Wednesday, February 21, 2007

365 First Time Parenting Tips is Moving!

A full year is over and we're all grown up! Not really, actually, toddler years are staring us right in the face.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Day 365 - Back to the Beginning

Today's first time parenting tip - Remember where you came from to get where you're going

Day 1 - Today's Tip - Have an OB that you like, trust and knows your wishes.

Even though its common sense to trust your doctor, its even more important to like them and to know without a doubt that they're looking out for your best interests. My wife and I chose an OB/GYN with 5 doctors, and for pregnancies they all rotated both office visits and hospital coverage. Of course, we had two favorites, one we disliked, and two we didn't know that well.

When the time came to suggest a C-section to my wife after 13 hours of fruitless labor, we were both relieved that our favorite doctor was on to talk us through it. Had it been one we didn't like or didn't know that well, we probably would have fought the C-section. But we trusted him, and even though we didn't like it, we knew he would only suggest it in our best interests. Turns out it was the right call, our baby was very big, 10lbs, 23.5", he was sideways in my normally 114 pound wife and he had the cord wrapped around his neck.

That was the first post I made a year ago today when my son was first born. Looking back over the posts I've made has taken me back and made me realize how far my wife and I have come as parents.

In the beginning, as you can see from the post above, my tips were general and short. We were happy just to be surviving. As time wore on we felt like maybe, in some strange universe, our son might be lucky enough to survive our bumbling attempts at parenting for another month or so. Then we got in a groove, and most things because natural.

The posts at the end of the year were more specific. Less about making it through the day, and more about making it better.

And when I look back at videos and pictures of my son over the year, I can see how much he's changed too. I remember how fragile and completely dependent he seemed when he was first born, wailing his head off and clutching my hand because he had no idea what was going on. Now he's walking all over the place, figuring things out for himself and still clutching to his mom or his dad when he feels scared.

It's been a year unlike any other, and I hope I've helped some other parents out there. The great thing about the age we live in is that it's so easy to share information, and you never have to feel alone.

If you're a first time parent and are scared, don't be. Everyone has been along the path you are about to journey down. There are lots of other people out there with experiences similar to yours.

Enjoy the ride.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Day 364 - Can You Do This? Month 12

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 twelth month, your infant should 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

Probably will 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
  • Gesture for an object that they want without crying

Taken from What to Expect the First Year

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Day 363- Switching from Formula to Milk

Today's first time parenting tip - Switch your infant from formula to whole milk gradually.

If you've got a good natured baby that takes well to change, switching from formula to whole milk for their second year of life cold turkey might be a good approach. But if you've got a fussier baby or one that's more resistant to change, going gradual might be a good strategy.

Here's how to do it:

  • Start with the middle of the day, and work out. Most infants will resist giving up their morning and bedtime bottle the most

  • Mix 2 parts formula and 1 part whole milk into a sippy cup for the first few days. If your baby doesn't want to drink out of the cup, then try just focusing on the whole milk part.

  • Add more and more milk in three day increments, until your infant is drinking a whole serving of milk

  • Replace another feeding and give it another three days or so. By the time you're done, your child should be drinking 16-20 oz. of formula

  • Serve the milk how you'd drink it yourself. Cold milk might put off some children, but you also don't want to be warming glasses of milk up for the rest of your life either. Try it both ways and see what happens

  • If you've successfully made the switch and your baby starts to refuse milk, don't go back to formula. Try other dairy products like cheese or yogurt.

What's your success story with making the switch?

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Day 362 - Fingerpaints with No Mess

Today's first time parenting tip - Try Crayola Color Wonder Fingerpaints and Coloring Book if your baby likes to color but you don't want a mess

Coloring might be your infant's thing. If you let him mess around with crayons or fingerpaints every once and awhile, you know how much of a mess they can be. Especially fingerpaints. They have a way of getting on and staining everything, no matter how washable they say they are.

Enter Crayola Color Wonder Fingerpaints and Coloring Book. Your baby simply touches their finger to the non-toxic "paint" cups, and then they touch the wonder paper, and they're off! The color appears right before there eyes.

The great thing is, the special "paint" only leaves a color on wonder paper. So if some does get in the carpet or on the wall, its pretty easy to wipe off. Plus, it's less messy than fingerpaints.

The only thing I don't like is that you can't color outside the lines. I'm big on teaching kids to think non-linearly, and coloring inside the lines (even though you can make a purple sun or a blue lamb) seems kind of restrictive. All in all, a fun toy. I think my wife had a great time with it too.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Day 361 - Track Your Baby's Growth Visually

Today's first time parenting tip - Track your baby's growth with yearly pictures and an object

Want to track your baby's growth, but don't want to mark up the doors in your house? Try what my wife and I are planning on doing.

Every year, we'll take a picture. The idea is that he'll be wearing the same kind of clothes (I think we both like jeans and a plain, red shirt). In the picture we're also going to have some kind of object that will show how much he's grown.

I want to do a ball. My wife wants to do an adult sized belt (He'll wear the belt and it'll be ridiculously large until he's 10 or 11).

After you do this you'll have a great record of how your baby grew and changed his appearance over the years. And they'll love looking at it in the end to see how far they've come.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Day 360 - 1st Year Round-Up - Top 5 Things to Do

Today's first time parenting tip - Let your baby do his favorite things often

Routine and repetition are good for babies, so if he wants to read that story for the 15th time or wants to sing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" for two hours in a row, it's actually a good thing. It helps them build memory and cognition.

So as part of the yearly round-up, here are my son's top 5 favorite things to do.

  • Go to the aquarium

  • Read books

  • Watch cars and trucks drive by

  • Dance and listen to music

  • Play with the cat

Honorable mention - Crawl over Mom and Dad

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Day 359 - 1st Year Round-Up - Top 5 Favorite Foods

Today's first time parenting tip - Give your baby his favorite, healthy foods and encourage him to try new ones

It may take up to ten tries for a baby to learn to like a food, so when you get success with one it's tempting to serve that up every time. It's always good to have some old, reliable comfort food you can count on him to eat, but it's also good to introduce new foods to give him a wide, varied palate.

The eating habits you set up in the first two years are the one's they'll have for the rest of their lives. So my son will probably enjoy these 5 foods well into his adult years. They're all pretty safe, but if your infant hasn't tried them yet, give it a whirl.

  • Bananas

  • Cheerios and Goldfish

  • Eggs with and without vegetables

  • Spaghetti

  • Yogurt

Honorable Mention - Wheat Bread

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Day 358 - 1st Year Round-Up - Top 5 Favorite Toys

Today's first time parenting tip - Bring out your baby's favorite toy as part of play time

Is there a toy in the toy chest that your baby goes for every single time? You should have some time scheduled every day for active and quiet play, and toys can definitely be a pert of that. While there are lots of great ones out there, they're no substitute for the imagination and the fun games the two of you can come up with together.

As part of the 1st year round-up, here are my son's 5 favorite toys. Try them and see if your baby loves them as much as mine did.

Honorable Mention - Giant stuffed grinch (this wasn't in the top-five only because he sees it so rarely at Grandpa & Grandma's house)

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Day 357 - 1st Year Round-Up - Top 5 Favorite Books

Today's first time parenting tip - Read your baby's favorite stories to him every day.

When it comes to developing memory and learning to associate words with objects, there's no better tool than books. Every time you read them, the words and images are the same. If your baby loves a certain book, he could read it at least 15 times. And that's a good thing, because he'll be committing all the words in the book to memory.

As part of the 1st year round-up, here are my son's 5 favorite books. They're all great stories and a lot of fun to read with your baby.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Day 356 - 1st Year Round Up - How Much Should Your Baby Drink

Today's first time parenting tip - At 12 months, your baby "should" be drinking about 2 cups of milk or formula

As part of the first year round up, I'm going to look at taking stock of where your baby is at. Keep in mind that these are averages, and they could fall above or below these ranges and be perfectly fine. The numbers are meant to give you a general idea of what your baby should be doing.

Even though they may be eating a hearty share of fruits and vegetables (how much is enough?), your baby still needs a good portion of his diet to be good old breastmilk or formula.

About 2 cups a day will do the trick, and you can add in yogurt and cheese as some additional dairy foods in their diet. If your baby drinks more or less milk from day-to-day, don't sweat it too much. You should be looking at your baby's diet from a week-long perspective at this stage to make sure they're getting the right amounts and a good variety.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Day 355 - 1st Year Round Up - How Much Should Your 12 month old be eating

Today's first time parenting tip - Serving sizes for a twelve month old are different than adults

As part of the first year round up, I'm going to look at taking stock of where your baby is at. Keep in mind that these are averages, and they could fall above or below these ranges and be perfectly fine. The numbers are meant to give you a general idea of what your baby should be doing.

Your baby's eating patterns have probably changed quite a bit over the last year. They went from all breast milk to fruits, veggies and crackers in no time. So how much is too much? At this age, your baby is still probably too young to eat just for the sake of eating.

If he's hungry, he'll eat. If he's not, he'll stop. If you think your child has a weight problem, first take stock of what you're giving him. Is it unhealthy foods with lots of fat and sugar? Or is it healthy fare, like veggies and fruits.

If that's not the problem, your baby could just be naturally bigger. You should never underfeed your baby or try to put them on a diet. At this age, they still need a high-fat diet for brain development, so consult your pediatrician before making any diet changes.

Here's how much your baby should be getting from each food group:

  • 3 oz. of grains (1 slice of wheat bread = 1 oz, and 1/2 cup of cereal or pasta = 1 oz)

  • 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables

  • 1 cup of fruits or fruit juice

  • 2 oz of meat/beans (2 tablespoons of lean meat is 1oz, and one egg is an ounce

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Day 354 - 1st Year Round Up - How Much Should Your 12 Month Old Sleep

Today's first time parenting tip - At 12 months, your baby "should" be sleeping 11-13 hours at night, with one or two naps during the day

As part of the first year round up, I'm going to look at taking stock of where your baby is at. Keep in mind that these are averages, and they could fall above or below these ranges and be perfectly fine. The numbers are meant to give you a general idea of what your baby should be doing.

Sleep is a tricky thing. Too much, and your baby might seem lethargic or inactive. Too little, and they'll be cranky. If your baby falls outside this range or sleeps irregularly and they chronically seem unhappy or lethargic, they might have sleep problems.

My son sleeps 10-11 hours at night and takes two, hour-and-a-half long naps during the day. So he's on the low side, but he seems to be happy and he's pretty regular, so I'm not worried.

Your baby's sleep patterns could also change based on any new stress they might be experiencing, or they may sleep more if they're sick or going through a growth spurt. The important thing is to keep an eye on patterns and consult your pediatrician if you see anything irregular.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Day 353 - How to Treat Frostbite

Today's first time parenting tip - Use your own body heat or water a few degrees warmer than body temperature to treat frostbite

We just escaped a bitter cold spell here in Chicago, but it's still February and I'm not holding my breath. Even though your infant probably isn't outside that much if its bitter cold, if temps are chilly and they're outside for what seems like a short time, their fingers and toes can get frostbit.

Frostbit skin looks white to yellowish-gray, and is often cold to the touch. If you think your infant has frostbite, you should get them to the hospital as soon as you can. Until you can get there, you can start the gradual warming process.

First off, get your baby out of the cold and into a warm room. Don't place them next to an oven or another heat source, it can actually burn the skin and cause more damage.

The best way to gradually warm them up is by using your own body heat. Hold their skin against your skin, or cup the frostbit fingers or toes in your hands. If you want to submerse the affected area in water, make sure it's a few degrees above body temperature and no more. Heat the water back up as it cools down past 98 degrees.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Day 352 - Sign Up for Preschool Early

Today's first time parenting tip - Sign up for preschool around your baby's first birthday

I know it sounds crazy, and it is, but around Chicago, if you don't sign up for daycare or preschool early, you're sunk. We called at least 60 day cares and only found 1 that was taking infants. Guess who were sending him too.

Supposedly it's just as bad for preschool. Waiting lists for all the "good" ones fill up fast. What makes a school "good" isn't how expensive a building they have or if they have an Xbox 360 for the kids or even how much they charge. A good preschool is only as good as the teacher, and you can find some great ones that don't teach at the popular preschools.

Even so, you should lock up your spot as early as possible. If you don't send your baby to daycare, preschool becomes even more important as it teaches kids how to learn and play with others before they get into a more academic grade school setting.

Of course, if you don't know where you're going to be living in the next few years and there's a chance you could leave the area, you've got another factor to add to the mix. We're definitely in temporary housing, so we're going to hold off a little longer. If it comes down to it, we might just have to plunk down a deposit and maybe lose it if we have to move farther away.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Day 351 - Yearly Budget

Today's first time parenting tip - Look back on the past year's expenses to figure out your new budget

If you're the budgeting type, chances are you made one to account for the new expenses you knew would be associated with having a baby. Chances are, you were way off. Now that the year is up, it's a good time to go back, look at your expenses, and figure out a budget for the second year.

There will always be things you can't account for, but if you set aside money for medical expenses and Christmas, knowing that you will have to spend money on them, it can make December a whole lot easier to get through.

To help you out, here's what we spent last year on baby expenses. Take them for what it's worth.

Formula, food and Diapers - $100 a month
Day Care - $3000, this was for about 6 months of part-time care. Yipes!
Health Care - An extra $145 a month for health insurance, and about $500 in out-of-pocket costs
Christmas - $50, we went light
Misc - About $500. This is all the baby gear and miscellaneous stuff you need
Clothes - We got a lot of clothes for the baby shower, and then when he grew out of those it was Christmas time, and we got a bunch more, so we really didn't spend much this year. Next year I'm guessing we'll spend around $500, but we'll see.

If you get paid by the hour, you might have to account for lost wages since I missed work 4 times because my son was sick, and my wife missed work twice. Add in time off for 4 well-visits to the pediatrician as well.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Day 350 - Family Traditions

Today's first time parenting tip - Be sure to have some family traditions, they're the things memories are made of

If you asked me what I remember most about growing up, I'd tell you I remember the yearly family vacations. I remember the way the excitement I felt every year when we'd go up north to Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore for a day every year. I remember walking to the ice cream store down the street with my grandma and grandpa and getting peanut butter cup flurries.

A co-worker remembers the snack of cheeses and caviar his parents would have out so well, he named his blog after it. Think back on your childhood traditions. You probably remember them fondly, and they're probably some of your best memories.

Now that you're a parent, it's time to create you own traditions. It's the routine and familiarity that being with family provides that makes traditions so memorable. Come up with a couple that are unique to you, and your child will look back on his childhood and smile.

Some ideas for traditions are:

  • Pizza night

  • Game Night (every week one family member gets to pick the game)

  • Big birthday or Sunday breakfast

  • Pajama Day

  • Family outing day (zoo, museum, etc.)

  • Story time

  • Camping trips out of town or in the backyard

  • Water balloon wars for Father's Day

  • Beach trips

  • Smores night

As you can see, you can turn just about anything into a family tradition.

What traditions does your family have?

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Day 349 - The Decadent Birthday Treat

Today's first time parenting tip - If you're OK with your baby having sweets, try making cupcakes with this special fluffy frosting

Some parents are alright with their babies having a sweet treat on a special occasion. Some even want it. There's nothing wrong with it at all, so don't let health nut parents make you feel poorly just because you gave your kid a piece of cake on his birthday. There's healthy treats for them too.

Instead of a cake, try making cupcakes instead. They're great for taking to day care or school and are easy for kids and adults alike to just grab and go. And, you can make a special fluffy frosting that let those enjoying your dessert frost it themselves, which is fun for kids.

Cupcakes - Cupcake recipe modified from


* 1/2 cup cake flour
* 2/3 cup powdered sugar
* 6 large egg whites (about 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Line 18 muffin cups with paper muffin cups.

Sift the flour and powdered sugar together 3 times; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat or whisk egg whites with the salt until frothy. Add the cream of tartar; continue beating to soft peaks.

Add granulated sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.

With a spatula, fold in about 1/3 of the flour and powdered sugar mixture. Fold in another 1/3, then finish with remaining mixture. Gently fold in the orange zest and vanilla.

Using a small ice cream scoop or large tablespoon, fill muffin cups about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake for about 15 to 17 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool for 5 minutes in pan on rack. Remove cupcakes to a rack to cool completely.
Frost with Orange Frosting or a fat-free Fluffy Frosting.

1 1.5 oz package chocolate Jello pudding
1 tub whipped cream
2 cups cold fat-free milk

Mix the pudding powder and the milk in a bowl as you normally would. Once the mixture is smooth, whip together the pudding and the whipped cream until you're able to form peaks with the mixture.

Chill the frosting until the cupcakes are ready to serve. Enjoy!

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Day 348 - The Healthier Birthday Treat

Today's first time parenting tip - Try serving fruit smoothies for a healthy birthday snack

It's almost 1st birthday time, so what are you going to serve for dessert? Some day cares allow you to bring a treat for a birthday, and if you're throwing a party, you'll probably want something sweet and tasty to finish off a meal.

But for the parent trying to keep things healthy, what can you do around birthday time? If you want your baby to have a healthy birthday celebration, there's nothing wrong with that. If you think it can't be done, try these simple fruit smoothies. They're easy to make, tasty and guests at your party can "un-healthy" them up if they must with whipped cream.

Fruit Smoothies
1 part pineapple
1 part banana
1 part strawberry
1 part ice

8 ounces of each fruit and ice will make about 4 fruit smoothies, so expand or decrease the recipe based on how much you need to make. Just throw all the ingredients in a blender and blend until the mixture is relatively smooth.

Serve immediately or chill in a pitcher until they're ready to serve. For a sweet topping, throw on some whipped cream.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Day 347 - Your Baby's First Haircut

Today's first time parenting tip - Whether you cut your baby's hair yourself, or have a barber do it, safety is number one

My son doesn't have a ton of hair, but even now after a year it's getting pretty shaggy. And when I think of him getting a haircut, all I think is - scissors...near the face...not a good idea.

But there are safe ways to do it. If you take him or her to someone else to do a haircut, make sure they're comfortable cutting young infant's hair. Hopefully they have a pair of safe scissors that won't poke or cut if your baby turns his head quickly or squirms (which they will). The person should also be very patient, because it'll take longer than a typical haircut.

Another option if someone else does it or if you do it is with an electric razor with a guard on it. This way you don't really have to be exact, and if they move around they won't end up poking or cutting themselves. It does make noise, which might freak out some kids.

Ultimately, if they're not going to let you do it, they're not going to let you do it. Nothing wrong with having a shaggy set of locks while they're young.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Day 346 - How to Buy the Right Size Clothes for Your Baby

Today's first time parenting tip - Buy clothes for your baby based on weight, and buy a size up

Here in the States, the size standard for baby clothes goes by month. We've never been able to use this system because our son was so large when he was born. He was into "6 month" clothing right out of the gate!

A better way to buy clothes if you've got a baby on the heavy or light side of the spectrum is to buy based on weight. Sometimes stores like Target have a handy chart right there in the store, sometimes they don't.

In case they don't, here's a chart for you to take to the store. And within this, sizes can vary from brand to brand. And if your baby is closer to the next size up than he is the next size down, you might want to buy a size bigger to let him grow into it. Chances are at this age that he'll outgrow it before he wears it out.

See the Chart

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