July Parenting News Recap:

Article: Dads now spend 3 times as much time with their kids than previous generations

https://www.mother.ly/news/millennial-dads-spend-more-time-with-their-kids

For some people, bashing millennial’s has become a running joke. It’s really popular to call us lazy and unmotivated and to say that we’re afraid of hard work. To those, I point out this article and say that so many of the people in this generation are committed, dedicated and caring. “Back in 1982, a whopping 43% of fathers admitted they’d never changed a diaper. Today, that number is down to about 3%”

The title of this article speaks for itself. This new generation of dads may not be perfect, but in many ways, we rock.

Baby Food Has Too Much Sugar And Is Marketed Wrongly, WHO Says

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-15/baby-food-has-too-much-sugar-and-is-marketed-wrongly-who-says

My wife and I often make our own baby food using fresh fruits and vegetables in a baby cook, but we still rely on purchasing baby food from the grocery store. It’s critical that parents have truth in advertising and it’s sad to see that according to a new World Health Organization report, “Baby food often contains too much sugar and is incorrectly advertised as suitable for infants under 6 months of age.” Baby food has been one of the most important things that I’ve worked to research and it’s vital that parents have a healthy option that is not overly reliant on sugar. It can be a challenge to know what to feed a child after the six month mark, but if the community of parents put pressure on the major food companies, they will work to provide better labeling in baby food.

Father tries to grasp how he could have left twins to die in hot car

The reality is that no matter how tired, exhausted, or if you’re running late, always check the back seat. This is one of the most tragic things I could ever imagine, but it’s important that we don’t simply say “that would never happen” and instead, put some onus on ourselves to save these children.

What you can do: Write or contact your congressman and ask them to support The Hot Cars Act of 2019. According to this article, this act, “would mandate the installation of technology that at a minimum would remind drivers to check the back seat.”

We have had four straight years of summers with record heat and the data shows that July is the worst month for child hot car deaths. This data shows that the problem is getting worse with rear facing car seats and as “Stress and sleep deprivation can make these memory lapses more common,”. Parents are feeling stressed in raising their children and these mistakes are happening far too often. “Since 1998, about 440 children nationwide have died of heatstroke after being forgotten in cars, generally not because of a lack of love… but because of how human memory functions.”

We must address this issue because there are 440 kids who should be smiling, learning to walk, playing catch with their parents, learning algebra, volunteering their time, writing a college essay graduating from college or entering the workforce. One child is too many, but 440 is something that MUST allow us to have a broader conversation. The memories of these kids can save lives in the future. We must act now to prevent the next hot car death.

I’m not an expert/1 percent better

Every day I wake up and ask myself “how other parents do it”. There are parents out there who have children with special needs, complicated family and/or housing relationships, have a variety of other parenting challenges, but they persist and make it work. Their situation does not compare to mine, I have the luxury of time, a loving and supporting partner and only one child. I also have family and friends who take their time to provide support. Despite all of this, I am still tired and I do not know what tomorrow brings. From the daily stress to the challenges of finding quality childcare, parenting is not easy in general. I have tons of bad days.

I write these tips as if I “know” what I’m doing, but so many of the things I’ve put together are a combination of what I’ve stumbled upon, or what other people have shared. I just decided to sit down and write them out… and the truth is, there are times where I forget my own advice…

True Story: Our daughter is moving around the house and shouting, with her arms straight back “Naruto Run” style. My wife is putting away the food as I leave my plate on the table.

My Wife: Can you grab your plate and wash it
Myself: I’m watching her. She’s going to run into something. How am I supposed to watch her and get the dish at the same time?
My Wife: Oh I don’t know, didn’t you write a tip about this?
Myself: (thinking that she’s making fun of me) – Ha. Very Funny.
My Wife: It was the first piece of dad advice you ever gave.
Myself: Oh dang. I can use the baby carrier to hold her.
My Wife: You literally made that tip number ONE.

I make mistakes all of the time and my daughter keeps me busy and it can be hard to keep up, especially when we’re traveling and she decides to stay awake for the entire plane or train ride.

I suppose the one thing that works for me is that when I am tired or stressed out, and I feel like my energy level is low and that I just can’t take it anymore, I calmly say , “I’m going to make this 1 percent better.” It sounds dumb, but I feel like making that moment just… one percent better with a smile or playtime, or a game can have a snowball effect that leads to future calm. Even if that moment to relax is in the form of a more restful night’s sleep or one less headache, or a momentary reduction in stress. Focusing on the ability to become slightly better can be the self-fulfilling prophecy of happiness. It doesn’t always work, but in a moment where I feel like I have no answers, I feel like it gives me a chance to take control of uncertain situations.

What strategies do you use when you’re facing parenting stress?

New Dad Tip #17 – Never leave your child unattended on an elevated surface (even for a moment) –

If you find yourself saying “I’m just picking up something off the floor,” or “It’s OK, he doesn’t know how to roll,” or “I have her strapped in the car seat, I’ll just put her over here while I wash my hands”, please keep in mind that babies are constantly learning and making new movements. If you need to put the baby down, make sure it’s safely in a crib, pack & play, or on a low, steady and flat surface.   

It only takes a moment for a fall, bump or bruise.

Tip #16 When you read to your child, make them a part of the story.

Children’s books feature imaginative adventures with a variety of characters. When reading to your child, ask them what they see and if they know what the main character is going to do next. Say your child’s name early and often and feel free to add words about heroes or royalty or their favorite animal or toy. Hearing their name peaks their interest in the book and teaches them to respond to your voice. 

New Dad Tip #15 Expect the Unexpected

Man looking off into the distance
Parenting can be a search for answers.

Oh they didn’t tell you that your newborn daughter would have a bloody diaper during the first week of her life when she has a mini period? Don’t freak out. All parents have questions and experience new unforeseen challenges. If you experience something new, reach out to family and friends with kids who can answer your questions.

And remember: Dude it’s cool.

New Dad’s, expect the unexpected.

Tip 14: Invite a friend or family member to come along on your next vacation:

If you plan to rent a house for a long weekend or take a trip to the beach, consider treating a friend or family member who would like to get away for a few days. Your guest should be familiar with your baby, and can go with the flow when it comes to helping out. Friendly help can also give new mom and dad a chance to take a dinner out.

Photo by Deanna Ritchie on Unsplash

Dad Tip #13 – Lay out your baby’s outfit the night before

You’ve got it new dad! You’ve picked out the perfect outfit, carefully moved your child’s arms through the sleeves (in the midst of major arm flailing), only to realize the outfit is too small and the buttons at the bottom do not clasp. This can be a stressful moment if you are headed to an appointment or to meet family and friends. Now you have to look for another outfit, only to discover that the matching bottoms are nowhere to be found.

Babies grow super fast and their clothing is always getting messy and rotating in and out of the laundry bin. It can be a challenge to hold your child in one arm and find a perfectly matching outfit with the other, especially if you are in a time crunch.

If you are expecting to leave the house, always plan your child’s outfit in advance and lay out two options in a specific location to save you time and stress prior to your departure. 





Tip #12 After 3 months, remove or hide all baby items from the living room (if possible):

At least one place should be “baby free”.

Part of the reason that so many new parents feel like the entirety of their life is taken over by Baby is because walking into your house can resemble a baby warzone. When a “minefield” of bibs, Boppy pillows, toys, spare diapers and baby clothes are piled on the sofa and coffee table and scattered on the floor. This can impact your mood. With a new baby, space is certainly at a premium, but parents need to use the living room as an area for entertaining friends, or a space to chill out after baby is put to bed. Home furnishing stores can offer ideas and smart options to de-clutter the house. As an example, ottomans with storage to quick-hide all baby items when guest arrive unexpectedly. This does not mean the living room is off limits for books or stuffed animals, it simply means that the items should be put away when playtime is over, or baby is napping.

Dad Tip #11 – Tell your partner if you’re close to hitting the wall:

This is an important lesson. No one cares about your lack or sleep, so MAN UP! With that being said, you are still human and there may be an occasion where you just need to recharge. It’s better to tell your partner when you’re close to feeling beat, than to hold it in and reach a breaking point. Sleep-deprived conversations can lead to anger, and snapping at each other, when all you need is a little time in bed. Tell her in advance when you’re feeling sleepy. Together, you can work out cues when you need to take a nap, or need to go to bed early. Before hitting the sack, she’ll probably give you a few small tasks like replacing the diaper genie, taking out the recycling, or watching the baby for a few minutes while she goes to the bathroom. Once you’ve given her some time, there’s a good chance you’ll get a chunk of time to yourself. Just make sure you’re ready to take over when she hits the wall.

Tip #10 – You are never “Babysitting” your baby

Father reading to baby
Cherish every moment

If you are taking care of the baby solo for a few hours, don’t post on social media that you’re with the baby today and I’ve got this! Taking care of your kid for a day by yourself is good, but it’s not status update worthy. How would you feel if you spent every day with your child for three months, and then the one day you go to a baseball game, she posts “Mom and baby day. We’re all alone at home, but we got this.” She then live-blogs the diaper changes, and the times she got peed on, expecting people to give her kudos for spending a few hours with her kid by herself. However, Dad’s often do this and expect credit for doing what would be “expected” if mom did the exact same thing. Use the time you have alone with your child as a bonding opportunity. Remember that your child’s smile and laugh is the only praise you’ll ever need.

photo credit: unsplash.com/@picsea