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Being promoted to dad is one of the most important title changes in a man’s life — but that doesn’t mean that the transition is always easy or that they don’t deserve to be celebrated on their first Father’s Day. “I don’t think it’s a secret that dads are often viewed as an afterthought in the parenting world,” said Doyin Richards, a father of two and author of “Daddy Doin' Work: Empowering Mothers To Evolve Fatherhood.” “Recognizing a new dad on Father’s Day is a simple way to empower him as he embarks on the most important job of his life, namely, raising tiny humans.”
Richards, who is also an anti-racism facilitator and a member of the TODAY Show’s Parenting Team, added that especially after this past year, it’s important not to forget about dads. After enduring a life-altering pandemic while simultaneously preparing to become a new parent for the first time, men who have recently become fathers as well as dads-to-be have had a uniquely difficult introduction into the world of fatherhood.
Aaron Gouveia, author of “Raising Boys to Be Good Men,” agreed that any reason to celebrate after the last 14 months should be taken advantage of, and he said that a first Father’s Day for new dads in particular shouldn’t be skipped. “It's a great time to celebrate the little things in life that will forever be the silver lining of a global pandemic,” he noted.
And Father’s Day isn’t just about dads who have already met their little ones — dads-to-be deserve to be pampered as well. “Honoring dads-to-be is a good way to help prepare them for the life change they're about to experience and is a good way to get them thinking about how their role is going to shift,” explained Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and editor-in-chief of Verywell Mind. “A dad-to-be may start to identify himself more as a father, and less by his career title, and celebrating Father's Day is a great way to support that mental shift.”
Best Father’s Day gift ideas for first-time dads and dads-to-be
According to Morin, dads sometimes get left out of the "new parent" celebrations and that needs to change. “Moms still sometimes have baby showers that don't include dads and new moms are often honored in special ways,” she said.
And it’s equally essential to start honoring dad (and the role he plays in the family) early. “A special Father's Day gift for a dad-to-be can help make everything feel more real and get him more involved before the baby even arrives so that he'll be that much more likely to be present and engaged with a newborn,” Gouveia added. To help inspire gift ideas for the new dad in your life, we compiled a list based on guidance from both dads and experts.
For the new dad with a sweet tooth, surprise him with the gift of quality ice cream. Double Rainbow delivers nationwide from San Francisco and is known for its swoon-worthy flavors as well as organic and vegan options. In honor of dad, this Bay Area ice cream shop has three Father’s Day package options that include six pints and a hat. All of the packages are aptly named: Dad Bod, Grillin’ & Chillin’ and He’s a Goody.
Whether it’s for him to wear during the hospital stay or for time spent while bonding at home and adjusting to life as a new parent, Cozy Earth’s Bamboo loungewear might just be the most comfortable thing he owns, thanks to you. Made from brushed viscose from bamboo-based fabric, these loungewear pieces aren’t just insanely soft — they’re also temperature regulating and come in a range of styles including a hoodie, pullover crew, tee, jogger pants and shorts.
For the at-home grill master, upgrade his backyard BBQ game with this impressive gas grill. The Spirit SX-315 Smart Grill comes with integrated smart technology that keeps you connected for real-time updates on food temperature and will even alert you when items are grilled to your liking. This is something that a newly multitasking dad will likely appreciate.
Honor this sentimental time in a man’s life with something that captures how precious every second is as well as how quickly it all goes by: a new watch. This timeless 100-meter water-resistant option is available in 13 color combinations and is made from stainless steel and sapphire crystal. It also has glow-in-the-dark hands and dial markers which he’ll appreciate during night feedings and diaper changes.
Cheers to dad and his new addition with Glyph, Endless West’s spirit-inspired whiskey. This unique molecular whiskey uses 90 percent less water and land compared to traditional whiskey production, according to the brand, in order to be made from resource-efficient natural sources. Glyph has three offerings — Original, Spice and Royal — depending on dad’s palate and if he tends to prefer more of an American bourbon or aged Scotch.
Get dad ready for the adventure that is life as a new parent with this sporty diaper bag that doesn’t actually look like a diaper bag. Not only does this gender-neutral option come with a padded changing mat, convenient pockets and a surprising amount of storage, but it also features a detachable cooler that can fit three bottles. Whether he’s running an errand or headed on a family hike, this versatile backpack can hold everything he needs throughout the baby and toddler years to come.
Both culinary and music lovers will appreciate this unique reversible cutting board. Made from West African crelicam ebony wood that’s left over from acoustic Taylor Guitars, these sustainable cutting boards have a backstory that’s as striking as their rich aesthetic. Whether he uses it for prepping meats to grill or as a charcuterie serving board, this versatile piece is a durable addition for the foodie dad’s kitchen.
Date nights might be looking a bit different in the near future, but the wine connoisseur dad can still partake from the comfort of home with this Father’s Day gift. This stainless steel wine fridge accommodates 54 bottles among six soft-close shelves to keep his favorite bottles stored at the perfect temperature, which can be easily adjusted from the LED control display. The energy efficient Low-E and anti-UV glass door also protects against damaging rays that can cause wine to age prematurely and the model itself can either stay free-standing or be built-in for flexible placement.
Turn a cherished photo into a modern piece of framed art to mark this special Father’s Day. Whether it’s a sonogram, baby bump picture or one of his favorite snapshots from the year, you can design a custom gift for dad printed on premium matte paper with gold foil detail and completed with your choice of frame.
Whether dad is a foodie or just pumped to have a mini-me, this matching shirt and onesie will have him cracking up. Available in seven different colors, the taco and taquito duo are made from 100 percent cotton and are machine-washable. And if dad is more of a hamburger man than a taco enthusiast, don’t worry — there’s a burger and slider option, too.
There’s no handbook when it comes to parenting, but there is pretty much one golden rule: your days of casually sipping hot coffee are over. And since this is a time when sleep is limited, this mug warmer set is the ultimate gift for a coffee lover when he becomes a parent. The stainless steel coffee warmer has a water-resistant plate with LED controls that can warm coffee or tea up to 158 degrees Fahrenheit and comes with a matching 17-ounce mug to keep dad either caffeinated or hydrated during the time of his life when he needs it most.
This restaurant-grade gas pizza oven isn’t just a gift for dad — it’s a treat for the entire family and whoever comes over for some homemade pizza. Not only does this gas oven heat up to 932 degrees Fahrenheit for an artisanal crispy crust in under 60 seconds, but it also has the option for a detachable wood burner add-on should he prefer it. And in addition to the compact design, it’s also family-friendly with body insulation and an outer silicone skin to keep little hands from accidentally getting burnt.
Between Covid-19 and flu season, new parents have a lot to worry about when it comes to germs. And considering how filthy our cell phones can get, this sanitizing device offers some peace of mind by helping to keep smartphones both clean and charged. The compact unit uses two UV-C bulbs that kill 99.99 percent of all bacteria and germs as well as USB and USB-C charging ports. Plus, not only does it fit a variety of phones, but it will also disinfect anything else that fits — from keys that babies love to play with to a pacifier.
How to shop for new and expecting dads on Father’s Day
Don't fall for the stereotype that dads are “emotionless slobs” who don't care about sentimentality or special attention, warned Gouveia. “We don't need it every day of the year but on Father's Day? It's nice,” he said.
So when in doubt, he said the key is just finding a way to make the dad in your life feel special. “If he's an expectant dad, do something meaningful to solidify the momentous occasion that's about to take place,” he said. “And if you're in the throes of new parenthood, consider giving him an experience he'll never forget based on his interests. He's going to look back on gifts from the heart far more fondly than some gadget that'll be obsolete in a year.”
To help get the ideas flowing, the experts we consulted suggested considering a gift from one of the following categories:
- Practical — and related to parenting. According to Richards, most dads want to know they’re a valued member of the parenting team and not just a random guy along for the ride. “Because of that, I commonly see men receive gifts that have very little to do with parenting, like golf clubs,” he said. “Remember, it’s not his birthday, it’s Father’s Day — so I believe gifts on this holiday should celebrate his work as a dad.” Instead of the standard new tie, consider gifts that help dad feel included in caring for the baby. Baby carriers and diaper bags, for example, tend to be geared more toward moms, added Morin. “Looking for gear that is made for dads can help them see how they can be intricately involved during the infant stages.”
- Go for the sentimental. A dad’s first Father’s Day gift should be something he’ll remember for the rest of his life — and according to Richards, in order to do that, it needs to be emotional. “One of my mom friends framed her first ultrasound photo and gave it to her husband on Father’s Day. Each year that passed, she took a photo of her daughter holding the ultrasound photo, and it was given to her husband on Father’s Day,” he said. “This continued until she graduated from high school and her husband is moved to tears every year.”
- Things that will get them active. Dads are nurtured to be protectors and “active doers,” explained Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, a psychologist and pediatric mental health expert. That’s why most dads love to do “stuff” with their kids. “Whether it is carrying the baby on the hiking trails or taking her on her first lawn mower ride, dads love to connect with their babies through activities,” she said. “Getting dad a hiking carrier, jogging stroller, balls for the water or matching cooking aprons are great gifts.”
- Think of experiences over stuff. “Remember to use this holiday to create fatherhood memories, not accumulate random stuff,” said Richards. This means ditching the “stereotypical mall tie” or gift certificates for an experience. “Many new dads like myself want to do something fun with their families and then take some time for themselves,” added Gouveia. “That's worth more than gifts purchased at the store.”