Finding patterns and routines with a newborn isn’t always easy. No matter how prepared you think you are, you’ll be surprised at how many things you’d never thought of. They may have seemed trivial before, but all that can change when there’s a screaming baby in your arms.

There were a lot of things I wasn’t expecting when my daughter was born, but the solutions were deceptively simple. You probably won’t see these on most parenting checklists, so here’s ten unexpected things that helped me through the first month of being a new dad.


1) A lot of space on your phone.

Assuming you’re the average smartphone owner, you’ll be taking a lot of pictures and videos. A good backup solution – like automatically uploading those photos to Dropbox or Google Drive – is also a good idea. If something goes wrong with your phone, or even if you’re using a separate digital camera, those early photos and videos are irreplaceable. Take precautions!


2) Plenty of clean clothes.

The washing machine will likely be occupied a lot more often with babygros, muslin cloths, bibs and blankets. Comfort is also really important. There’ll be a lot of sitting or standing around during labour, or cradling your new arrival, and feeling comfortable will help a lot. Especially when you lose track of time, and realise you were wearing those clothes three sleepless nights ago…


3) Food and drink you can consume with one hand.

There will come times when baby just doesn’t want to be put down. He / she being overtired but unable to fall asleep is completely normal for the first few weeks and months, and rocking them to sleep in your arms isn’t going to be creating any bad habits for a while yet. When this happens, you still need to be able to refuel!


4) Things to do one handed.

Like the food and drink, having your phone or the TV remote handy is especially useful. Rocking or cradling baby to sleep is neither instantaneous nor particularly interesting, and you’re not a bad parent for having something to occupy your brain in the meantime. Just make sure you’re not completely distracted, so that you’re still aware of what’s going on and keeping a responsible eye on them while they fall asleep.


5) Headphones.

Following on from #4, headphones can be useful as long as you employ them sensibly. Whether you’re trying to hear something over baby’s cries, or just making sure what you’re listening to doesn’t disturb their sleep; just make sure you can still hear cries, coughing, or any other cautionary sounds.


6) The pause button.

Whatever you decide to do while baby is settling or sleeping, they’re still the top priority. Record live broadcasts, watch them on a catchup service later, or play games you can pause when baby needs you. They’ll still be there when you next have a chance to enjoy them.


7) Caffeine.

This one may seem obvious at first, as it’s no surprise that babies keep you awake! But choosing when you dose-up with the world’s favourite simulant is what makes all the difference. If there are times your partner can’t stay awake, especially after labour or if she’s breastfeeding, sometimes you just have to. She needs to rest when her body tells her to, so save your coffee boost for when you’re really needed. Just know your tolerance levels so you don’t overdo it, and make sure you’re still getting sleep when you’re able. It’s no good being kept awake with caffeine if you’re in zombie-mode and can barely keep your eyes open!


8) A decent computer or desk chair.

Rocking / nursing chairs are great, but they tend to be expensive, old fashioned and a bit limited in use. A comfy computer chair that spins, pivots or leans back is great for making soothing motions when trying to settle a baby.


9) A relaxing playlist.

Most newborns will find it difficult to relax and fall asleep if it’s too quiet. The womb was a noisy place, and they’re used to sleeping through a going on. Having a playlist of songs that you find relaxing will probably help baby relax too, especially if it’s something they would have heard while in the womb. As long as the music is quiet and doesn’t contain any sudden bursts of noise or tempo, tracks from your regular collection can make for just the background noise baby needs to feel safe. Sleep apps that make sounds or white noise are also great, though a playlist can be a little more entertaining for you if you’re not sleeping too.


10) Patience.

OK, so this one isn’t really a secret. Labour is a long process that won’t always involve you directly, so be prepared to wait and help when you’re needed. You’ll need to maintain the mental stamina once baby is born, as they can’t properly communicate their needs or sometimes even understand what they’re feeling. Feeding and getting baby to sleep takes time, so they’ll be in your arms more than you may realise. The better prepared you are to take that time with them, the more relaxed and rewarding it can be. Hopefully these suggestions will help keep you comfortable, sane, and focussed on enjoying fatherhood.