1. Read to your kids.
I remember my dad reading to me before bed and it’s some of the best memories I have.

2. You’re not babysitting your kids, you’re parenting.
Never ever use the phrase that you’re babysitting your kids. Classic young dad mistake.

3. Get over any aversion you have to changing diapers.
Changing diapers isn’t that big of a deal. It takes two minutes, and then it’s over. Change your fair share.

4. Be content with being a support system for the baby and your partner.
You will for a few months be totally sidelined and forgotten, everything will be about the baby and mom. You should do everything else that isn’t baby related, cooking, cleaning etc., and ease the stress.

5. Don’t take a good babysitter for granted.
A great babysitter is priceless. If you find one, stick with her or him. They’re rare.

6. Stay in the hospital the second night if you can.
I know you’re going to want to head home and tuck in your new bundle of joy, but STAY THE SECOND NIGHT. Cluster feeding is no joke, and as first-time parents, every noise the child makes is going to wreck your mind. Let the nurses help and bring you peace.

7. Don’t stress out if you don’t feel an instant connection with your new child.
You might at first be unattached, it may seem weird because everyone talks about this instant connection with your kid and blah blah blah…sometimes it takes a little longer to feel that love that everyone talks about. Don’t get discouraged. It eventually comes, took me months.

8. Babies won’t break!!!
They’re not made of glass, but at the same time, they’re not made of rubber. Don’t be afraid to hold them tight, but don’t drop them.

9. Get pajamas with zippers, not buttons!

10. Pick a tune that’ll be “your song,” and sing it to them a lot.
Have a little song for you both (nursery rhyme, TV show intro, advertising jingle etc.) and sing it often to them. When you do, you’ll get the best reaction, they look for you with the best smile; when they are upset this will distract them and give you time to get the bottle ready, change diapers, etc.

Image Credit: Pekic / Getty Images

11. Don’t ask, just do.
Don’t ask your S.O. if they want you to do something for the baby, if you think it’s right, then do it. With our first, I was always saying, ‘Do you want me to have him for a while?’ which made my wife feel like I had no initiative, rather than me just trying to be polite.

12. Take those bedtime and eating routines seriously.
Get into a routine and schedule with kids (i.e. naps, eating, bedtime, etc.). People think you are just being strict by holding to these schedules, but what they don’t understand is that kids learn to depend on the predictability of their day and it creates a less stressful environment for the kids and then ultimately you.

13. Just take pictures of your little one constantly.
Pictures, lots of pictures, and it doesn’t have to be important just remember take them anytime. It’s weird how fuzzy your memory gets. I cherish the few I have of them when they were little.

14. Try not to overthink things if you don’t need to.
If it comes from a place of love, you’re probably doing the right thing.

15. Working a full-time job doesn’t excuse you from child-related responsibilities.
If you spend all day at work while your other half stays home and cares for the baby, don’t ever think that you have a free pass to not do the baby-related jobs when you get home. Dealing with a newborn all day on your own is usually more tiring then a normal work day. I was shocked I encountered so many health workers that were to surprised to see that I didn’t have the attitude of ‘I work all day so I don’t have to do anything when I get home.’ I thought it was normal to try and be as involved as possible, but sadly it seems most fathers don’t see it this way. Just take 10 minutes for yourself where you can and shower both your child and significant other with as much love and attention as possible and I’m sure you’ll do great.

16. And remember: the days are long, but the years are short.
Enjoy the moments that make up each day. Yes, sometimes you will be exhausted, other times you might even think you’ve made a big mistake, but if you take pleasure in watching them start to become a real person you interact with, see their personality develop, watch them master new skills when they are suddenly moving out (and trust me the years will fly) you will look back and smile.”

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