When it comes to parenthood prepping and must-haves for new dads, our baby industrial complex makes us think we need to buy way. too. much. stuff. In reality, we should probably just sit around playing video games, going to dinner and taking naps while we have the luxury of time.

Nevertheless, there is definitely a lot of stuff you need to get – but don’t go over-board. In the first few months, the baby truly just needs food, shelter, diapers and love. Keep it simple, y’all.

Buuuuuut…since it isn’t 1735 anymore, there are some basics that keep a new parent on their toes. Here are eight that’ll most help your journey.

1. Swing/Bouncy Chair

You already know you need a place to dump that kid so you can go to the bathroom. But the marketplace makes you think you need a souped-up, crazy expensive, spa-giving calming vessel. In reality, your kid just spent 9 months in a noisy, bumpy, squished womb. They weren’t stretched out an being rocked lightly to sleep at every moment. So save yourself hundreds and get a jerky, noisy, simply swing. The clicking, the rickety jerking, the not-calming noise…your kid will love it.

2. Carrier

Y’all – let’s be real. Parenting takes up every fiber of your focus, energy and appendages. Once in awhile, you need to walk down the street, look at your phone and sip your coffee. And you can do that with a baby as long as you’re hands-free. So get yourself a baby carrier to make it all the easier. Plus, you’ll make passersby melt with the cuteness of being that guy (or gal) with a newborn strapped to you. Trust – it’s the best. It’s one of the critical must-haves for new dads.

3. Simple Hand-Mixer

picture of hand immersion blender mixing in a bowl

There are so many ways the baby industrial complex makes you think you need unnecessary food prep items. The variety and expense of all the options ofr baby food making are mind-boggling. But all you need is a simple hand-mixer from Target to get your Martha Stewart on. And trust – making your own baby food (at least some of it) is super easy. Guess what? I have some quick simple recipes to get tons of those veggies in those bellies. How did I get my kids to eat (almost) everything? Read on. (Also – see “Bringing Up Bebe” for hints.)

4. Nose Fridapicture of nasal aspirator for parents to suck snot from a baby's nose

To some degree, this might just be for your own amusement as your perplexed friends open what should be described as a “baby booger-sucker.” The gross-out factor makes for great conversation and makes you look like the enlightened pseudo-European with a practical approach to clearing boogers from a suffering baby. And from personal experience – ain’t nothing more effective when you simply can’t teach a newborn to blow their nose. Trust: this is a life-saver. And it makes you look Swedish-lite. And who doesn’t want to seem Swedish-lite?

5. Stress balls & Pop-its

Call ’em whatever the kids are calling them – pop-its, stress balls, simple dimples or fidget spinners – you might need something to squeeze when you’re incredibly sleep-deprived, frustrated and in over your head. Especially when your partner says to you something like “were you gonna shower today?” or “what have you been doing all day?” or “you couldn’t clean up a little?” I know – must-haves for new dads? Hey, it’ll help.

6. Tthe best diaper bag for dads and moms: e.c.knoxhe Best Diaper Bag for Dads and Moms

Come on. You knew I had to throw it in here. The coolest daddy diaper bag (also for moms!) has 15 pockets, a zip-closed slip pocket for a laptop, quick conversion to a backpack, zip-open changing station, instant access to wet wipes and a removable liner so the bag grows with you for years after the diapering days are over. And do NOT be influenced by the fact that it was voted one of the best diaper bags of 2021 by Baby List.

7. Bringing Up Bébé

photo of parenting book "Bringing Up Bebe"

No one needs more advice books. Expectant parents are so nervous and insecure about “doing it wrong.” In reality, parenting is mostly about avoiding judgement from other parents. The fact is: we have the instincts to nurture a baby (even two dads and two moms have the balance to raise a wonderful baby.) So don’t give more advice books. EXCEPT FOR THIS ONE. “Bringing Up Bebe” is the engrossing cultural read of an American woman raising her kid in France. Basically the subtitle of the book should be “Why French toddlers aren’t assholes.” Mainly – it comes down to following really old parenting traditions and knowing how to draw limits. The French are good at limits. (Almost to a fault.) This book can help Americans find the Franco-American middle-ground for effective parenting.


8. Your Instincts

When I was expecting my first kid, I was petrified I wouldn’t recognize a fever or understand why the kid was crying or actually have the instincts to do…anything right. And then, while freaking out about all of the above, a dear friend (and mother) reached to touch my shoulder and said to me, “You’ll know.”

She reached out, reassured me, and in that moment, I was able to think “well, shit. Just do it. And you’ll know.”

And that’s been a mantra. I mean – I don’t know what I’m doing. No one does. All us parents are faking it and just trying our best to keep our heads above water and not screw our children up too much.

But other than knowing nothing, the fact is – if you care enough, if you’re self-conscious, if you’re worried…you’ll know. You’ll know what your baby needs, you’ll know something’s wrong, you’ll know what’s needed for the next phase.

You’ve got this. Your instincts are one of the must-haves for new dads. You’ll know.