What’s the scariest experience imaginable as a first time dad?

Did you say snakes? I thought of snakes as well. But it turns out fear of failure actually tops that list.

80% of new dads report a feeling that they have to be the symbol of stability in the home and are afraid of coming up short.

And the fear of failing at that responsibility can be overwhelming. It’s that desire to come out of the gate storming that has guys searching for those quick tips for first time dads.

You know… because we tend to spend that pregnancy period in denial and cramming in as much Grand Theft Auto as we can knowing that our consoles will soon be collecting dust.

So let’s assume you’re coming at this a bit last minute… as a bit of a blank slate. Let’s take a look at 4 quick tips for first time dads to help you fake your way through until you can take off those training wheels.

1. Be Visibly Hands On

Tips for First Time Dads Include putting forth visible effort that mom can see... if she's awake.
Tips for First Time Dads Include Visible Effort

Make sure to get your hands dirty. Quite literally. Mom is going to be exhausted and there’s no better time to bond with the little grommet than when she’s passed out. That’s daddy time.

If she is awake, make sure the effort you are putting into getting your hands dirty is spent quite literally getting your hands dirty. That’s diapers. That’s feeding (if she’s into it). That’s all the housework in a marginally competent manner.

You want to earn those quiet brownie points without having to be asked. You can spend those brownie points on video games and sports later on.

2. Embrace Podcasts

Podcasts are your friend.
A father with jogging stroller on a walk outside in spring nature.

If you haven’t jumped on the podcast train… you really should. You’re going to be spending a hell of a lot of time shutting up. Being ninja silent. This is a good time to acquaint yourself with a robust podcast queue. While you’re at it, get yourself a solid pair of headphones.

You can have high aspirations for reading, but let’s be honest, first time dads aren’t going to be sleeping, let alone reading. And that doesn’t really change for a while. Even when you know how to handle a baby, you then have to learn how to handle a difficult toddler.

When you’re not putting in the hands-on dirty work that scores you those brownie points you’re going to be outside pushing that pram. It’s like one of the only places babies will sleep. You’d know that if you did the reading… no judgment… nobody does the reading.

You have to learn to leverage those spotty impromptu periods of sleep into something resembling usefulness.

3. Find a Community

Friends with toddlers playing on the floor in sitting room
Make Friends With Other Dads Who Are In The Same Spot

It takes a village.

No, not to raise the little guy. To keep you sane. It doesn’t really matter how much prep you’ve done, it seems like every dad either feels like they are, or actually is, in over their head.

There’s an impetus to wall yourself off. Try not to do that too much. You need friends who are in the dad trenches with you. You need comrades who are along for the ride and understand your plight.

Your current friends might not quite get it.

Now there are dedicated social networks just for dads that can pair a mentor dad up with a first time dad. One of our favorite tips for first time dads is to jump into these communities with both feet.

Sure, it may feel awkward at first, but it will make play dates easier in the long run.

4. Take Care of Yourself

You can't serve from an empty platter. Take time out for yourself.
Take Time For Yourself – You Can’t Serve From an Empty Platter

At Smartest Dad we are big believers in self-care. It sounds trite, but you have to put your mask on first before helping others. You’ll remember that if we ever get to go back to traveling.

Dad depression is serious and it’s much more common than we tend to think. Postpartum depression in moms gets a lot of play, but it can can occur in up to 25% of new fathers.

That’s alarmingly high. Especially given the lingering stigma around men and mental health in general. You have to remember, you don’t just owe your mental health to yourself, and you do, but you owe it to your progeny as well.

You want to bring up well adjusted young people right? That starts by setting a good example.

So make time for yourself. Listen to those podcasts. Try and read a book. Keep reminding yourself, daily, that you’ve got this and you’re going to do a great job.

Bonus Tips for First Time Dads

Four just didn’t seem like the right number of tips for first time dads did it? So how about a fifth?

As new dads, our confidence can be a bit shaky. A lot shaky. The shakiest.

It can be downright non-existent for a number of different reasons. Not the least of which is that we’ve been thrust into a situation that is as natural as life itself but is, at the same time, jarring and foreign. Being a dad is a common experience for most men.

But this suffocating feeling of being in over our heads is just as common.

Despite how common it is, we end up sinking our own confidence levels without even realizing it half the time.

That’s why the last of our tips for first-time dads is to take our 5-day Confidence Check Email Challenge. It’s the perfect way to check-in with yourself and take your confidence temperature.


Obviously, this list is by no means exhaustive. These are some quick tips for first time dads and general themes to steer you in the right direction as you play catch up.

Sleep will be tough to come by. It will be trying. You will be frustrated and feel out of your depth.

That’s okay. We all do. You can’t remind yourself of that enough because it will feel like you’re screwing up constantly. You probably aren’t.

Be kind to yourself. Check in. And most of all…

Keep mama happy.

Until next time.