Bonding with Your Baby as a New Dad

Having an infant can be overwhelming, especially as a new father. Mothers, of course, have it pretty hard, too, but being a father is a very strange thing. You don’t want to disrupt the very intimate, biological relationship happening between your kid and their mom, but you also want to be part of the newborn experience. Once your baby is home from the hospital, giving mom a break from the work is an excellent opportunity to start forging your own relationship. 
 
However, bonding with a newborn can be difficult, especially when all you want to do is sit and stare at this tiny person. Over the course of my fatherhood, I’ve been able to ascertain fun activities to do with an infant to facilitate bonding. Here are a few of my favorites. 
 
Showering—This is a life-saver when you want to give mom a break but still need to be productive. Showering with your new baby is a great way to have alone time while simultaneously getting something done—cleaning. A lot of babies are also soothed by the sound of water, so I’ve found this to be a great way to calm babies down. If you’re not comfortable holding your baby in this environment yet, taking a bath together is another excellent option. 
 
Walk outside—Staying cooped up with your newborn can by you stir crazy. Taking baby on walks around the house or down the street is a great way to introduce them to new phenomena. They’re experience something new, you’ll get outside, and you’ll form some memories in the process. Your memories, of course. 
 
Have a song that is only yours—When you spend time with your newborn, choose a special song and play it on repeat. Sing it while they’re trying to get to sleep, and play it when you’re lounging together. This is something your child will appreciate as they grow up, too. 
 
Read together—While your child won’t retain anything read to them in the first couple of years, most infants love being read to. It’s important for babies to hear a lot of words, and choosing a picture book can make the practice mutually beneficial.  

New Technology is Helping to Prevent Hot Car Deaths and It’s Pretty Amazing

If you’ve been a parent long enough, you’ve likely settled into a routine. When you take your kid(s) somewhere, you have a certain set of tasks: pack the stroller, add the diaper bag, bring snacks and drinks, and maybe a toy or two. You grab extra wipes and a change of clothes—after all, you never know when an accident will strike. You ensure your child is secured in a car seat, buckle them in, and drive off.  
 
If you’ve parented in the summer months, the added heat can make your usual routine a bit scarier. Buckling your kid into a car seat isn’t just a protective precaution—it could also be a death sentence if you don’t pay attention. The annual average for hot car deaths, which include kids who play in cars and accidentally lock themselves in, is around 37 per year. However, the past few years have seen an uptick in the numbers. It’s happening more than ever, and nobody really knows why. I hypothesize that parents are busier and more distracted than ever, and that distraction has a fatal consequence.  
 
There are, of course, simple things parents can do. I like to leave my wallet in the back seat to ensure I remember to, you know, bring my baby with me. Some daycare centers have alert systems where they will communicate with the parent if a child is just a few minutes late. Some parents set up their own systems, like texting each other daily once the child has been brought where he or she needs to go to ensure safety. 
 
It seems, however, that car manufacturers are beginning to take notice of this persisting anxiety among parents. They’re developing technology that could prevent hot car deaths. GM was the first to come out with a system to fight this problem. Called the Rear Seat Reminder System, this technology chimes at the end of your trip if you had opened your back doors at the start of your trip. Pretty ingenious, right? 
 
Nissan has also developed a new technology called the Rear Door Alert System. Though only available in the 2018 Pathfinder, it includes a message that will display on the center panel. The car horn will honk if you had previously opened the back doors. The technology, apparently, was spurred by a pan of lasagna left in a backseat overnight.  
 
Hyundai also has a system, but it’s slightly different. Called the Real Occupant Alert System, this technology has a movement sensor in the backseat, and it will flash its headlights and honk its horn if movement is detected once you’ve exited the vehicle.  
 
So, if you’re a new parent and in the market for a new car, as your dealership about these offerings. Though they’re only available on specific car models, it might be worth the upgrade for that lovely peace of mind.  

Babies Stop Crying When You Stand Up–Here’s Why

Most parents have been in this situation. You’re sitting down and wrestling a fussy, screaming, distraught infant in your arms. You don’t know what to do, but you know sitting still isn’t working. Without really thinking about it, you stand up for a moment. Lo and behold, the baby stops crying.  
 
This is the reality of having a fussy baby, and if you’ve had this experience, you’re not alone. In fact, scientists have studied this very phenomenon. It’s been observed and well-documented as a thing, so don’t worry—you’re not crazy. Apparently, the whole thing has to do with evolution. Go figure. 
 
In essence, babies have evolved to stop crying when their moms are standing up. Prehistorically, if a homo sapien held her baby while standing up, it was a warning sign. Standing up would buy her a few extra seconds in terms of fleeing the scene if a predator or other threat was nearby. Researchers call this the “calming response,” meaning that babies are both quiet and relaxed—their heart rates slow significantly when in the upright position.  
 
The authors of the study found that infants under six months of age stopped voluntary movement and crying when their mothers stood up. The calming response is essentially a set of central, motor, and cardiac regulations. It’s adaptive and, back in the day, helped to increase the infant’s chance of survival. This also supports the parent-infant relationship. 
 
Pretty fascinating stuff, right? 
 
So, there you have it. It’s not just you, and it’s not just your weird baby. They’re needy as heck, and they like what they like. Most of the time, that includes survival. While it might seem tedious that the only way to stop your screaming baby is to stand up and walk around, there’s nothing wrong with employing a fake set of rocking arms—maybe a swing, or some type of cling.  

What I Wish I Put on my Paternity Leave To-Do List

While I’m lucky enough to work at a company that offers paternity leave, taking those weeks off is a difficult and interesting process. The first time I did it, I assumed I’d simply spend time with my wife and child. Nothing more, nothing less. Of course, there would be the occasional grocery store, several late nights, and maybe a few panicked calls to the doctor, but that’s about it. Boy, was I wrong.

Now that I’ve experienced paternity leave a couple of times, I’ve really honed the craft of taking time off with a new baby. The key to making the most of this period is to keep your expectations low and understand that each process is a new experience. That said, there are a few things I wished I’d known before taking leave the first time. Now, I’m passing those regrets (and knowledge!) to you. 

 

  • Get to know your baby. Okay, this is an easy one. But I mean it when I say that you should try to get to know your new kid. No, feeding, burping, and consoling your crying newborn doesn’t count. Learn what they prefer and how they want to interact with you. How do they like to be swaddled? Do they like to be saddled at all? What to their different cries mean? 
  • Take some time to mentally adjust. Whether this is your first or your fifth baby, your life just changed. Take the time to think through which parts of your life will be different, then try to anticipate any speedbumps you could encounter.  
  • Accept help. If help is offered, always take it. My wife and I both had time off, so we didn’t think we needed to accept help when one of our parents offered to spend the weekend in town taking care of the little one. Boy, were we wrong. If somebody offers to help with your newborn, even if it’s just for a few hours, you take that help. It really helped my wife and I emotionally reconnect after the birth.  
  • Take as many pictures and videos as you can. You really can’t have enough pictures of your newborn. They grow and change so quickly—the kid you saw after the birth will not be the same kid sleeping on your chest a month from now. Document everything shamelessly.  

The Babysitter Interview Questions You Need to Ask

Okay, so this one isn’t related to “stuff.” However, hiring a babysitter is one of the most important processes you will make as a parent. This signifies a shift in parenting life; you can begin to reclaim some independence from your child. Additionally, finding the right babysitter does have a direct impact on your kid’s stuff. Here’s how.

  • In some cases, the babysitter will provide toys to play with. In others, you will be responsible for providing the toys.
  • If you use cloth diapers, you should find a babysitter who is comfortable with using and cleaning them. You can opt for a hybrid option (see my post on cloth and disposable diapers), but you don’t want to adjust your lifestyle if you don’t have to.
  • Some babysitters and full-time nannies will provide their own equipment, like car seats, strollers, and bottles.

Now that I’m done justifying the existence of this article, let’s get into it. It is imperative to ask the right babysitter interview questions when screening potential caregivers. These questions will determine whether or not you can find the best person for your needs.

  1. What is your experience? A long resume of babysitting experience is not essential, but the candidate should be able to demonstrate experience in childcare. This could be through raising siblings, working in a classroom, or working at a summer camp.
  2. What are your credentials? Ask the candidate if they are CPR certified, if they have extensive experience with changing diapers, and how they have handled past emergencies. You should also ask for at least three references.
  3. Do you have your own transportation? This is the space to communicate your expectations through questions. Additional questions can (and should) include: What housekeeping tasks do you consider to be part of the job? Are you comfortable preparing meals? Are you comfortable bathing and dressing the children? What days and hours are you available? Do you plan to spend most of the time at home or will you take them to the park?
  4. What do you enjoy most about babysitting? This is one of the best questions to determine a candidate’s personality. You should also use this time to ask about what they like to do in their free time, what they think kids like about them, and if they have any personal beliefs that might affect the way childcare is provided.