Our favorite books for Offbeat Dads: let’s get a list going!

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ThinkGeek's The Baby Owner's Manual.
I just recently found out I’m expecting and I’m looking for recommendations for books to get my husband. When I showed him the positive test, he had this excited but completely terrified look on his face that hasn’t quite gone away. I think he is a bit more overwhelmed than he would like to admit.

I feel like there are so many books out there to help, but I trust this site more than most and since we aren’t telling anyone about the pregnancy yet, asking friends/family for advice is out of the question. Does anyone have any great book suggestions for first-time dads-to-be? — Amanda

Ariel says…

Someone gave us this book when I got pregnant, and at first I thought it was dumb and gimmicky, but Andreas (who loathes dumb and gimmicky) reported that he actually totally loved it and found it very useful.

Stephanie says…

Funnily enough, considering we’re such book nerds, my husband has ZERO parenting books (to be fair, I don’t have any, either). I looked around online and found two that seem promising:

Depending on how he’s approaching parenthood, ThinkGeek’s The Baby Owner’s Manual might be totally perfect. The book, which I’m assuming has to be a little tongue-in-cheek, has diagrams and instructions for baby swaddling, helping your baby sleep through the night, and tips for when you should bring your baby to the doctor for “servicing.” There’s also a follow-up for the next stage in life, The Toddler Owner’s Manual.

You guys tell me! What books did your baby-raising partner love while you were pregnant?

Comments on Our favorite books for Offbeat Dads: let’s get a list going!

  1. The Birth Partner was an essential resource for my husband. It helped him understand what I was going through, and also his role/doula’s role/midwife’s role. It’s also very unbiased, just explaining the facts and pros/cons about different situations and procedures.

    • We didn’t like this book- we found it over-medicalized and to emphasize the fathers role as ‘birth coach’ which isn’t something either one of us are into, it also seemed like it was for middle class people for whom cost of anything (doula, birthing classes, a baby in general) wasn’t even a consideration. I was surprised, but it turns out my partner really likes the really feminist midwife-y books by Ina May Gaskin and company much better even though they were totally aimed at women. He actually read those ones where nothing could coerce him to read ‘the birth partner’ or other similar books with a lot of technical information in them. I’m also planning a homebirth with midwives (any day now!) so these books fits more with what our birth will (hopefully) be like rather than having a lot of information about routine hospital birth. So I think it depends a lot on the couple.

    • I really liked it, too! More for a first-time dad though. My wife and I also enjoyed the Baby Owner’s Manual, too.

      Aside, some of the amazon reviews of the book made me sad for humanity. Some of them read like “a real man would grow a pair and deal with it”

    • As a first-time dad-to-be in April, books really helped me transition and feel like I knew something about what was going on. I was more helpful to my partner, felt more confident, and realized I wasn’t alone in some of my emotional and mental reactions. I read The Expectant Father and Dad’s Pregnant Too. Overall, the former is a better book, but there’s some good stuff in the latter as well–there’s more testimony, pictures of baby development, and some good stuff on the different kinds of dads-to-be out there, which I found helpful. I’d read more if I had time, but I’m moving on to The Happiest Baby on the Block which my partner and I both like a lot too.

  2. This book is not a how-to/instructional book, but it’s a really funny read and especially appropriate for older parents: Kevin Nealon’s Yes, You’re Pregnant, But What About Me? It’s a memoir about him and his second wife expecting their first child (he at age 51). I missed my train stop a few times while I was reading it.

  3. As a doula I recommend The Birth Partner. I give it to every expecting dad I know. It’s almost as good as childbirth education (and better than some CBE classes).
    Other than that I just want to hear the list. I was single when I had my first so I don’t know any parenting books for dad. Now I’m having a baby with my husband and this is his first, so maybe a fun gift for him would be useful. Also, stuff to recommend to my fouls clients would be nice. At a library sale I picked up one called The Caveman’s Guide to Pregnancy, or something like that. I haven’t read it, but my husband was less than interested in it. He has dislexia so he’s not a big reader. Are there any maybe in comic book format?

    • My guy doesn’t really read either but he loves comics and wecasts so I’d love to know this answer also.

  4. I have the opposite of a recommendation. We read parts of The Blokes Guide to Pregnancy and it was very “men are so stupid, here is how they can try to relate to children, even though its not really something men are good at”. The whole tone was not really for where we were at. However, if your particular dad likes a more “bro” tone (albeit british bros) this could be for him!

  5. I second the recommendation of Be Prepared – it has a really straightforward, practical quality about it that’s helpful for parents of either gender.

    Becoming A Father by Dr. sears is another option, although I have to couch the recommendation with the warning that Sears has a very gendered perspective when it comes to child-rearing – he ascribes very traditional roles to mothers & fathers, and puts a lot of emphasis on fathers being models of masculinity.

  6. A friend recommended “Don’t Just Stand There“, which is about what a support person should and should not do during labor and delivery. I haven’t gotten my husband to read it yet, because my husband just doesn’t read. I’m thinking about posting the most important quotes onto his fb feed.

  7. I got my husband these books, which are more for the school aged kid and parent but totally awesome projects. Especially since I’m in the museum education field, I wanted a way that my husband could share in the fun of informal learning and bond with our daughter. She’s just 8 mo. now, but soon she’ll be starting fires w/ magnifying glasses!

  8. This book can wait a few years, but I think every father of a girl should read Mary Pipher’s Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. An invaluable perspective on the importance of his relationship with his daughter and a whole lot of insight into the adolescent girl’s mind that pretty much no man would know otherwise!

  9. My husband loved Be Prepared. The way it’s written really spoke to his “maleness” to quote him. It’s a great starter book.

    • My husband loved it, too. He’s not much into reading, but this book is just the right mix of serious and fun.

  10. Thank you for this!

    My husband is currently finishing his Masters in English Literature, so another book is exactly what he doesn’t need. Anyone know of a weekly update email or text for dads? Or something else that’s informative and not heavy on the pages?

    • yes, this! i get emails from thebump, babycenter etc. but they’re all about what’s going on in my uterus in this particular week. i tell him what fruit the fetus resembles now, and then we talk about how useless that information is. if there’s a website that sends weekly emails or texts will real, relevant parenting info, that would be awesome!

  11. The Caveman books are hilarious and “manly”. We liked them because he can open it to a random page and read for a moment and still get valuable information with humor and without the burn out of so many detailed explanations. My husband is a reader, but has been getting burnt out on pregnancy related readings from me, so the Caveman’s Guide was a great way to lighten the discussions, give him the material I wanted him to read, and let him do it on his own time in his own way. It’s bathroom reading for our home.

    Another good book was Birthing From Within, there is a chapter on fathers and birth partners that is more sensitive and new age, but has a lot of advice for men during labor. Things like: “don’t say ‘i’m leaving for a moment’ say ‘I need to take a break, I’ll be right back’.”

  12. I also love “Be Prepared” my husband has gotten so much use out of it and really likes it. It kind of goes along with the attachment parenting, hippie-ish way we run our family. It’s also funny, which is a nice alternative to a lot of baby/parenting books.

  13. My husband has gifted RAD DAD, a book of essays for dads by dads, to two different new-dad friends this past year.

    As for a comic book, LITTLE STAR is a sweet story about a man defining fatherhood, but it is fiction.

  14. I hated, and I mean hated, Dad’s pregnant too. I hated it so much I won’t even touch on it here. That said, I’m really enjoying Idle Parenting, now that our bun is out of the oven.

  15. We really liked She’s having a Baby — I’m having a Breakdown. Funny and kinda manly and it touches on stuff about the baby but also lots about dealing with having a pregnant wife, birth etc.

  16. I got Call Me Dad by the guys at DIYFather.com (http://www.diyfather.com/callmedad). I enjoyed reading it too – has simple stuff like step by step photos of bathing your baby, very useful when we were trying to balance a floppy newborn and figuring out how to hold him properly! I’ve lent it out to my brother at the moment otherwise I’ve have better examples but I thought it was great.

  17. I’m nowhere near needing them, but… can anyone suggest any non-heteronormative books along these lines? I’m seeing an awful lot meant for Daddy and not much for Other Mommy… 🙂

  18. My partner is reading “Rad Dad” (a collection of essays, mostly from the website/zine I think, edited by Jeremy Adam Smith) and he’s enjoying it.

  19. I got my husband the Daddy Boot Camp book and materials after his best friend told him to attend one of the training days and we were not near any of their hosting locations.

    It’s an all-guy training seminar where previous graduates bring their own babies in and help soon-to-be dads with everything you need to know for babies! He loved the short and sweet book and the cool checklist foldout that came with it. It was definitely more for pregnancy and labor, as I’m shopping for a new book to help him with troubleshooting now that we have a 6 month old, but it was a great read.

    They also had a fascinating moms website attached to their dads website, giving moms advice about how to be the best support for their husband in order to create a better partner in him. I really liked this, as most moms books tell the mom that the dads will always fall short somehow so you have to keep them in line, or repeat the same dad setup of “shut up and take it, she has hormones” thing. Totally counterproductive. So I read through that website and it helped remind me that my husband was going through the same crap I was mentally, which resulted in less fighting when the baby came!

  20. My husband and I both LOVE Be Prepared, both for the straightforward info and the humor.

    However, I’ve got some friends who are due in July, and for whom I want to get an awesome book…but all the really awesome ones are all about manly dudes doing manly dude things with their kids. I think my friends (who are both women) might not necessarily appreciate that. Does anyone have suggestions for books (perhaps any that have already been mentioned) that are for the non-birthing parent that aren’t overly guy-specific?

    • As the non-birthing partner in a same-sex relationship, The Birth Partner was the only helpful one. The other books are just so heteronormative that it was painful.

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