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Posts Tagged ‘dad’

2013-03-11_19-51-38_188

When my son was 6.5 months and still couldn’t sit up, wasn’t mobile, and didn’t have any teeth I was a  worried. ” Why can all these other children his age do these things and he can’t?”  “Are we doing something wrong?”  “Have I done something to screw up his development?”  “Am I a horrible dad?”  The rational part of me knew none of this was true but the emotional part of me couldn’t help being anxious about my son’s development.  We are loving parents and I work hard to provide my son with a fun and stimulating environment every day but it is easy to doubt one’s ability as a parent.  After all, I’ve never done this before right?  How should I know what is best?  I’ve just read a few books and talked to friends and family about how to raise a child right?  When a milestone is finally reached it is truly amazing but the implications of that achievement can be quite scary.  For example once a child can move around the room on their own it opens up a whole new world of potential injuries and necessitates significant room layout rethinking and hours of baby proofing work.  I call this phenomenon “Joy in a fear sandwich.”  The sandwich’s meat is so tasty but that bread can suck sometimes!

There is a lot of fear surrounding developmental milestones, but it’s amazing how quickly all of that disappeared the first time I saw my son stay sitting up on his own.  In my years with the YMCA I taught 1000+ children how to do everything from swim, to kick a soccer ball but this moment topped them all in terms of how proud I was.  When it comes down to it I probably had little to do with him figuring it out, but I felt proud as though I had directly created the nerve connections and muscle capacity that enabled him to do it.  Perhaps some of that pride was because my anxiety about him not sitting up yet was gone.  I have to admit that it was getting the best of me when I started practicing sitting up with him much more than I had when he first reached 6 months old.  I was so worried that I hadn’t been working with him on it enough!  At that time I was thinking, “He’s just turned 6 months old he’ll figure it out in the next couple of weeks.”  Those weeks passed with no real improvement so I began practicing more with him but I still did not see him getting any better at it which only fueled my anxiety about his development.  O ended my anxiety and fear about his development in one joyful 24 hour period during which my now 7 month old son got his first tooth, mastered the continuous roll, and managed to stay upright without assistance.  It’s like his little brain and body reached the point where they were ready and he started doing all sorts of new stuff all at once.

I know my role as a parent is important to his development, but I think sometimes I worry too much.  I am a stay at home dad and my entire day revolves around the well being of my son so I think this amplifies my natural parenting fears.  I don’t mind because the added anxiety is far outweighed by my joy in witnessing these incredible moments that will only come once in his life.  I have a sneaking suspicion that these amazing moments will almost always be book-ended by some degree of anxiety and fear but I know that the pride and joy I will feel will be worth it.

The fear about his development is gone now but it has been replaced by the terror of a mobile baby in an apartment that is not baby proofed.  I’m sure I’ll have a post coming soon about that journey, but in the meantime please share your baby proofing suggestions or stories below in the comments section!

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2013-03-05_09-04-54_698

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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2013-02-15_19-44-48_176

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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2013-01-31_12-47-50_215

There are a few things you need to understand about my dad and his house.  He loves clocks and has collected them for years.  He easily has a dozen of them and they are carefully placed throughout the first floor to create a most glorious clock experience for anyone fortunate enough to behold them.  They are rarely wound but on special occasions he will wind a few of them up so that we may all properly enjoy the constant ticking along with the dinging and gonging that comes from them 1-4 times every hour.  His oldest brother’s arrival from this past Thursday must have been a very special occasion indeed because he wound every clock in the house.  This is a rare treat for us because they are set for slightly different times so that the various chimes/gongs seem both highly precise and totally random at the same time.  The best part of all this is that despite the fact that the clocks were wound for just this occasion, my mother and I will get to enjoy the noise for weeks until the winding springs on the clocks are spent.

Another thing to understand about my dad and his house is that he likes to keep as much of it cold as he can.  I guess 65 isn’t that cold, but consider this: his wife has poor circulation and he has an infant grandson who is there most of the day at least once a week.  Do you still think 65 isn’t that cold?  There are only two zones on the first floor.  The large zone is cold and twice as big as the smaller zone.  It includes the dining room, hallway, bathroom, living room and the den and this zone has most of the clocks in the house.  It is also the least used part of the house.  The smaller zone is the family room/country kitchen which is the one part of the house that is kept at a balmy 68.  It is also where my son and I spend most of our time when we are there.

The last thing you need to understand about my dad and his house is that he hates answering machines.  “If they want to talk to me that badly they’ll call back later.”  Now you would think that he would have a cordless phone attached to his hip at home so he wouldn’t miss any calls but not my dad!  He has one corded phone on each floor.  Each phone has its ringer turned to 11 so he can hear them both ring regardless of where he is in the house or the yard or even the road.  We had an answering machine and a cordless phones with reasonable ringers and when I lived there but it seems reason departed when I did despite the fact that I left my phones and answering machine behind.

Now that you better ¿understand? my dad and his house I can tell you the story of last Thursday.  I usually visit on Thursdays and arrive sometime between 11 and 12.  My mom is usually attending an exercise class then so normally I quickly setup the pack n play, change O’s diaper, and feed him.  Then I put him down for a much-needed nap.  He fights sleep every time so this is not an easy task.  I usually spend at least 10 minutes kneeling next to the pack n play rubbing his back and repeatedly putting the pacifier back in before he gives in to sleep.  Thursday was no different, except that he slept like crap the night before so it took and extra 5 minutes or so for him to settle and he protested more than usual.  As I have mentioned in a previous post, O can sleep through quite a lot.  He cannot, however sleep through a loud clock chiming on the hour.  There are only two clocks in the family room/country kitchen and I knew one was wound because I could see the pendulum swing and hear the ticking.  I couldn’t remember my dad ever winding the other clock and I did not realize that it chimed almost as loud as the grandfather clock in the dining room.  It chimed, O promptly stirred, and I spent the next 10 minutes kneeling and soothing him back to sleep.

Once he was asleep again I took the clock off of the mantle in the family room and moved it to the mantle in the living room.  Crisis averted.  I put some laundry in and went back to the kitchen to make myself some lunch.  I decided to make an awesome sandwich from the amazing selections of meats, cheeses and condiments that my parents regularly stock their refrigerator with.  My masterpiece was complete and ready to eat when the next sleep disaster happened.  The phone rang.

I bolted to get it but it rang loudly twice and that was more than enough to wake O up.  I hung up on the telemarketer and unplugged the phone so that I could return to my spot next to the pack n play and get my son back to the sleep he so desperately needed.  He was asleep and I had my sandwich in my hand 15 minutes later when my mom walked in and said, “Hi son!” in her loud excited voice.  *facepalm*  I spent 10 more hungry minutes on my now aching knees soothing him back to sleep.  Once he was asleep I finally got to eat my now warm sandwich and visit with my mom.

By the time O woke up I had spent 50 minutes soothing him to sleep for him to only sleep for 1 hour.  He was immediately cranky and in need of diapering/food but thankfully he was in a good for the rest of the afternoon.  My dad called my cell to tell me that my uncle would arrive at 4 and to lecture me about unplugging the phone.  Apparently it didn’t occur to him that he should call my cell while I am there with O.  Oh wait, it should since I tell him that every week and he calls the house phone anyways!  He has gotten lucky and not woken O up yet, but I have always insisted he call my cell because I keep it on vibrate when my son is asleep.

So my uncle showed up and O was super cute as usual.  By 4:30 he was looking ready for a nap so I put him down and started to soothe him.  He was almost out when my dad burst in the door banging bags around and talking loudly even though I quickly pointed out that O was almost asleep.  Then he noticed that the clock had been moved and he went ballistic yelling about how its polished brass and I better not have handled it with my bare hands.  My 15 minutes of soothing went out the window and so I turned up the thermostat in the other zone and setup the pack n play in the dining room.  Twenty minutes later he was finally asleep.  I promptly hit the scotch and counted the minutes until my wife was to arrive.

All told, O napped for 2 hours and I spent 1.5 hours kneeling and soothing him.  To put that in perspective, he normally naps for a minimum of 4 hours and I spend an hour max soothing him to sleep.  The best part of all this is that my dad didn’t seem to get why I should be the one who was annoyed.  I mean, I had moved his clock and unplugged his phone right?  Except that the phone ringer didn’t have to be all the way up to be heard and the clock in that room did not need to be wound knowing an infant slept there on a regular basis.  I know there are random noises in that house that can wake a sleeping baby, but O is used to that and I use a white noise generator to soften most noises when he sleeps there.  My dad took the second loudest clock he owned and wound it in the only room warm enough for his grandson to sleep in.  What exactly did he expect?  And how exactly is yelling at me with an infant in the room going to make anything better?   It was great to see my uncle and he did inject some much-needed humor into the situation, but just thinking about that day makes me not want to go back because all those clocks will still be going for weeks and I am sure the phone ringer volume will be back at 11 when I am set to return next week.

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I have spent a lot of time on the road with my wife and O over the last week and I found myself getting more and more annoyed with the lack of changing stations in men’s rooms.  This got me thinking about how dads are asked to improvise if they are on their own while moms almost universally have easy access to changing stations anywhere they go.  Sometimes I just assume that a place does not have a changing station in their men’s room and awkwardly change him in my car.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know before going into a place?  I did some searching and there is a guy in New York who has put together a map of all the places in NYC that have changing stations in their men’s room.  I thought, “Why couldn’t I do the same thing?”  So I have begun putting a dad’s changing station Google map together for Connecticut with a focus on the central region.  I will put the link for the map up once I have 25 bathrooms with men’s room changing stations.  If you are interested in collaborating let me know.  You can send me the names and locations of places you have found and I can add them or I can give you access to the map so that you can put them up as you find them.  I think this could be a huge help for stay at home dads, but we are certainly not the only fathers who take their kids out without mom.  So dads out there, if you find a changing station in a men’s room you can leave a comment below, post on the Facebook page or drop me a tweet @ctstayathomedad.  Whatever is easiest!

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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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Babywearing

It seems like ages since I last posted despite it only being six days.  It has been an eventful period of time including our visit to the babywearer’s group, my first solo overnight with O, and a death in the family.  Currently I’m staying with family near Philadelphia so that I can attend a funeral tomorrow.  My wife is home taking care of him while I here.  I find that blogging helps take my mind off of things so I will attempt to cover all of this ground in my next few posts.  This post will focus will be on the babywearer’s group that my wife and I attended this past Saturday.

I will begin by briefly recounting our first visit to this group together several months back.  It was a small gathering of parents with at least one dad and interesting mix of crunchy and average moms.  By crunchy I mean one ha dreads and a toddler who walked over and pushed her shirt out of the way to breastfeed.  By average I mean parents who were interested in the carriers and had varying levels of interest in cloth diapers and breastfeeding.  I had some very nice conversations with the parents there and overall enjoyed the experience.  My wife bought two different carriers, uses them regularly and has attended multiple meetings since.  Neither of us has seen more than 12 people there and generally there’s a dad or two.

This past Saturday was a bit different for a couple of reasons.  The first was that I was there and was quite excited about it.  I wanted to try out a structured carrier and potentially buy one, plus I was hoping some other dads would be there that I could tell about my blog and facebook page to hopefully get a ct stay at home dads group up and running.  I also pictured the small low key and not intimidating group I attended several months back.  I walked into a group of roughly twenty moms and lots of babies and toddlers crammed into a relatively small space with limited seating.  I got to try out a Boba Carrier and I loved it but O isn’t quite big enough.  Diana was nice enough to help me with the carrier, and suggested that we might be able to prop him up higher in the carrier to make it work for the next month or so.  I can’t see spending $100+ for a carrier that he won’t fit into yet.  A friend is also giving me her carriers to try so that might hold me over until he is big enough for the Boba.  My wife learned how to do a back carry with her woven wrap and he seemed to like it, but I found myself a bit sidelined because I was not interesting in the various wraps all the moms were trying out.  There were no other dads there, although one mom did say her husband was staying at home to take care of their child and might be interested in what I was trying to do.

I will go back to the group again because I have seen that it isn’t an necessarily an overwhelming experience but I can’t see myself going back if I am going to be the only dad in a sea of moms and kids.  Its a bit overwhelming to be the only guy in such a noisy and prolactin fueled environment.  Everyone was very nice but I felt more like some sort of rare bird.  Most moms I talked to thought it was great I was there, but seemed surprised at the same time.  “We want you to be an involved dad, but we are surprised when you are” seemed to be the general sentiment.  I need to get used to this kind of reaction because it seems to be a common one when I do amazing things like “show up” and “change a diaper.”  So dads out there, any thoughts or stories about showing up to a group or event and being the only dad there?  Maybe some of you have had some interesting reactions to doing basic parenting things?  Leave a your story below in the comments section or on the facebook page!

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