Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Day 253 - Staying Safe During Christmas

Today's first time parenting tip - Even though baby's first Christmas is fast approaching, go slow with the tree, lights and ribbon.

Santa definitely did not make Christmas a safe holiday for the little ones he visits with presents and "Ho ho hos." And you thought it was unsafe to be around Uncle Joe after a few glasses of egg nog - you don't have to look any further than your own house or apartment to find many dangers you need to watch out for as you prepare for the holiday season.

If you're in the northern hemisphere, things can get mighty chilly around winter time. Dress your baby in at least one layer of pants and a shirt. Then, make sure you slap on a jacket, boots or shoes, gloves and a hat that'll cover his ears. A blanket over the face could be in order too. Can you tell it's been 9 degrees in Chicago lately?

Christmas Tree
Bah...humbug! It can fall over on him. The needles are sharp. He can still choke on the plastic ones. Put your tree in a separate room, somewhere he can't absolutely get at it, or don't get one. OK, maybe that's too much, but just be careful.

This one goes without saying, but the only thing worse than electrical cords are electrical cords with lots of tiny glass things that attract attention by lighting up or blinking. You'd do well to keep these well out of reach too.

If you put them up, he'll break the one dearest to your heart. Murphy's law. Go for cloth ornaments, one's that won't break and don't have small parts. Or if you've got a tree that he can't get at, decorate as normal.

Ribbon and garland
Both are a choking hazard. If he does get wrapped up, you'll be too panic stricken to get it unwound. Best to not let him play with it.

Holiday Candy
Hard candies that he can't chew are big no nos for babies. Opt for softer fare instead.

It's a special time, so be sure to enjoy it. Laugh, spend time with family take him to see Santa, enjoy watching him open his first presents, etc. Just be sure to do it safely.

Anyone else got something I've missed?

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Day 252 - What Foods Not to Eat

Today's first time parenting tip - Here's a short list of solid foods not to feed your baby.

Here's a list, probably incomplete, of foods to steer clear of when feeding your baby of 9-12 months. Depending on your comfort level, you probably want to check with your pediatrician first. This is also assuming you've fed your baby plenty of fruits, veggies, cereals and meats already, and discovered no allergies.

Also, having teeth doesn't necessarily matter. But make sure that everything is in small pieces, and that your baby knows how to chew and swallow. If you know of something else, add to the list!

  • Cow's Milk

  • Shellfish

  • Peanuts or other types of nuts

  • Hard candies

  • Shellfish

  • Honey

  • Peanut Butter

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Day 251 - Get in the Habit - Separation Anxiety

Today's first time parenting tip - Say goodbye every time you leave.

Part 4 of the Good Habit series - Separation Anxiety

Alright, the onus is on you, dear parents. (Not that it wasn't already). Whether you're leaving your child at daycare or dropping them off with a family member, or even passing him around at the holiday gathering, you'll probably have to deal with separation anxiety in some form or another.

That's why today's assignment lies with you. Say goodbye every time you leave your baby. You'll help develop a routine, something he can count on. He knows that when you say goodbye, it means you'll be coming back later. It helps mitigate feelings of abandonment or lack of attention.

It also helps him learn imitation. You wave to him, he waves back. Soon enough, saying goodbye might become a fun game. Until then, help your baby with separation by saying goodbye once, reassuring him, and then leaving and letting him focus on his new environment. Coming back over and over again may only make it worse.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Day 250 - Get in the Habit - Eating Out at a Restaurant

Today's first time parenting tip - Use a daily family meal to prepare your child for a trip to a public restaurant

Part 3 of the Good Habit series - Good behavior at a restaurant

We've all seen the hapless (or oblivious) parents at a restaurant. Their kids are running amok, throwing food, tearing around the place, etc.

Kind of makes you wonder what meal time at home is like.

Having a daily family meal isn't just good for bonding and spending time together. It also helps teach social skills for when you head out of the house. If your child doesn't ever sit at the table with grown-ups or stay still for an hour or so at home, what makes you think they will outside the house?

While your baby is young, make a point to all sit together at the table and eat. Give him some finger foods or a bottle he can feed himself with while you eat, and then if he needs to be spoonfed, do that before or after you're done. Talk to him and make him part of the family conversation.

As he gets older, you can begin to add time at the end of the meal to talk or enjoy each other's company. Try to increase this time little by little as patience and age dictates.

That way, when you all go out, he'll know what's expected and will have practiced it in the safe (not embarassing) comfort of your own home.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Day 249 - Get in the Habit - Dental Hygeine

Today's first time parenting tip - Once your baby's teeth start to come in, brush their teeth and gums at the end of the day.

Part 2 of the Good Habit series - Good dental hygeine

Have you been caring for your baby's teeth before they come in? You should already be gently wiping their gums with a damp washcloth or guaze in order to prevent harmful bacteria from building up even before their teeth come in.

Once the primary teeth do arrive, you can start using a soft, infant baby brush or some guaze to wipe their teeth and gums. Don't use flouride toothpaster just yet, your dentist will probably recommend beginning that around 2 or 3, when your child is old enough to not swallow the toothpaste.

My son loves the feeling of the toothbrush on his gums. He laughs and laughs. If your baby fusses, do as well as you can, but don't force the issue. THe main thing here is to avoid harmful bacteria, obviously, but also to begin forming the good dental habits you want your children to develop. Just like solid food, it may take a few times, but keep at it, be patient.

You should also schedule your baby's first dental appointment by their first birthday. Then, make sure they go back to visit once every six months.

And lastly, don't put your baby to bed with food or a bottle. They could develop bottle mouth, a condition where their teeth become pitted, and may even develop cavities. Sometimes, their primary teeth have to be pulled. While it may be convenient, its not worth it in the long run to put a baby to bed with a bottle.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Day 248 - Get in the Habit - Fruits and Vegetables

Today's first time parenting tip - Give your baby at least a taste, hopefully 5 servings, of fruits and vegetables every day.

Part 1 of the Good Habit series - Good diet

I know how tempting it is to go the easy route and give your baby only the foods he likes. It's less fuss at the table, and everyone wins. I also know how hard it is to try and keep your baby sugar-free. It seems like everyone else in the world wants to give him chocolate, cake, cookies, tastes of sweets, etc. And then when you tell them to not give him those things, they look at you as if you're beating the poor kid.

How hard or how soft you are with the rules about sweets are up to you, but my take on the issue is - teach them how to eat right before you teach them how to eat wrong.

The first two years of your child's life set up their eating habits and preferences for their whole life, so giving them a well balanced diet with a variety of healthy foods is important.

Plus, your baby is too young to remember the sweets anyway. Sometimes you have to ask yourself...what would giving my baby sweets do for them?

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Day 247 - Just Quacking Away

Today's first time parenting tip - Get these fun blocks for your baby

The quest for a baby toy that your baby is actually interested in is surprisingly hard. They've got these great gifts from the shower, or the holidays, and they've got zero interest in them. They have more fun with boxes, wrapping paper and the cat.

But, we found that this set of cloth blocks from Baby Einstein. The yellow block has a quacker inside of it, and it goes on and on, sometimes uncomfortably long. Each side has a different texture and our son loves to grab onto them with both hands.

We can play catch with him, he can chase them around the room. We've had them from the very beginning, and he's never gotten tired of them. They were one of the first things that could make him smile (that crazy duck sound is infectious!) and the first sound he tried to imitate was the quacking duck. Now whenever he sees the yellow block he starts quacking away happily.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Day 246 - When Baby Steps Lead to Stairsteps

Today's first time parenting tip - Teach your baby how to climb down as soon as they are able to climb up

No matter how hard you try, babies are going to find things to climb on. Even though you might have a baby gate on your stairs, grandma and grandpa might not. The bathtub, crib, boxes, pillows and furniture are all things he'll learn to ascend eventually. It makes sense to begin teaching him how to get down without hurting himself.

Humans usually learn by trial and error. But when it comes to getting down off something high, you can't afford the error.

I started teaching my son how to get off the air mattress my wife and I are currently sleeping on in our new apartment. The mattress itself is soft, it's not too high, he loves getting up on it and bouncing.

One safe way to get down that I teach my son is:

  • Position the baby rear end first towards the edge.

  • Say something fun like "Back it up! Baaack it up!" or "Back-back-back-gone!"

  • Mimic your baby's crawling motions by moving their legs backward as if they were doing it themselves.

  • Help them bring their arms down if they won't do it themselves

  • Make a big deal out of their success. Hugs, kisses and smiles are all excellent choices

My son's done it on his own a couple times, and while I never leave him alone if he's on something bigger and harder, he's starting to figure out that to go down, he needs to go backwards. They'll get there. Just be patient.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Day 245 - Cheerios - the greatest invention ever

Today's first time parenting tip - Starting your baby on cheerios for snacks and cereals is a choice you can't go wrong with

They're whole grain. They're easily picked up. They get soft quickly. Babies like the taste. And they're easy to pack along and take anywhere for a snack.

Cheerios may very well be the best invention for eight month olds, ever.

My wife and I need to get ready in the morning? Set him up in eyesight, give him some of those O's and he's good to go?

Fussy on the El? Nothing puts him in a good mood like picking up his own Cheerios as he watches the buildings go by.

Need something nutritious for breakfast when he just doesn't want that mashed up single grain cereal? Cheerios it is.

We could all do better by eating a bowl.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Day 244 - Discipline

Today's first time parenting tip - Use positive actions and distractins to build the foundation for preventing bad behavior. Phew.

A mobile baby is a baby that crawls and gets into everything. And no matter how baby proof the house is, they still seem to manage to go for the plugs, little fuzzies on the floor and other untouchables.

Most people say that children under a year are too young to discipline. Others say that children don't make the connection between action and consequence until 18 months.

So what are you supposed to do? Let them do whatever dangerous thing they want and smile all the way?

Not quite.

At eight months, your baby is too young to practice real discipline with. Mostly, you'll be using distraction to prevent dangerous behavior (nothing at this age is deliberately "bad." They know not what they do!) But, I would argue that you don't want to give rewards or pure fun right afterwords.

At this point, you want to start thinking about developing the habits that are conducive to good behavior and listening to you.

If your baby is doing something you don't want them to, like pulling hair, going for a plug, reaching for something hot, etc. Follow these steps.

  • Say no firmly but gently and divert them from what they're doing.

  • Take the baby into a different area, like another room, set them down and let them explore. (this is the point where you don't reward them with a toy for playing with a cord

  • After a minute or two, give them some attention and fun.

Your strategy should change as they mature, but right now you want to get in the habit of consistency (for your own benefit as well) and give them positive attention. Your main focus should be preventing things that are unsafe.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Day 243 - Renovating

Today's first time parenting tip - Make sure your house is well ventilated during renovations

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to be working on your house while you've got an active, exploring baby, be prepared for stress. Work sites are not baby-friendly at all. Between the paint, nails, wood splinters, tools and countless other fun, sharp toys babies want to play with, good luck keeping them safe.

Since they always want to seem to play with the most dangerous thing available, it's probably a good idea to keep junior away from the band saw. In the meantime, to help with safety, keep one room, ideally his, untouched from the work so that he has a haven to go play, sleep and eat while you work.

Otherwise you're going to need three pairs of eyes just to keep vigilant over your child. And if you're painting, sanding or cutting anything, keep some windows open and do as much of it outside as possible. Paint fumes, dust and wood chips are not good for anyone's lungs.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Day 242 - Separation

Today's first time parenting tip - Whether you're around or not does affect your baby's disposition.

After I accepted the new job in Chicago, I moved down there ahead of my wife and son, so that she could get the house ready to sell, and I could set up shop down in Chicago. I came back every weekend, and every weekend it seemed like he grew up a little bit more, and that I was missing out on something.

Then my wife started saying that our son would cry more if she set him down, or he'd be fussier in general, or he'd want to be right next to her if he was on the ground playing.

And you thought babies didn't notice things.

Even when we were reunited, he wasn't the same. He preferred his mom more, he didn't want to be left, etc. But after a month or so, he slowly worked his way back to normal. Getting back in his regular routine with mom, dad and day care helped. It seems whenever we break out of that (i.e. thanksgiving weekend) he gets crankier, easier.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Day 241 - Moving

Alright, so I jumped the gun and said I had a reliable internet connection a little bit early. Finally, here goes.

Today's first time parenting tip - Make sure you cover all your bases if you're moving cities.

My wife, son and I are moving from Detroit to the Windy City of Chicago, and we're excited to say the least. But gone are the days where my wife and I can just pick up and head out. We've got another little one to think about, and with it comes a new checklist you've got to make sure you cover off on before you get the little one down there.

In no particular order:

  • Find a pediatrician

  • If you switch companies, switch your health care. Make sure you're covered equally well, and pay attention to what date coverages stop and start.

  • Find a daycare if both parents plan on working

  • Locate the nearest hospital

  • Pack your baby's moving box. Crib, clothes, blankets, toys, food, bottles, diapers, wipes, first aid kit, basically everything you need to survive.

  • Find a local grocery or convenience store you can run to if you're out of something

  • Find a family friendly apartment. You don't want neighbors up all night partying, and you don't want to wake up the quiet old folks with late night crying

  • Create a plan of attack for a long drive. Plan to stop every two hours at the least to get your baby out, changed, fed, etc.

If anyone has anything to add to the list, comment away!

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Back in the Game

Well, it's been awhile since I posted. That's because the past few weeks have been a flurry of activity - My wife, son and I moved to Chicago so I could take a new job.

Needless to say, between getting our house in Michigan ready to sell (anyone want to buy?), moving to Chicago, getting a new apartment, finding a new day care, pediatrician and dealing with fitting into the new office, and not to mention having intermittent internet access, I've sort of let the parenting blog slip.

I'll be attempting to get it back up to speed over the next few weeks, so bear with. Lots has happened since posting last, learning to crawl, stand, clap, etc. etc.

Day 240 - How long to breastfeed

Today's first time parenting tip - Don't let anyone pressure you into nursing for longer or shorter than you want to

The issue of breastfeeding vs. formula feeding is already a loaded issue. Everyone you mention it to will give you an opinion (and many you don't ask for). The point is, many babies are breastfed exclusively, many are formula fed exclusively, and many get a mix of both. And all of them turn out perfectly fine.

So if you're getting to the eight or nine month mark, and you want your body back or start wishing you could stop nursing, there's good news. You don't have to feel like a horrible person. It seems that the consensus is that most of the benefits of breastfeeding take place in the first two months, so if you decided to stop now, it'd be fine.

Some people breastfeed until their child is 3 or 4. Some never start. Don't let someone pressure you into a decision only you can make.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Day 239 - Newsprint

Today's first time parenting tip - Keep your baby clear of newspaper

Newspaper ink can be potentially poisonous for infants, so make sure you keep the sunday news out of reach. Babies love to play with the crinkling paper, but since it's so fragile and thin its very easy to pull off a piece and swallow it, or potentially choke.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Day 238 - TV On, or Off

Today's first time parenting tip - Should you leave the TV on, or off around your baby.

Depending on your parenting style, you might have certain feelings about your baby and the TV. I know people who refuse to let their baby watch a second of TV, going as far to shield their eyes from one if they happen to see it. Others watch TV all day with their baby propped in their lap.

So which is more right? Both are extremes, and I think they both have their drawbacks. Let's say you never let your child watch TV. Sure, they don't get exposed to bad programming, but it gives the TV an aura that it's more important than it actually is. I know a friend who had no television all the way up until college, and now whenever we go out to a restaurant or bar with one, its impossible to talk to him because he's so fascinated by it.

If you expose your baby to nothing else but the TV, they don't learn creativity, chances are they won't be active, and they don't get any exposure to real human interaction.

I fall closer to the "TV all the time" philosophy than the other one. Ours is on often as background noise. A baseball game or an old movie might be on while we play on the floor or do other things. At first, my son was enthralled, but as he got used to it and we kept offering other things to do, he ignores it now. Unless there's a fun kids program or something. And even then only for a few seconds.

We also turn it off when we're eating and reading. Sometimes I feel like the TV is on too much for him, but other times I'm glad he's sort of learning to ignore it. What does everyone else think?

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Day 237 - Your Halloween Costume

Today's first time parenting tip - Pick your own halloween costume with care

While you've probably paid lots of attention to your baby's costume, now it's time to pay a little attention to yours.

You'll definitely want a costume with bright or reflective cloth on it. That way cars will be able to easily see you and the baby you're with. You probably should have any "hangy" things on your costume either, since when you carry your baby they'll definitely be going for it.

Something else to think about is the character you're going as. If you're something scary and hideous, remember your baby won't be able to tell that its just you underneath a costume. They might get very, very upset. Or they could think you're the funniest looking axe murder victim on the face of the earth. It's your child, your call.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Day 236 - Halloween Costumes

Today's first time parenting tip - Pick your baby's halloween costume with care

When you're picking out a costume for your baby's first halloween, you want to make sure it's not just cute, but also safe for them to go out in.

Since they'll be with you or another adult the whole time, having a brightly colored costume isn't absolutely essential, but probably a really good idea. That way if any baby's that can walk wander off, they'll be easily spotted.

Second, make sure the costume itself it baby safe. No buttons, small pieces of plastic that can rip off, plastic hair, etc. If your baby has lots of things hanging of his costume, he's probably going to want to grab at them. Don't give him anything he can eat.

Lastly, make sure the costume isn't too hot or too cold. My son is going as Yoda for halloween (Yes. I'm a Star Wars nerd. So what?) and the jedi robe is a pretty thick flannel material. So if its a little warm out, I don't want to give him a bunch of layers underneath it. As a rule of thumb, dress your baby as you normally would, with one less layer.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Day 235 - Pumpkin Carving Fun

Today's first time parenting tip - Pumpkin carving is a fun way to introduce all sorts of new sensations

A great activity you can do with your child is to carve up some pumpkins for the upcoming halloween holiday. It's the perfect time to get messy and have some fun.

You'll need a pumpkin, newspaper, an old blanket or the grass outside, and a safe carving knife. Don't forget your child either.

Depending on how old your child is, they might be able to carve the pumpkin too. But otherwise, they'll probably be watching. If you have other gourds too, see if you can have them pick out which ones are orange, black or green. Then, once you get the top off let them stick their hands into the goop and guts inside.

They'll love the squishy, cold feeling of it and will probably be content to just squish with it for hours. Make sure they don't try to eat any big pieces or any seeds.

Then, carve in a human looking face. My son likes to look at jack-0-lanterns that resemble real faces. Then, once it gets dark, take them outside to see the creation with a candle inside. Or, if you don't have a place outside, you can get lights for the pumpkin that plug in.

You'll be letting them experience new sensations in sight, smell, touch and taste.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Day 234 - Hold off on cheese and dairy

Today's first time parenting tip - Don't give your baby dairy products until they're at least around a year old

While soft cheese might seem like a great first food to give your baby because they can gum it and break it apart easily, dairy products shouldn't be given to your baby until they're a little bit older.

The protein content of dairy products is sometimes too much for a developing diestive system, and by one year old it should be mature enough. The other reason you may hear is that cow's milk is too low in iron to be offered in place of breastmilk or formula.

Check with your pediatrician to see what they recommend for your child. Everyone develops differently, so they may have a different point of view for your child.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Day 233 - Under construction

Today's first time parenting tip - Send your baby away during construction

We're going to be fixing up our house in a week or so to get it ready to sell in the super-hot Michigan real-estate market (anyone want to buy it?) And we're sending our son away for the day.

Why, you may ask? We're doing some serious work, ripping up floors, counter-tops, drywall, etc. We could have him hang out in a room with a babysitter, but we're pretty much painting the whole house, and we don't want the fumes to get to him.

Whether or not all this will actually harm him is debatable, but since there's going to be eqipment, dust, paint and all sorts of nasty stuff for him to get into, we think its best if he just takes a road trip to grandma's.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Day 232 - Don't freak out over little bumps

Today's first time parenting tip - Don't get stressed and make a big deal over the little bumps

If your baby is crawling and pulling himself up, he's going to get battle scars and bumps. You can't avoid it, unless you pad every possible surface in your house with pillows.

Most of these little bumps and bruises are no big deal. And your baby won't think so either, unless he takes cues from your reaction and gets stressed. A frantic parent makes for a frantic baby, so be calm and help your baby become more secure in his environment.

When my son bumps his head, I ask him if he's "OK" and give him a couple pats to let him know that I'm there if he really is hurt. If I can tell he took a hard knock or he keeps crying, I'll pick him up and comfort him. Most of the time, he whines for a second or gets a funny look on his face. Then the cat distracts him and he's back to his happy-go-lucky self.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Day 231 - Correctable

Today's first time parenting tip - If your baby is behind in an area, don't push too hard

Babies develop faster in some areas than others. It's a fact of life. But it seems that a lot of parents think they're baby is a failure if they're not in the 99th percentile. They're just normal.

My son is bounds and leaps ahead of everyone in terms of physical feats like crawling, eating solid food, weight, height, etc. But he seems a little behind or normal on the interacting and speech parts of development.

Some parents might go into full panic mode the second they're baby misses a milestone, but I say, take it easy. The best thing you can do is work with them on it. Read with your son every night. Spend extra time talking and playing together. But by no means become obsessed. The extra pressure won't help. What will help is guiding him to success and letting him develop organically.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Day 230 - Explore

Today's first time parenting tip - Let your baby roam free - while keeping a close eye on him of course

Since my son learned how to pull himself up, crawl and conquer stairs, I've noticed that he doesn't like playing in anything that restricts his movement for too long. Things like the exersaucer and Johnny Jump Up - he gets fussy after five or so minutes when he sees something else in the room that he wants.

Let your baby go around the house and find discover all sorts of new things. If he's crawling, you should have the house baby proofed, but its a good idea to monitor him to make sure he's not getting into trouble. My son's favorite spots in the house are the turned off TV (he likes seeing his reflection) and the dog bowls (reflective and water).

I've also found my son still likes the exersaucer, but he likes to stand free on it, not in the seat. I also play games with him around the house. I peek around objects and try to get him to come chase me, which he thinks is the best thing since sliced bread.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Day 229 - Breastfeed While Sick

Today's first time parenting tip - Continue breastfeeding your baby even if you're sick

This may fly in the face of your instincts, but breastfeeding while you're sick can actually help your baby combat any disease he might contract from you.

Chances are, you passed along any germs or bacteria for the illness you've got before you even started showing symptoms, so your baby has already been exposed to what you've got.

Secondly, by the time you're showing symptoms, you're also producing antibodies to fight off the illness. If you stop breastfeeding, you're denying your baby the help he needs to fight that specific illness, just like you are.

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Day 228 - Same Age Swim Classes

Today's first time parenting tip - Ask to be put in a swim class with babies of the same age

Swim classes are something every child should have. Even if you don't live around water or know anyone with a pool, swimming is an essential safety skill that's bound to come in handy at least once in their life. And isn't once enough.

When you do go to sign up for classes, ask to be put in with other children that are your baby's same age. While most classes are already grouped by age, the range can still make quite a big difference.

For instance, my son is in the same "infant" class as a friend and her baby. Hers is 18 months, mine is 8 months. In her class, all the kids are 18 months. In mine, all the babies are 8-12 months. Same class, but because of the age difference, they have us doing completely different things.

Don't be afraid to ask to be put in a class of babies with like ages. You can all learn at the same pace, and maybe he'll find a lifelong friend!

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Day 227 - Pants for Crawling

Today's first time parenting tip - Dress your baby in pants when they begin to crawl.

Unless you're a fan of rugburn, it's a good idea to dress your baby in pants when he's crawling around everywhere. Whether it's carpet or hard wood floors or linoleum, if your baby is crawling on bare skin his knees are probably going to get all red, and if he's really going to town, rugburned.

If you're worried about him overheating, make sure its a light cotton sweatpant. Or, they do make cute little windpants for babies, a lot like the ones you'd wear working out or running.

If he does get a rug burn, treat it like you would a first degree burn. Cool water, and lightly dress it to protect it while letting it breathe.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Day 226 - Clear Ears

Today's first time parenting tip - Keep your baby's ears clear of water and fluid

Got a baby that seems to be having lots of ear infections? Is their speech not developing as fast as it could? It might be Glue Ear, a condition where thick and sticky fluid builds up in the ear. Or, the ear canal could be shaped incorrectly, causing any fluid to rest against the eardrum, promoting more infections.

Ear tubes might be necessary if these conditions persist, to equalize the pressure in the middle and inner ear. You can help reduce the chance of infection and fluid build up in their ears by making sure fluid and water don't build up in their ears.

You should clean your child's ears with a q-tip, but they do make special swabs designed to clean the ears of small children. Ear plugs and extra care to make sure water doesn't get in their ears during bathtime or swimming are also a must.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Day 225 - Hold Steady

Today's first time parenting tip - Stay close at hand when your baby is learning to pull up.

Your baby may look steady, like he's got everything under control when he's standing there holding onto a table or your living room couch. But his sense of balance and position in the world are, well, infantile.

He won't think twice about pushing of and falling straight backwards. Even though it might be onto carpet, he could still hurt himself. And if he bangs his head on anything on the way down, well, that's not a good situation either. Once he gets up, he might not know how to get back down safely. I've seen my son try to do a face plant right into the floor on a few occasions when he dropped the toy he was playing with up on the couch.

That's why you've got to keep as close an eye as you can on your baby when you're playing with them and they're pulling up onto things in your house. If you're looking for a way for them to stand and play without surpervision, get an exersaucer. But even that should be used part of the time, otherwise they won't learn how to stand and balance on their own.

They need practice, and they also need you there every step of the way.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Day 224 - Mix it in

Today's first time parenting tip - Mix your baby's multivitamin in with formula, his food if he's used to the taste of solid food

A few months ago I wrote about mixing amoxicillin in with milk to get your baby to drink it. The same stategy applies to the multi-vitamins you give your baby, since those taste and smell even worse than amoxicillin. At least the anti-biotic smells like bubble gum.

But at this point you're probably in the midst of teaching your baby to eat solid food. If he's picky or you're introducing a new food, don't mix the vitamins in with it. Simply because the taste might put him off and you don't want him being fussy about solid food because of the vitamin taste.

Better to put it in his milk or formula, which he's used to and will dillute it more. And if he's used to solid foods and eats them no problem, feel free to mix it in at will.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Day 223 - Nap time

Today's first time parenting tip - Expect less nap time as your baby gets older

It seems that once you get your baby on a nice schedule of feeding, sleeping, changing, etc. They go and do something that completely makes you rework everything.

My son would nap three times a day, usually a couple two hour naps and then one shorter half hour one. It was pretty nice because it gave my wife and I a chance to do something during the day if we wanted to, or we could just relax and watch a movie or read a book.

Lately though, he's cut down his nap time significantly. Now he's down to a two hour nap in the morning, and hour nap in the afternoon, and then he's good all the way until he goes to bed.

Which is fine, because now that he's more active, we get more playtime with him. And he seems to be sleeping a little bit longer at night, which is just fine by us.

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