Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Day 345 - What if Your Child is Gifted?

Today's first time parenting tip - Encourage your child to explore their natural talents - stress free.

By the time your baby is almost a year old, he might already be excelling in certain things. For instance, my son can walk around, kick a ball and pick up things I'd never guess a baby could pick up.

Could your child be gifted? Every parent would like to think that their child will excel in something in ways no one else has. Keep in mind that all children are gifted in different ways, and at this age, all you need to do is cultivate that natural talent in a way that's enjoyable and stress free.

Your baby probably won't end up being a star athlete, super genius or musical virtuoso. But what you can help them achieve is success that makes them happy. If they are good at what they do and they truly enjoy it, then they have a gift that many people in the world never get to experience - happiness.

So if your baby can keep a beat, get him a toy drum or a kiddie guitar. If your baby can throw like a champ, get him a few balls. But if somebody comes along claiming your child is gifted and they need to join this club and that team and take this class or they'll never be any good, they're probably trying to take your money and don't care about your baby's happiness.

After all, he's less than a year old. Shouldn't he at least be having fun?

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Day 344 - What to Pack in the Diaper Bag

Today's first time parenting tip - Keep only the essentials in your diaper bag

We got two diaper bags when our son was born. One was a gargantuan that was more like a duffle bag, and the other was a smaller, easier to carry version. It also has sequins and a woman shopping on the side of it, so you can imagine I love carrying THAT around.

Guess which one we use more? The smaller one. We can fit all the stuff we need into it, and we don't have to spend an hour packing whenever we want to go somewhere.

Here's what every diaper bag should have for those daily trips out of the house:

  • Small first aid kit

  • Small kit with a thermometer, dropper, scissors, squeegee

  • Changing pad

  • 5 diapers

  • Baby wipes

  • 1 change of clothes

  • 1 feeding of breastmilk or formula and 1 jar of baby food (if on solids)

  • 1 cloth diaper

  • Needed prescriptions or medicine

  • Diaper rash creme, if needed

  • 1 book

  • 1 small toy or rattle

  • Card with pediatrician, poison control and emergency contact numbers

  • Bib and spoon if your baby is on solids

  • 1 ziploc baggie of Cheerios or Goldfish

If you've got this, you should be covered for most situations you run int when you're around the neighborhood.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Day 343 - How to Survive a Long Car Trip with Your Baby

Today's first time parenting tip - Plan ahead if you're taking a trip longer than an hour or so with your baby

Unless you've got a very well-behaved infant, car rides can quickly turn from a pleasant, relaxing ride into a screaming journey into Hades. Some babies fall asleep in the car and will stay that way until you get them out. Some don't like being restrained. Regardless, you should be prepared. Here are some tips you can use next time you've got to drive somewhere.

  • Try to travel at night. If you leave right after your baby goes to bed, chances are they'll sleep the whole way. Of course, this doesn't work if you're not spending the night

  • Leave extra time to get where you're going. You never know if you have to stop to feed him or change a diaper.
  • Bring a toy, their favorite blanket and a book. This was you've got a variety of attention getters if they do get fussy

  • Bring music and your singing voice. Our son usually calms down when he hears music or our singing

  • A bottle of breastmilk, formula or juice. Most of the time, when our son gets fussy, it's because he's hungry.

  • A change of diapers. Somehow, the smell of bowel movements does not make a ride with a screaming baby any more enjoyable.

  • A change of clothes in case he spills his food or he has a diaper blowout

  • Dress your baby to be comfortable at room temperature. If you're going to be in the car for a while, don't have him all bundled up as if it's 0 degrees out. Take off a layer once he gets into the car.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Day 342 - How to Help a Choking Infant

Today's first time parenting tip - Use 5 back blows, then 5 chest thrusts to help a choking infant.

Your baby is chowing down on some cut up pieces of fruit when all of a sudden you see them try to cough and their eyes go as big as saucers. They're choking - what are you going to do?

The important thing is to not panic. Commit the following steps to memory so you can spring right into action.

If they are not breathing and have something lodged in their throat, have someone call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number. If you're alone, do one set of back blows and chest thrusts, and then call the emergency number as you are starting the second set (speaker phone comes in handy).

Hold your baby face down, lengthwise on your forearm with their head pointed towards your hand. They should be pointed down towards the ground, sit down or brace your arm against your thigh if you have to.

Using the palm of your hand, firmly give 5 back blows between your baby's shoulder blades.

If your baby doesn't cry or start breathing, flip him over to the other arm, face up. Give him 5 chest thrusts using two fingers. Place your fingers in the middle of his chest between his nipples.

Check to see if whatever it is he is choking on is in his mouth. If it is, sweep it out using your pinky finger like a hook. If it isn't, repeat the back blows, chest thrusts and check until your baby starts breathing again or goes unconscious.

If your baby loses consciousness, begin baby CPR. This is a topic that really requires a hands on approach, and you should see a certified CPR instructor to learn. A good place to start would be your local Red Cross.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Day 341 - Brush Up on Your First Aid Class at Least Once a Year

Today's first time parenting tip - Brush up on your first aid skills every year

Way back on Day 150 I blogged about taking a first aid class. I never posted any first aid tips specifically, and I definitely know I could use a refresher.

Daycare and child care providers are required to take a First Aid class every year because they are responsible for the well being of children. Since you're a parent, so are you.

It's a good idea to bone up on your first aid skills once a year by retaking the class, or by simply re-practicing the techniques on your partner (not for real of course). If you have to use these skills even one time in your life, it's money and time well spent.

A good time to schedule this refresher is around your child's first birthday. You'll never forget the date, and it's the perfect time to protect the life that you're celebrating. If you have more than one child, perhaps you could make it around mother's or father's day. Pick whatever date you'll remember to dust off those first aid materials.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Day 340 - Early 1st Birthday Gift - A Chime Garden from Lamaze

Today's first time parenting tip - Get a Chime Garden from Lamaze for your baby, our son loved it

Our son's first birthday gift arrived in the mail from his aunt and uncle down in Louisville, Kentucky. It's a great toy that I can't say enough good things about, but the biggest vote of confidence comes from my son himself. He hasn't stopped carrying it around the apartment.

The Chime Garden from Lamaze is a group of five flowers that play melodies when they're batted or pressed. The faces on the flowers are friendly and colorful. What sets this apart from other baby toys that make noise is that the sounds it makes are actually pleasing and at a reasonable volume level.

If I could sum it up in a word, it would be "sweet". The way it looks, sounds and feels is very child-like and cute. It seems to be pretty durable too, my son's already dropped it on the hard floor in our kitchen a dozen times and it's none the worse for wear.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Day 339 - Use a Sippy Cup with A Screw Cap

Today's first time parenting tip - Get a sippy cup with a screw cap

Maybe they make better sippy cups with snap on lids than the ones we just bought. But this was my experience with them.

I filled the cup up with formula. I took extra care to make sure the cap was on tight, knowing that my son would drop it and squeeze it and turn it upside down. Everything seemed fine. Then I handed it to my son and the top came right off and milk spilled everywhere.

Lesson learned. We went right out and got ones with screw on tops. Anyone else out there know of a good sippy cup with a snap on lid?

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Day 338 - How to Teach Your Baby to Use a Fork

Today's first time parenting tip - Use patience, imitation and a baby-safe fork to teach you infant how to use flatware

Giving your baby a spoon seems a lot more natural and safe than giving them a fork. After all, the spoon doesn't have sharp tines they can poke their skin or eyes with.

But you can teach them how to use a fork safely if you get them something like the Easy Grip Fork and Spoon Set. The tines on the fork have been blunted and a little more flexible materials were used to make it safe for you baby's exploration.

Just like feeding with a spoon, imitate the right motions with your fork so they know what to do. Let them learn at their own pace, the normal time for children to master the fine art of eating with a spoon and fork doesn't happen until well into their second year.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Day 337 - 9 Things You Can Do For Free with Your Baby

Today's first time parenting tip - Take advantage of the freebies you get when your baby is young

What's the best part about having a baby? Is it the unconditional love? The innocent laugh? The hugs?

Nope! It's all the freebies you get to take advantage of because your baby is under 2. Kids only get more expensive with age, so cash in while you can. There are lots of fun activities, and practical ones, to do with your baby free of charge.
  • Fly on an airplane
  • Take the train or bus
  • Visit a theme park or water park
  • Go to the community pool
  • Stay at a hotel
  • Eat at some restaurants
  • Visit a museum or aquarium
  • Go to the Zoo
  • Go to a sporting event (and usually get some kind of swag)
What else do you know of that you can do for free if you're still in diapers?

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Day 336 - Pampers Vs. Huggies

Today's first time parenting tips - Pampers are the best kind of diapers for preventing bowel blowouts. Every bit as disgusting as it sounds.

Usually I'm pretty brand agnostic. If there are two biggies out there, like Coke and Pepsi, or McDonald's or Burger King, I switch between the two pretty freely. There's rarely a discernible difference that makes me want to pick one over the other.

Maybe you're thinking the same way about diapers. Which one to choose? Huggies or Pampers? Both probably the same, right?

Wrong. We bought a box of Huggies instead of the usual Pampers (we usually buy based on coupons or sales, and Pampers just always seems to be cheaper). We've never had a problem with bowel blowouts (no explanation needed), chafing or discomfort before.

Once we threw those Huggies on, we got all three. Stuff would leak, his legs would be red and raw, and sometimes he just seemed generally uncomfortable. I don't know why it was or what's different, but there was a definite change from one brand to the other.

Now he's back in Pampers, and he's back to normal. So if you're trying to choose between the two and want a recommendation from me, I say Pampers.

Anyone else had a similar or different experience?

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Day 335 - Say Your Please's and Thank You's

Today's first time parenting tip - Say please and thank you to your infant when they do what you want them to

How many times have you seen a parent at the grocery store ask their kid to be quiet or to stop doing something, and then once the kid does what's asked of them, the parent just turns away and ignores them?

Now, everyone has bad days and no one says please and thank you all the time. But now is a good time to get in the habit of asking your child politely to do something and showing genuine gratitude when they obey.

IF the reward for being quiet or for behaving is being ignored with no acknowledgment, it's really no surprise if the kid keeps misbehaving.

Plus, your baby will soon pick up on the fact that when someone does something for you, you say thank you, if you want something, you say please. And the only way they're going to pick that up is if they get it from your example.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Day 334 - Can You Do This? Month 11

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 eleventh month, your infant should be able to:

  • Walk or "cruise" on furniture
  • Correctly identify "mama" and "dada"
  • Respond to their name

Probably will be able to:

  • Pull up to a standing position from sitting
  • Drink independently
  • Stand alone
  • Give a high five or play ball
  • Walk for a step or maybe two
  • Put objects into a container

They might also be able to say a word other than mama or dada, stand well by themselves, walk for more than a few steps, understand and respond to the word no sometimes or gesture for an object that they want without crying.
Taken from What to Expect the First Year

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Day 333 - First Birthday Ideas Part 4 - The Thank You

Part 4 - The Thank You - Part of the First Birthday Series

Today's first time parenting tip - Make easy, hand made "thank you's" by your baby

The party's over, the food was a hit, everyone had a blast and you got some great, practical and fun gifts for your baby. What's the best way to say thank you to the special people who came to his 1st birthday?

You can easily help your baby make hand made "thank you" cards that mean a bit more than just paper and ink. Here's how you do it.

Buy enough blank thank you cards to send one to every guest. Don't just send one to the people who brought gifts, send one to everybody who showed up. They made your baby's day special just by their presence, and that deserves thanks enough.

Get some non-toxic paints. Remember the ones we used for Valentine's gifts?. Those will work here too.

Put your baby in a high chair or the bathtub in just his diaper (you don't want paint on his clothes) and put some paint on each of his hands. Give him the cards one at a time, letting him put his prints all over the cards.

Repeat with a couple different colors if you want to, or keep it simple with one. Once they've dried, write a simple, short note thanking the person for coming, and for the gift if they've brought one.

As an added touch, you can include a picture of your baby playing or using the gift they got from that person.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Day 332 - 1st Birthday Ideas Part 3 - The Gift

Part 3 - The Gift - Part of the 1st Birthday Ideas Series

Today's first time parenting tip - Get your baby something fun, and something practical for their 1st birthday

Your baby is turning one, and especially if he's the first baby in the family, he's going to get spoiled. How do you keep people from going overboard and inundating your baby with gifts.

There are a couple ways you can go. When you send out the invites, you can specify that no gifts be brought. That way its all about spending time together and not about who can get the most or the biggest gifts for you baby.

But now that they're a little older, part of the fun is watching them get all excited ripping off wrapping paper. It doesn't matter what's inside, infants just seem to love ripping things apart regardless.

Another way to handle gifts is to specify that gifts are optional and limited to one fun gift, and one practical gift. This way you won't get a million plastic toys that they'll never play with.

Clothes, savings bonds and other baby necessities go a long way still. Those types of gifts will probably get a lot more use, and your baby isn't old enough to feel gypped that he got another sweater for his birthday.

And this way you also let people show their fun side and really search for that perfect fun gift.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Day 331 - 1st Birthday Ideas Part 2 - The Fun

Part 2 - The Fun - Part of the 1st Birthday Ideas Series

Today's first time parenting tip - Throw fun games centered around your baby to keep people entertained

You've got the food for your what will people do after the meal is over? This is where parties can get very extravagant, very fast. I've heard of some parents getting limos and a hotel for the 1st birthday, which seems a little too much like a case of "keeping up with the jones'."

If your creative, you can have a lot of fun on a small budget. My wife and I are planning to play a game where we print off lots of pictures of our baby's 1st year of life with the people who are going to be at the party. Then everyone has to guess how old he was in each picture.

A friend of mine had one of those big moonwalk inflatables at her daugther's first birthday, which was great because there were lots of other little kids there and her daughter was old enough to take part and have fun. Plus I think it was only a hundred bucks.

Keep any entertainment simple, with as little set up and tear down hassle as possible. Do something your baby will actually enjoy. A field trip out to the zoo for their 1st birthday would be a wonderful idea too. Anything that gets your baby happy and excited will keep your guests happy, because after all, your infant is the one they came to see.

Anyone else got some fun ideas for a first birthday party?

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Day 330 - 1st Birthday Ideas Part 1 - The Food

Part 1 - The Food - Part of the 1st Birthday Ideas Series

Today's first time parenting tip - Pick foods that are easy to prepare, easy for baby to eat and that can be made ahead of time

The 1st birthday is right around the corner! Are you going to plan a birthday bash for your little one? They may not be big enough to remember yet, but you and everyone who attends will. That's why its important to keep the day as stress free as possible so you and everyone else can enjoy it.

First, what will everyone eat? Since you've got a lot to deal with just getting your baby ready for the party, you'll want something easy to make that allows people to serve themselves. And you'll want the baby to be able to eat with everyone too!

Here are some food ideas:

  • Fruit tray with bananas, apples, strawberries, kiwi with some low fat yogurt dip

  • Vegetable tray. Unless you cook these, this'll probably be an adults only tray

  • Cheese and cracker tray

  • Bread and hummus tray

  • Finger sandwiches with meat, cheese and lettuce. Mustard and mayo optional

  • Taquitos or Flautas. These rolled up Mexican appetizers taste great and are easy to make

  • Macaroni and cheese. Not the kraft kind, but the kind you make with noodles, real cheese with bread crumbs sprinkled on top

  • Birthday cake of course. Cupcakes are also another excellent way to go

You get the idea. With a menu like this, it already starts to feel like a kids party and it will remind your guest of the parties they had as a kid.

What kind of food do you serve at your kids' birthday parties?

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Day 329 - Babyproof Your Toilet

Today's first time parenting tip - Babyproof your toilet. Yes, your toilet.

When our son discovered there was water he could splash around in the toilet bowl, it was over. Whenever the bathroom door is open, he makes a beeline. If my wife or I are taking a shower, he'd crawl over hot coals to play in the water. He just loves water, bottom line.

Now, the toilet isn't the most sanitary thing in our house. Even when he couldn't lift up the seat, we'd throw a towel over it if he was in there so he couldn't come into contact with all the germs living all over it.

But now he's figured out how to get past our defenses and is strong enough to actually lift up the seat. Luckily, there are toilet seat latches out there to keep him from playing in the water.

I wouldn't have thought of this on my own until he proved to me that he can get into anything. Is there something your baby gets into that you never would have thought to worry about?

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Day 328 - Ten Super-Nutritious Foods for Your Baby

Today's first time parenting tip - Feed your baby these ten foods and you'll be giving them some great nutrition

Kiwi - More vitamin C than an orange, it also comes with a good amount of fiber and potassium. Plus, according to a study by Thorax, it helps prevent asthma.

Apricots - Vitamin A and dietary fiber. These were my son's favorite flavor of baby food

Raisins - Packed with the all important mineral, iron. There's a reason all baby formula and food is iron-fortified.

Bok-Choy (Chinese Cabbage) - This veggie has calcium for your child's growing bones

Wheat Germ - Bread, bagels and cereals made with wheat have even more vitamins and minerals for your baby, especially vitamin E. Serve them exclusively.

Yogurt - Lots of calcium and the active bacteria in yogurt helps prevent yeast infections in a dark, wet diaper.

Raspberries - Another great source of vitamin C

Mango - Filled with vitamin A and vitamin C

Pinto Beans - A little Mexican flare is a good source of protein for your baby

Breastmilk - Hands down, the best source of nutrition for your baby

Always, always make sure these foods are small enough to not be a choking hazard, and watch for food allergies.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Day 327 - What to Do if Your Baby Has Excema

Today's first time parenting tip - Moisturize your baby's skin to fight off excema

Red, itchy, dry skin. It's all part of excema, a skin condition where the upper layers of skin become inflamed. If it becomes severe, the skin can crack, blister and even scar.

The best way to treat excema yourself is to keep the skin moisturizes. Excema is a form of dermatitis, which drys out the skin. Keeping it moisturized with a cream or ointment will help the skin retain its natural moisture and help the affected skin heal.

In addition, you should also stop using detergents or soap that dry out the skin. Look for soaps and detergents have an oil or fat base and that are unscented. The milder, the better.

If your baby is constantly itching his skin, he may be damaging it. In this case an anti-itch cream might be a good idea to help protect him from scratching and itching.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Day 326 - How to Wean Your Baby Off the Bottle

Today's first time parenting tip - Wean your infant off his bottle when you're good and ready

There's no right or wrong time to wean your baby off the bottle. And your way of attacking it can be as gradual or as cold turkey as you want. My advice would be to go with as stress free a method as possible.

The bottle is often a comforting device for babies, so the more they're stressed out, the more they're going to want to go back to that comfort device. Your baby will let you know what they prefer. If your son is easy going and adaptable, you may be able to just hand him a cup and he's off to the races. A fussier baby might need a more "hands-off" approach, where you simply offer a cup as an alternative and let them explore on their own.

Here's our plan.

We've been letting him drink from a cup in his high chair since he was 6 months old. Once he started walking around, we keep a sippy cup with water or diluted juice out for him so he can graze and sip as he wants. Now that we're trying to wean him off the bottle, we have day care give him a sippy cup of milk at each meal.

He eats enough food and will drink enough out of the cup that he doesn't need his usual follow-up bottle. We still give him one in the morning and at night, the wake-up and bedtime bottles are probably going to be the hardest ones to kick.

Once we do try tackling those two bottles, we'll start off with a cup and move to the bottle if he gets to fussy. Hopefully he drinks more and more out of the cup and less and less out of the bottle. Keep you posted as we go.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Day 325 - Sing in the Car

Today's first time parenting tip - Use 'silent' moments with your baby as an opportunity to sing and learn

How many times have you been driving in the car, stuck in traffic, with your baby in the back seat and the only sound in the car is the radio?

Turn this 'silent' time where you're seemingly separated and unable to interact with your infant into a fun learning time by singing. Any time there's a commercial on the radio, I sing the alphabet song to my son.

Whenever we're stuck in traffic, I count in a sing song voice until we start moving again. One of these days he'll start singing back and I won't get so many weird looks from my fellow commuters.

As an added bonus, if your baby is upset or cranky in the car, the sound of your singing voice (however off-key) just might catch their attention and soothe them.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Day 324 - Safe Alternatives for Dangerous Things

Today's first time parenting tip - Rather than just saying no, give your baby a chance to play with a safe toy as an alternative.

We don't have a ton of baby toys, but we've got a good variety of ones our son likes to play with. Yet all he seems to want to do if play with the stuff he's not supposed to. Plugs, cell phones, sharp pointy objects. You name it, he's grabbing for it. And he howls when we don't let him have it.

Rather than just saying no, we try to give him something else to occupy his time. Here are some safe alternatives to dangerous things.

Plugs and cords - There's just something about them that draws my son's attention even when they've got the baby safe guards on them. To satisfy his need to pull on something, I find a toy with a 6-8 inch string (so he can't strangle himself).

Climbing on chairs - We've got a chair in our apartment that tips over easy, so of course, this is the one he loves to spend time in. So instead I pile up some pillows next to an air mattress and chase him all over this safe, soft obstacle course.

Hot stove - When we're in the kitchen, he's in the kitchen. The attraction of the stove is that it's got a door that can open. So we've got a cabinet that's just for him - all it has inside is tupperware. He can open and shut it to his heart's content.

Plastic bags - The seductive crinkle of plastic seems like fun, until it goes over his head. So I give him an old magazine with no staples. He loves crumpling and ripping it up.

Sharp objects - For some reason, our forks and knives look like excellent playthings to him. When he wants one, I give him a baby spoon or a toothbrush. He can put both in his mouth safely, he won't poke out an eye and one even cleans his teeth to boot!

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Day 323 - How to Make Sure Dogs and Your Infant Get Along

Today's first time parenting tip - Use patients and a calm attitude to get dogs and infants to co-exist by establishing pack dominance.

If you've had a dog for a few years and add a baby into the mix, things can get hairy. Before the fur flies, you should do everything you can to get them used to each other, so that someone doesn't get bitten.

Before your baby becomes mobile, most of the issues you'll have to deal with are pet jealousy. You can help alleviate those by reading my post on the subject.

Before they start moving, there are more things you can do to help them get used to each other. Establishing pack dominance will teach your dog where he stands, and to defer to the baby. You can do this by.

  • Feed yourself and your baby before you feed your dog

  • Take your child through doors before the dog

  • Don't allow your dog to sleep in your bed

  • When you do feed your dog, hold the bowl near your face and the baby's face (standing up, away from the dog in case he gets aggressive). This is another way of 'eating first'

  • Play with your infant and dog together. Don't roughhouse. You want to teach both the dog and the child to be gentle with each other. Show your baby how to gently pet the dog. We taught our son to pet the cat nicely by always petting him with an open hand and saying 'gentle' every time.

  • When you scold your dog, roll him onto his back without hurting him. This is the natural position of submission

By doing these things, you're recreating the natural way dogs determine who is the alpha dog in the wild. Even though yours might be tame as tame can be, their instincts are very powerful. Use that to your advantage and train your dog to see you and the baby as alpha dogs.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Day 322 - Symptoms of Croup

Today's first time parenting tip - Learn how to spot the signs of croup in your baby

A co-worker was telling me the other day about how his daughter ended up in the emergency room because of croup, and it made me hop online to check out the symptoms to make sure I was prepared.

Croup is a viral infection that causes swelling of the airways. From what another co-worker tells me, it causes your infant to bark like a seal with they cry or cough. Doesn't sound like something you could easily miss.

In addition to the cough, your infant might be having trouble breathing, or they may make a high pitched squeaking noise while breathing really fast. This is when it's serious and you should get medical attention immediately.

You can treat croup with a cool mist humidifier. You can also try to take your baby outside if it's cold (with a jacket, hat, mittens - the works). Breathing in cold, moist air will help with the swelling of the airway.

If you aren't able to treat the croup on your own or it gets serious, get medical attention. This is one you want to monitor closely, so if you're sleeping separately, conside spending the night in the same room.

Reference - Kid's Health

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Day 321 - Turn Ripped Out Pages into a Memory

Today's first time parenting tip - Save the pages your baby rips out of books for a collage

I don't know why we give my son books with paper pages in them. Most of the time, he likes to look at the pictures, on his own or with us. If it's an animal book, he'll make lion roars or monkey noises.

But every so often he gets in a destructive mood or turns the page too hard and RIP! out comes the page of one of his favorite books.

Are the books ruined? Should you throw them away? Nope. If you want to preserve the books, buy cardboard ones. If he's already ripped up a few paper ones, keep those books out. What's the worst he could do, rip out another page?

You can turn all those ripped pages into a lasting memory. Keep them all. Once you've got a good stack, here's what you do.

Make a nice collage of all the pages. Since baby books have lots of colors and different looks, you should have a good variety to put together. Glue them down to some cardboard or posterboard.

When you're done, you can buy something like Hasbro Puzzle Saver to preserve your creation until the end of time. Then you can frame it up and have a great piece of artwork for their room.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Day 320 - Give a Gift Made By Your Baby

Today's first time parenting tip - Have your baby paint some heart magnets and give them to family members for Valentine's Day

It's right around Valentine's Day, and grandparents are probably going to use this time as an excuse to shower your baby with more gifts. It's about time your baby gave something back! Here's a fun idea my wife came up with that gets the baby involved and everyone will love.

Heart Magnets

What You'll Need
Two dozen small wooden hearts - pick them up at a craft store
3 jars of non-toxic paint (any color works)
Two dozen small, dime sized magnets

What to Do
Divide the hearts up into three groups.

Strip your baby down to his diaper and put him in the bathub.

Squirt a one of the colors onto his hands and let him go crazy on the wooden hearts.

Wash out the tub and him, and repeat, using a different color on each heart. Take pictures throughout the whole thing.

After your baby goes to bed, supergle the magnets to the back of the hearts.

Wrap them up with a picture of him 'painting' and give them as gifts from him. Everyone in our families thought they were a hit!

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Day 319 - Get Out on the Town with Your Partner

Today's first time parenting tip - Drop your baby off at a babysitter and do something you would have done before your married

Today at work we were talking about plans for Valentines Day, and one of the guys was making a big dinner with his fiance. Oysters, wine, steamed crab, the works.

Every single one of the married people there said "Ahh. Life without kids."

You don't have to sigh every time a young couple you know does something special. You can do it too. Make some time every month, or every other month at the least, for you and your partner to do something you could never do with the kids around. Go to a movie that's not animated. Spend three hours cooking together at home. Go on a day hike outside. Go to a spa.

The possibilities are endless. Chances are, you did things together as a couple before your had your baby. If you haven't done them in awhile, get back out there. Just because you have kids doesn't mean you should be relegated to spending every Friday night at home eating leftover pizza and watching Bob the Builder for the tenth time that day.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Day 318 - Signs of Food Allergies

Today's first time parenting tip - As you give your baby more and more regular foods, keep a close eye out for food allergies

Your infant is probably getting to the point where he's trying all sorts of new foods at your house, at other houses, at a restaurant, at daycare, etc. Since you don't know how they are prepared or what foods may have been mixed with them, its important to keep an eye on your baby for food allergies.

Here's how to tell if your baby is having a reaction.

  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing

  • Itchy skin rashes

  • Hives

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Nausea

  • Stomach pain or discomfort

  • Swelling around the mouth and throat

A sever reaction is called anaphylaxis, and the symptoms include difficulty breathing , swelling of the airways and low blood pressure. In this case get medical attention immediately.

If the symptoms are less severe, call your pediatrician or the nurse at your local hospital for advice. Be sure to tell them what your child ate over the past 24 hours and how much they ate of it.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Day 317 - What Chicago Sports Can Teach Us About Parenting

Today's first time parenting tip - Parenting is a lot like Chicago Sports.

So this might be a bit of a stretch, but I noticed some uncanny similarities between Chicago sports teams and parenting today. Let me elaborate.

Chicago Bears
No matter how good a job you do, there is always someone out there to tell you what you're doing wrong.

Chicago Cubs
No matter what, there is always someone who will love you unconditionally (your baby)

Chicago Bulls
Being at home is always better than being on the road.

Chicago White Sox
Sometimes big achievements take a LOT longer than they're supposed to, and sometimes that's OK.

Chicago Blackhawks
Some people have no business doing it, because their hearts aren't in it.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Day 316 - Wash Your Baby's Hands Often

Today's first time parenting tip - As your baby gets older and more active, washing their hands more often is more important

When your baby's idea of a good time was laying on their back for two hours looking at a ceiling fan, cleanliness wasn't as much of an issue. Now they're into everything, playing with and eating food, making messes and getting into all sorts of messy trouble.

And if they're going to day care or around other kids, that's a good eight hours in a germ factory. They'll touch anything and then stick their hands right in their mouth and not think twice about it.

So it's up to you to keep their hands clean. My son has a yeast infection right now, so we've got to be extra careful with our own hands and his so it doesn't spread to his mouth or eyes. He started scratching his eyes a bit last night and we were getting worried.

Most babies love to play in running water, so it should be easy to get them to cooperate. Put their hands under the running water and wash them up with a mild soap. You can sing a song while you do it or count, but a good 20 seconds or so should do the trick. Rinse them off and send them on their merry way!

At the minimum, you should be washing their hands before each meal.

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Day 315 - Destruction vs. Construction

Today's first time parenting tip - Encourage constructive destruction. I know that'll need an explanation.

Are you frustrated that all your baby seems to do is throw things down, knock over the buildings you build and try to rip all the pages out of his books?

Don't be. That's all my son does when he plays.

At this age, infants haven't developed the skills they need to be constructive. It's a lot easier to knock over a block tower than it is to build it. And most of the time, its a lot more fun too.

At this stage, they don't mean to destroy things to be mischievous, they do it because that's all they know how. Play with them, show them how to build things and encourage their exploration and they should grow out of it in due time.

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