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October 27, 2016

Parenting From Childbirth Through The First 8 Months: Life Advice For Morons By Morons [Warden]

This is the third in my life advice series, and I have to tell you, no bullshit, that this topic particularly excites me.

Why? Because raising kids is such an incredible learning experience and there's so much that parents who've been through it have to offer new or expecting parents.

I've been through this dance twice now. My kids are now past the toddler stage. But I'm close enough to that part of my life to still remember what it's like. Below, I'm going to throw together some tips to take you from hospital childbirth (from an admittedly limited man's perspective) to the first few monthss of parenting.

This topic is huge and people have a lot of different perspectives. Seasoned parents, give the younger moron wannabe parents, parents-to-be, and oh-shit-I'm-a-parent-now-what-the-hell's your best tips and advice.

Given that I'm giving you unsolicited advice, let's start with this irony: You'll get a lot of unsolicited advice when you're pregnant and much of it is garbage. Politely ignore it unless you really respect someone's wisdom or style of parenting. More than anything, I think you should trust your gut.

That said, let's start chronologically. As soon as you find out you're pregnant, sign up for every diaper and baby powder brand website you can. Have both spouses do it. These things are expensive and they'll send you free samples.

First time parents should take a childbirth class together. I don't recommend this for the breathing exercises or whatever, but for the overview on what to expect. Men in particular, I think, will benefit from the information.

In fact, the best tip I received from our class was to not panic and rush off to the hospital as soon as contractions begin. Instead, take a shower, double check your bags (the should be pre-packed a month or so ahead of time) and don't be in a hurry unless you think the baby is coming right away. All you're gonna do at the hospital is sit and wait. Being at home is more comfortable.

Have a plan. Hospitals offer walk-throughs. Take advantage of one a few months before your due date and familiarize yourself with the parking and layout of your chosen hospital. It'll save you a lot of stress when the time comes.

Pack magazines, CDs, movies, etc... We didn't use any of ours, but it's better to have than not if you're at the hospital for a long time.

Guys, there isn't much you're going to be able to do for your wives other than hold her hand and encourage her. If there's a mother or other trusted woman who's been through childbirth, I recommend having her in the room, too.

The hospital will bring you a cart full of diapers, baby powder, etc... while you're there. Before you leave TAKE EVERYTHING. Again, this stuff is expensive and you're paying for it anyway.

Dads, if you can take two weeks or more away from work, then do it. You won't regret it and neither will your wife.

The first few months are going to be both difficult and magical. You will be a walking zombie. Your house will be a disaster. Accept it and don't let it spoil the joy of having a newborn.

You're also going to lose control at some point or another. When you feel yourself snapping, put that baby down and walk away. Walk outside if you need to. Call a friend for help. Everyone needs help now and then. This doesn't make you a bad parent.

Always remember, "this too shall pass." Nothing lasts forever, both the good and the bad so don't forget to savor those special moments. Time drags when your newborn is fussy and screaming all night, but you'll wake up one day missing being able to rock your baby.

Newborns cry for only a few reasons: They're wet, hungry, hurt, scared or want comfort. If you have a consistently screamie baby, think acid-reflux first and take these concerns to your pediatrician. They is medication for it and I'm amazed at how many parents aren't aware of this.

After a few months, everything is about keeping your baby on a consistent feeding and nap schedule. If you stay on schedule, then life is generally good. If you get off schedule, then life is miserable. This is particularly important when you're away from home. Plan wisely.

Breast feed if you can. Studies show that breast fed babies are healthier, have fewer stomach ailments, and are more resistant to sickness and allergies. Breast milk is a miracle substance. Every time a mom puts her baby to her nipple, a chemical reaction causes her body to produce milk with the exact nutrients her baby currently needs. Plus it's free and powdered milk is hella expensive.

Have as much skin-on-skin contact with your baby as possible. It stimulates mental development, among other things

Boudreaux Butt Paste (yes, that's the name) is the best diaper rash cream I've found on the market. And it smells good, too. However, for severe diaper rash nothing beats mixing some Maalox or other liquid antacid with petroleum jelly. It will be messy and won't mix well, but it will do the trick, guaranteed. I used to make a batch in a plastic bowl and apply it with a Q-tip.

In my experience, the quality of diapers matters. Using cheapos like Huggies just meant wet babies so I sucked it up and bought the more expensive Pampers. I had boys, though, so your mileage may vary. Some people can get away with cheap ones during the day and more expensive ones overnight.

Speaking of which, when changing boys, always place the fresh diaper like a tent over their mid-section until you're ready to use it. Unless you like hot pee in your face, of course. And who am I to judge, really?

You can get away with store brand baby wipes. You'll use more than you can ever imagine in the first few months.

Should you let your baby "cry it out" at some point after moving him/her to a crib? I don't know. We did at about 4-5 months. It was an awful night, but it only took us the one time. It's a touchy subject with a lot of people. I don't think you should do it early on, but if you sense your baby is ready to self-soothe, then my opinion is that it'll improve your sanity immensely without doing any harm to your kid.

A sound machine helped our second baby sleep better once we moved him to a crib. It's only anecdotal evidence, but it's something you might consider. Also, findsomething like this for your crib to help your baby self soothe when he/she is older and wakes up in the night.

Consider pureeing your own food for your baby rather than buying it at the store. I used to think this was hippy-dippy stuff and not worth the hassle, but someone convinced us to try it for baby #2 and it was a snap. Baby just had whatever we were having, blended up in to mush. The food was fresher, cheaper, and it kept us minding our own diets. Sometimes we'd make larger batches of pureed peas, carrots... etc.

Remembering to pack everything for your baby every time you leave the house is a pain in the ass. Have a spare emergency bag with clothes, diapers, wipes, etc.. in each car so you never get jammed up.

You don't need an expensive car seat or stroller and doing so won't make you a better parent. Buy something more mid-range and save a few bucks.

And finally, constantly talk, read and sing to your baby. This is crucial to a newborn's development, even before he/she can understand you. In fact, researchers are starting to believe
that this act is responsible for much of why poor children enter school lagging behind their peers.

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posted by Open Blogger at 08:36 PM

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