Becoming a dad? Matt Farquharson, aka Papa Pukka*, shares his top tips for partners on preparing for early parenthood
Channel James Bond
Around week 32, you should pack the baby hospital bag. I found that it’s more fun if you imagine you are 007 on a mission: the dummy is your grappling hook, the wet wipes are Q’s magical fingerprint eraser!
Prepare to bare
Babies like flesh. They also like to snuggle up close. And snuggling up to you is thought to help with early bonding. Our first daughter was born in the summer and I whipped off my T-shirt before the nurses had even weighed her. I suddenly felt very conscious of my doughy dad-flesh. Top tip: a shirt with buttons or a zip-up hoody may be better.
Pack for long haul
Childbirth can take a while so bring things for you, too. There can be lulls, but also long periods without sleep. A mate advised me to pack as though for a long flight: some spare (comfy) clobber, healthy snacks, drinks, maybe an iPad and headphones.
Practice your B-day route
A close friend nearly became a dad in his Nissan because he wasn’t aware of roadworks on his carefully planned route. As the situation deteriorated, he suggested that Qashqai (his model of car) could work as a name for a girl or a boy. This wasn’t well received.
Get inside your baby's head
Imagine that for nine months your world was liquid: you’re warm, well fed and sleep more than an elderly cat. Suddenly you emerge from your cocoon: it’s bright, noisy and some bloke is pressing you to his chest. You need comfort. Bring your tiny tot a blanket, muslins, bodysuits, vests, socks, hat, scratch mittens, wipes, nappies, and don’t forget a rear-facing car seat for the trip home.
Feather the nest
Babies don’t need much. My dad used to boast that he slept in a cutlery drawer until he was six months (my grandparents were kind enough to remove the cutlery). But a few basics will make the first weeks run more smoothly. So put the cot up early (you don’t want to be doing that around a wailing infant) and find a home for the bottles, clothes and nappies.
Surrender all plans
Shelve those shelving plans and your paternity leave to-do list. For the first few weeks at least, your job is to change, feed and cuddle your baby and ensure your partner is eating well and sleeping when she can.
Stock the freezer
In those blissfully bewildering first days, it’s easy to forget to eat. Fill the fruit bowl and stock the freezer. Soups, stews and pies are your friends.
Stack up on boxsets
When they’re not keeping you awake all night, newborns can sleep for around 18 hours a day. We got through three seasons of The Walking Dead after our first arrival – a zombie apocalypse providing some light relief to new parenthood.
People have been doing this for as long as there have been people. It’s great, and easier than you might think. Your heart bursts with love. You’ve got this, champ.
*Matt is the co-author of Parenting the Sh*t Out of Life (Hodder & Stoughton)