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Posts Tagged ‘ct stay at home dads’

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So its been three months since I have posted anything here and we have been quite busy!  O has gotten pretty good at all sorts of new tricks like standing up and speed crawling.  We have done tons of baby proofing and plenty of worrying that it won’t be enough and he will somehow get hurt.  Perhaps the biggest challenge was dealing with the heat.  CT had several weeks of ridiculously high temperatures that saw most people we know huddling near their air conditioners.  This was not an option for us because we have no working air conditioners in our apartment.  We have a broken air conditioner sticking out of our wall and lots of fans but certainly nothing that blasts cold air/relief.  Narrow windows and lack of funds mean we just have to deal with the heat however we can.

Each morning I would go through a ritual of opening and closing various windows and shades while changing fans from off to on or intake to exhaust, reversing the process before O’s morning nap.  When he woke up I would give him a lunch consisting of some sort of vegetable and protein accompanied by lots of cold watermelon.  A wipe down, diaper change, and a quick dressing later and we were into my car and its glorious sub-zero air conditioning.  We spent most afternoons in either the Meriden or Manchester malls to bask in their AC and use their often crowded play areas.  The stress of a play area full of children whose parents are glued to their smartphones is bearable when you have an infant who needs to get out of the heat.  As a stay at home dad I found this to be irritating and I had to bite my tongue often as I tried to prevent rowdy older kids from running little man over.

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We would spend the hottest hours of the day hanging out  in the play place and walking around the mall.  The mall walking always included the food court and the salespeople pushing free samples as if that wasn’t why I was there.  I got to try sesame chicken made by three different places all calling it something else but always saying theirs was  “Number One in America!”  So there are other places calling themselves Cajun who make sesame chicken?  Apparently if you are the only one that makes you number one.  Both malls have good family restrooms which makes this all possible though it seemed like the same episode of Dora the Explora was on loop every time I changed the little dude in Meriden.  Can you say repetitive? (blink blink) Good Job!  After yet another exciting mall experience we would head home for a bottle and a nap.  By this time the worst of the day’s heat had gone and the apartment is cooler than outside due to some strategic closing of windows and shades.

Some days O was able to handle the heat of the apartment and take a good afternoon nap.  When he wasn’t we went swimming in our apartment complex’s pool to cool off and wait for my wife to return home from work.  While at home he spent all of his time in a diaper and dealt with a little bit of heat rash but overall he was good.  Has anyone else dealt with this sort of situation?  Does anyone else’s baby sleep in the pool like this?

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This is our diaper changing station, also known as CT central command in a stay at home dads endless fight against the forces of urine and feces.  From here (in the name of truth, justice and a dry butt) I wage war on things that would seek to cause diaper rash and lots of fussiness. I have everything I need within easy reach so that I am prepared to respond quickly when my son craps up his back or tries to pee in my face.  Starting from the right, light, garbage can, diaper genie, towels, vaseline, wipes, non sterile 4×4 gauze pads, uncovered changing pad, pacifier(not visible) regular diapers, overnight diapers, extra wipes, extra gauze and extra diapers.  There are other helpful items we store on the shelves such as burp clothes and blankets but the focus of this post is on diapering.

I get lots of questions about the gauze (which by the way can only be purchased online) so I will explain it by walking you through a typical “O pissed his pants again” scenario.  I set him on the pad, take off his pants, open his onesie and pull it up around his armpits in case he pees.  I find that his Pamper’s Swaddlers are clearly wet due to the yellow line turning blue.  So I grab a short stack of two gauze pads, open his diaper and put the gauze on his junk to prevent him from peeing on me.  This has the added benefit of absorbing much of the urine if he pees, plus if needed I can quickly grab more to soak it up before his back and butt are covered.  I grab a wipe, move the gauze and quickly wipe him off.  I then blot him dry with one side of the gauze.  This step  is important for preventing diaper rash so do not skip.  I flip the gauze pads over and put them back on his junk so that the damp side is up.

The next step is applying Vaseline to his leg creases and all over his butt/everywhere in between.  Vaseline is important because it creates a barrier so that the next time he sharts or wets himself it will not stick to his skin and irritate it.  The other benefit is that during the next diaper change you will wipe off soiled vaseline instead of trying to scrub the excrement or smelly liquid off of his skin.  It’s also cheap so there is no reason to be stingy with it.  Then I use the gauze to wipe the vaseline off my finger and get another diaper ready under him.  I start to close up the diaper and quickly remove the gauze followed by the buttoning up of his onesie.  I roll everything up in the diaper and toss it in the garbage can.  If it’s a turd filled diaper it goes in the diaper genie to add to what will surely become an epic poop snake.

That’s a typical diaper change for my little man!  Having everything easily accessible makes this process a lot easier and the more often you do it the faster you become.  As a stay at home dad I get lots of practice! A special thanks to my father in law for building the side shelves and to our CT friend Debbie for giving us the (insert furniture name here) that our diaper changing station is built around.  Whats your diaper changing secret technique? Do you have any must have items that you keep where you change your baby? Any questions about what we have on our changing station? Leave a comment!

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My wife and I attended another Central CT Babywearers meeting and it was much less intimidating this time.  No other stay at home dads were there but it was more low key and there were definitely fewer moms/kids.  I had a couple of great conversations and felt relaxed and at home as I practiced putting O into a front and back carry in the Boba 3G.  The biggest advantage of going to the meetings is being able to try out different carriers and practice using them before you put down what is sometimes a sizable amount of money to buy one.  I had already tried the Boba 3G but I was not sure if I wanted the black “Montenegro” the gray “Dusk” or the blue and black “Glacier.”  Clover Heske from Bean Tree Baby brought along the three different colors of the Boba I was interested in so I could compare them.  I initially wanted the all black version but I was concerned about it getting too hot in the sun since I want to use the carrier primarily for hiking and walks around town.

I clearly settled on the all gray one as you can see from the picture.  The day I took it he was a little sick and fussy so I just put him in the carrier and he settled right down.  He loves to gum the top of the carrier and soak it with his drool.  The Boba 3G is very comfortable to wear and quite cool since it is made from 100% cotton.  It can also be used as an infant carrier and comes with a sleep hood and stirrups to keep his little legs in the proper position once he gets bigger.  Its rated up to 45 pounds (roughly until he’s 6) and built quite sturdily.  O and I are joining some moms from the Central CT Babywearer’s group for a mall walk next Tuesday 3/5/13 so maybe he will make some new friends!  Anyone interested in joining us?

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Guess who’s started solids!  We decided to go with a baby led approach to solids and it’s been pretty hilarious for us and lots of fun for O.  With baby led weaning you put out the food and let him choose what he wants to eat and when he is done.  The first couple of months are generally full of messy playing mixed with a little bit of ingestion.  The idea is to allow him to explore food at his own pace and in the process learn how to chew and move food to the back of his mouth and safely swallow.  He will ingest more as his nutritional needs evolve and his digestive system is ready so in the meantime it’s all about exposing him to new textures and flavors.  A common concern with this approach is choking, however if a baby can sit up on their own and reach to grab food off their tray then this is a minor concern.  You do not start baby led weaning until after 6 months and at that age the gag reflex is pretty high up on the tongue so anything a baby bites off will be quickly spit back out.  Babies learn what they can and can’t swallow and after a short while they can safely eat a wide variety of foods.  I have a link to an article and a blog about baby led weaning on my articles page and the book I used is also listed on my books and dvd’s page for anyone interested in learning more about this approach to introducing solid foods.

We started O with steamed broccoli, carrots and asparagus.  My wife cut the carrots into finger sized sticks so that he could easily grab and handle them.  He loved trying all three and he made quite the mess.  The broccoli got everywhere!  I wasn’t sure if he got any down any since I spent quite a while picking chunks out of his hair and high chair but I found some in his poop later on so I know he swallowed some of it.  It’s definitely a messy approach but it is hilarious watching him choose what he wants to eat as tries to figure out how to eat it.  He makes the funniest faces the first time he “eats” a new food as he explores its flavors and textures.  Here he inspects, tastes, and re-inspects a piece of broccoli that he will end up wearing.

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One of the major benefits of baby led weaning is that when we eat out he can pretty much eat off our plates!  We went out with friends to one of out favorite restaurants in Newington CT for Greek food this past weekend and O got to try all sorts of fun stuff.    He ate off of my plate as he had his first pita, humus, cucumber and salad dressing!  I don’t think the pita agreed with him, but he sure seemed to like chewing on it as he sucked off the humus.

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One of the other joys of baby led weaning is seeing all of the weird ways they combine their food.  The next day we gave O a gob of the leftover humus and he got to try his first pieces of banana as he mashed it up and mixed it with the humus.  This is by far the messiest meal he has eaten so far but I am sure he will surpass it soon enough.  It is also a great example of how babies can use their hands to eat mushy foods by sucking it off their fingers or a dipper like a cucumber strip.  We have also starting skipping the shoulder straps on his high chair so he can lean forward easier.  This is important when he gags and needs to lean forward to spit it out.  Banana flavored humus anyone?  My little man will take an extra-large helping!

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It’s often seems like he didn’t swallow anything because it always ends up in the chair or on the ground or stuck to his face but I keep finding evidence in his poop that he got some down.  Today we had lunch at home with another stay at home dad and his daughter.  O’s lunch consisted of pepper strips, cucumber strips and firm baked potato wedges.  I adjusted the high chair so he could truly sit at and eat off of the table with us.  I think it worked out well!

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Through all this he has made some pretty big messes and he gagged twice and spit out what was in his mouth but his joy in exploring solid food has far outweighed either of these drawbacks to baby led weaning.  I wholeheartedly recommend this approach to anyone willing to read up and commit.  It’s not for everyone but the rewards for us so far have been tremendous.  If you choose to use this approach make sure to read as much as you can about it before you get started.  It’s relatively simple but you want to make sure you fully understand what you need to do to make it work for you in a safe and happy way.  I have really enjoyed introducing solids to him and can’t wait to give him some new tasty foods to taste and play with!

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A few days ago I went on a most excellent walk at Westfarms Mall in West Hartford CT with another stay at home dad.  The weather had been so crummy that this seemed to be the best option for us to get out and about.  I find our weekly get togethers very helpful for my general well-being.  I love taking care of my son, but I also miss adult conversation during the day.  His daughter is a month and a half older than O so it’s also great to talk to him about what will come next for my little man and hear how he had handled it.  We sat down almost immediately and fed the kids, followed by watching them stare and make funny noises at each other.  We walked and talked quite a bit, got pretzels and checked out the random kiosks selling transformers bling.

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This bling is key for the sharp dressing autobot or decepticon.  I was also reminded that I like our stroller, but a Boba carrier would work better for most outings.  I’ll have to get on that as soon as I can come up with the money!  Our weekly get togethers are great, but I would love add some more stay at home dads to our group so leave a comment below or on Facebook or Twitter and lets set it up!

 

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Recently my son and I had our first overnight without my wife while she visited friends to get a night out on her own.  A week ahead of time I found myself wondering when I would start to get nervous.  I mean, I would be on my own for a whole twenty-four hours with our son!  I thought I would find myself picturing all the horrible things that could happen while I provided care for my son all by myself.  The Thursday before her seemingly scary departure, I realized that the reason I wasn’t stressing out or getting nervous was because I had been on my own with O during the day for over a month.  My wife was more nervous than I was!  O and I hung out and watched hockey for part of the day and we spent the first period on the floor together while he oooed at the TV.  It was a little distracting at first but quickly became super cute and a welcome addition to the play-by-play announcer’s voice.  He went down for all his naps, ate like a champ, and even slept through the night!  He was happy in the morning and we had just as much fun playing on the floor as we did any other day.  I think my wife was a little annoyed that everything went so well while she was gone.

So what should a stay at home dad take from all this?  Real confidence comes from competence.  The more you flex your parenting muscles the stronger they will become and the better you will feel about using them.  I find that I don’t stress over changing a diaper or getting him to go down for a nap because I have figured out what works for me.  So it’s ok if he wakes up when I first put him down in the crib, or if he squirms around when I give him his bath, or if he cries because he woke up scared.  I know that at this point in time I can do these things with relative ease.  That doesn’t mean that he won’t throw me a curve ball in the days and weeks to come.  So I feel confident, but hopefully not too confident.  Infants have a way of humbling those who think they have it all figured out.

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I just updated the articles page with two new articles but I am always looking for more.  I would also like to add a book section so any books you have found to be helpful would be great as well.  Just leave a comment and I will add it so everyone can benefit!

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