This is War: A Dad’s Guide to Surviving Labor

It is not pretty, it is not fun, it is not easy, and it is not your battle. Hate to break it to you, pops, but labor has nothing to do with you whatsoever. When it’s time to welcome your little one into the world, you have two jobs – provide encouragement, and stay out of the way. Here are eight ways to support your partner on delivery day… (see more at Scary Mommy here.)

10 Things Nobody Tells You About Feeding a Baby

As an adult, eating is a pretty easy thing. No matter what your food of choice, an adult can look at it and determine the appropriate way to transfer said item from the table to their mouth. Generally speaking, we don’t make messes, we don’t throw tantrums, and we don’t harm ourselves in the process. Babies, however, do not have this set of skills. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about feeding a baby.

1. Bibs don’t really work that well. A bib covers one tiny swatch of clothing beneath the chin, but when you’re feeding a baby, that stuff goes everywhere. Bibs don’t do anything to stop food from getting in their hair, on the ground, on their pants, behind their ears… so, while it may save you a tiny bit of your mess, it will not solve all your problems. That’s what we call “false assurance.”

2. Messes are inevitable. Along the lines of that bib lesson comes the fact that messes are entirely unavoidable. Hands, face, neck, hair, ears, floor – food gets everywhere. Understand this. Embrace this. This will happen.

3. Remove all jewelry before feeding the baby. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of pureed sweet potatoes crusting my watch. It’s a little thing, but helpful. Take off the watch, the rings and the bracelets, because food will end up everywhere.

4. When a baby doesn’t like something, you’ll know about it. They make faces. They cry. They pound their hands on the table. Actually, I guess it’s pretty similar to adults. Your baby will make sure to let you know what they don’t like, so don’t be startled by the negative reactions. Consider those “learning experiences.”

5. Eating can be frustrating. Between the textures, the inability for the body to catch up to what the mind is doing, the different flavors and the fact that this food is not mom, babies can get pretty frustrated at eating time. This happens. Meal time is a roller coaster – ride it.

6. There are way too many baby food options. The amount of baby food brands is completely and totally out of control. Why are there so many options that all look exactly the same? A PUREE IS A PUREE. This is not difficult. Oh but that one is Organic, this one isn’t, that one has “Natural Flavoring” (MSG), this one has another word I can’t pronounce… it’s exhausting.

7. Babies will gag themselves. They gag on food. They gag on spoons. They gag on their own hands if you let them. When you give your baby solids and they start to gag, I assure you, you will lose your mind. But one thing I’ve learned is that the gagging is part of the process for them – just like everything else, they have to learn how to do things us big people take for granted, and chewing and swallowing is one of them. So, don’t get your undies in a knot. They’re fine.

8. Food temperature is a really big deal. Some babies are more particular about this than others, but if her food is not warm, my daughter will absolutely not touch it. Actually, I take that back – she’ll throw it far, far away from her. But it will not be consumed.

9. Let them play with their food. Personally, I find this to be a really important step in the process. Let your kids grab and play with new foods – it helps them get accustomed to these new feels and smells before shoveling it into their face. So, I know it’s counter intuitive, but at this stage, let them play with their food.

10. Don’t stress too much. Most importantly, don’t stress yourself out over what you’re doing right or wrong for your baby. Yes, do your research, talk to your pediatrician and make the best choices you can, but know that your baby is going to be just fine. It’s all going to work out.

Remember, everything is going to be okay. Just prepare yourself for the messes that will happen, teach your baby what you can, and don’t stress the little things. You’ll get through this.

You can find more from Jon Helmkamp on Facebook and on Twitter

8 Ways Parents Take Mental Vacations From Life

Being a mom or dad is a 24/7 job, fully encompassed by a cloud of diapers, tears, bumps, bruises, and the magical guessing game of “what’s wrong with the baby?” There is no break from parenting, and it can take its toll unless you find ways to decompress and give yourself a brief mental vacation. However, when you are perpetually on the clock, at the beck and call of your adorable bundle of snot, taking a much-needed break is no easy task. Parents learn to get creative. Here are eight ways we can take a mental break from life… (Continue reading on Huffington Post here.) 

6 Times I Didn’t Suck As a Father

I sometimes feel inadequate compared to the moms around me. I mean, between my wife and our nanny, I’m pretty much surrounded by superheroes. It can be hard to live up to. There have been many instances along this journey of fatherhood where I have fallen flat as a father – forgot to bring milk for the baby, didn’t put diapers in the diaper bag, etc – and you know what, I’ve learned to roll with it. On the opposite side of these moments, there have been times when I didn’t completely suck as a father. Here are six of those moments. – (See more at Scary Mommy here.) 

5 Things I Hate About Baby Toys

With babies come baby toys. I don’t like baby toys. They have invaded my living space in a way that nothing else has ever been able to accomplish – except, perhaps, laundry. These baby toys have staked claim to my domain, turning my living room into a minefield of unavoidable babyness. While I understand the importance of these toys in helping baby develop, I don’t like them, and here’s why.

1. They’re noisy. Way too noisy. They don’t ever shut up. They make weird dinging and rattling and animal noises, and even make a sound once they have been ignored for more than like 30 seconds. Seriously, what’s the point? Are we trying to teach the kid to be annoying if you’re being ignored? I understand babies need the sounds and music and all that, but could it just sound a little less obnoxious? Please?

2. They’re bulky. There is no way for your house to look clean when you have a baby, and mostly because of the gigantic, colorful plastic things that are in your living room since they won’t fit anywhere else. Good luck attempting to “put them away” – all that means now is shoving them off to the side as much as possible.

3. They break easily. Baby toys seem to fall apart insanely quickly. The designers and creators of these things need to understand that they will never be used only for their intended purpose. For example, if you think my daughter at almost 10 months is going to sit down and gently play the keys on that tiny piano, you are sadly mistaken. It has been banged on, thrown, dropped, and hit with any and all objects surrounding it, which I believe should be mistaken. We have had it for less than one month, and it is already broken.

4. They really hurt to step on. Blocks, cubes, and anything of the sort are just big enough to not be a choking hazard, but still small enough that they can end up inflicting very sharp pain into the bottom of your foot. I’m beginning to think I need to wear shoes in the house at all times.

5. They’re repetitive. The noises that these things make is forever ingrained in my mind. That terrible rendition of “Yankee Doodle”? I have it memorized. That fake monkey noise? It haunts my dreams. I know there isn’t a whole lot that can be done about this, but I am so excited for the day when all the noise makers go away.

Baby toys must be designed to inflict physical and emotional pain on the parents.

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