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Tips for Parents to Be.

04/20/2011

It seems that a lot of people that I know are expecting their first kid and I keep on suggesting the same things to them.  So I thought that I’d post some tips here for reference.  Am I an expert parent?  I don’t know yet, but our daughter seems pretty happy and this is in my area of profession since I’m a full time dad.

Changing table (setting up a changing table is very important):

  • Yard sales, we got ours at a yard sale for less than $20.  See a few and make sure that they are sturdy.  Craigslist is good too.
  • organize.  Make sure that you have lots of places to put things in easy reach.  Our table has a drawer right under the work area that is nice and big.  I also just added a shower caddy to the side to hold lotion, hand sanitizer and olive oil (I’ll get to that)
  • Lighting, especially if it’s a girl baby.  You need to make sure that everything down there is clean.  We use a clip-on lamp that is fixed to one end.  This is also good if you are up in the middle of the night changing a diaper.  Keeping the room as dark as possible will keep the baby sleeping, or close to it.
  • a cordless fan.  We got one from the camping section of Target.  This is good for drying off the kid’s bottom.  Do not use talc or other powders.  The baby breathes that stuff in and it will stay in their lungs.  You can also use a new diaper or book to fan the area, but we liked the little one.  Use a rechargeable battery.
  • EMT shears or “penny-cutters”.  This are plastic handled scissors with a flat points.  I don’t know about boys, but girls will shit right out of the front of their diaper.  If it’s bad enough, you are doing to want to cut that onesie off.  Don’t laugh, we’ve done it a few times.  The alternative is taking it over your kid’s face.  If they are small enough, you don’t have room to roll it up very well.
  • Olive oil for diaper rash.  I was a skeptic when my wife found out about it.  But it really works.  We use cheap stuff and either cotton balls or cotton squares that mom has for make-up.  Putting a nice even coating on the external areas does wonders.  We bought a tube of ointment and have never used it.  I heard that olive oil is good for removing meconium, the really thick stuff in the beginning, but we never knew about it then.  Put it on beforehand, when the diaper is new for meconium.
  • If you buy big boxes of Huggies Natural Cares wipes, you get new plastic boxes for them.  We like these because they are alcohol free and not too expensive in the cases.  We actually got multiple cases as gifts. But having back-up boxes of wipes is always a good idea. Plus the wipes are wrapped in smaller bundles, so you don’t need to worry about them drying out on you.  We were never into having a wipe warmer, but it can make sense on cold days.
  • Changing pad cover.  My wife will disagree with me here, but they are useless.  Sure they feel soft, but think about what you are doing.  Your kid is going to leak on them, often.  It is easier to wipe  down the plastic surface with a bum wipe than it is to take off the cover.  Your kid is always going to be in a sleeper, or on a towel when they are on there anyway.  Babysaurus has some that are pretty green, and not very expensive.  We liked the kind shaped like a half-pipe.
  • We also keep our thermometer, petroleum jelly and other baby care items in the drawer under our changing table.  You don’t want to be searching for those things.
  • Although we never did this, it may be a good idea to hang a mobile over the changing table to keep your kid occupied.  Toys, plastic ones, not furry! are good to have handy to keep them occupied after a certain point too.  I made up the “Diapee changing time” song for our daughter.  She seemed to like it and maybe it let her know what to expect.  Buy me a beer and I’ll sing it for you.
  • We also liked to have a package of the next size diapers. It seemed like our daughter would be too big for her size out of nowhere.  There is plenty of overlap between the different sizes, but you don’t want them being too small.  (go back and read about cutting clothes off of her)  We liked Seventh Generation diapers.  Getting them 4 packs at a time from Amazon is fairly cost effective, if you want to keep certain chemicals away from your baby.  We actually haven’t seen them out here in Albuquerque, but Krogers (at Smiths) makes a close to green kind that is pretty inexpensive.
  • And get  a good, small trash can for the diapers.  We tried a Diaper Genie(tm) but didn’t like it.  We got a small stainless steel kind from Target that is about the size of a plastic grocery bag.  You really don’t want those diapers staying around for too long.  I’d say to get a Stick-on air freshener (looks like a hockey puck) but I can’t find them anymore.  It seems that you need something to plug into an outlet to fight odors any more.  Pouring baking soda on top of the diapers helps.

Sleeping:

  • Video monitors are worth the money.  We didn’t get one until our daughter was  a few months old, but it really helped out with her sleeping.  It isn’t about being a nanny either.  Your kid is going to make lots of cries while they sleep. Some are long and loud.  If you can look and see that they are still lying down and trying to get back to sleep, then you can not bother them.  If you have an audio only monitor, then by the time you get upstairs to check on them, they may have gone back to sleep, but barging in for a look is going to wake them up for real.  we got ours from woot.com, if you are patient, you can get a deal.  Or ask a group of friends to go in on one.  We have a Motorola that works well, but I have no idea if it is average or better than any other one.  (I’m using ours right now.  She was crying, I looked in and can tell that she wasn’t ready to wake up [at this point she stands up and basically tells daddy to get his ass in there] and now she’s back sleeping)
  • At some point you should let your kid cry themself to sleep. It is rough at first, and I don’t mean let them cry for hours.  But 5 minutes before comforting them one week, then 10 minutes the next, etc. leads to a well rested everyone.  But play it by ear, read up on it too.  There are different names for it.  The other side of the coin is co sleepers, which just doesn’t sound good for anyone. Although, my wife did sleep in the baby’s room early on so that I could get enough sleep for work.  I know some parents who even have a day bed in their baby’s room for just this purpose, but we used camping mats.  They didn’t seem to mind and I was much more pleasant.
  • Pay attention and get to know your kid.  They will tell you when they are ready for bed.  We started off with a set schedule for sleeping.  But over time our kid would get really cranky and not want to sleep.  We found out that she was getting over-tired.  We were ignoring her telling us that she was sleepy.  How did she do this?  She yawned.  We learned that as soon as we saw a yawn then it was time to drop everything and get ready for nap-time.  Change her diaper, feed her a bit, swaddle her up (more on that next), turn out the lights, turn on the white noise (more on that after next), etc.  This resulted in a happy and well rested baby.  Even if we were out of the house and saw a yawn, we would try to get her comfortable if we couldn’t get her home.  At some point they will rub their eyes and do other things, so pay attention.
  • Swaddling works.  We watched “Happiest Baby on the Block: the Movie”.  I think that we saw it on Netflix or got it from the library.  There is a book too, but you don’t need it.  I don’t buy into the “external womb” terminology, but it makes sense.  Your kid isn’t floating around by itself in a big pool of water, it’s in a tight sack with a little bit of fluid, especially at the end of term.  Wrapping them up tight and giving them white noise (not there yet) works.  Watching the movie is the easy part.  Finding big, square swaddling blankets is the hard part.  Most of the ones that you find at Target or Babysaurus are smallish and rectangular.  We got some made for us that were big and square with baby blanket material.  But we also found some lighter weight ones at a fancy store in Squirrel Hill.  They run about $10 each, but ARE WORTH IT. Aden & Anais is the brand that I’m thinking of. Amazon has them, register for some.  We tried the velcro closed kind, but I didn’t care for them.  Sure they are easy, but you are paying more for one than you are for one of the Aden & Anais ones and they are much more flexible in their use.
  • White Noise 1) shushing.  “Happiest Baby on the Block: The Movie” will teach you about shushing.  Learn to do it more with your tongue in the front of your mouth and less with the sides of your teeth.  This will give you more endurance and less dry-mouth.  2) electronic white noise.  Ariel found an 8 minute recording of the ocean that we play on a loop for our daughter.  She actually has, a very old and crappy, iPod that has this track and a bunch of other music on.  We bought a small docking station with speakers for her room.  This is on anytime that she’s sleeping.  There are other types of noise that you can use, but find some and make good use of it.  This is part of her routine.  She knows now that if it’s dark and she can hear the ocean, then it’s time to sleep. I’m also hoping that this will pay off when she’s in her 20s and is at the beach some jagoff.  You can also buy toys that make noise, but again, MP3 players are more versatile.
  • Routines for nighty-night are good.  Ours is bath, dressing, reading, bottle then bed in a dark room that sounds like you are at the beach.  For nap time it’s just bottle and bed.  We’re still giving her a bottle at 14 months, but that is the only way that she’ll drink enough for a full belly.  Drinking from a cup is different to her, it’s just sipping.  We’re not happy with it, but it works for us.  Every kid is different.
  • Oh, we also bought a sweet turtle that shows the stars on the ceiling, they make a lady bug version too.  Get one, they are neat!  Another part of nighty-night routine that isn’t part of nap time routine.

Miscellaneous:

  • Get your kid lots of books.  Our daughter just loves to play with them, but they’ve been a part of her life from the very beginning.  I have a photo of me reading to her when she was a week old and she’s looking at the open page.
  • We made a lot of our daughter’s food, almost all of it until our Big Move when we got really busy.  But there is an excellent book called Super Baby Food that is at Amazon.  The book breaks down food by your kid’s age and explains what is good, and what isn’t good as well as having lots of recipes.  My wife was home with our daughter then, so this is more of her expertise.  But I do make a sweet potato for her every other day.  We used ice cube trays for portion size.  We’d make lots of food one day a week and then freeze it and put the cubes in plastic bags.  We would use the number of cubes to control portions.  As she got bigger, she’d get more cubes.  Easy and low fuss.

Okay, duty calls, naptime is over!  3 and a half ours today thanks to our trip to the park.

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4 Comments
  1. joe valasek permalink

    you have way too much time on your hands. it might be time to find a part time job or something because you are going nuts!

    we did a couple of the things that “you” stated and i believe that we may have gave you those ideas from our learning time with Max.

    everything else we did not do and Max is fine. We pulled plenty of shit filled onesies over his head as well as him breathing in plenty of baby powder and he still turned out fine.

    jk about all of this, you are a great dad and im sure people will find these tips helpful. weird, but helpful

    • steve permalink

      Hey, I never claimed to have invented any of those ideas. But you can continue to be jealous while you are at work all day.

  2. Keep these coming, please! Great advice all around. I especially like the diapering stuff, we have no real experience with babies and we’re going to be cloth diapering :\

    • steve permalink

      We wanted to do cloth diapers, but after we saw what was coming out of her, we changed out minds. Plus I didn’t like the idea of that much poop in our washing machine. If I were you, I’d buy a package of disposables just in case, and not newborn size. Leira came out and went right into size 1s. The baby’s excretions are going to be like pudding until they are into solid food. I don’t know how cloth diapers handle seepage, and frankly the thought scares me. But enough people do it. There are diaper services around too. They do a pick up and drop off service. I saw it on Dirty Jobs and those people should either make $200,000 a year or be prisoners. Do you know about G-diapers? They use a disposable insert and a reusable “shell”. The inserts are flushed if it’s brown and compostable if it’s just pee. But the cost per insert is still a bit more than cost per diaper, even 7th Generation. You made me think about it more and I think that we’ll try cloth once we get into a house. But I’d still say to use disposables with you when you leave the house.
      You should be shown how to change diapers at the hospital, but I’d say find a baby and practice. I’d make sure that you know the parents first, but some days I don’t think that I’d mind a random person taking care of that for me. ; )

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