushing a hummer as opposed to my little Cavalier. I don’t believe I’ve ever used it for jogging. It’s just easier to push around.

Cloth Diapers. You can do them a lot cheaper than 500 $, but the laundry can pile up, and by child #4 my wife is pretty much sick of it. We still try to use them for the first 3 months of each kid.

Birthing Classes. Loved ours actually. But you only need to take one, not one for each kid. The reason I would recommend it is because occasionally situations happen in which an epidural is not an option. It’s nice to be prepared.

Finally, the only thing that I had that was original to me, if your income is a little lower than some, or if you are planning to have a boatload of chillins, check into WIC (website below) It has been wonderful for us. They provide free milk and other food items. Seriously, its been like owning our own cow. http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/

Love the Blog. Its in my reader and I relish each post.

31 Jason B June 21, 2011 at 7:42 am

We have a five week old son. We use cloth diapers and are loving them. When you tell people in their fifties (ie grandparents) that you are going cloth first they get worried for you and then they get jealous when they see how easy they are now. They look like a disposable almost except a bit bulkier and much more attractive (awesome colours and designs).

And I don’t get all the hating on classes, especially that man-bashing hippy bullshit above. You should have researched a better class I guess. Ours was tought by a naturopathic doctor (female) so my science trusting nurse wife was really worried she was a hippy, but she gave us great unbiased info about natural and medical alternatives. Every woman had her man with her in class and we met some new friends going through the same things as us. We live in Ontario so maybe that’s the difference, but I highly recommend them.

32 Mr. D. Johnson-Jane June 21, 2011 at 8:19 am

I like the Kiddie-Koop. Reminds me of the temperature controlled incubator thingy you use for pet lizards. If you’ve actually got one of these things though, it’s probably not an entirely good idea to feed the little sprog live mice when he starts teething. ;-)

33 Chris Homan June 21, 2011 at 8:35 am

Just to chime in on the breast milk/formula issue, my siblings and I were fed a combination of both, as the situation warranted. Of course, at first, we largely got breast milk, but if we were being babysat and Mom didn’t get a chance to pump (or, being hungry babies, we took it all), we got formula. We turned out pretty well.

34 Chap June 21, 2011 at 9:32 am

Nice article. If you have a Boot camp for new dads in your area, it would be to any man’s advantage to attend. I have been a Boot camp coach for about 12 years. The program stared in Calf. and is now all around the world. You can google it for more info. God bless and keep up the fine/interesting articles.

35 Chad June 21, 2011 at 9:37 am

The Diaper Genie has actually been one of the better investments we made. It’s more than a “glorified trashcan;” it has a trap door which keeps some of the odor in plus it has a baby powder scent to the bag.

36 Zach W. June 21, 2011 at 10:16 am

I would add taking an infant CPR class to the list. It never hurts to know what to do in an emergency, and that one hour class could save a life.

Great post!

37 MikeG June 21, 2011 at 10:17 am

Total Recall. Gimme my bonus points

38 Hunter June 21, 2011 at 10:23 am

Two things.

1) Use a drill with a clutch and a hex driver to make your crib assembly easier. Even better with a flex head attatchment

2) Some states have hospitals that can be very picky about the way a car seat is put in, thankfully. I recommend every man go to the fire station/police station for an example of how to put in the seat. It takes a lot more than most people would think. My local programs was extremely helpful and considerate on showing and explaining the right way to put on in.

Also, if you plan on having more than one kid, go with a diaper genie, even an used one. I have 3 kids, kinda wish I had a diaper genie (or other alternative like it.) The solution above is good, but just my view.

39 MikeG June 21, 2011 at 10:23 am

Isn’t it a little sick how much of an industry has been built around creating a new life?

40 Jared June 21, 2011 at 11:04 am

Here is my 2 cents:
Diaper genie: Yes! I have one bag of diapers to take out on garbage day. Other than the 5 seconds I spend taking the bag out and tying it, the odor is contained (without using the excessive plastic bags for each diaper)
Childbirth classes: I think – yes? My wife’s labors were too short for an epidural, so all their advice on the “stages of childbirth” were moot, but the breathing was rather helpful.

41 Matthew Poertner June 21, 2011 at 11:20 am

I just need a garden hose and a stack of towels.

42 Jeff Bridges June 21, 2011 at 11:29 am

How about any man who _doesn’t_ know what movie that is automatically loses man points. I mean, seriously, who wasn’t haunted for months by nightmares of Kuato, that mutant baby thing?

43 2buttonswag June 21, 2011 at 11:43 am

I found a book a while back on the “Take one/Leave one” shelf here at work. It was called “Men Get Pregnant Too”. Incredibly awkward book. Being that I just got married on Saturday, I am going to take my time in this department. 2 dogs is enough for the time being.

Great article!

44 Ryan B June 21, 2011 at 11:43 am

If you use a motorized swing just be careful, my son got to the point he would only take naps in the swing. Took several weeks to finally transition him back to his bed. I’m going to forgo the swing for my next kid.

45 Jason June 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Another aspect that people don’t focus on – making sure Mom and Dad’s last names are in order so there are no issues with Baby unintentionally having a different last name then Mom/Dad which can create travel headaches and other issues later on. Recently I came across a useful website started by law school acquaintances of mine: http://www.hitchswitch.com that assists newlyweds with changing their names. After TSA refused to allow my wife to fly with our 5 year old daughter because my wife still had her maiden name on her license, I learned the hard way that it is worthwhile to change your name soon after you marry and avoid these headaches altogether!

46 Matt June 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm

I’ll echo just about everything up there, but a word of warning for prospective fathers of multiples – Baby Bjorns are pretty much useless unless both you and your wife are watching the kids. I had delusions when planning for the arrival of my twin girls (now 18 months) that I’d be able to put one girl in the Bjorn while carrying the other, or cleaning, or wahtever, and it never worked out for me. That being said, if you’re taking the kids somewhere with a lot of steps, they’re a great alternative to a stroller, as long as you are 1-vs-1 with the kids.

47 Sessie June 21, 2011 at 1:03 pm

This post is not what I would expect from the AOM blog. In the past you have posted the simple, classic ways of doing things. Looking back to how our Grandparents might have done things. I would expect a natural birth if possible from the AOM family. I would expect breastfeeding from the AOM family. My Grandparents raised their children on a farm in the Midwest. They had 6 boys and none of them were circumcised. This might be too much for your blog but I think the more classic way of having a boy would be to not circumcise. You have not addressed this issue (which is fine but I thought I would bring it up). What I would have expected would be a discussion about classic ways of raising a baby. Natural childbirth, Breast feeding, Cloth diapers, Building a crib for your baby, Building a rocking chair for your wife so she can breastfeed comfortably. Your flippant attitude about skipping the classes is very strange. You mention that most people are getting epidurals now days. I thought your blog was more about getting back to the older ways of doing things and not just going along with what most people are doing these days. This entry is more like a new parents tips for anyone who might be interested….Not anyway a classic AOM guide. All the best. Still love you guys! S.

48 Brett McKay June 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Actually, Sessie, this guide is very much in line with what we do at AoM, the mission of which is to rediscover the old things from the past that were best while embracing modern advancements. If we wanted to write a guide about what our grandfathers would have done, we wouldn’t have written a series on a man’s guide to pregnancy at all. Because men didn’t used to take much of any role in the process whatsoever. Our grandpas weren’t interested in cloth diapers or natural childbirth or breastfeeding–actually I’m pretty sure both Kate and my grandparents used formula. My father never changed a single diaper and neither did his father. My grandfather did not build a crib or make a rocking chair, and I’m not sure that was very common, as I searched for an hour to find a vintage picture of a man doing something like that and turned up nothing.

Just because something is old, and the way our grandfathers did it, doesn’t necessarily make it better. As the lady who taught our childbirth class said in reference to epidurals–dentists used to pull out teeth without Novocaine, but that doesn’t mean we need to keep on doing it simply because that’s how it was done in the past. I think an epidural is a great advancement, like many other medical advancements, and things like computers and iphones, which our grandpas didn’t have either, and we felt like it was the best way to go You may feel like natural childbirth is one of those things from the past that needs to be preserved–that’s fine. I would encourage all couples to do as much research as possible and then make a personal choice for themselves. But this post is not about those debates–so please keep your comments on topic: your personal tips on getting ready for an arrival of a baby.

49 Hunter June 21, 2011 at 2:38 pm

I would have to really disagree with some of you points.

“Looking back to how our Grandparents might have done things. I would expect a natural birth if possible from the AOM family.”
Our Grandparents did many, many wonderful things, not all of them great (I.E. the 7up bottle pic.)

“I would expect breastfeeding from the AOM family.”
I vote for breastfeeding, but it has little to do with men. Again, this is AoM, and try as they might, my little one can’t get a thing out of me in this department. As a dad, I feel it’s necessary to have an alternative.

“..your blog but I think the more classic way of having a boy would be to not circumcise.”
Circumcisions have been around for centuries. This is not just a religious decision anymore, but one that needs to have pros and cons weighed. You’re making a decision FOR you child and the only bearing is that you make an informed, well thought out one.

“What I would have expected would be a discussion about classic ways of raising a baby. Natural childbirth, Breast feeding, Cloth diapers, Building a crib for your baby, Building a rocking chair for your wife so she can breastfeed comfortably. Your flippant attitude about skipping the classes is very strange…”
In the interest of brevity, I’ll stop here. I think child birthing classes are a must, the first time, but mostly for the after birth information. Building things kind of falls outside the scope for most men. Especially when putting their untested skills to the test means possibly harming mom or baby. Same as a crib. Non-tested, approved cribs can cause death in infants.

I think this article has covered most of things new dad’s need to know. I’m also willing to bet there is a follow up in the forums for advice to guys from other guys.

Keep up the good work AoM!

50 Jared Brus June 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Dinnae forget the baby kilt.

51 Helen June 21, 2011 at 5:49 pm

These swaddle things are not that easy to put a baby in, especially when the baby is thrashing around. I’m not a fan, I’m old school, just use a receiving blanket. Much easier!

52 Sessie June 22, 2011 at 1:16 am

Thanks for your response. I found a Vintage photo of a man changing a diaper! It may be the only one : P



53 Cori Lynn June 22, 2011 at 5:01 am

I was devastated when my son didn’t like our way fancy, super cute swing. If someone could design a swing that breathed, had a heartbeat, and could breastfeed… he’d be down with that one.

I appredciated Matt’s comments about the Bradley Method. I didn’t want to go on the attack, but your assessment of natural childbirth seems to be that almost no one does it, when in reality nearly half of all births are still natural. The novocaine reference is definitely not a good one, novocaine does not put you at a higher risk of c-section or other complications. Glad you guys did not face those complications! Epidurals do not come without serious risks.

I would say the most important thing you need is information, good information, not just what mom and dad said they did. Do tons of research, gather as many different parenting tools and perspectives… because the methods you THINK you will go with (co-sleeping vs crib, bottle vs breastfeeding) you may not want or be able to go with. Prepare for everything going wrong and hope it all goes right. My first slept in a crib like a champ, I patted myself on the back like I had actually done something right… my second will only sleep with me. Just when I thought I was the one making the decisions around here….

54 CoffeeZombie June 22, 2011 at 12:38 pm

We just had our second child (the first being barely over a year old), and, while I like this list overall, I’ve gotta say it strikes out on a few points:

1) Diaper Genie Of course, some people are going to find this to be a waste of money, others will love it. We just recently got one, having gone the “just throw it in the trash” route for almost year. Right now, I, the one who is tasked with taking out the trash, love it. Part of our preparation for the second baby involved setting up her bedroom as a playroom that was as baby-safe as possible (so my wife can be nursing the little one what the less little one plays around on his own). Having the diaper genie in there right beside the changing table really helps with that.

2) Birthing Classes Okay, okay, you’ve insisted in the comments already that you weren’t dismissing childbirthing classes. True; you suggested they’d be a good option if going a natural birth; what it seemed to me like you were dismissing was natural birth.

The implication in the article was that natural childbirthing was one of those things our parents did, but most women today go for the epidural. From the information I’ve encountered, this is actually backwards. Heck, just recall the hospital birth scene in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.

If you look at the birthing practices in hospitals up to more recent decades, you’ll see anything *but* natural childbirth. In fact, my guess would be that, once male surgeons were the ones performing the delivery instead of midwives, the main reason for keeping dads out of the delivery room was that the dads might have wanted to beat the surgeons senseless.

It’s really only in more recent decades that the movement toward natural childbirth and bringing fathers into the delivery room has gained traction. Even then, for our parents, a “natural” childbirth meant vaginal. It had no relation to whether drugs were used. So, a woman who had an epidural and so on, but, in the end, gave birth vaginally, could say she had a natural childbirth.

Today, that is shifting, so that women are wanting to have a fully-natural birth experience. I don’t have any numbers, but my impression is that it is *more* likely that a contemporary woman would want to eschew the epidural than her mother would have. As a result, you are starting to see midwives and dulas employed at hospitals. However, many hospitals are waaay behind on this trend, preferring the epidural and/or the C-section to natural births (the pendulum has swung back in favor of C-sections at the moment, it seems).

To the point of the classes, they can be very hit-and-miss, from what I understand. I didn’t particularly care for the class we took, though others I know who had different teachers, or took different classes, have had different opinions. I do think a lot of the anti-hospital stuff is, at best, outdated (they still really like the “Business of Being Born” video), and, at least, with our teacher, there was a sort of absolutism about the “right way” to do, well, everything. However, I did feel like some of the class prepared me, as a dad, for what all was going to happen in labor. Most importantly, we were reminded that almost all the crap hospitals tell you they “have” to do…you don’t actually HAVE to consent to (just get ready to sign a bunch of CYA forms and to politely stand your ground with nurses who may well go to insert the epidural without asking).

Besides, you’re going to be encountering a lot of absolutism from others as a parent…whether the people giving you “advice” have ever even had children or not. Best get used to that part.

Finally, the comment here:

“As the lady who taught our childbirth class said in reference to epidurals–dentists used to pull out teeth without Novocaine, but that doesn’t mean we need to keep on doing it simply because that’s how it was done in the past.”

That’s comparing apples to oranges. Dentists pulling out teeth are doctors treating disease. Midwives or OB/GYNs helping a woman deliver a baby are taking a certain role in a *perfectly natural occurrence.* Yes, epidurals usually help with the pain of childbirth, but they come with their own problems. IIRC, an epidural can reduce the woman’s sensations in that area, making the whole “urge to push” part of labor problematic. Also, epidurals can even cause labor to slow down or stall, which then results in needing pitosin to get things going again. Finally, again, IIRC, women who had vaginal births with epidurals usually have a drowsy period where they’re coming off of the drug; women who gave birth naturally usually don’t, and are able to enjoy their new baby right away.

For my wife, that last bit was the biggest reason she was happy she was able to give birth naturally (the first time around, though, we didn’t really have a choice; things went too fast).

55 Kate McKay June 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm

CoffeeZombie, I would say your impression that women today are more likely than their mothers to want a natural birth over a epidural is incorrect. Our nurse said that at our hospital 80% of moms choose an epidural and a quick google search says that’s about average at many hospitals, with some hospitals reporting rates up to 90%.

The parallel between the tooth being pulled and childbirth is not meant to convey that they are medically equivalent; rather, the point is that if you can do something to alleviate pain, why wouldn’t you? Teething is a totally natural thing, but sometimes we put a little anbesol on Gus’ gums. Likewise, my monthly period is totally natural, but sometimes I need some Tylenol to alleviate the pain. Yes, there are additional risks, but having done the research, I firmly came down on the side that having an almost pain-free birth was wholly worth it. In fact, I really feel like the epidural was one of the best inventions of the 20th century.

And Cori, while the epidural does carry certain risks that CoffeeZombie outlined, a higher risk of C-section is not one of them:


56 CoffeeZombie June 22, 2011 at 2:30 pm

@Kate McKay Yes, the vast majority of women today opt for an epidural. In fact, for many women, there’s not even a question; they’ve never even *considered* a fully-natural birth, and, when they hear you didn’t have an epidural, they look at you like you have two heads.

Still, how does those numbers compare to 20 or more years ago?

Granted, I’m mainly going on my impressions, as I stated in my post. Perhaps I’m wrong. I *do* know that around two decades ago, there was a strong backlash against performing C-sections…to the point that, after my birth (including complications which had me in the NICU for a week…and I was 2 weeks late!), the doctor came to my mom and said, “I’m sorry; we really *should* have done a C-section.”

So, I may be wrong on that point.

Granted…I have had cavity work done without Novocain before simply because I *hate* having a numb mouth for 2 hours (and I don’t do well with pain at all), so I’m probably not the best person to talk about pain management. ;-)

57 Kevin Labrecque June 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Great article! My wife and I are expecting our second next month. And the movie I believe is Total Recall.

58 Kate McKay June 22, 2011 at 4:32 pm


Are we talking epidurals or C-sections? When my mom birthed me (back in good old 1981), she didn’t get an epidural and didn’t even really think if it as an option. According to her, it wasn’t very common. Now a majority of women get them. With C-sections I agree that women these days don’t want them (at least those who have educated themselves about what is really involved). Unfortunately, even when they don’t want them, risk-averse doctors force their hand.

Personally, I’ve never been one to feel very passionate about one side of the debate or the other, and don’t really understand the acrimony that sometimes arises when people debate the topic. After all, the end result is the same: a baby. For some women, not just the end result matters–they also very much care about the process. And for them, completely natural birth is certainly the way to go. I wasn’t one of those women, hence the choice I made.

59 Cori Lynn June 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Kate – I’m really glad that you had a positive experience, and where you live most women might choose epidurals, but the statistics are closer to 60%. Where I live it’s very high as well, as is the c-section rate and induction rate. Women here are not given many facts about natural birth by the OB’s, hospital, or nurses, even my OB (with a very high c/s rate) admits it’s becoming an issue. The nurse might not want to give you the best information because if you are medicated, her job is alot easier.

The study you posted is a meta-analysis, so we really can’t rely on it. It is interesting of course, especially if you make it down to the end. But it’s not scientific… and that’s how many of the studies on the correlation between epis and c-sections (or inductions and c-section, or pitocin… etc) are. So when I sat down to make my decision on an epidural I looked at how an epi works and how it affects labor. If you have an IV, labor is slowed. Pitocin is often then used which increases the likelihood of fetal distress because pitocin induced contractions are very different from natural contractions. Fetal distress often times leads to a c-section. I’ve felt pit induced contractions vs natural ones… while I may get an epi the fetus still has to endure those awful contractions and prolonged labor.

I’ve had both a medicated and natural birth (the natural was nearly painless btw). I am just one of those people that needs to experience everything for myself. I’ve seen the difference between a medicated infant and an alert one, and experienced the breastfeeding struggles associated with a medicated birth that I am now not experiencing with my 13 week old. I initially didn’t want to respond with a long debate on the issue, I’m not trying to change your mind, just point out to your readers that may not know that many women do choose natural and that epidurals do come with serious risks, risks that I don’t feel comfortable with taking if I don’t have to. Never know who may be reading that might be on the fence about the issue :)

60 Cori Lynn June 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm

PS, on reading your last comment, I care VERY much about the end result. I had two very different starts with my newborns, two very different recoveries (3 months of recovery from my stitches with the first, not a tear with the seond), and so far, two very different nursing experiences. Also, my husband and I want more than 2 children and I didn’t want to risk a complicated delivery that may affect my ability to have more children.

61 Kate McKay June 22, 2011 at 6:42 pm

All very interesting, but as Brett intended this to be about how dads can get ready for their baby, let’s get back to that, and leave it at the very reasonable proposition that every couple should do as much research as possible.

Again, please keep all future comments to the topic of the post specifically and move on from the debates that can be found on any other mommy blog on the internet.

62 Chris Homan June 22, 2011 at 7:20 pm


Thanks for steering the comments back to the topic at hand. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post, and I found a lot of useful information in it that I can store away for future use. Well, I hope so, anyway!! :) Thanks for the great info, the wonderful website, and all the work you two do here.

Hope the little guy is well!!

63 joe June 23, 2011 at 8:29 am

bitt paste butt paste butt paste. love this stuff …………http://www.blairex.com/BLButtPaste.php

64 Adam June 23, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Real men take care of babies! Thanks so much for this article. I have to say babies to have a lot of needs, but there is SO much crap out there. It’s a full time job keeping focused on what is a need and what is simply an advertising gimmick. Thanks for the help!

65 wineinthewater June 23, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I think the discussion of the birth industry is very much a topic for how men can prepare for pregnancy .. if you count protecting your spouse to be a part of manliness.

I whole-heartedly endorse *good* birthing classes. Bradley is probably the best, but there are other good ones out there. They are focused around natural childbirth, but what they teach is very useful even if you go another route. My wife was forced to have a c-section – and yes, she was forced, the hospital denied her any other options because our daughter was in the breech position – and the things we learned in the class made the whole thing much better. One of the benefits to going the Bradley route is that it is an established curriculum with an accrediting process. That controls for some of the hippy, doctor-hating tendencies that can emerge.

But the main reason to go to a good birthing class is quite simple: the doctors and nurses will lie to you. We caught the doctors and nurses in dozens of lies. Many of them were trivial, but not all of them were. If you want to protect your wife and child, then you need good information and you aren’t going to necessarily get it from the doctors and nurses. Their priorities are efficiency and minimizing risk exposure for themselves and the hospital, and these often do not line up with what is best for mommy and baby. Hospitals and doctors are a God-send. C-sections, epidurals, pitocin and all the rest – even formula – are not bad things. They can be life-savers. The problem is that they have become over-used in a system that has priorities misaligned with what is best for mommies and babies.

So for example, epi’s are absolutely not like novocain. Novocain doesn’t create risk factors for making the tooth extraction itself go wrong, epi’s do create risk factors that lead to higher incidence of c-section and have very real negative impacts on the first days and weeks after the birth. The meta-analysis really isn’t helpful. It basically said, “all these studies show a higher incidence of c-section with an epi, how can we slice the data to change that? Ah! If we limit it only to epi’s given at a certain part of labor, those don’t lead to a higher incidence, there we have it! We’ve proven that epi’s aren’t linked to higher incidence of CS. Oh, and we are actually comparing epi’s to other narcotics, not epi’s to no drugs.”

And that is the man’s role. He is not dealing with hormone shifts. He is not dealing with pregnancy and labor pains. His role is to get informed and advocate for what is best for his wife and child. It’s not like he is going to be an expert, but it is his role to support his wife and that includes gaining the knowledge to put everything the doctors and nurses are saying through a filter.

Oh, and one item that hasn’t been mentioned is a car-seat carrier (although I’d second the swing, cloth diapers and some good bottles for either breast milk or formula). Those travel-systems are a total waste. A car seat carrier is a stroller that you just clip your car seat into. It is much lighter, much easier to maneuver – I can’t count the number of mothers I’ve seen wrestling those big strollers out of cars or through doors – than a bigger stroller. And by the time your baby has outgrown the infant car seat, he can use an umbrella stroller, which is also light and easy to maneuver.

66 Thom June 23, 2011 at 1:10 pm

I am an anesthesia provider and a father of 2…however I will refrain from commenting in the epidural issue. I feel compelled to comment on Cori posting that a metanalysis is not a reliable source of data? Based on what? It may not be the highest level of data compared with saya prospective randomized trial but in most cases ita near impossible to fund or get approval for these kind of studies. Metanalysis certainly has value and unless you can find a stronger study showing contradictory results it isn’t even relevant to your argument.

67 Thom June 23, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Wineinthewater, yes hospitals are driven in part by efficiency….because we are forces too. I hope you didn’t vote for the current administration if that bothers you because healthcare reform is going to exponentially worsen this issue. For you to say docs and nurses lie to you and have any higher priority than providing goo care for you and your child is both pompous and insulting.

68 wineinthewater June 23, 2011 at 7:57 pm


Perhaps insulting, but not pompous. It is the simple truth. The doctors and nurses at our hospital lied to us, and ours is far from a unique experience.

69 Adam June 23, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Watch the movie the “business of being born”. If you are pregnant or are thinking about having kids this is a MUST see. You can stream it off Netflix. There must be a balance of needed medical care and nature doing it’s job as well!

70 His_Wife June 23, 2011 at 10:44 pm

One important prep item for Dad is to get the all-clear to take some time off work if needed. Cesarean birth (especially if it’s an emergency C) can leave Mom in a lot of pain, and having someone around to help her out can make recovery so much easier.

Other “misses” items: the expensive organic baby clothing. Most babies don’t react badly to regular old cottons–think about it: won’t you be holding the baby against your clothes? Are they all organic? Probably not. Just make sure you’re washing everything with ‘free’ (no dye or perfume) detergent before baby wears it. You can also do without the special “sensitive” wipes and diapers–they’re just more expensive.

71 Brian June 24, 2011 at 10:36 am

Total Recall

72 Lester June 24, 2011 at 11:26 am

Back on topic: when the little one grows out of swaddling (which was only a month or two for our second), we found that transitioning to a Grobag, or other type of sleeping bag was really good. Both of our kids were quite mobile in the crib and keeping them snug and warm (which they preferred) was easier when the covers moved with them. Another benefit is during diaper changes: as you don’t dress them in as many layers, it’s easier to get them changed at 3 am!

73 Jared Hooste June 26, 2011 at 12:12 am

1. Stock up on diapers. It is a amazing how fast they disappear.
2. I give another thumbs down for the Diaper Genie.
3. Be supportive of your wife’s decisions. She is the one risking her life.
4. My wife informed me that I was supposed to give her some form of jewelry. So fellas if you want to earn some extra points buy your wife something nice(Jewelry).

Humans have been popping out babies for a long time. Don’t stress yourself out about worrying if you’ll be a good dad. It come pretty naturally.

74 caleb June 27, 2011 at 9:04 am

Podee bottles are the best. The downside is that it can take a couple of months for kiddo to get there, but it helps them become more independent and less work for you.

75 Rad Dad! June 27, 2011 at 3:36 pm

We found that a Jumperoo (http://tinyurl.com/yfqdja) is one of the best things we have bought. For about a month after my bot “woke up” (around 3 months), all he wanted to do was jump, which meant him kicking his legs while I lifted him up and down. While my shoulders were getting quite nicely toned doing all of this, I could keep it up only for so long. The Jumperoo both allowed him to jump himself and to entertain himself with all the nonsense up on there.
Also, as far as being prepared goes, it is not always the worst thing in the world to not have a few things on hand. Essentials aside, having a nice excuse to get in the car, drive for about 20 minutes, listen to a ball game or something in peace and quiet is a sanity saver.

76 His_Wife June 28, 2011 at 11:05 am


It’s called a “push present”–I guess it’s supposed to show your appreciation to your wife for everything she’s gone through during the pregnancy and labor. We didn’t have that custom back when I was having babies…I guess getting the baby at the end of it was reward enough?!

77 steve June 29, 2011 at 11:50 am

I am expecting my second set of twin boys in November so I am stocking up already. Yes, I said 2nd set of twin boys! (And a stepdaughter that is 7). My first set are 10 now so it’s been a while but I remember a couple of valuable lessons. 1. You don’t need 2 of everything. One swing, one bouncy seat, one play saucer, and one playmat will do and just rotate them through like drills during football practice. 2. keeping them on a schedule makes it easier. If you are changing one, odds are the other needs changing too. And feeding both at the same time lets everyone in the house get rest. 3. They do play with the simplest things and won’t always play with you. I remember looking forward to coming home so much when they were infants. I would get home and announce my arrival by saying, “Daddy’s home” and getting in the floor with them only to have them crawl over me for about 3 minutes then crawl off to play with each other. Guess it’s nice having a built-in best friend.

Anyway, i could write a book on it but i don’t know any other dad with 2 sets of boy twins. anybody out there know of any?

78 Big Ed July 4, 2011 at 1:21 am


Just a reminder. Don’t leave your baby planning until the last minute! Nine years ago, I was watching a game on TV and had to take my wife for her 8th month checkup. I left the tube on since I knew we would be back in a couple of minutes. Turns out she had a tear in her amniotic sac (hope I spelled that right). They induced the baby after a period of time for consultation. Bubba turned out to be 8+ pounds and fully develped. So approximately 48 hours later (Yes, they will boot you out of the hospital faster than you could imagine!), I was then faced with the problem of taking her and the baby home in my pick up truck, which didn’t have a legal infant carrier. I had to get my buddy (who just had a baby) to take her and the baby home, while I followed them.

When I got home the tube was still on, but I was a changed man.

So what is the moral of this story?
It is this.
As the time approaches, get your nursery ready early!
Keep a kit in your vehicle that includes some snacks and drinks that your wife will like and also some MAN snacks.(Trust me. Running to the nearest pizza shop at 1:30 am for a sub will not improve your disposition.) Plus at least a change of clothes! And some deoderant!

Big Ed

79 Agata March 11, 2013 at 7:20 am

Good article, great site! (I actually came here looking for camping with babies advice:)

First of all – the movie is Total Recall, of course (the remake is not so bad, imho).

We got BabyBjorn AND RingSling. RingSling was way more comfy at the very beginning, our daughter could be sleeping in it very comfy. I heard if woman practice, she can even breastfeed without taking baby out. We got BabyBjorn when it started to be heavy on my arm, but now, that I can carry her on my hip, we just use them exchangeably (RingSling takes few tries to learn to put on and some just never trust it as much as a BabyBjorn).

We got the the DiaperGenie as a present, so we use it. Probably we wouldn’t get it oursleves, but since it’s there, it comes in handy. Our changing table is in the baby room, so it’s important to keep the stink away (and as they start solids, poop stops smelling like vanilla ise cream…)

We also got quite biiig stroller. And you know what, I’m happy with it. We almost never use public transport, so it all fits well in the car. It’s pretty convertible, can hold single, or double spaces, seats, car seats, bassinets. We were hoping to get two kids close away (and hurray, we’re going to). Also on the airport it was heaven sent. Baby would sit in the car seat, we’d put our luggage in the bassinet, small bags in the basket, and we can stroll hands free whole way. As always, it highly depends on your case.

What was important for me as well, was a comfy baby bag with good portable changing mat. Our baby bag looks small, but can hold amazing amount of things. And the changing mat, as simple as it is, it’s just amazing. It’s very soft, so I can put it on any surface and baby’s comfy, it’s super easy to clean. The bag itself contains some water/smell proof bag for wet things or whatever you wish. I can change my baby in any conditions without a hassle.

(since the brands names appeared already for a carrier, my stroller that I love is BabyJogger CitySelect – and we’ll be about to buy additional seat for baby no.2, and the baby bag i got after long time spend looking, is from juju Be).

80 Richard Gatling November 14, 2013 at 11:31 am

A healthy diet can actually increase your chances of getting pregnant fast. A balanced diet ensures proper supply of the required vitamins and micronutrients to your body. Deficiency of certain micronutrients may make your body sluggish and you may take more time to conceive. Foods containing folic acid should be included in your diet, as it increases your chances for getting pregnant fast. Regular exercise also helps in getting pregnant quickly, as it improves overall health and makes you active. It also detoxifies your body, which again aids conception. Avoid smoking and alcohol a few months earlier if you want to be at your best during this period.

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