Dad involvement

I frequenty (obsessively?) read a board on the Babycenter community website, and a thred recently derailed into a conversation on Dad involvement. A lot of the comments were of a similar nature.

It’s easy to fall into a habit of “Mom does everything”. Especially when Mom is staying at home, but Working Moms have the same battle.

Mom gets Baby when she wakes up. Mom handles meals, bathtime, wardrobe changes, diapers. Dad handles….the moments when Mom says “Go do this, go do that, I need an hour to myself.”

And then, of course, Baby prefers Mom. Tired? Mom always does bedtime. Hungry? Mom always feeds me. Bored? Mom always entertains me. Grumpy? Mom always hugs me.

The people commenting said that it’s something that doesn’t get any easier when the kid gets older, towards that like 3-5 range. It’ll be routine for Dad to say “She only wants you” by that point. And Baby/Toddler will just keep expecting Mom to handle everything.

That’s one mistake I’ve made. In 14 months, I have put Baby to bed every night except 5 times. 3 of those times were weddings. 1 was Dad, just for the practice of someone else doing it before one of the weddings.

Get Dad involved in the bedtime ritual as soon as you can. It’s really hard, for me at least, if Baby is breastfeeding and relies on that to fall asleep. But when Grandma does it, Baby just falls asleep without a bottle or boob. Go figure!

Give Dad an assignment. M’s job is lotion, diaper, and PJs after bathtime. I believe that if I went back to work, I’d do the morning nursing session, then M would be on duty to change and feed Baby while I showered and dressed. But he has a much more flexible work schedule than me, so he could handle showering and leaving the house later. Then when we both got home with Baby, he’d entertain while I made dinner, then I’d entertain while he did clean up, then bath and bedtime together. But, then again, this is all hypothetical.

Now that I’ve gone off on tangents, I guess my main point was just to figure out Dad’s role and let it evolve as Baby grows. Find a routine or a tradition. Tweak it as needed, but it gives Dad and Baby bonding time, and Mommy a break!

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Baby Baths & Hygiene

I’m on my second bottle of Baby soap. Seriously. In 13 months, I’ve used one big bottle of J&J soap, and am probably 1/2 way through a big bottle of Aveeno baby soap. I did also use one travel size bottle on a few road trips.

Lotion, however, we’ve gone through fairly quickly. I read an article that vividly describes the way skin dries out, and also about how Babies should only be bathed a couple of times a week to reduce their risks of eczema. So, Baby has been lotioned up pretty heavily every bath, and during the winter, every night to combat the drier air. I just bought some baby oil, so we shall see how that works on her.

Diaper rash creme – with cloth diapers, you don’t use it. We use it most nights for her bedtime diaper, which is a disposable. I also use it if we are out and about and she will be sitting a lot, or it’s really humid. I like A&D – it’s a petroleum jelly base, so it’s water resistant and provides a great barrier.

We used a Blooming Bath flower in the kitchen sink for the first few weeks, then used that under her newborn insert in her baby bath tub. When they are tiny, the sink is the easiest.  We probably stopped using baby bathtubs around 7 months. Now she gets big girl baths in our master bathtub, which is big enough for her to crawl and splash and have a blast.

Impossibly teeny tiny

Impossibly teeny tiny

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I also liked having a baby first aid basics kit – nail clippers, nasal aspirator, thermometer, nail files, etc. We also got a temporal thermometer – it’s convenient in that you don’t have to take clothes off to reach the armpit, or fight a squiggly baby, and they are fast.

One other thing that was handy to have near the diaper station – cornstarch. When they are teeny, moisture, spit up, milk all gather in the neck folds. That makes for smelly neck, but also can irritate the skin. I finally googled it, and got the tip to clean the folds out with a wipe, and then do a brief Tummy Time so Baby arches the neck and you can easily apply cornstarch to dry it out and keep it drier.

Boogie wipes come in handy for the crusties during colds and goopy eye moments, but they aren’t necessary. A warm washcloth can do the same job.

Speaking of washclothes, you really don’t need many. Since babies don’t need baths more than 2-3 x a week, you can get by on like 3 soft washclothes. Nowadays, it’s easier to just soap her up by hand.

We also didn’t get any special baby towels or robes. Theyr’e cute, but I just use the softest towels we have.

Other good things to have handy are Tylenol, teething gel, cough & mucus stuff (we used Zaxby’s during her one nasty cold), an aspirator with an opening that lets you clean it out, q-tips, a comb, and  vitamins (pediatrican will probably recommend based on breastfeeding vs formula feeding).

I think that’s all for now 🙂

Teething

At some point, or many points, you will blame everything on teething.

She’s sleeping  a lot these last couple days. She’s probably teething.

She has been staying up 2-3 hours past bedtime all week. I think she’s teething.

She’s so grumpy today. Maybe she’s teething.

She’s drooling a lot. I bet she’s teething.

She keeps chewing on things. Must be teething.

My go-to when I think she’s teething and she has tell tale signs in her mouth (red bumps, a little bit of swelling), or I’ve just given up all hope on her sleeping, is a little numbing gel on her gums/teeth, and rarely, a little baby tylenol. I try not to use these unless I really think, more so thn usual, that it’s teething. But I’m weird about taking/giving medicines willy-nilly. When she really is teething, the gel seems to help her so much.

Well, I’d write some more, but she woke up from “bedtime”….maybe she’s teething.

Diaper Station

So after stalking a couple baby registries, I started thinking about my own diaper changing area.

First, I originally set up a changing station downstairs for the first couple of months. It was part of the Pack and Play, and in the weeks after the C-section when I wasn’t allowed to carry Baby, it was a huge convenience.

In that first month, it was: Diapers, Wipes, Hand sanitizer, Towel (for unexpected moments), spare change of clothes (unexpected moments, or particularly enthusiastic potty moments), trash can. Depending on your habits, diaper cream and pacifiers may help as well.

After the first couple of months, I dismantled the P&P. That’s part of what led me to drop the baby weight so quickly, I think – going up and down the stairs 10+ times a day to change diapers.

For the past 10-11 months, my diaper station has been a dresser with a changing pad on top of it. Having a spare changing pad cover is fabulous. SO fabulous. I wish I had 2 spares, honestly, and that I had gone with patterns instead of a plain white that shows stains.

I keep wipes and diapers (cloth and disposable) readily accessible, and on a shelf above the dresser, I have hand sanitizer, diaper cream, teething gel, tylenol, vaseline, lotion, and cornstarch.

The cornstarch comes in handy early on – Baby necks have folds. Moisture (like breast milk, formula, sweat) gathers in those folds. Moisture can eventually irritate the skin, and create wounds. If you wipe out the neck, and then put cornstarch on the neck, it’ll stay drier much better. The best way to apply cornstarch or clean the neck is to do it during tummy time!

In other notes, it’s important to secure the diaper changing pad to the table or dresser it is on. You also want to start using the seatbelts as soon as Baby starts thinking about rolling over.

I also attached some Command hooks to the side of the dresser to hold coats, jackets, bibs, etc.

OH! Another tip – find a way to attach a toy to the changing area so that Baby has something to look at. We used a monkey that, for some reason, Baby was in LOVE with starting around 2-3 months. She would see him and just start happy squawking and having a great conversation. It lasted probably 3 months.

Baby’s favorite Monkey

Winter Babies

Having just written about Summer, I might as well follow up with the “polar opposite”….haha…get it? No? Oh well.

My go-to outfit all winter, and we had a cold winter, was long-sleeve onesie, pants, a pair of socks, and a nice blanket.

Unless you plan to spend a lot of time outside in snow, or taking walks in the winter, or live in a super cold climate, you really don’t need a winter coat or one of those fleece bundle-up outfits. Which is a shame – those things are adorable. Babies that look like little teddy bears…irresistable!

We were given a snowsuit – a heavy coat with matching snowpants. She wore it maybe 3 times, for a total of less than an hour, and mainly just to take pictures.  We were given a fleece bundle up bear thing. She wore it probably only when we walked the dogs on really cold days. Honestly, they both are unnecessary.

Here’s why –

1: Car seats are designed to fit snugly against Baby’s chest. When you add  thick fluffy coats, you alter the ability of the restraint system to do its job.  You could take the jacket off when Baby goes in the seat, but you probably won’t want to put a jacket on, walk to the car, take the jacket off, drive, put the jacket on, walk inside, take the jacket off….. Too much fussing.

2: You dress Baby in  winter-appropriate outfit, right? Then, you’re going to slap on an extra layer of fleece, fluff, insulation, whatever. Now your appropriately dressed baby is too warm under an extra, unnecessary layer of clothes. Cars, restaurants, houses….they all have heating.

3: The easiest option is to dress Baby to be comfortable in an indoor environment. If the car is cold, put a blanket over her. Use the same blanket for the 2 minute walk inside.  Same blanket works for stroller walks – you can tuck it up and around Baby, and add a hat.

I also only had one pair of winter shoes for Baby, and those were an impulse buy from Grandma. A pair of fuzzy/furry pink boots. Too cute. Not practical, but seriously cute. Socks will keep those feet warm enough. One pair of “shoes” would be more than enough for the winter.

The other winter basics to have are a pair of mittens (I got mine t Walmart for $0.50!), and a hat. One single pair of shoes is probably handy for the probably “Baby in Snow” picture, too.

Summer Babies

Babies + Summer is just a great combo!

Today, we went to our local city pool, which has a walk-in toddler area. Munchkin is now walking 80-90% of the time instead of crawling…so she felt the water on her toes and took off “running” (more of a quick waddle-walk trot)! Then she got a little further in and decided her legs no longer worked and just kept floating them and refusing to stand. Odd duck.

Leaving the park, I realized how much stuff I brought for one 90 minute pool time. We have beach trips coming up soon, so now I’m starting to mentally plan how to arrange even more stuff to carry! But, from this summer at 13 months, to last summer at 0-3 months, there are a few basics that haven’t changed.

Baby basics for the summer:

1 – Hats! Much easier to keep on when they are teensy-weensy. A wide brim and marked with UV-protection are musts.  But….resist the urge to buy 10. You only need 1, maybe 2.  We have 6, and most are “newborn” size and don’t fit anymore.

2 – Consider your car seat and/or stroller canopy. My jogging stroller + infant carseat combo had full 360 shade cover for Baby. Now that she’s older, the stroller canopy still extends far enough that she’s pretty well-covered against the sun on our walks. If you have a small canopy, you can use a lightweight blanket draped over for extra coverage.

3 – Car shields Those strange aluminum accordions or the modern version really do make a huge difference. Normally, I throw them on the dash. Occasionally, if we park at a weird angle, I put one over her car seat so the sun can’t microwave the straps and little metal pieces. Lifesavers.

4 – Clothing – A few solid colored shorts that can be matched with onesies and shirts. Onesies are easier when they’re teeny, but now that Munchkin is bigger, I’ve pretty much gotten away from onesies. For girls, a dress or romper are great for the really hot humid days. I don’t have any knowledge yet on boys, but I imagine a short sleeve and short combo is probably the winner.

5 – lightweight PJs. Coming off of a long, cold winter, I didn’t think about switching from her fleece footie PJs to lighter pjs until we were well into April. So far, my favorite finds have been Walmart lightweight footies for around $8, and Cart’er’s PJ sets with pants and long or short sleeved shirts. Really, it depends on the temperature of your home, and how your AC runs – is the fan constantly blowing?

Basically, babies are tiny people. Some folks say “if you’re hot, she’s hot”, but I find a better gauge is to touch her skin. All during Baby’s first summer, fall, and even winter, I’d check the back of her neck. If she’s clammy or sweaty, I’d remove a layer or get some air moving. I run cold, DH runs hot (that man sweats like no other) – neither of us are good ‘normal’ thermostats….

Looking Ahead

I was watching a TLC show with kids and Christmas and started getting excited about Baby’s Christmas this year. But also slightly unexcited.

Last year, Baby was 6 month and we did Christmas at my parents’ home. This year, she’ll be 18 mos, and we’re doing Christmas at Husband’s family home.

Her first Christmas, we opened presents around 11, which is our ‘normal’. She was ready for a nap, and had a short fuse for opening gifts and wasn’t really interested. She did enjoy playing with shiny bows throughout the season. She also received an absurd amount of gifts, which was well-intentioned, but overwhelming to me.

I’m really excited that she is going to be walking and talking, and will be able to run around and be excited and cute this year. She’ll be able to rip her own paper off, choose what she’s interested in, talk to us about her gifts. She may have a tiny idea of what Santa is, but not too much.

But…we also will be on the road. So there’s the logistics of traveling, and we will have to wait another year to start our own family traditions. 2016 is the year we start staying home for Christmases.

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We’re implementing a 4 gift per person maximum for her. She doesn’t need 100 gifts, and we really can’t bring them all back in the car with the dogs. I refuse to do multiple Christmases. And I firmly believe Mom and Dad are the only ones who get to be “Santa”. I’ve already told my family that we will not accept any more than 4 gifts, even if it makes me a “meanie”.

But in 2016? We’ll get to do our own thing! I envision Christmas Eve with hot chocolate, the fire blazing, and cheesy Christmas movies. Maybe a drive around town looking for holiday lights. She’ll go to bed and we’ll sneak the Santa presents under the tree. She’ll wake up and run into our room SO excited.  We’ll all curl up in front of the fire watching a new movie and take naps and wear our PJs all day long.

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It’s early, but it’s fun to think of these things. Spouse and I both grew up doing our holidays at home, and I’m really excited that we get to do that soon!