Fearing how you'll do with this fatherhood thing? With these tips and guidelines, you’ll learn how to be the best dad around.

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dad and baby daughter
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Maybe you’ve never even held a baby before, so you worry that parenting will be too much to handle. Or maybe you hesitate to exchange dinner parties and happy hours for whining and diaper changes. No matter the  reason for your fatherhood fears, we’re here to help you overcome them. Here’s how to be a good dad in any situation. 

Embrace Your New Routine

Giving up a few (or many) things is perhaps the most obvious, fundamental rule in being an awesome dad. You trade in your relaxing after-work "zone-out time" for "zone-in time" with your wife and baby. But don't just sit back and wait for things to get checked off the list. Jump right in to figure out how to soothe your baby, clean the bottles, and do other necessary tasks. Soon enough you'll be doing other great proactive dad stuff, like reading bedtime stories and signing up to coach Little League!

Act Like a Role Model

One of your most important jobs is protecting and training your child. As your baby grows old enough to understand "yes" and "no," make sure those words have meaning. And since kids learn by imitation, always be on your best behavior in their presence—no more swearing, complaining, or picking fights!

Work on Your Marriage

Scott Kelby says he “absolutely, positively, didn't want to have kids.” But after he became a dad, he wrote a book—The Book for Guys Who Don't Want Kids (Fair Shake Press)—to help other men deal with the realities of parenthood.  One of his tips: “Being a great dad isn't about holding the baby just right, knowing how to burp her, or being a willing participant at imaginary tea parties. Being a good dad starts with being a good husband and getting involved in the entire prenatal process; so if you really want to be a good dad, make darn sure you're a good husband, because great husbands become great dads.” That means giving your wife some down time, and appreciating everything she does for the family!

Love Your Little Ones

Kelby says that although babies don’t understand the meaning of love, they definitely recognize a loving touch. Remember to hug, kiss, and snuggle your kids often. You will never, never regret being affectionate with your child, because you will be able to send a ‘you're loved’ message right to your kid's heart anytime with just a simple peck on the forehead, a quick hug before school, or even just tousling their hair as they walk by,” he writes in his book. “A dad's loving touch is amazingly powerful; it sends a message to your child that words can't always convey.”

Let Loose During Play Time

It’s time to start using your charming sense of humor to entertain your little one. Find the fun in goofing around with your baby. Your instincts will guide you to treat your baby like the only person at an amusement park or the only member in the audience of your own late-night show.

Be Picky with Parenting Advice

“Unfortunately, there is no bottom line, no official guide, no absolute authority on raising kids, so there are literally hundreds of books on how to be a good parent and raise kids right.” Kelby says. “One book says if your baby cries, pick them up. Another book says let 'em cry it out. A third book says pick them up once, then let them cry it out. A fourth... well, you get the idea.” So how do you know which one is right? Kelby says you must do the research and decide for yourself. Trust your gut and make sure you’re getting the most accurate information possible. 

Enjoy Time With Your Kids

“I heard a good friend of mine, Dave, once reveal what kids really want most from their dads. They don't care what kind of job you have, or how many awards or accolades you've garnered in your industry, or what kind of degree you have. What they want most is your time. They want to be with you. They want your attention, your ear, your opinion, your focus —they just want to be around their dad. They need dad time and they want you around as much as possible,” says Kelby. 

“The time you have with your kids absolutely flies by, so really take the time to enjoy it,” he adds. “Take time out of work to be with them. Call in sick one day and take them to the amusement park. Pick up your kid from school and go hit a bucket of balls with them, or volunteer to be the coach of their soccer team. Believe me, you won't wind up on your deathbed saying, ‘I wish I'd spent more time at the office.’ You'll say, ’I wish I'd spent more time with my daughter.’”

American Baby