5 Things Nobody Told You About Bedtime with a Baby

For adults, bed time is easy. You turn off the light, put your head on the pillow, close your eyes… and that’s it. Babies on the other hand have an entirely different set of finicky, ridiculous rules about bedtime. Oh,and the best part? Every baby is different, and they can’t talk to tell you what you’re doing wrong. So have fun with that one. Here are six things nobody tells you about putting baby to sleep.

1. Don’t linger. Do not stand over your baby, do not make eye contact, do not sit and gawk and stare at how precious they are. Put your baby down, turn on their little music thing, and turn and run. In my experience, if I stay in the room, my baby will lose her mind. I can almost hear her screaming at me “DAD WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME.” So, no, I don’t stay around. Once I have left the room, she will calm herself down and go to sleep.

2. Let them cry a little. It took me a long time to be okay with doing this, because the sound of my baby crying used to utterly destroy me. But I’ve learned that it is completely okay for little lady to cry for a couple minutes before falling asleep. She isn’t in pain, she isn’t uncomfortable, she will be just fine. A few minutes of tears doesn’t hurt.

3. If they wake up, wait and see if they go back to sleep. Having the “knight in shining armor” mentality can really suck sometimes. It’s so easy to want to rush to your baby’s side, and when you hear that they are awake, it’s no different. But please, I urge you, just wait. Give it just a couple minutes, see if they put themselves back to sleep. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, you have saved yourself some trouble and have encouraged your kid to do something for themselves without depending on you.

4. It’s probably going to take more than one try. Sometimes, my princess will fall asleep on the couch, I’ll carry her up to her crib and put he down without her eyes ever opening, and she’ll sleep for six hours. Other times, if you breathe on her wrong, she’ll wake up screaming. That’s just the way it goes. Putting a baby to sleep can sometimes be a brutal task that takes multiple tries, so stay patient and you’ll be fine. Just be prepared for the battle. Don’t give an inch or that tiny person will take a mile.

5. Pick them up only if necessary. Now, I’m not saying never pick up your baby. After all, they’re just babies. Sometimes they need to be held. But if they are just a little cranky and don’t want to go to sleep, they don’t always need for you to pick them up and coddle them to sleep. It’s my experience that this actually makes things worse in the long run, and causes them to basically use you as a pacifier. You really don’t want your baby to be dependent on you for them to fall asleep.

As much as you wish and hope they your lovely little peanut will just go to sleep, know that it is perfectly acceptable if it is a chore to get them to bed. Do the best you can, set expectations, follow through, and …. that’s about all you do. Good luck!

Do you have any tips for bed time? Please share them in the comments!

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What The NICU Taught Me About Fatherhood

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is a frighteningly confusing place. I remember the night I arrived with my daughter — she was five weeks early, laboring to breathe, helplessly lying in a transport incubator while attached to countless monitors and tubes. Her face was wrapped to hold her C-Pap unit in her nose, making seeing her face a chore in and of itself. We arrived at the NICU in the early dawn hours of the morning while my wife continued to recover at another hospital nearby, the transport team wheeling my daughter down the hall to the room where she would spend the first two weeks of her life, and all I could think to myself was, please let my girls be OK… (Continue reading on Huffington Post here.)

Why I’m Not Ready For My Daughter To Crawl

My little lady is about nine and a half months old. She’s a little thing, only in about the tenth percentile for height, although she is chunking up rather nicely after a slow start (but hey, she was five weeks early and spend two weeks in the NICU. What do you expect?). She is beautiful, smart, hilarious, loving, strong-willed and absolutely perfect. She is not crawling yet — although she’s close — and despite comments from everyone and their mother about the fact that our baby should “really be crawling by now,” all while implying there is something wrong with my daughter, I still feel how I have always felt: She’s perfect, exactly how she is. Everyone else is in a rush to get her crawling, but I, on the other hand, am perfectly fine with waiting. Here are five reasons why I want my baby to not start crawling yet… (Continue reading at Huffington Post here.)

10 Simple Things Made Difficult by Having a Baby

I remember what it was like when I was responsible for nobody except myself. Leftover cake for breakfast? Sure. Stay up entirely too late binge watching Netflix? Of course. 401K? ….huh? When I only had to take care of myself, there was all the time in the world to do whatever I wanted or needed. There is one painfully stark observation I have made as a parent: What used to be a no-brainer now takes military-like tactics to complete. Here are 10 tasks that seem nearly impossible as a father… (Continue reading at Huffington Post here.)

5 Steps for Raising a Strong Daughter

Last week, something happened that made my skin crawl. While sitting at home nursing a bad head cold, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and learned that Curt Schilling, former professional baseball player and Hall of Fame inductee, was absolutely barraged with the most heinous, vile tweets imaginable pertaining to his teenage daughter…(continue reading at Huffington Post here.) 

5 Gender Stereotypes That Frustrate New Dads

Being a dad is awesome. I love it. When I get to pick my daughter up in the afternoon, it’s the highlight of my day. However, as I have become a father, it’s become increasingly clear to me that gender roles and stereotypes, both for the parents and for your child, are blatantly obvious in today’s society.  Here are five that drive me up the wall.

1. Men’s restrooms without changing tables. Us dad’s – most of the time – are completely willing to contribute and change the dirty diaper, but after throwing the diaper bag on one shoulder and the baby on the other, it’s infuriating to get to the bathroom and find that there is no changing table. At that point, you have two options – admit defeat and ask mom to do it, or get creative and try to change the baby on the bathroom counter. It’s a lose-lose.

2. Toys that are separated by gender. Why is the easy-bake oven in the “girl” toy aisle, while any sporting equipment is in the “boy” toy aisle? If my daughter wants to play sports – and I have every intention of giving her that opportunity – then she should have more options to choose from than a pink glove with Cinderella’s face on it.

3. People that look down on working moms. Because of our financial situation, we need my wife to be working, and it’s incredibly hard on her. All she wants is to be home with her daughter, helping to raise her. What my wife is not is less of a wife and mother for working. She is a saint that is sacrificing so much, working her butt off to help provide for her daughter. So to anyone that thinks that working moms are less of a mother than those that stay home, you infuriate me.

4. The modern portrayal of goofy dads. I feel that, in order to get away from the tough-necked, stern, by-the-rules dads of the 1950’s, society went too far the opposite direction. All we see now in pop culture are dads that say “I don’t know, ask your mother,” that are goofy and silly and command no respect or authority. Fathers play a critical role in the lives of this children, and watching pop culture demean that role into something goofy, clumsy and unintelligent does little to encourage active and engaged fatherhood.

5. Feminine everything. When you’re stocking up on all the essentials of bringing home a newborn – diaper bag, changing pad, stroller, car seat, etc,. – you notice that everything is geared towards the mom with a feminine, sleek style. That’s fine, but when dad needs to go run errands with a floral-print diaper bag and a baby strapped to his chest, he doesn’t feel too masculine. It would be nice for some dad-centered essentials. Maybe if there were some more neutral – or even manly – options, dad’s might not seem so embarrassed about carrying them.

Parenting should not be a battle of the sexes, it should be a unified front that caters to moms and dads equally, giving them the tools to be on the same page without one feeling more or less comfortable than the other.

What are your thoughts? Please leave them in the comments below! 

5 Things to do With 5 Weeks to Due Date

A coworker of mine is about five weeks from her due date, and it is making me think back on those days. I remember those final preparations, how it simultaneously felt like the baby would never arrive yet also felt as though parenthood was just around the corner. Looking back, there are things I wish I had prepared more thoroughly, or things I wish I could have done for my wife at the time. So gentlemen, buckle up. Fatherhood is upon you. Here are five things to do with five weeks to due date.

1. Get your go bags ready. With only five weeks remaining, you never know what could happen. It’s not exactly like your baby is on a schedule; he or she could decide to come early, or something may come up where they decide inducing early is the safest course of action. The last thing you want to be doing is scrambling to put your bag together on your way to the hospital. Feel free to check out a suggested list at The Bump here.

2. Cook some freezer meals. This is something I wish my wife and I did more leading up to bringing our girl home, because trust me, once baby is home, the very last thing you want to do is cook. We spent far too much money getting takeout. Making big batches of easy food that you can freeze and reheat will be a life saver in the moment. Whether it’s a big vat of stew, soups, tamales, lasagna – whatever it is that works for you. Make a bunch, pop it in your freezer, and when the time comes, you’ll have dinner in minutes.

3. Organize your diapers and changing station(s). If you have been fortunate enough to be barraged with diapers from friends, family, coworkers, etc., get them organized. There is no need to have a box of size 4 diapers anywhere close to handy for a long, long time; get those NB and size 1 diapers on the top and easy to access. You will be using lots of them, and it’s a waste of time to go digging around for one when your new love bug just blew out his/her diaper.

4. Make sure you have your car seat, and preferably, install it. You can’t really take your little one home without a car seat, can you? In fact, the hospital will require you to have it properly installed before they will let you leave. Why not get this done ahead of time? Make sure you have your car seat, get it installed, and check to make sure it’s done correctly. Fire departments and police stations will often times check it for you for free.

5. Take time to slow down with your spouse. It’s entirely too easy at this stage in the pregnancy to have your head down, focused on the goal and all the last minute prep work. Lift your head, connect with your spouse, go on a date, do something low key but enjoyable. Remember, this isn’t just some huge chore and responsibility, it is the single greatest thing the two of you will ever do together. You are embarking on the journey of parenthood – enjoy it!

The last five weeks before you become a dad are full of emotions, stress  and unexpected twists and turns, but it is nothing compared to those first few weeks home with your baby. Invest the time now to set yourself up for success, and do it all while connecting with your spouse. You’ve got this, big guy. Show your partner how awesomely responsible you are by checking these things off your list in advance.