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THOUGHTS AND TIPS FOR FIRST TIME PARENTS (FROM A FIRST TIME PARENT)
What This Is About
My wife and I are proud parents of an adopted newborn girl. As of this writing, she is just shy of five days old. That's her, over to your right. (I've cleverly added a caption to assist the reader in understanding which one is my daughter.)
I've learned quite a bit in these past 120 hours and in the months prior to our bundle's birth. This article is an attempt to impart to others my newfound acquired knowledge. Hopefully it will help other soon-to-be or just-become parents. For the rest of you, I encourage you to continue on; if, for no other reason, than the fact that reading is an excellent way for one to increase one's base of knowledge and understanding. And, seriously, let's face it, most of you could use a little of that. C'mon, be honest.
Photobomb Definition (for the unhip)
First off, let me say that I am an excellent father. EXCELLENT FATHER. If you don't believe me, then just ask me. I'll tell you. And, if you still don't believe me, then ask my wife and/or daughter. They'll tell you the same.
Still not convinced? Then here are the top five reasons I know I'm doing a good job so far.
1. The baby is still alive. (Cannot stress the importance of this enough.)
2. No South Sea pirates have absconded with the baby.
3. The baby does not make a living as "Carnie folk."
4. The baby is not allowed to play with dead squirrels. (See sidebar to the right.)
5. Charlie Sheen has never once been anywhere near the baby. (Cannot stress the importance of this enough either.)*
When my wife and I started the adoption process, we were told by our case worker that we may literally get a call from her saying, "You have a baby, can you come get her now?" It's easy to imagine the pressure that statement can bring. Also, the agency suggested we not stock up on every little baby thing, nor paint the nursery and load it with furniture. Too many times they had seen prospective adoptive parents get everything ready, only to wait two or three years on a baby. That nursery, which was intended to be a room of joy, instead became a torture chamber to those parents, as it was nothing more than a constant reminder that they did not have a child.
This of course, can lead to a certain amount of panic, if that call does come without warning. Psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, physically and about a thousand more "ly's", having the nine months that parents normally would have to prepare for impending parenthood is priceless. Fortunately, my wife and I were told two months in advance that we were getting a child, and thus were able to spend the next eight weeks not getting done what everyone else doesn't get done in 9 months.
*Note: I know you may be thinking that the "joke" of number five is a little tired at this point, but let me say unequivocally that I am not joking. Think about it.
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BUY Tracy Hogg, BABY WHISPERER
Rock solid, can't do without baby book. Suggest you have your baby read it the second he or she is born!
DVD version of above book.
VHS version for those of you who live in 1982.
Probably the first thing any prospective parent does is obtain a baby book. There are countless volumes to choose from, and most people's friends and family all have a certain one they swear is the gospel in child rearing.
I only read one book, "The Baby Whisperer" by Tracy Hogg (see sidebar to the right). My wife and I had three separate friends who read this book and put its practices into effect. All three friends have exceptionally well-adjusted children. That was enough for me.
Tracy Hogg promotes something she calls EASY. It's not a schedule, but a routine. The difference being, that a parent who puts a baby on a schedule will feed the baby at 10 am, even though that particular child isn't ready to eat until 11am. This obviously can cause problems if the parents aren't flexible.
A routine on the other hand allows for that flexibility while teaching the baby what to expect. A baby that knows what is coming next, Hogg believes, is better adjusted. Babies don't deal well with surprises or constant change. It takes a bit of dedication, but we've found that it works like a dream. We instituted this with our daughter from the get-go. We were at the hospital when she was born, and wasted no time in establishing EASY, which stands for:
E = EAT (breast milk, or formula. NOT steak... we'll get to that later.)
A = ACTIVITY (if your child is advanced like mine, piano playing or lawn mowing**)
S = SLEEP (preferably in a baby bed and not at a NASCAR event)
Y = YOU (chores, emailing, napping, online gaming, crying from exhaustion, teeth brushing, more crying from exhaustion)
EASY in a nutshell (for more comprehensive info I highly stress reading the book): Your baby wakes. The baby is fed. The baby is then given an activity (this activity may be nothing more than a diaper change -- which, can be done prior to feeding if things are a little sticky down there), or a bath, or as the child gets older playing. Then nap time again. The YOU in EASY refers to the time you use while the baby is sleeping to get things done that you need to get done, which also may be a nap for yourself.
Tracy Hogg's book has practical and proven advice regarding all aspects of parenting, but I won't go into those here. Instead, let's talk about...
** I don't suggest letting your newborn mow the lawn unsupervised, even if he/she is fully capable of doing so. Take it from me, nothing gets the neighbors more riled than seeing a beautiful baby getting some excellent exercise behind a lawn mower. There's something wrong with our society today if you ask me.
...WHAT I HAVE LEARNED ON MY OWN SO FAR
Not everyone may agree with the following, but I've been at this parenting business a while now (5 days remember!), so I think I have more than one leg to stand on.
1. You can't feed a newborn baby steak. Apparently there are some new studies claiming babies should not be allowed to eat ANY solid food for at least six months or longer. Crazy, I know!
2. Parrots do not make good babysitters. Don't worry, my wife stopped me before I made THAT mistake...
3. If you leave your computer on at night, a newborn will most likely use your paypal account to buy tickets to see Prince in concert. And she won't buy nosebleed seats either.
4. If you want to teach your child a second language, Sumerian probably isn't the most useful one to choose. Ours learned it no problem, but she is now very annoyed that there isn't anyone else on the planet with whom she can converse.
5. Instructing an infant on the art of pick-pocketing is easier than one would be led to believe. (This is advantageous if you want to help offset the costs of a new baby. No one, but no one suspects a four-day-old baby of a little five-fingered financing.)
6. (IF ADOPTING) I don't recommend asking the adoption agency if they've had any luck in the past with parents using homeless men as au pairs.
7. It's never too early to introduce your infant to "Sgt. Pepper's" or "Paul's Boutique."
8. You cannot enter your infant into the "World's Strongest Man Competition." They definitely have an age/sex bias that I'm not sure is completely legal. My daughter has been training practically her entire life for this, so I'm not going to give up without a fight.
9. Lagrange's Four-Square Theorem states that every positive integer can be written as the sum of at most four squares. For example, 6 = 22 + 12 + 12 is the sum of three squares. My daughter taught me this one.
10. Your child will probably enter the world believing that it is chock-full of unicorns pulling rainbow chariots through fields of marshmallow. It will not be pretty when she finds out otherwise. Forget the birds and the bees, explaining why this is so will be the most painful and uncomfortable thing you may ever do.
11. At some point during the first week it is possible that you will become so exhausted that you will forget your baby's name. And, I don't mean mistakenly calling little Alfred "Albert," I mean calling him Consuela. Especially dangerous after being around someone else's child. Very easy to start calling your baby by your friend's child's name. Not a problem to worry about unless you continue to do it past the baby's tenth birthday.
12. You may be tempted to try it; but, the Vulcan nerve pinch will do nothing to calm your baby and help him/her to sleep. No matter how much you want it to. It. Just. Won't. Work.
- YouTube - You Don't Mess With The Zohan - Kids Salon
Comedy superstar Adam Sandler is back - and funnier than ever - as The Zohan, the finest counterterrorist agent the Israeli army has. That is, until he fakes...
- TV-watching and child development on MedicineNet.com
How does the amount and quality of TV-watching affect your child's development?
TO TV OR NOT TO TV
Unfortunately, modern day parenting is a reflection of modern day living, in which too much television is watched. It's well known that this can be detrimental to anyone's brain, but especially so for a child under the age of four. The first 48 months of a child's life, his or her brain is literally a sponge, absorbing anything and everything. Put crap in, and you may get crap coming back out (for more see sidebar to the right).
Arguably, less is more, but ultimately, the amount of tv your child watches will be, of course, up to you. I would like to offer up some suggestions on what may be appropriate and not appropriate tv and film viewing for your newborn.
BUY Sesame Street & Mr. Rogers
To be honest, I was in no hurry to show my daughter tv, but somehow she found out about "The Wire," and I can't get her to turn it off. She is a HUGE Omar fan. But, really who isn't? She whistles "a hunting we will go" all the time, and you'd swear Omar Little was in the next room. It's kinda creepy actually...
- YouTube - Omar Comin
Taken from episode 5, season 1.
These following choices are more than obvious, but then I realized that I have a strong Amish following and I don't want them to stumble unawares onto these, subjecting their adorable Amish babies to these potentially harmful entertainments.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES IS THIS MOVIE SUITABLE FOR ANYONE ALIVE
This will TERRIFY your child!!!!
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THE PERFECT GIFT
Many people want to shower you with gifts once your newborn has arrived and will often ask you what you would like or need. Some, like my wife and I, register at one of various outlets that cater to baby accoutrements. We, for example, registered at Amazon.com. However, there is one item I have found missing from all the different registries I've come across, and I fear it's lack is painfully felt.
I would like to now petition you to please contact any and all retailers (whether they be online or brick and mortar) who deal in baby goods and ask them to please find a way to stock the following.
- Amazon.com: Baby Registry
Find the perfect gift, search for a baby registry or create one at Amazon.com and store everything you need for your new baby in one place.
EVERY NEW PARENTS' GREATEST NEED!
Alice Nelson, as portrayed by two-time Emmy winning actress Ann B. Davis was, as you probably know, the grande dame of housekeeping on "The Brady Bunch." There was no cleaning task too small, no family meal too large, no problem too Gordian, that Alice couldn't tackle.
My wife and I are actually having no problem taking care of our newborn. We're focused, on the same page and love doing it. However, we have completely and utterly lost the ability to take care of ourselves. If only we had been able to put an Alice on our Amazon registry, we would no doubt have the perfect life right now, which might even include a back yard of astroturf and a visit from Davey Jones or Desi Arnas, Jr.
So please, think of not only yourself, but others out there who have or will have infants soon. Demand from Babies-R-Us, Amazon and others to stock up immediately on Alice. It'll be worth every penny!
WRAPPING IT UP
That's all for now. I'll be back at some point with PART 2, in which will be discussed children's books, baby formulas, cloth diapers and the pain of the Lakers' early exit from the 2011 NBA playoffs.
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The continuing adventures of a really, really amazing dad and his badass newborn daughter.
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