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Preparing to be Unprepared (Fatherhood Series - Part 4)

Author: Iain Schofield

In hindsight, you can’t ever be fully prepared for the arrival of your first baby. You’ll read loads of advice about getting ready, what you’ll need and how to prepare. Take around 70% of that and just scrap it. You will not be prepared, you will not have everything you need and you will not need everything you have. It’s all a learning experience. Except the exam is at the start and you slowly learn the answers later.

That being said, there is still that 30% of useful advice I mentioned. So here it is, the condensed checklist to help you get as prepared as you can possibly be.

preparing to be unprepared


Invest in a good washing machine with a big capacity. I remember my wife saying something along those lines and I was like “Really? Baby clothes are only little, they won’t take up much room”.

I was stupid. It is not the size of the baby clothes, it is the sheer volume of them. It turns out babies have more outfit changes than Beyoncé!

Which leads me to my next pearl, get a good dryer. In summer, all those little onesies, bibs and vests can adorn the washing line. In winter, your house will be covered in the stuff. Get a dryer, preferably a condenser. It’ll become your favourite machine, sorry Xbox.


You’ll get bought a lot of baby clothes and, if you’re lucky, you’ll be gifted even more from friends/relatives who have been there and done it in the not so distant past. Take everything you can get. There are some hidden gems in the bin bag loads of hand-me-downs you’ll be given. Start organising early, get age groups and sizes grouped and just make sure you have a nice little selection for every eventuality. Trust me, you can get caught out…but that’s a story for another day.


The temptation is to go ahead and fully kit out the nursery straight away. After all, building a nest is half the fun. However, just bear in mind that your little one will most likely bunk with you for at least the first 6 months. So while it’s a good idea to get the big stuff sorted (any redecoration, a cot and some wardrobe space will likely suffice), remember to consider the early sleeping arrangements. A moses basket is inexpensive and a safe bet for the first few weeks but beyond that, they start looking real small real fast. A bedside cot is a good investment and can always be sold once your baby is ready to make the step up to their nursery and very own cot.


When my wife invested in a room thermometer, I saw the price and gasped. Luckily I was sat down. However, with a baby born in the depths of winter, that thermometer became massively important. Maintaining a baby comfortable room temperature is a juggling act. It took weeks of central heating tweaking to nail the right formula. Without that room thermometer, I’d have been lost. Now it’s summer, it’s still performing a massive service. Moral, wife is right.


If you plan on breastfeeding, a pump might be a sound investment. I would suggest starting cheap (a hand pump will only set you back £10-£30) and seeing how you get on. The hard fact is, breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone. The last thing you want is to spend big on something that ends up being of little use. Plus, a bit like a new car, pumps lose half their value the moment you drive them off the lot.

dummy straps


However you’re going to feed your little one, chances are you’re going to need some bottles. You can generally get a few freebies here and there in promotional packs. Try and get a small selection as cheaply as you can. Different brands, shapes and styles are available and I’m afraid its another case of trial and error. Don’t commit to anything straight out the gate or you could find yourself with a big box of bottles baby doesn’t like. Heed my advice, or it could be you drinking your morning Joe straight from a teat with your fellow commuters staring. Waste not want not.


No matter what you do, there will be something you need that you hadn’t foreseen. All babies are different, it’s annoyingly precious. Maybe you’ll need a comforter, maybe you’ll need a sleep aid (Ollie the Owl aka my best friend) or  maybe the dummies you got suck…any number of urgent requirements can and will crop up. A fast delivery online service (you know the one) can be a lifesaver. Order one day, receive the next. Prepare to get a parcel a day for the first few weeks.


My best advice is to take each day as it comes. There are things you will definitely need (see above), but there will always be the odd thing that catches you out. Prepare yourself for being unprepared. Don’t put extra pressure on yourself; you’ll have enough trust me. You can’t see the future, and you can’t foresee every eventuality. Be flexible and buy as you go. For the fist few weeks/months, the main thing your baby needs is you. Enjoy it and try not to sweat the small stuff.

Read more posts in The Fatherhood Series:

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