Sure, he’s rapt about becoming a dad, but it’s a long time until the baby pops out and it’s almost impossible to keep him fully interested in you and the development of your bump for nine months.
However, if you employ these tactics developed by me – a bloke and a dad – you’ll find his interest lasts beyond the realisation that he’s got a live-in designated driver.
1. Feed the footy fanatic
Us blokes love facts figures and statistics, so use that to your advantage and help him convert what is happening into a format he understands. Construct growth charts and ladders to show the growth of the baby, your tummy measurements, etc. He can get competitive with the national averages, or even with a mate if they’re expecting around the same time.
2. Baby betting
Make sure he comes along to any scan appointments. For many dads, that is the first time the baby seems ‘real’, but it’s also a good chance to have a bit of a fun wager. Before the appointments, we’d always try to guess the correct length of the baby and the loser had to make dinner. Guess the gender and win a holiday! Or maybe a takeaway!
3. Monitor progress
There are loads of apps and email newsletters that give you weekly updates on the progress of your baby, such as the $4.49 Sprout app or a free app like My Pregnancy today. Don’t want an app? Knowledge is king in our world.
4. Bloke talk
Help him understand what it feels like to be pregnant by comparing it to what he knows. Maybe morning sickness is like having a really bad hangover? My wife suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, so she’ll kill me for that one – but you get the idea. Equate it too his world and he will understand and take more interest. One mum-to-be friend even referred to the due date as ‘the Grand Final’.
5. Shopping strategy
Don’t drag him shopping for every cute sleepsuit and fluffy bunny, but bring him along for purchasing of gadgets and equipment. Give him the mission of researching the best car seat and baby monitors and watch him go Google crazy. It will make him feel like an important part of the process – and you don’t have to buy what he suggests, of course. I found a brilliant (and expensive) stroller with it’s own air filter system, but we still ended up with a Mountain Buggy.
6. Class act
Take him to along to the antenatal classes so you know he is well prepared for everything and he can get answers to all the questions he’s probably been secretly worrying about. It also helps him realise that there is a very real end product to all of this. Really. It does take a while for this all to sink in to our brains.
7. Help him make dad-to-be friends
My wife was busy swapping numbers and emails at our first antenatal class. Cringeworthy as it was at the time, I’m glad she did as five years on we are still mates and able to moan about our kids who are all at the same stage in life. Remember though, blokes who are already dads are no good to him at the early stage. Unlike experienced mums, they will just delight in telling birth horror stories and saying things like ‘You wait, mate. Your life is over’.
8. The name game
Laugh when he suggests Adolf. Go on, it won’t kill you. While the naming process is a serious business you can have a bit of a joke, too. Once the gag names are out of the way, try constructing a list of your favourite names and emailing it back and forth. Strike through the ones you hate and email it back to him. Repeat. Heated debate may follow, but it keeps the interest up.
9. Play to his strengths
We know that he isn’t going to be as interested as you in every single aspect of pregnancy, so focus on things that will make him feel useful. He might not enjoy being dragged round the shops, but might be happy to trade that in for a practical project like clearing out the spare bedroom and getting the nursery decorated. A win-win situation.
10. Read all about it
Get him a book, but make sure it’s the right book. There are loads of guides out there that target expectant fathers, but most are lame and try too hard to be funny and blokey. Ultimately they will do more harm than good. Of the six I read, the only one I liked was The Bloke’s Guide to Pregnancy, by Jon Smith. It’s funny, informative and full of real life, dads-eye view stories of pregnancy and birth.