Saturday, September 30, 2006

Day 222 - Hard surfaces

Today's first time parenting tip - Get some rugs or blankets to put down on hardwood floors

Your baby is pulling up onto his knees, pushing way up on his arms, cruising along furniture, jumping around in his exersaucer...he's becoming quite an active baby probably.

You're going to notice a sharp increase in the number of knocks to the head he takes. Either falling over from crawling, crawling or walking into walls, and sometimes even just dropping his head right into the floor.

Most of them will be harmless, nothing worth even crying over. In fact, if you don't act upset when you hear him bump his head, he probably won't even notice. But if you have all hardwood floors, he could hurt himself, even falling over from a sitting position.

It's a good idea to cover the corners of walls he might run into with corner guards or foam to protect him. And another good idea is to put down a cheap rug or even a thick blanket. It's just one more layer of padding to protect that little noggin of his and make the process of learning to be upright a little bit safer.

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Day 221 - Sugar or No Sugar

Today's first time parenting poll - Do you give your baby "desserts" (baby food or otherwise) or do you not introduced sweets for as long as possible?

Just wanted to get other parents feedback on when they start giving children treats like chocolate, cake or what-have-you. Gerber makes various "desserts" like Hawaiian Delight and Apple Cobbler, and I've seen some parents giving their one-year old Faygo pop.

Hit the comment button to sound off!

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Day 220 - Play yard...not playpen

Today's first time parenting tip - For solo-play, put babies in a play yard, not a play pen

What's the difference, you ask? Pinched fingers, skin and a choking hazard, that's what. We all probably remember those accordion-style play pens that expand out to a large area with diamond shaped sides. They allow for lots of room, but they end up being a hazard, especially for babies that can stand, cruise and walk. They can lose their balance very easily and end up wedging they're neck in between the diamonds.

If anyone knows of a safe solution to the big playpen, feel free to let me know. As a replacement, travel play yards are great for keeping your baby in check outside, at houses other than your own, etc. With a few toys they're nice little contained play areas, and they let a baby that is able to stand to practice pulling himself up and cruising fairly safely.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Day 219 - Meat

Today's first time parenting tip - Work meat into your baby's diet

Now that your baby is over seven months old, they've more than likely tried all the fruits and vegetables out there. So what's next? You can start giving them solid foods that they can gum, and you could also begin to introduce meats into their diet.

You've got two options when it comes to meat. You can go for the Gerber 3rd Foods, which combine meat and some other vegetables into one jar that you can feed your baby. Or, you can purchase a grinder to mash up the food you prepare for yourself.

If you go the jarred route, it's pretty straightforward. Make sure you try the same new meat for at least three to five days, and watch for any allergic reactions. You also want to pay attention to what veggies they're paired with, to make sure you aren't introducing two new things at once.

If you go the ground route, you should follow the same rules as above. Also make sure you grind up your baby's food before you add any salt or seasoning to your own food. Spices and salt could be harmful to your babies digestive system, or could give him unneccessary sodium. They don't really need it at this age, so they're no reason to include it.

And lastly, if you decide to go the vegetarian route, that's completely OK too. I don't know much about going vegan, so I'll do some research and come back with an tip that's geared toward giving your baby what he needs of veggies and fruits.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Day 218 - Pull Up

Today's first time parenting tip - Cover edges and corners with foam or some other child safe material

Once your baby starts pulling himself up on his crib, tables, furniture, etc., he'll also start to do something else. Fall. And you don't want him knocking his head on anything sharp or hard that'll cut him or damage his insides.

You can mitigate this by covering corners and edges with foam piping. It's pretty inexpensive and all you have to do is cut a slit down one side of it and it'll fit right over any edge. Grab some corner guards for square tables and furnitue and you should be good to go. You can put some double sided tape on the foam piping, otherwise you'll be constantly knocking it off or he'll pull it off.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Day 217 - Trust Issues

Today's first time parenting tip - If you set up a trust, put a responsible adult in charge

If you're drawing up a will and setting up a trust to maek sure everything is taken care of if you and your spouse happen to pass away, you'll need to decide who controls the trust in your stead. Some people make give control to the child, some give it to someone else.

I'd recommend giving control to someone you trust, who is good with money, and will look out for the best interests of the child. If you passed away and your child was 3, there's no possible way they could make informed or even remotely smart decisions regarding money.

Better to have someone else manage your assets until your child or children are 18 or even older if you'd like. That way they're more able and better equipped to use the money. It'll also help the guardian of your children deal with large expenses or costs associated with raising your children without having to worry about running out because your fifteen year old bought an expensive car with the trust money.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Day 216 - Real solid foods

Today's first time parenting tip - Gradually introduce table foods and snacks to your baby's diet

Once your baby gets up in the 7-8 month range, they're probably ready for foods they can gum or that will break up when they get wet in they're mouth. The key is to closely supervise them and introduce food a little bit at a time, so they don't take a huge handful of pancakes and shove them into their mouth.

Mashed up fruit, small pieces of whole wheat bread and crackers that dissolve quickly are all excellent first choices. Once he gets proficient at eating and swallowing, you can let him experiment with feeding himself and start introducing other foods like cheerios.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Day 215 - Strings and things

Today's first time parenting tip - Stay away from toys with long pieces of cloth or string

Most toys today are made with shorter, more pliable strings or ropes, like pull toys for instance. Some older ones aren't nearly so kid friendly, with strings or pieces of cloth that can get up to two or three feet in length.

This is a problem for any active baby because they could roll around and end up strangling themselves with the cord. And things like this aren't easy to unwind either. They'll get tangled and impossible to unwind, and nearly unbreakable too. And when your baby's airway is cut off, you're not exactly going to be in the calmest of moods.

Look for toys with shorter strings or cords on them, so that there's very little chance they can get tangled up in it. And if you've got a toy with a long string, trim it back to a decent length before letting your baby play with it.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Day 214 - Toys that aren't toys

Today's first time parenting tip - Let your baby play with things that aren't toys

It seems that no matter how many toys we put out for our son, he always seems to gravitate towards things that he shouldn't be playing with. Our paychecks, the breast pump, cords, etc. Or if we're in the kitchen, he sees us getting into cupboards and then he wants to get into them too.

To satisfy this, keep some things around that aren't necessarily toys, but they're things that are OK for him to have. We've had him playing with things like a pringles can, one of our shirts, a study piece of cardboard. Use your judgement, since some things are obviously unsafe, like paper with staples in it, cords or heavy objects.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Day 213 - Can You Do This?

Today's First Time Parenting Tip - Track your baby's milestones to make sure they're developing correctly

Its important to make sure that your infant doesn't have any developmental problems, but if he or she seems slow in one area, don't worry about it too much unless they're way behind or your pediatrician seems concerned. Everyone loves to compare their accomplishments to others, but the fact is some babies are fast in verbal development, but slow in the physical department, or vice versa. If you're worried about it, ask your pediatrician. At the end of the seventh month, your infant should be able to:

  • Feed self a cracker
  • Make a wet razzing sound

Probably will be able to:

  • Bear some weight on legs when held upright
  • Sit without support
  • Object if you try to take a toy away
  • Work to get a toy out of reach
  • Pass a cube or other object from one hand to another
  • Look for a dropped object
  • Rake a raisin and pick it up in his fist
  • Turn in the direction of a voice
  • Babble
  • Play peek-a-boo

They might also be able to stand holding on to someone or something, pull up to standing position from sitting, get into sitting position from stomach, pick up tiny object with any part of thumb and finger, say mama or dada indiscriminantly, play patty-cake, pick up a tiny object with thumb and finger or walk holding onto furniture.

Taken from What to Expect the First Year

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Day 212 - Play with me

Today's first time parenting tip - Help your baby learn to be alone

Once your baby is old enough to realize the concept that things still exist when they are taken away, he will probably fuss and cry when you try to take away something that he's playing with.

Along with this, comes seperation anxiety. Things my son loved to do now usually come with crying and him reaching up for one of us to pick him up. Things like playing in his exersaucer, bouncing in his johnny jump up, etc.

So we had to "re-teach" him how to play by himself. Now, whenever I put him in a place where he'll be alone, I play with him for a few minutes to help him realize again that "Hey...this stuff is fun." Then, I stand up when he seems satisfied and walk away. Every once and awhile I come back over to let him know I'm still around, or to comfort him if he starts fussing again.

For the most part, he seems to be OK with being alone again now. Which is great because he can hang out and play and discover, and when we take him to day care, its not an ordeal and a half to leave him there.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Day 211 - Slow and Steady Questions

Today's first time parenting tip - When reading to your baby, slowly point things out and let him do some reading too

Hopefully you're reading to your baby every day, with at least one story being repeated. You can make that reading time even more valuable by letting him join in on the fun.

My son's favorite story is "Zebra's Stripes", a story about a Zebra and his friends playing games. There are lots of animals and bright colors on it. No matter how fussy he is, if we sit him down and crack open that book he's enamoured.

To help him learn, build his memory and learn hand-eye coordination, I ask him to find animals for me on every page. And in addition to reading the words, I physically point out each animal and say its name a few times for good measure.

Be sure to do it slowly and put lots of ephasis on the thing you're pointing at. Sometimes he's distracted by the oh-so-entertaining dog and misses me pointing out the hyena for the fifth time. Sometimes I take his hand and help him point to the right animal.

If you've never tried asking your baby to identify something in a book, you should. You just might be surprised when you ask him where the zebra is and he excitedly slaps his hand on it and looks at you with a grin.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Day 210 - Baby Gates

Today's first time parenting tip - Install baby gates at the top and bottom of staircases

No matter how close an eye you think you can keep on your little one, they'll find a way to slip under the radar when you least expect it. Unfortunately, if they find a stairwell, it can have very bad consequences.

Some people just install a gate at the tops of stairways and call it good. But, if your baby or toddle figures out how to climb stairs, often they don't know how to get back down, or they could slip back on the way up.

Put a gate two or three steps up from the bottom of the stairs as well. That way, they can get practice climbing and learn how to traverse stairs safely, but if they happen to slip or can't get back down they won't seriously hurt themselves. And remember, just shutting doors at the tops of stairs might not be enough. If the latch slips they could tumble down, they could figure out how to turn the knob themselves, or you could forget. It only takes once. Do the smart thing and buy multiple baby gates. When you're done, you can pass them on to another parent who needs them.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Day 209 - Let it Be

Today's first time parenting tip - If your baby is content, leave them alone!

My wife seems to have a natural tendency to want to fuss with things. Always looking for something better to do, turning up the heat in the car only to turn it down ten seconds later, changing the volume on a movie ten times, you get the picture.

I seem to be just as guilty when it comes to our son. He could be happily playing on the floor, and I'll swoop in to make lots of funny noises and toss him around and generally disrupt any equilibrium he may have acheived.

If your baby is happy, don't try to improve his mood. He's there already. Let him explore things on his own, and if he's content to just sit in your arms and start out the window, don't shake a stuffed monkey in his face. He'll be happier, longer, and maybe he won't grow up to be a constant fidgeter.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Day 208 - Feel the Noise

Today's first time parenting tip - Try making wierd, loud noises around your baby and see what they do

This is going to sound completely random, but I stumbled across a way to make my seven month old son laugh over and over again. We had him outside, sitting in the grass since summer is almost over.

I picked a blade of grass, put it between my thumbs and blew to get that high-pitched, wierd sounding whistle. I'll be honest, I was doing it more for my amusement than my son's.

He loved it. He laughed and laughed and then started ripping up the lawn because he was so excited. We passed about a half hour doing that. He also loves it when my wife and I make quacking, oinking and monkey noises at him.

To anyone who's not a parent, we probably seem off our rockers. But to see the smile on his face and hear his laugh, I'll take the criticism.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Day 207 - Future Bedwetting

Today's first time parenting tip - Breastfeeding as long as possible has lots of benefits

Came across an interesting tip from some research released by Pediatrics. They say that breastfeeding past 3 months will make your baby less likely to wet the bed after he's four years old.

They tie late bedwetting to delayed neurological development, and breast feeding helps brain development in babies. Just some food for thought.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Day 206 - Run Around

Today's Tip - Chase your baby around the house and make crawling fun

Rather than just have your baby practice crawling by going after toys you set just out of reach on his own, why not play a game of tag with your baby. Get right down there with him and have some fun.

Chase after him. Then, turn the tables and let him come after you. Use your hands and knees to make extra noise. You can even drag him around the floor a little bit too, my son like the feeling of being slid across the bed sheets or the carpet. Don't do it too fast or too much though, your baby will probably get rug or floor burns.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Day 205 - Traveling Man

Today's first time parenting tip - Get a traveling high chair

You've probably got your big high chair for the house at home. But if you're like us and travel around to grandparents' houses and friends' places, a travel high chair that bolts onto a table is essential.

Why? Try feeding your baby in a couch or on your lap when he's learning to move around on his own. It's next to impossible. Plus it's not as safe as feeding in a high chair is. The risk of choking is higher when you're feeding your baby from the side or if he's not sitting upright.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Day 204 - Off Your Back

Today's first time parenting tip - Keep your baby off his back if he has an ear infection

Took our son to the pediatrician today, and found out he's got two ear infections and a cold. Poor guy. He's pretty uncomfortable, but it helps to keep babies that have ear infections off their backs.

Being on they're back adds more pressure to their ears, which are sensitive anyway because of the infection. So if your baby cries or fusses whenever you set him down, that's why.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Day 203 - Repeat after me

Today's first time parenting tip - Repeat your baby's favorite songs and stories over and over again

Repetition helps build memory skills and is fun for your baby. They like the familiar, and if there's a song or a story they seem to love, you should read or sing it to them again and again. It creates a familiar environment for them. Even though you may feel silly going through the same thing, your baby will love you for it. And they just might have some fun while they're at it.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Day 202 - I Will

Today's first time parenting tip - Have a will drafted, and at the very least make sure your baby's guardians are named

A lot of people don't have wills drafted simply because they don't want to think about what would happen if they died, especially so young. But if your wishes aren't legally captured, its up to the courts and whomever them deem the closest family member to decide what happens to your baby and all your assets if something should happen to you.

Having a will can make sure that there's no fighting or nastiness over who gets custody of your baby when you die. It'll also make sure the people that you trust will make the important decisions that need to be made in the event of your absense.

You hope that the provisions you set in your will now will never come to pass. But for your baby's well being, you want to make sure he's taken care of as well as possible. If you can, find a lawyer with his own family, and who actually enjoys helping people figure things out like this. Our lawyer prefers things like wills and trusts, because otherwise he'd be involved with people who were fighting. This way, he says, he can help people find a solution to a problem, together. A great attitude.

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Day 201 - Investigate coughs

Today's first time parenting tip - If your kid is a chronic cougher, take him in to get diagnosed

Even if your son has no fever, no other symptoms than a nagging cough, you should get him checked out for asthma and for allergies. Even if they don't wheeze, a constant cough could be a sign of ashtma, something you want to be prepared for. You don't want to be finding out your baby has this condition when he's having his first attack and you don't know what to do.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Day 200 - Test Drive

Today's first time parenting tip - Try out new situations when there's no pressure to prepare yourself

Picture it. You're super excited about taking your baby on his first camping trip. You've got his little boots, little backpack, all set to take him into nature and have him enjoy the wilderness.

Then, you get up there, and he can't sleep outside. He won't eat because there's too much going on around him. There are sticks and sand in his diaper. He's anything but a happy camper.

Granted, you can't prepare for every single possible situation under the sun, but you can make your plans based on test runs that you do. For instance, rather than jumping full tilt into a camping trip, you could camp out in the backyard so you can retreat to the safety of your house if things go south.

It's always a good idea to try out new situations in no pressure situations first, where there's a safety valve. For example, you can take shorter bike trips and build up to a longer one before you find yourself ten miles away from home with a baby screaming to be out of his bike trailer.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Day 199 - Just for you

Today's first time parenting tip - Make some nights completely about the two of you

Tonight was our three-year-anniversary. We didn't really have any plans, just maybe going out to dinner. We didn't have a baby sitter, so we would have been dealing with a grabby baby, probably fussy, and tired and cranky on the way back home.

But since my wife didn't get out of work until late, we ended up staying in since it was our son's bedtime and we couldn't very well take off with him home alone. So we got some take out, lit some candles and ate at the dinner table, just the two of us.

It made us realize how nice it was to just be able to relax and enjoy a nice dinner. So make sure to take time to find a baby sitter, or even just enjoy each other's company when you don't have to worry about the baby. It'll do wonders for your relationship.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Day 198 - Animal Fun

Today's first time parenting tip - Take your baby to the zoo for a fest of the senses

Today we took our baby to the zoo for the first time. Since he's been noticing the dog, the cat and people a lot more, we knew that all the stuff going on at the zoo would be great for him. We did run into a few kinks, and there are ways to make sure you mazimize your zoo experience.

  • Make noises, say the names of the animals, and look at the pictures of animals on the exhibit placards. Our son loved the pictures of the monkeys, more than the big brown lumps of fur laying around

  • Go when its cooler out. We went in the afternoon, so a lot of the animals were being lazy and just laying around

  • Pay attention to what interests your baby. We decided to skip the amphibians, birds, insects and such because we figured he'd like the big animals he could see moving. Turns out he was fascinated with the birds hopping all over the place.

  • Don't be afraid to double back. Our son was napping during an exhibit he would have loved, the underwater tunnel in the arctic circle exhibit. Between the sun throwing bright blue water patterns on the wall and the seals swimming overhead, he would have been in awe. The zoo closed soon after we went through, but if we had time I would have loved to double back and take him trough it.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Day 197 - Fresh Fruit

Today's first time parenting tip - Give your baby a taste of fresh, real fruit if he's not a fan of the strained variety

Our son doesn't really seem to like fruit all that much, and judging by his reaction, we thought maybe it was because of the taste of the stuff. So we decided to maybe try letting him try fresh fruit, hoping that he might like the lighter taste a little bit better.

But since he doesn't really have taste, how could we give him a taste of real fruit without him being in danger of choking? Mesh feeders. They're these little mesh bags that you can put fresh or frozen fruit in. Your baby sucks or gums on them, and they get the juice and very small pieces of pulp over time. Plus they've got handles, so they can get the feel of picking something up and putting it in their mouth. And with frozen fruit, it gives him something to gnaw on when he's teething.

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Day 196 - Teething

Today's first time parenting tip - Your baby's teething ordeal might be accompanied by a fever

If you ask any pediatrician, they'll probably tell you that if your baby is teething there's no medical reason that they should have a fever. But if you ask most mothers, they'll say that with new teeth, comes a new fever.

Regardless of who's right, getting new teeth isn't very comfortable. You might notice your baby trying to gnaw on more things or whining and acting generally uncomfortable. You can help him with toys that are designed to help with teething or that can be put in the refridgerator or freezer.'

And if it gets really bad, to the point where he's screaming, won't eat or sleep, you might want to break out the children's tylenol as an absolute last resort.

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Day 195 - Hold Your Own

Today's first time parenting tip - Encourage your baby to hold his own bottle

Now that your baby is probably grabby and interested in everything he's not supposed to be, feeding him could be more of a challenge. Our son squirms and thrashes all over the place once the edge of hunger is off, and then gets hungry again an hour later.

To help him get his fill at every feeding, and also to help him figure out how to eat on his own, we've started offering the bottle to him to see if he'll take it. He does, and after a few hilarious attempts at sticking it in his eyes and nose, he gets it in and is good to go.

If your baby won't take it, try placing his hands on the bottle and holding them there with your own to teach them what it feels like to hold their own bottle. And if your baby still thrashes like ours does sometimes, I've found putting him on the floor with no distractions or anything nearby does the trick.

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Day 194 - Learning to crawl

Today's first time parenting tip - Work with your baby to teach them how to crawl

My son graduated from scooting and rug burns to this wierd, rocking back and forth motion up on his arms and knees. It looks like he's going to take a giant face plant into the floor when he does it, but we're so excited (and rushing to finish off our baby proofing) that he's getting ready to start moving around.

If you're baby is almost there, or even if you just want to encourage them, here are some things you can do to help them along:

  • Place a toy or something they love playing with just in front of them

  • Hold a towel or your arm against their feet to encourage them to push off

  • Get down with them and play "tag". Try to get them to come to you or go after them

  • Hold them up on their hands and knees and support them while they work back and forth so they can see what crawling feels like

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Friday, September 01, 2006

Day 193 - Serving Sizes

Today's first time parenting tip - Make sure your baby is getting the right amounts of the foods he needs

Now that you're well into giving your baby solid foods, you're probably wondering what the right amount of food to give him is. It's important to give him a variety of fruits, vegetables and cereals.

Cereal - 2 feedings of 4 tablespoons of cereal mixed with 4-5 ounces of milk, water or formula
Fruit and Vegetables - 5 servings (8-8.5 ounces)

We usually give him a feeding of cereal and fruit first thing in the morning, and then feed him all his vegetables for lunch, and then give him the last cereal feeding right before bed. That way if he's fussy or doesn't feel like sitting up for a feeding, we can try again later in the day when he's in a better mood.

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