Thursday, November 30, 2006

Day 283 - How to Get Shoes On

Today's first time parenting tip - Press down on the tops of your baby's foot to get them to flatten out their feet.

Infant's aren't exactly the most cooperative creatures when it comes to getting dressed. They're usually squirming all over the place and a fair about of "baby wrangling" is the norm for any trip out of the house, especially during the winter months.

Here's a trick my dad taught me for getting a baby to uncurl his toes while you're putting on shoes. Grasp their ankle so that your thumb rests on the top of their foot just below where it starts to run into their leg. Gently press down here, and their toes should uncurl.

This same trick can be applied to hands that are balled up into fists. If you gently press with your thumb on the back of their hand, you should see the fingers unfold.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Day 282 - Lighten Up

Today's first time parenting tip - Don't forget to have fun with your baby

The past few posts I've written have been advice geared towards doing the "right" thing with your baby. As my wife just pointed out to me, it makes it sound as if parenting is a no fun, do it by the book deal.

But of course it's not! There are tons of books, videos, blogs (this one included) that offer advice on what you should or shouldn't do for your baby. Don't get so caught up in it.

Throw out the rules every once and a while and just have fun with your baby. Today, I saw huge, tall hill with snow on it and no trees. My first thought was, "That's an awesome sledding hill." My second thought was "I want to take my son sledding."

Is sledding the safest activity in the world? No, probably not. You could argue that it's not safe for adults to do either. (When I was a kid we'd specifically sled down hills with trees on them. To an eleven-year-old, this was fun for some reason.) Will I take him?

Absolutely. I think he'd have a blast. We'll get him all bundled up, hop on the sled with him and take off down the hill. I'm confident enough in my sledding ability that I can stop us or bail out safely if we need to.

So take a moment, and do something fun with your baby today. Forget whether or not you're a good parent or not and just make them laugh.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Day 281 - Correct Pronunciation

Today's first time parenting tip - Pronounce words correctly and praise your baby, even when he gets it wrong.

Our son is starting to learn his first words, between "uh-oh" and "da-da" you'd think there wasn't anything else to say. He can try other words, but he doesn't quite get them right. Things like a ball are "gall" and kitty ends up more like "tee-tee."

As parents and adults, I think the natural instinct is to say something like "No, it's ball." A better way to say it might be "That's right! It's a ball."

Your child's vocal chords and ability to make different noises is still in the early stages right now. By saying "no" to them, you're implying that they got something wrong in saying a ball was a "gall."

But in fact, he got it 100% right! He doesn't call anything else a "gall", and he always says it when he's bouncing it around. He understands the concept of a ball, but he just can't say the right word

By saying "That's right! It's a ball!" You're praising him for correctly identifying something, and at the same time correcting his pronunciation. As he learns how to make different noises, he'll start to make the correct sounds as you keep teaching him the "right" way to say things without confusing him and his ability to correctly identify concepts.

At the same time, you don't want to say "That's right! It's a 'gall'". This merely reinforces the incorrect pronunciation and you're essentially teaching him that the word for a spherical object is "gall".

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Day 280 - Reading a book at their own pace

Today's first time parenting tip - Let your baby read and explore his books at his own pace

As adults, our tendency is to read a book, left to right, beginning to end, cover to cover. Infants have no such tendencies. In fact, they no nothing about the "proper" way to read books.

But most adults (myself included) want to take over when babies want to skip ahead, close the book, or just merely turn the pages.

And at this point in their lives, that's more than fine. You should be letting them lead the reading if they want to, enthusiastically jumping around with them, discovering the different images and words of the book.

The most important benefits of reading at this age are the bonding that occurs between the two of you, the daily routine, the different words, images and sensations that come along with reading. The actual "reading", i.e. left to right, front page to back, etc. Are probably one of the least important aspects.

As your child gets older and his tastes get more sophisticated, he'll grow to love actual stories, one's that have beginnings, middles and endings. But until then, let your preconceptions go and rediscover books all over again with your baby.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Day 279 - Falling down is no big deal

Today's first time parenting tip - Treat falling down like no big deal (unless they're really hurt)

Some babies handle adversity really well. They're the ones that are always into everything, constantly getting knocked in the head and falling over themselves as they tear around with their new found motions. Some start wailing at the smallest little things.

When your baby starts to walk, the latter kind of baby can be even more frustrating to handle. Every time they fall, even if it's three inches onto their butt, you'll need to pick them up to console them. To a certain degree, some parents cultivate this behavior by making a huge deal out of the slightest little thing.

Sometimes, the baby isn't hurt, they start crying because it seems to be expected of them and the parents are making a big fuss out of something small.

If you think you fall into that category, try making the harmless falls and slight knocks into something fun. Saying "Uh-oh!" and raising your hands as if to say "What happened?" should become your replacement reaction.

After a while, they'll start to imitate you! Our son cried when he dropped something and couldn't get it back, but we adopted the "Uh-oh!" tactic and now he says it all the time! When he falls down, drops something and even a few times when he's just saying it for fun.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Day 278 - Getting Through Shopping

Today's first time parenting tip - Let your infant pick out something to hang onto when he first gets to the store

If it hasn't happened to you already, it will. The screaming, wailing child at the grocery store. You'll have a full shopping cart and you'll be in the middle of the line when it hits.

What can you do to mitigate tantrums? Something you can try is to let your infant or toddler pick out something they want when you first get to the store. It should be something small and cheap, if you'll be doing this regularly. For instance, my son (who is 11 months old and frankly is very easy to please) was fussy until we let him grab an orange of the fruit stand at Trader Joe's.

That orange was his best friend all the way until halfway home when he dropped it sitting in his car seat. This may not work for all kids, but it's something to try.

By giving them a tangible reward at the beginning of the trip, you're making the prospect of a reward more real than just saying "If you're good, you can have a treat at the end." Without that treat in hand, children are more likely to act on impulse when they see something they want.

By having something already, it forces them to choose. "I've got this thing I want already, is it worth giving it up for that other thing I probably won't get?" You'll also teach patience and the ability to connect their good behavior with a good result. (Because it's in their hand constantly).

The downside to this is every time you go in the store, you'll have to get them something. After all consistency is key. That's why, if you try it, make the payoff a small treat like a piece of gum or even a healthy snack you bring in from the car.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Day 277 - Heartburn

Today's first time parenting tip - If your baby has some food that disagrees with him, a drink of formula or breast milk should do the trick

Tonight we had our son try pickles and a little bit of mustard with some turkey, bread and cheese, almost like he was having his own little sandwich. He loved most of it and gobbled it down.

Then about an hour after he went to bed, he woke up screaming and we couldn't console him at all. His abdomen felt firmer than usual and we were getting worried. So while I furiously looked up symptoms on the internet while my wife played with him and his toys (that seemed to calm him down), the symptoms he was having indicated that he was either colicky, constipated or had heartburn. (Hard abdomen, discomfort, no fever, no sharp pains or hurt when we pressed gently on his belly).

Since he's probably too old for colic and his bowel movements are disgustingly normal, we decided to try the remedy for heartburn that doesn't involve milk of magnesia - a drink of milk.

He sucked a few ounces down and seemed to feel a lot better after a couple of good burps too. He needed some cuddling to go to sleep, but as of an hour later, he's still sound asleep. I'll post updates as the situation progresses.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Day 276 - The Flu

Today's first time parenting tip - If your baby is between 6 - 59 months, get them a flu shot

It's the midst of flu season, and you're wondering if it's necessary to have your infant immunized against the flu. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the CDC say that children 6 - 59 months.

Children with diseases like kidney disease, diabetes, or asthma should get the shot, because influenza could lead to complications in high-risk situations like these. If your infant lives with someone who is over 65, you should also want to give them a flu shot to protect the older family member should your infant come down with it.

The flu shot can reduce the chances of getting the flu by 80%, and if your infant is getting it for the first time, they will get two shots, a month apart, probably in the upper thigh.

If your infant does come down with the flu, here's how you'll know:
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Ear infection
  • Diarrhea
  • Infants with the flu may simply seem sick all of a sudden or "just don't look right
If you think your infant does have the flu, take them to the pediatrician, because flu in infants can be serious. At home, you can help the symptoms by:
  • Drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Take baby tylenol to relieve fever and aches (but do not give aspirin unless your doctor instructs you to do so)
  • Dress your infant in layers, they can become very hot or very cold quickly. This way you can dress or undress easily
The flu should be gone in a week or two after it runs the course naturally.

Reference link - Kids Health

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Day 275 - Shoeless

Today's first time parenting tip - Take shoes off your baby while they are learning to walk.

Baby shoes could possibly be everyone's favorite part of a baby's outfit. Everyone oohs and ahhs over how small they are, how feet could possibly be so tiny, etc. etc.

But putting shoes on your baby while they're learning to walk can make it harder for them to get the hang of taking steps.

Usually, shoes have rubber soles that have no slip or give. That means that an unstable baby who may be shuffling his feet or sliding them around won't have that necessary give he needs to stay up. And that means he's going to bite the dust.

Shoes can also be big and clunky on your baby's feet, making it easier for them to trip themselves up.

So if your infant is walking around inside or doesn't need to be wearing shoes for appearances, make sure you take them off as often as possible. An alternative would be to opt for shoes with a leather sole, so they've got a little slip to them and won't trip up your baby.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Day 274 - Say No to Soda

Today's first time parenting tip - Don't give your infant soda for the first two years of their life

This tip seems pretty obvious to me, and hopefully to a lot of other parents. But I saw someone driving with their infant, couldn't have been more than a year old, and they were sucking down a bottle of Faygo orange pop in the rear-facing baby seat of their old Toyota Camry.

Call me a stickler, but I think you should teach a child how to eat right before they learn to eat wrong. And sugary, caffeinated and carbonated drinks don't figure into that mix.

The nutritional value is nil. The effects of being addicted to caffeine are real. And the weight gain throughout their childhood years can be real too.

The best way to make it easy to say no to soda? Lead by example. Don't drink it in front of your kids, and don't keep it in the house. The less access they have to it and the less they see you, the number one person they learn from drinking it, the better.

Providing lots of healthy alternatives like juice, water, milk, etc. is key too. A cold soda every now and again is fine, you don't have to be a warden, but be reasonable. And if their too young to remember kicking back a cold coke with their dad on a hot summer's day, then there's really not point in giving it to them.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Day 273 - Recipe for Biter Biscuits

Today's first time parenting tip - Make your own biter biscuits with fruit and vegetables rather than buying them at the store.

Have you seen biter biscuits at the store? They're hard biscuits that gradually dissolve away as your baby gnaws on them. They help them learn to chew and can help with teething to.

The trouble is, they're a mess. And my wife and I were looking for a way to incorporate fruits and vegetables into everything we make for our son because he's picky about eating them.

Lucky for me, my wife's creative in the kitchen and whipped up a recipe for homemade biter biscuits that's super easy and healthy.

Sandi's Better Biscuits

  • 1/3 cup mixed vegetables

  • 1/3 cup banana

  • 3 medium strawberries

  • 1 egg - white only

  • 3 tsp. brown sugar

  • 1 tsp. vanilla

  • 1 1/2 tbsp. oil

  • 1/4 cup milk

  • 1 tbsp. oatmeal

  • 1 cup flour

  • 1 tbsp. wheat germ

Mixing instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit/180 Celsius

  • Puree vegetables, banana and strawberries

  • Mix the puree, egg, vanilla, oil and milk in a medium bowl

  • Add the brown sugar, oatmeal, flour and wheat germ

  • Mix until you have a stiff dough

  • Roll out into a thin sheet and cut pieces about an inch wide

  • Bake for 15 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet

The recipe makes about 2 baker's dozens. Our son loved his!

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Day 272 - Fruit and Vegetable Juice

Today's first time parenting tip - Only give your child 100% fruit or vegetable juice, but don't give it as a substitute for the real thing.

Hopefully you've introduced a cup to your baby already, and he's well on his way to drinking out of it on his own. Now the question is, can you or can you not give your baby juice?

The debate of should or should not is as volatile as the debate between formula and breastfeeding. It seems to change with whatever society's prevailing winds are.

What does that mean? It's more or less up to you and what you think is right for your baby, under a few conditions.

  • Only give 100% fruit or vegetable juice

  • Dilute juice at least 1:1 with water

  • Don't use juice as a substitute for the denser nutrients of real fruit and veggies

  • Limit diluted juice consumption to less than 8 oz per day, more can cause diarrhea

Sometimes when you've got a fussy eater, they'll be more apt to drink juice. The way I see it, now my son is still getting a taste of the fruits and veggies he needs and some of the nutrients if he's being picky and not touching his carrots or apples.

Again, juice shouldn't replace real fruits, veggies, breastmilk or formula you feed your infant.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Day 271 - Fun, Educational Bath Toy

Today's first time parenting tip - Check out foam letters and numbers from Little Tikes to make bath time fun and educational

Soon after my son grew out of taking baths on his back and really started playing, we realized we didn't have any tub toys for him to have fun with! We had a rubber duck and a washcloth, which was pretty much the extent of his entertainment.

So we went to the store and found Foam Letters and Numbers from Little Tikes. Our son LOVES them. They stick up on the wall and they're really big so he can grab onto them, throw them around and splash in the bath.

He even likes playing with them out of the bath too. We keep them in a big bucket in the bathroom and when he gets in there those are the first things he goes for. They'll be a great toy as he gets older and starts to learn letters, numbers and words. It's very easy to slap letters on the tub and make him laugh just by spelling a word.

Their site says these letters are for ages three and up, but they seem big and sturdy enough. Definitely keep an eye on your baby, and if you're not comfortable with him having a toy designated for years 3 and up, then give him a year or two and let the fun begin.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Day 270 - Play with Baby Toys

Today's first time parenting tip - Play with your baby's toys so they can imitate you

There is a lot to be said for exploratory, solo play for infants. It helps them learn to do things on their own, entertain themselves and develop independence. Equally important is social play with not only other kids, but with you too.

You're going to have to get right in there with them. There are some great toys out there, but your baby isn't going to know exactly what to do. If you play with them every day, you'll find they quickly get "better" at playing with toys.

For instance, my son got a set of stacking cups for christmas. Set them in front of him, and he might knock over one or two, but then he's done. So I build a big tower out of them. He'll crawl across the room just to knock it over. Next thing I know, he's taking the cups apart and putting them back together. He knows small goes into big, and he still loves knocking over what I build.

The important thing is that while you can lead a bit, you can't force it. If your baby isn't interested or wants something else, follow their lead. But if you play right along with your baby, they'll quickly learn lots of things, and this is a good habit to carry forward as they get older too. Play games with them. Take an interest in what they're doing. You'll have a better relationship with them in general.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Day 269 - Keep a Log

Today's first time parenting tip - Keep track of minor preferences and events in your baby's day-to-day, they could be significant.

There are so many different things to keep track of in your head when you're raising a baby, schedules, food preferences, medicine, doctor visits, day care, etc. And it only seems to get more complicated.

If you're looking for some order, or are wondering if there's a pattern to your baby's behavior, you might want to keep a little log of it. It doesn't have to be anything complex, just a little notebook and a pen. Write a short note with a date and time on it, and it's probably a good idea to keep the things you're tracking separate. i.e. All the notes about food preferences are together, all the notes about medicine together.

My wife and I just started our son at a home day care, and he came home today with a rug burn on his chin. The woman running the day care didn't mention it until we asked, and she said she didn't see it happen or hear him cry.

It could all be on the up-and-up, but we just want to make sure there's not a harmful pattern in this new environment. A rug burn here or a bump there isn't a big deal by themselves, but if we notice lots of them over time there's probably something going on.

That's what we plan on using it for. What are you going to track?

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Day 268 - How to Treat a Rug Burn

Today's first time parenting tip - Keep a rug burn dry, clean and give it air to speed healing

Your baby's been crawling around for hours without pants. He's been climbing up and down carpeted stairs with grandpa. Your other kids dragged your young one across some carpet while they were playing.

You pick them up and yipes! they've got rug burns. What do you do?

Rug burns are minor, of the first degree variety. The best thing you can do for a rug burn, or any 1st degree burn, is the following:

  • Cool it - Rinse the area with cool water for five minutes

  • Dry it - Gently pat the area dry with a piece of gauze or cotton

  • Watch it - Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't blister or get worse.

  • Try to keep the burned area from getting rubbed or touched - all it will do is agitate

  • Baby or children's pain reliever may be appropriate if there is pain.

  • Creams, butter, grease or powder should NOT be used on the burn. Instead, aloe vera lotion is perfectly appropriate.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Day 267 - Rock Out to the Music

Today's first time parenting tip - Entertain your baby and get him moving to the music.

Think you've got less rhythm than your typical nerd at a high school prom? I know someone with even less. Your baby.

Have you played some music for them lately? As they get older and start learning how to move their bodies, dancing is something that often comes naturally to infants. There's just something about a beat that just makes people want to move.

And it doesn't hurt if you dance right along with them. Chances are they'll love it! My son bobs his head and moves his body every time he hears a tune, and sometimes even when we sing too.

And since their ability to get down isn't all that well refined yet, it'll be easy for you to laugh right along with them while you watch them dance. It's a great way to add some life to your day, get everybody smiling and work out your baby develop his ears and muscles.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Day 266 - Baby That Hits Himself

Today's first time parenting tip - If your baby is hitting himself, he may be trying to tell you something. But he'll grow out of it.

Today our son started hitting himself, much to our displeasure. Since it's Sunday here in the states, we turned to the trusty interweb, with the plan to speak with our pediatrician during his next appointment (this week).

It seems that the consensus is that this is fairly normal, and that its a phase he'll grow out of. Reassuring, but what to do in the meantime.

A young infant may be sending a signal by hitting themselves like "I'm tired" or I"m hungry." They're exploring new ways of expressing themselves. If they seem upset while they're hitting their head, see if something else isn't going on.

On the other hand, they could be doing it just because. If they don't seem to want anything, the best course of action may be to ignore it. Let them discover that it hurts to hit yourself, and you don't really get much attention out of it either.

See what other parents say at Baby Center

And other parents at DC Urban Moms and Dads

Older children needa different tactic, but you should explore which one works best for you.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Day 265 - Baby's Diet

Today's first time parenting tip - Look at what your baby is getting to eat by the week, not by the day.

Getting your baby the proper nutrition is extremely important, but a huge challenge as their tastes go through phases. Pears might be something they gobble up one day, then the next they won't touch them.

Some days they might not want to eat any solid foods. Some days, they might scarf it down. As they get older, start looking at the big picture. Did they get enough and a variety of vegetables this week? The same for fruits? And what about meats and breads?

While its important to give them tastes of everything everyday, its ok if they pick at some things. As long as they get a taste of a healthy diet every day, you've got them on the right track to developing good eating habits.

Right now their too young to be consistent, and are more than likely going to be finicky. Don't stress, if they didn't go through phases like picky eating, you'd probably be the first one, ever.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Day 264 - Eat as a Family

Today's first time parenting tip - Eat with your baby to encourage them to eat, not play

I've already written about the behavioral benefits of eating as a family in my "Get in the Habit" series. But we've realized another nice side effect of eating together.

Lately my son has learned that swiping his food and throwing it on the floor is fun. Even if he's hungry, he'll mash it around. But if my wife and I encourage him to feed us (which he LOVES), he'll get in the mood and start eating himself.

And when he eats lunch with the other kids at daycare, he has no problem chowing down on things we struggle to get him to eat at home, like veggies. The social aspect of eating is a great motivator for him to follow the other kids' lead.

So if you run into trouble with your child feeding himself, try making it a family activity. He might be encouraged to eat himself if he sees others around him doing the same.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Day 263 - Something for the Road

Today's first time parenting tip - Have a few toys in the car for your baby to play with.

Unless your baby is amazingly smart, patient, or you happen to be lucky enough that they still fall sound asleep in the car, you don't need this tip. For the rest of us who have babies that like to move, shake and squirm, getting strapped into a car isn't too much fun.

What could they possibly do back there? We've got a car mirror our son loves looking into. We also keep some toys out in the car that we can give him as soon as he hits the seat to minimize the screaming and wailing that would otherwise ensue.

Cardboard books, rattles and medium sized balls are all good choices because they're fairly easy to hang onto, and if they get chucked across the car (and they will) it's not impossible to find them again.

We also had a little music player that played pooh songs for our son, and he loved to hang onto that and listen to music. But it fell down between the seats into oblivion and now we can't find it. Maybe that's one we should have kept an eye on.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Day 262 - Stories That Move Your Baby

Today's first time parenting tip - Add some movement to story time and act out as much as you can.

Do you read to your baby? Great! Now, do you also act out the story? Chances are, probably not. I think we all feel a little silly acting outside what's considered normal. But put yourself in the shoes of your baby. Which is more fun?

Next time you and your baby are sharing a story, add some life to it. Bounce them every time you count the number of things on the page. Sing the alphabet song. Make all the animal noises you see. Tickle them and laugh with them when something silly happens in the story.

And perhaps the most fun of all, talk in weird, wacky voices for every character. Pretend the book is a movie, and you are playing all the roles. Everyone has to sound many voices can you make.

You'll probably look goofy. After all, if you were good at voice over you'd probably have a career in radio. But your baby won't care. Story time will be that much more fun, and its a great activity you can share together.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Day 261 - Watch Your Language

Today's first time parenting tip - Stop using words that you don't want your child to use before they start speaking.

Remember in the movie "Meet the Fockers", where Robert DeNiro is dead set on helping the little kid learn his first words, and Ben Stiller inadvertently gets him to swear his first syllables?

Kids are more perceptive than you might think. I have a feeling quite a feel people talk or act in a way they wouldn't want their child to act well after they're old enough to at least observe what's going on.

Even though your baby might not have said his first word yet, he's listening. He's learning. And whatever you say, he's thinking and babbling all in an attempt to say the same things you are.

So double check yourself and make sure you want the little ears in the room to hear what's going on. It might not necessarily be profanity. You might be calling another driver stupid for cutting you off.

Picture everything you say coming out of your child's mouth. Would you tell them not to say it? Then you probably shouldn't say it either. Whether or not what your saying is right or wrong, they'll imitate it.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Day 260 - Pack Powder and Water Separately

Today's first time parenting tip - Pack a bottle of formula powder and water in separate bottles to be ready no matter where you are.

Something that's helped my wife and I out a ton in the weeks following all stoppage of breastmilk is to pack our bottles of formula separately. Instead of taking a bottle pre-made, only to have it go bad before we can even feed the kid, we pack a bottle with powder in it, and one with water in it, pre-measured.

This way, if we need to feed him somewhere there isn't any water, we've got all the supplies ready for us at room temperature. This was a problem with breastmilk, because we had a little cooler and there wasn't always a way to warm the stuff up.

It's also an easy way to help out the babysitter. By now, we're all probably seasoned veterans at formula, diapers, and the like. Someone who isn't around kids a lot might feel intimidated by measuring and mixing formula. (I don't know, maybe not). But this way all they have to do is combine the two bottles and shake.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Day 259 - Get Your Finances and Final Instructions in Order

Today's first time parenting tip - Once you get your will finalized, take the next step and create a document for the executor and guardian.

Hopefully you've created a will, named a guardian and bought a life insurance policy to protect your baby if you should pass away before they become an adult. That's great from a legal standpoint, now what happens when one of your friends and family actually has to execute your wishes?

It can be confusing for someone who can't read a legal document, and they may wonder if what a lawyer interprets from your documents are truly your wishes. A good idea is to create a plan for whoever is responsible for your finances and your children. The plan should include.

  • Wishes for burial/cremation

  • List of assets and life insurance policies, with contact info and any special instructions for making a claim

  • Plan for how you want your assets invested/donated/distributed, in laymen's terms

  • List of possessions and who you want to take ownership

  • Name the guardian for your children

Your executor should be given a copy of this plan, and they should keep it in a safe deposit box or a fire safe. You should also have this plan, and all your account information and policies stored in a fire safe as well.

Be sure to give someone a backup copy, be it a family member or a trusted friend.

If you do this, you can be rest assured that the person making arrangements for you after you pass away will be doing what they truly know you wanted. And it'll help them know exactly what to do in a time where emotions and other distractions will probably be running high.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Day 258 - First Steps

Today's first time parenting tip - Encourage your baby to walk by finding the thing he loves most

Most parents try to get their baby to walk by holding him up or crouching in front of him as he's cruising. Then, some type of dialog starts that basically repeats "Walk to mommy/daddy!" over and over again. Maybe your baby takes some steps, maybe he doesn't.

The point here is to think about this a tad differently. Rather than only offering him yourself or his other parent as incentive, think of the thing that interests him the most. This could be your smiling, laughing face.

Or it could be the dog. A ball. Or in our case, the cat.

Our son loves petting and watching the cat walk around. A lot of the time he'll crawl over to him or try to work himself out of our arms when the cat is underfoot. So it seemed pretty natural that his first steps were to get closer to the cat.

Your baby is going to try, fail, try, fail, try, fail at a lot of things, because that's how they learn. The most important thing is to offer a supportive environment that encourages experimentation, and to also help your baby accomplish all the new things he's trying to learn. Offering something he's naturally interested in rather than trying to force something is a great way to help him have the best chance to learn.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Day 257 - Mixing and Matching Foods

Today's first time parenting tip - It's OK to mix vegetables with other foods like cheese or bread

If your baby is like ours, then he might not like vegetables by themselves. Old favorites like green beans, peas, etc. Now get spat right back out, and he just pushes them aside until they're mostly on the floor or all over his clothes.

We were sort of at a loss, until we started mixing his vegetables with eggs, noodles, cheese, bread, chicken, beef, etc. we noticed he had no problem gobbling them right up. We felt sort of bad, until we looked at our own plates and realized that neither of us usually eat veggies on their own.

So if you're having trouble getting veggies down, try matching them with another taste to see if they enjoy it. Don't feel like you've given up and failed as a parent like we did for a minute. Very rarely do kids eat the strong vegetables like broccoli, some adults never develop a taste for them.

If you can find a way to get your kids to eat this very important food group and enjoy the taste, you're miles ahead of lots of other parents. And of course, if you're wondering if your baby can have foods like cheese or meats, ask your pediatrician.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Day 256 - Eating at the Big Kids Table

Today's first time parenting tip - Baby refusing spoonfed jarred food? He might be ready for table food.

There was a period of about a week or so where our son absolutely would not eat spoonfed, jarred baby food. Old reliables he liked: green beans, squash, pears, peaches, etc. now became battles of us cajoling him to get his mouth open, only to spit food back in our face.

We'd been feeding him cheerios and small bits of very soft fruit. He seemed to have the whole chewing and swallowing thing down pat. We discovered a trick to get him to eat the jarred stuff - put cheerios on the high chair plate and sneak in spoonfuls.

This got old pretty quick, and then our pediatrician told us that he was probably ready to go for table foods.

It worked like a charm. Sure enough, he just wanted to be able to feed himself. Every once and awhile now, he won't eat what's on his plate and we'll spoonfeed him something, but by and large, he's self sufficient now.

There are some things he can't have though, as I mentioned earlier.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Day 255 - Let the Phases Begin

Today's first time parenting tip - Be as adaptable as your baby is as he goes through phases

"'s just a phase."

Famous last words, often said by someone who doesn't have to deal with the radically different behavior day in, day out. And usually swings in behavior are just phases that your baby will work through.

Here are some tips for getting through changing behavior:

  • Don't get frustrated - Easier said than done. But keeping an even keel and giving your child freedom to explore who he is (as long as its not destructive) is healthy. This is especially hard when you feel like you've just got pne phase handled and under control, and all of a sudden that all goes out the window.

  • Encourage exploration by supporting new interests and behaviors. My son now refuses baby food, doesn't like to hold still, and fusses when something is taken away. So we make sure there's lots available for him to do, and if he fusses when we pull him away from electrical plugs, we quickly fill his need to do something by playing with something else.

  • Encourage exploration...within reason - Of course, limits need to be set. But try to work with your child as much as possible, and begin to forge compromises. You'll not only be teaching them its OK to be different, but also how to compromise.

  • Don't expect your baby to be just like you or behave like an adult - Babies are babies and kids are kids. We all frustrated our parents once.

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Happy Holidays

From my family to yours.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Day 254 - Making First Sounds

Today's first time parenting tip - Encourage any type of sound your baby makes, not just words.

When a lot of people think of their baby's first words, they think mama, or dada. Some kids say a pets name. Some say something entirely inappropriate. (Think Meet the Fokkers).

But you can help your baby with language, and you don't even have to say a word. I mentioned before that my son likes to quack at his Baby Einstein blocks. Now whenever we read animal books, he can growl and roar along with the bears, lions and tigers.

He's even started to mimic our laughs. The other day at daycare we were told that our son had taught one of the other babies there how to roar, and know the other boy does it all the time at home.

Even though he's not saying actual words, I think these sounds count at first attempts at language. He knows a lion roars, a duck quacks, and mommy and daddy laugh He's beginning to learn association and socialization.

So don't just limit yourself to teaching words. Make lots of noises and encourage him to play along. You might be surprised at what comes out of his mouth.

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