If knowledge is power, then one of the best gifts you can give a first-time dad is a book to prepare him for the monumental challenges ahead. Sure, a marathon viewing of classic, dad-tastic movies like Three Men and a Baby, Father of the Bride and Mr. Mom might help a little, but let’s face it: The more information a new parent has absorbed ahead of time, the better prepared they’ll be for those moments of “What have I gotten myself into?” So, fire up that Amazon wish list and add a dozen or so guides to the queue. It’s time to drop some knowledge on the dads of tomorrow.
1. Dad’s Playbook ($12): OK, maybe comparing parenting to coaching is kind of cliché, but hey, if sports references work for you, why not give this book a whirl to help you get your head in the game? Bonus points if you’re a 49ers fan, since there’s a foreword from hall-of-famer Steve Young.
2. Dude, You’re Gonna Be a Dad! ($8): Focusing on the months leading up to the little one’s arrival, this guide walks dads-to-be through all the usual trials and tribulations of pregnancy, from morning sickness and doctor visits to packing the overnight bag and choosing a name. And as the cover design indicates, it definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously.
3. The Baby Owner’s Manual ($8): Oh, if only babies were as simple to figure out as a new bluetooth receiver. Unfortunately, they’re not. But that doesn’t stop this father-and-son duo (one of whom is an actual pediatrician) from laying out the basics of first-year parenting in a user-manual format. And in the end, babies are a lot more fun than electronics anyway, right? Minus all those diaper changes, of course.
4. Confessions of the World’s Best Father ($12): Less of a how-to guide and more a hilarious look into a new dad’s life through perfectly captured moments of humor, goofiness and outright defeat, this book offers an important reminder for those moments when everything’s going wrong. For example, you’re not going to be the first dad to put the wrong milk in your coffee.
5. Dad or Alive: Confessions of an Unexpected Stay-at-Home Dad ($11): The times, they are a-changin’. And with more stay-at-home dads rocking the homestead than ever before, it only makes sense that books like this are on the rise as well. Based on Kulp’s popular blog about the pratfalls of stay-at-home parenting, this crash course in all things kiddo-related is perfect for the dad who’s ready to nail his new full-time gig.
6. Dad’s Expecting Too! ($10): Kind of like the old standby What to Expect When You’re Expecting (except for dudes), this book’s got something for everybody, including adoptive parents and “two for the price of two” fathers. Inclusive of all types of dads, it gives a straight-shooter’s perspective on everything from psychologically preparing for parenthood to the nuts and bolts of labor and delivery.
7. The New Dad’s Survival Guide ($10): Just like it sounds, this straightforward and often tongue-in-cheek guide gives practical advice ranging from notes on sex and sleep deprivation to facts, tips and pointers on daily dealings with baby pee, poo and other bodily functions. It’s a tough job, but look, somebody’s gotta do it.
8. Pacify Me ($13): One day, your fridge is filled with beers, and nine months later, they’ve been replaced by baby bottles. This book in particular is geared toward the quintessential man-child who’s still clinging desperately to his youth. Mancini, a man who claims he “personally raised the bar for pre-baby anxiety” is doing his best to calm his fellow dudes down and prepare them for the miracle of birth and parenthood. Written in the style of a stand-up comedy routine, this easy read is packed with far more insight than the six-pack on its cover might lead you to believe.
9. Show Dad How ($12): Written by the executive editor of Parenting, this book is chock-full of good information. But don’t snap it up looking for long-winded explanations of every baby-related topic under the sun. Instead, Shawn Bean takes the IKEA instruction manual route and uses as few words as possible, relying on simple illustrations to get his spot-on (and often really funny) point across. For men of few words, this guide is golden.
10. The Expectant Father ($16): From fertility issues to epidurals, this modern classic covers it all in an easily digestible but authoritative tone. Leaving the jokes to other authors, Brott and Ash have produced a no-nonsense, month-by-month guide to becoming a parent by offering a comprehensive view of physical, emotional, financial and medical matters faced by fathers-to-be. Heavy stuff? Sure it is. But so is becoming a parent!
11. Dad Is Fat ($12): You may know comic Jim Gaffigan from any number of places: That ’70s Show, Portlandia or even his role as middle-school-crush-turned-sad-cabbie “Chris Grandy” from 13 Going on 30. But you may not know about the role he plays as a father of five — count ’em, five — kids in real life. Needless to say, he’s got some experience in Dad Land, and he’s got some stuff to say about it too. In its own words, the book is “sharply observed, explosively funny and a cry for help from a man who has realized he and his wife are outnumbered in their own home.”
12. Geek Dad ($12): For the overzealous father-to-be who just can’t help but plan ahead, this Wired-approved idea book is filled to the brim with smart, geeky projects for dads (and moms!) to try out with the kiddos when they’re old enough. It acts as a beacon of light to get a new parent through those first overwhelming months stuck in the never-ending cycle of eating and pooping, pooping and eating (not to mention looking after the baby!). With the promise of electronic origami and home hydroponics, this book will help carry even the geekiest and most terrified new dads though the first year by showing that the future holds plenty of geektastic parent-child bonding ahead.
What books would YOU recommend for a new dad? Share in the comments section below!