Parenthood – in this case, fatherhood – can feel utterly terrifying.
There’s a lot of information you’re expected to know in so little time, and making even a single mistake about it can feel like the world’s ending. Fortunately, there are a lot of other people who went through exactly what you’re about to – and they’ve got plenty of good insight to share!
New dads need encouragement and humor. They need to know that they’re welcome to learn as they go, and it’s okay not to know everything so long as they’re trying their best.
What they don’t need is more judgment or anxiety. A father needs to feel safe enough to learn properly – the experience shouldn’t be framed as frantic, because that hampers their learning. “What to do right?” will matter far more to them than “What can go wrong?”.
Below are four solid must-read books for anxious, expecting dads:
- “She’s Having a Baby, I’m Having a Breakdown!”
- “The Baby Owner’s Manual”
- “The Happiest Baby on the Block”
- “Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy”
Once you’ve gotten a firm foundation, expand your horizons! Even a mediocre book can leave you with some excellent takeaways. Don’t get complacent in your role as the father.
Parenthood is a huge niche, and there are hundreds of books on the topic in the market. Some of them aren’t even worth the paper they were printed on, but we’ve picked out some of the best books for expecting dads that’ll be extremely helpful for your future foray into fatherhood!
Best Books for Expecting Dads
What New Dads need the Most Now
An expectant dad needs to feel welcomed. They need to encounter friendly, encouraging books that make them excited about this huge new chapter in their lives!
Parenting is a new experience, and there’s no shame in admitting one’s lack of knowledge. Look for books that know you’re out of the loop, but also understand that you can’t wait to learn!
Humorous text would be preferred since childcare can get pretty hectic, serious, and stressful. It’s always nice to point out some hilarious excerpt for your wife – share a laugh with your love.
Expectant dads need books that teach without judgment. Those need to provide resources and knowledge to equip them for fatherhood. This extends to things like different developmental stages for their child, how the experience might affect their marriage, and other crucial factors.
This knowledge should come at a steady rate – but not to the point of bombarding them with information they can’t hope to utilize at the moment!
What New Dads Should Steer Clear From
There’s a pretty problematic stereotype that dads aren’t interested in their children’s life – at minimum, they’re assumed to be nowhere near as invested as mothers are.
The tone and text of certain books in question can get sexist, condescending, or outright insulting at times (i.e. To paraphrase – “Stop being a lazy slob and take responsibility for your child!”). Being exposed to this can be very discouraging and dampen a father’s excitement for their role.
Another notable concern is when the book in question spends too much time dwelling on what could go wrong. It might linger on dire consequences that could befall the child if certain actions aren’t taken – those aim to be cautionary in nature, but simply cultivate more anxiety in fathers.
There’s a time and place to clarify these details in depth – that time is certainly not this early on, while everything is still new and raw and scary to handle!
Parents, especially fathers, need to build their confidence first. Otherwise, they might end up terrified to act – or even worse, constantly deferring responsibility to others due to their fear of messing up.
The four books below might not be perfect, but they’re all excellent, must-read resources to get this “fatherhood” thing off the ground!
“She’s Having a Baby, I’m Having a Breakdown!”
Author: James D. Barron
This book is an excellent resource that covers how parenthood alters family dynamics. It focuses on managing the new lifestyle changes the baby brings to the family – something a lot of parenting books gloss over in favor of focusing on the baby and the mother alone!
It also provides some general rules worth maintaining for the family’s happiness and also grants a genuine look at how pregnancy will affect the whole household. It’s also a hilarious book, and worth reading alongside your wife for a shared laugh or two!
The book is informal, to say the least – and quite frankly, it’s starved of medical insights and objective knowledge. Think of it best as a collection of considerations, musings, and advice from someone whose experienced what you’re about to encounter, but don’t expect more than that.
It’s a good book to help you prepare for family dynamic changes, but as far as raising your infant goes it’ll lack medical knowledge and professional insights. The book is also pretty big on emotions and family connection – and not all dads are inclined to take that approach.
If you aren’t the type to cuddle up and chat with your wife about how things are going, this book may not be the best match for your parenting style!
“The Baby Owner’s Manual”
Author: Louis Borgenicht M.D. & Joe Borgenicht
“The Baby Owner’s Manual” provides concise and practical information for your parenting needs. It focuses on teaching you the proper way to handle these procedures, but stands out thanks to its unique framing device – it was penned like an engineer’s guide, diagrams-and-all, to help prepare people to handle the beast of a machine known as the “baby”!
That kind of mechanical simplicity might just be what you need to ease yourself into fatherhood.
While the advice provided in this book is effective, it’s all relatively simplistic – enough that you can find the bulk of it with a cursory search online.
The book was also clearly written to cater to expectant fathers living in the USA (i.e. some bits on gun control) which may be a little odd to encounter for readers outside of that country.
A more serious concern here is that some of the information within this book is outdated. At best, there will be more effective methods known now – at worst, their advice could be seriously harmful to your infant (i.e. crib bumper usage, co-sleeping arrangements).
You might want to seek out a more updated book for your fatherhood needs, or perhaps look up the book’s recommendations to get crucial second opinions on what excerpts you should ignore.
“The Happiest Baby on the Block”
Author: Harvey Karp
“The Happiest Baby on the Block” is a good resource that specifically aims to address the struggle of crying infants. Its biggest claim to fame is teaching the 5 S’s: Swaddle, S-S (Side-Stomach) Position, Shush, Swing, and Suck.
These not only serve as solutions but also double as an effective checklist to care for babies who may be suffering from cholic. It’s a book built to address crying infant woes, and in doing so carves out a respectable niche for itself.
As far as the phrasing goes, the book can get a bit too superfluous. It occasionally repeats redundant information and is guilty of bombarding readers with more information than they asked for.
The advice provided is unquestionably effective, but many reviewers weren’t appreciative of the sheer volume of filler they had to wade through first.
It’s also been criticized for using odd or simply unrealistic hypothetical situations for anecdotes, which does rub some parents the wrong way.
“Mayo Clinic Guide To a Healthy Pregnancy”
Author: Mayo Clinic
“The Mayo Clinic Guide” is a genuine medical resource curated by a team of doctors. It walks parents through different segments of pregnancy, step by step, and rarely misses a beat.
The information provided here is clinical, effective, objective, and addresses exactly what you need to know.
The book is a great resource, but at the end of the day, it’s a resource made by academics. It’s comprehensive, though with a few quality-of-life concerns that stand out rather sharply.
First off, the book’s organization leaves a lot to be desired, and the index can be less than helpful at times. You might have to flit through every segment in a bit to find the answer you’re looking for. It also lacks diagrams and imagery – choosing to double down on comprehensive notes.
Think of it like a pregnancy dictionary rather than a pregnancy book. It won’t be a pleasant reading experience since it was decided to educate – not to entertain or encourage its readers.
“The Mayo Clinic Guide” will walk you through what you need to know when you need to know it, but don’t expect it to hold your hand as you learn!
People outside of academia (and even some within!) might struggle to use the book for long periods of time, but if the answers you need are medical in nature, they’re more than likely to be found somewhere in the Mayo Clinic guidebook!
Other Awesome Books for Expecting Dads
Fathers are constantly learning more about their role on the job. You can’t settle for any single book – or even a small set of books. No matter how good a book is, it always has limitations.
Restriction your options will limit your capabilities as a father too. You may not like a certain book’s tone, but if it offers anything to turn you into a better dad it’s worth tolerating.
Read, listen, learn, apply what works, and ignore what doesn’t. Fatherhood isn’t a rigid set of rules to abide by, but a promise to continue bettering yourself for the sake of one’s child.
Disclaimer: Not every book below will be a direct help to your parenting capabilities. They won’t give you the knowledge to figure out exactly what to do in every situation with your kid. What they do provide is perspective, reassurance, empathy, or even humor! These bits will help you retain your love for your role as the child’s father.
Being a father isn’t just about competence, but about enjoying the process of raising your little tyke – losing your enthusiasm is pretty much the worst thing that could happen!
- The Expectant Father: The Ultimate Guide for Dads-to-Be (5th Edition) (2021) (Check on Amazon)
- Fatherneed: Why Father Care is as Essential as Mother Care for your Child (2000)
- Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces (2018)
- Out of the Pocket: Football, Fatherhood, and College GameDay Saturdays (2021)
- Your Baby’s First Word Will be DADA (2015)
- Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters (2006)
- The New Dad’s Survival Guide: Man-to-Man Advice for First-Time Fathers (2005)
- The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read: (And Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did (2019)
- Pocket Commando Dad: Basic Training – Advice for New Recruits to Fatherhood (2014)
- We’re Pregnant! The First Time Dad’s Pregnancy Handbook (2018)
- Becoming a Dad: How Fatherhood Changes Men (2012) (Check on Amazon)
- Fatherhood: A Comprehensive Guide to Birth, Budgeting, Finding Flow… (2021)
- Dad is Fat (2013)
- You Will Rock as a Dad!: The Expert Guide to First-Time Pregnancy And… (2022) (Check on Amazon)
- Diaper Dude: The Ultimate Dad’s Guide to Surviving the First Two Years (2017)
- The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind (2011)
- From Dude to Dad: The Diaper Dude Guide to Pregnancy (2014)
- Fatherhood: The Truth (2005)
- Dude, You’re Gonna Be a Dad! How to Get (Both of You) Through the Next 9 Months! (2011)
- Better Dads, Stronger Sons: How Fathers can Guide Boys to be Men of Character (2006)
- Best Seat in the House: 18 Golden Lessons from a Father to his Son (2021)
- Birth Partner 5th Edition: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Partners… (2018)
- Man vs Child: One Dad’s Guide to the Weirdness of Parenting (2017)
- Parental Mental Health: Factoring in Fathers (2020)
- NEW DAD BABY HACKS: A Contemporary Guide for Dads… (2022) (Check on Amazon)
- The Very Embarrassing Book of Dad Jokes: Because Your Dad thinks He’s Hilarious (2012)
- Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads (2004)
- Pregnancy Survival Guide For Men: No-Panic Handbook for First Time Dads… (2022)
- The Secret Life of Fathers (2nd Edition) (2017) (Check on Amazon)
- Being a Dad is Weird: Lessons in Fatherhood from My Family to Yours (2017)
- The Role of the Father in Child Development (1976)
- Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five (2014)
- What to Expect the First Year (2014)
- Baby Tips For a New Dad: The Foolproof Handbook From Dad to First Time Dad (2022)
- The Simplest Baby Book in the World: The Illustrated, Grab-and-Do Guide… (2021) (Check on Amazon)
- The Pregnancy Guide for First-Time Dads: The Ultimate Handbook with Everything… (2022)
Fatherhood can feel daunting, so of course, you’d want to be equipped with the best guides available on the topic! Finding the best book for expecting dads might be an impossible task… so we’ve settled for the next best thing – granting you a set of amazing options to choose from!