Monday, September 04, 2023

Dad Files Months 14-16: Tiny But Sharp Teeth, Uh Oh, and Strong Opinions

Baby will make some definite transitions to the early toddler stage. This can involve strong opinions as to how the world should be including food that will pass agreeably into his belly, willingness towards bedtime or naptime, snuggling or not, and what he wants to play with. Communication capability is growing as he develops more words as well as arm control with direction of desired or undesired objects by pushing and pulling. Words include No, woah, wow, all done, kitty (he loves the kitties, chasing them, petting them, and watching them run around), uh oh, more, yai, boo, nay, moo, up, thank you, didi, dada, daddy, mama, baba, hi, hey, bye, ball, go (the oh sounds are especially cute).

In regards to eating, there will be things he really likes and others that he really doesn’t. These can switch categories on a daily basis. When he’s done eating or doesn’t want something, he may pick it up and deliberately drop it or throw it on the ground. When coupled with him saying “uh oh” it will call into question if he comprehends the difference between “uh oh” and “on the floor on purpose.” Try not to laugh.

When holding baby, you may suddenly feel a sharp piranha bite sensation on your shoulder, arm, or other body part near baby’s mouth. This isn’t malicious but everything including you are fair game as his chompers explore the world.

As he cruises, pulls up to tables and see objects whether books, food, or breakable things he will attempt to throw or push everything on the floor with clean plate syndrome vigor. Be forewarned and secure items that would have a better resting place than the floor. On the positive side, this increased hand and arm control introduces new possibilities for activities with balls which is fun to play with him.

A book we read said that this is best understood as the caveman stage and communication in short words or phrases is most effective with the goal to match and capture the emotion. He may hit objects, tables, bang toys, plates, cups, or silverware, drop or throw things and generally make a lot of noise. Teaching him to use his gentle hands will go far in keeping yourself, cats, and breakable objects in a healthier state. Loud yells when he’s excited about life, mad, or doesn’t want to go to bed also support this theory.

Toys will occupy every room of the house and if you're not diligent with pick up and restoration to their original location, bright colored plastic will infest every surface of your home with an obstacle course winding throughout. There are more toys than you would imagine that make loud and annoying sounds or sing cloyingly cringy songs. No judgement if the batteries conveniently find their way outside of the toy or it's turned off permanently.

As he’s learning to walk, it’s fun to watch him push a table or chair across the room. With significant mobility now, stairs must be monitored closely. On this topic, baby can surprise and scare you and your spouse by climbing independently up the stairs when each of you thought the other was watching him only to look over and see him cresting the top of the stairs unassisted and unmonitored. Install baby gate pronto.

Holding his hands as he learns to walk can put a strain on the back so be sure to stretch and bend your knees. A trip to the beach can yield benefits in learning to walk as well as general fun playing in the sand

though when he eats some sand, it will put an end to the day as curious baby turns into grumpy baby.

He will now largely be feeding himself with his hands and it’s especially fun to watch him double fist peanut butter pancakes. If done when he’s tired, there’s the added benefit of rubbing peanut butter all over his face. Have fun getting that cleaned up with your tired caveman.

He continues to enjoy reading books and especially likes the ones with flaps or slides that he can pull in and out. Sandra Boynton books have been favorites as well as the Peekaboo book series. If reading paper page books vs. board books, hold the book strategically since eager reader, page turning hands can render the paper worse for the wear. 

Ear tubes make a big difference in the number of ear infections though you and he are still subject to the sickness of the week at daycare.

While much of his communication the past 16 months has been related to expressing his many needs, it will warm your heart when he crawls over to you, says your name, and wants you to pick him up just because he’s excited to see you. With so many developmental milestones occurring during this time, celebrate each one and be careful about comparing your child to another. God has designed him uniquely and will help him grow and develop exactly as He has planned. He's a great blessing and your job is to love, protect, pray for, sing to, teach, play with and provide for him, give him your time, energy and attention, and facilitate an environment where he can learn, grow, have fun, and enjoy being a boy and your son.

In pursuit of His best,


Sunday, June 11, 2023

Dad Files: Months 11 through 13: Dive Bombing, Windmill Arms, Words, and Introductory Walking

Baby will begin to stand with assistance, pull up on his own, cruise along a table, or walk with you holding his hands. Monitor stairs in the house closely because baby now possesses skills to climb. When holding him, baby will dive bomb by shifting his weight and dropping towards the desired target as he sees people, animals, or things that he wants. At other times, he will maintain a tight koala bear grip on you. 

The use of hands and arms has advanced so that they seem like windmill arms in turning pages on books, pushing you or unwanted food away and grabbing anything of interest in sight. As soon as objects he's playing with lose their appeal, he will promptly throw them on the floor.

With significant army crawling ability, baby will commando his way rapidly across the room, down the hall, or towards the stairs. Of particular focus for the attentive dad is preventing him from eating cat food since his fascination with it results in relentlessly making a bee line for the cat food bowl. It may be related to the relative similar size of Cheerios which is a favorite authorized food. All cats in the house must stay vigilant with his increased mobility in order to stay a step ahead and keep tails safe from curious little hands. If you've not begun baby proofing the house by now, that should become a high priority.

Baby will roll, flip, kick, thrust himself backward, and wiggle while you're trying to change diapers or clothing. You may develop new methods for accomplishing these tasks such as changing a diaper while holding onto baby's leg with him upside down, doing a handstand and pulling on the changing table while playing with a stuffed animal. You may also need to employ jui jitsu and/or judo moves to keep baby positioned so you can complete the necessary diapering and clothing duties.

As baby graduates to table food, lots of fun but messy experiments commence, spaghetti sauce and noodles everywhere, Cheerios or cracker crumbs covering baby and the surrounding floor, crushing watermelon with his bare hands and juice running down his face and all over clothing and table. For those items that he needs assistance eating, it may feel at times like a dinner theater with all the songs, funny noises, and facial expressions used to entertain and get him to open his mouth and eat. In order for you to get adequate nourishment yourself, you may need to employ the baby takes a bite, you take a bite method. At the first birthday, there will be the obligatory smash cake with baby crushing the cake and smearing icing all over himself, clothing, you, and generally anything within reach. As fun as the pictures can be, limiting baby's sugar intake is wise.

With his new teeth, seven at the moment, also comes the need for brushing them. This is another fun adventure as baby tries to lick or eat the toothpaste but with practice and a steady hand you can eventually get a version of clean teeth accompanied by a few sips of water.

From a new words perspective, baby will call most things "da" or "ah da di" despite efforts to the contrary by his mother. On rare occasions, he may say "ma ma." Other words include "ki ki" for kitty, occasionally "hi" or "hey," and "ba" which can refer to other objects or people. 

Baby's greater awareness of the world, who you are, and the existence of strangers will bring with it separation anxiety when you drop him off at day care. It can crush your heart to hear him cry as you hand him off or set him down and then leave the room. Most of the time, he'll be fine in a couple minutes and it's nothing that a handful of Cheerios can't solve from a caring day care provider. On the other side, reunification can be heart warming and really fun as baby recognizes and is excited to see you.

At the one year pediatrician checkup, the doctor said we'd filled out our full merit badge for illnesses over the past year including RSV, Covid, a new cold or cough on average every two weeks, 10 ear infections, and hand, foot and mouth. As a candidate for tubes, we decided to move forward with that recently and it seems to have made a big improvement especially from a crawling and walking skills perspective. 

You go through a lot with baby in a year both positive and challenging and it can be easy in the moment to forget that you're both making a lot of progress. When you're out and and about, you'll see other parents with babies that are younger than yours and you'll feel a certain kinship with them and also a growing bit of confidence of a seasoned veteran.

Story, singing, and prayer time each night becomes a special tradition and closes out a day nicely as you hand him off to God to watch over during the night.

In pursuit of His best,


Saturday, March 04, 2023

Dad Files: Months 8 to 10 Clapping, Roly Poly, Babbling, Catch and Release Games

Baby will learn to exert his will in accepting or refusing food into the mouth when feeding with a spoon. This may be due to texture, taste, boredom, distraction, or he's just full. If baby sneezes while a spoonful is near his mouth, you may find yourself sprayed with lots of green stuff especially if the spoon includes vegetables. Baby food choices can be interesting with combinations of kale/chickpeas/bananas, pear/peas/spinach among others. I don't know that I'd eat these combinations especially as the first meal of the day but baby does pretty well and the fiber helps keep things moving regularly to the diaper.

Bibs are highly recommended and will result in greater laundry duties if not utilized. Personally, I enjoy the superhero bibs. A basket of baby's laundry can be deceptive in the size to time ratio required for laundry prep. Though small in size, almost all garments require attention with spraying dirty spots in advance of washing.

Baby's first two teeth came in on Christmas so he got the same wish as the two front teeth from the song. While teething can be uncomfortable for a few days, ear infections are pretty rough too with goop oozing out and baby not feeling good. It can appear that a candle factory has set up shop with the quantity of ear wax produced. Several trips to urgent care may be required if these occur on weekends or after the doctor's office closes.  

Lots of baby clapping "Yay baby" will occur at a variety of times. Babbling sounds include ah di di, ma ma ma, da da, ba ba ba, ah wa wa. This is in addition to laughing and loud velociraptor screams.

Fine motor skills will improve dramatically with baby grabbing everything within reach, playing with them 10 to 15 seconds then throwing them on the ground. This catch and release game should be monitored closely if in public so an errant ball doesn't roll under another restaurant guest's table or church attendee's pew across the aisle. Learning discreet ways of retrieving said objects will serve you well. A pro tip is to attach the toys using a clip to baby's clothing so they don't travel far and your retrieval work is reduced.

Baby will occasionally dance by popping his chest and moving up and down. 

Ambulatory activities include turning into a roly poly as he rolls back and forth across the room as well as belly crawling and trying to figure out reciprocal crawling. Baby will gain strength and the ability to stand up with assistance. As he learns to sit on his own, watch out if he flings himself backward. Positioning a pillow or soft surface behind him is helpful if you're not immediately beside him. 

In pursuit of His best,


Monday, December 05, 2022

Dad Files: Months 6 and 7 Solid Food, Sickness, Hand Control, and Holiday Travel

Tis the season...for RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus). As mentioned in a previous dad files edition, daycare is a great delivery mechanism for spreading sickness among children and their parents. RSV can be a serious illness in children and thankfully we got through it though it was rough for baby and me for about 10 days and we took a couple trips to urgent care between the two of us. Caring for a sick baby with a 102 degree fever yourself is not fun but you can get some good snuggles from baby if you're aware enough to enjoy them. Incidentally, sometimes healthcare providers are very helpful and recommend tools like the NozeBot which is fantastic at removing snot from the nasal passage. Other times, they may diagnose your child with a crack in his hiney.

Baby has developed much greater dexterity and control of his hands which can result in activities such as grabbing you by the throat while burping him implying "GIVE ME MORE MILK!," apprehending the hand sanitizer container while you're changing his diaper, and undoing his own diaper after you've put a new one on and are in the midst of re-clothing him. You will also want to be conscious of drawstrings on a hoodie or jacket because baby may not let go even when you put him down or hand him off and give you a good yank. The consumption of reading material during story time takes on new meaning as baby grabs pages, puts them in his mouth and chews on them. So far he's not "digested" any books yet.

As he moves beyond only consuming milk, the introduction of solid foods also introduces a change in the output to diaper. Solid food = solid poo. This can sometimes work in your favor with a less runny diaper but can also be very messy and smelly. During the past month's diaper changes I've been working on a song with the lyrics "got a dirty diaper if you know what I mean, got a dirty diaper and it needs to be clean." As baby masters sounds like blowing raspberries, he may do this with increasing frequency. Pray that it's not during church. During diaper changes, blowing raspberries are his way of mocking you...PPPPHTHHHTTT....heh heh heh you have to change another diaper ....PPPHHTTTHTHTT...heh heh heh I've got something else coming out right now.

Learning to feed baby with a spoon can be an adventure as he figures out how to maneuver his tongue. Sometimes he'll be very interested and get excited, kicking his legs and pounding his hands for more as he tries tasty foods. Other times he'll be totally uninterested and you'll resort to any manner of method to get food into him like pretending the spoon is an airplane, acting like you're eating the food yourself, making silly noises, or opening and closing your mouth repeatedly an inch from his face. Getting through a 2 ounce container of food can seem as daunting as trying to fill up a bathtub a spoonful at a time.

This high chair has fed 3 generations of children

I've heard it said that feeding a baby can be like trying to put toothpaste back into a toothpaste tube and it's an apt analogy. Bibs are highly recommended and will save you laundering time later on. Super hero bibs add an element of fun to meal time though baby may decide he wants to play with, pull off, or try to eat the bib. You will develop strategies like simply putting food on the bib or his hands since he's sticking them in his mouth anyway rather than letting you get a spoon in.

With holiday travel to visit family and friends, it behooves you to keep baby on schedule as close as possible. He can get over stimulated being passed from person to person coupled with long car rides and interrupted or no naps. After one event, baby was so tired that he fell deep asleep on the back seat of the car while I was changing him. All of these factors together can result in a very grumpy baby by the time the day is over. Remember, you're the parent and you get to choose what's best for baby.

In pursuit of His best,


Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Dad Files 5 Month Insights: Daycare, Carseats, Overnight Solo Parenting

Handing over your most precious person in the whole world for the first time to essentially a stranger at daycare and hoping they take care of him is challenging emotionally. Over time, you and baby will get to know the daycare workers and develop a relationship with them as they partner with you in his development. 

While you'd love for baby to never get sick, entering the halls of this institute of care is also germ central and will almost definitely result in a cough and cold within a few days of starting. There's nothing quite like seeing a booger encrusted classmate crawl towards your baby and reach out a slobber and snot filled hand to welcome him to the cold crew. Baby will subsequently have essentially a continuous cold and cough for the next few months. 

Listening to your baby coughing and sneezing while you can't do anything about it is hard. Boogie Wipes will become your new friend in the next weeks and months. You too may share in the new colds passed along from baby as he coughs or sneezes in your face. On the bright side, baby should have a rock solid immune system by the time he starts kindergarten.

As you take on the responsibility of drop off and pick up from daycare, time should be allotted to get baby dressed, bottles prepped and labeled, extra clothing changes, and a well stocked diaper bag plus some extra margin as baby requires. Don't be late for pick up; they're strict about that cutoff time and charge by the minute if you're late. 

If you're heading to the office following drop off, you'll want to be especially careful to dodge any spit up that may occur between home and hand off and it wouldn't hurt to keep a change of clothes in the car just in case. This can easily occur on the pick up side as well especially if they've fed baby immediately prior to pick up. Also possible is a blow out that you realize when you first smell then feel the sticky wetness on your own clothing as the transmission from baby to you occurs while walking to the car.

Sometimes you may split drop off and pickup responsibilities with your spouse. If you only have one car seat, you'll want to coordinate in advance to not get caught without the seat. It's a surprise if your wife leaves before you with the car seat but you are dropping baby off at daycare. Hope that you can get some work done at home because you're not going anywhere till she returns to trade off the car seat. Alternatively, if you leave with car seat but not baby and she is in charge of baby, you may get a call shortly into the work day resulting in a return home to trade off car seat. 

The first multi night solo parenting experience will make you appreciate single parents and the challenges they go through even more with the weight of all responsibilities and care taking falling fully on you. You will be very thankful when your wife returns home.

Baby will increasingly smile, laugh, babble, and explore introductory motions towards crawling as he gets stronger with lots of tummy time sessions. You can have fun baby sound conversations with him even if neither of you use a distinguishable language. Laughing with him is also a joyful experience for all involved. 

He will begin watching you from across the room and pay close attention to things of interest like the milk bottle or favorite toys. You may attempt feeding baby rice cereal or other foods like sweet potatoes. It's an experience as baby learns about spoons and how to get food down the hatch rather than spiting it out on clothing and generally all over his face.

In pursuit of His best,


Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Dad Files 4 month Insights: Slobber, New Sounds, and Paternity Leave

In addition to baby advocating loudly for more milk, around nap time, or in conjunction with a diaper change, he will begin to make new sounds. One of these includes blowing raspberries (or flatulent sounds proceeding from the mouth for those unfamiliar). Bonding with dad over impolite sounds begins at this age and may continue, peaking around the age of middle school. 

Another fun sound is baby making new quacking noises similar to The Count on Sesame Street. 3 clothing changes per day ah ah ah...4 naps...ah ah ah...6 bottles of milk ah ah ah....8 diaper changes ah ah ah.

Baby will increasingly put fingers, whole hands, and pretty much anything he can reach in his mouth and baptize them with saliva. Along with copious amounts of slobber, baby will increasingly spit up both at meal time and at random intervals. This may require adjustments to slow pace of feeding, quantity, or frequency. Consequently, baby may require additional wardrobe changes throughout the day. 

Bath time is also fun as baby learns about the water and splashes around. An extra bonus is if he lets a poop slide right in the middle of bath time or alternatively contributes bubbles to the water that when popped leave behind a smelly aroma.  

With bright eyed excitement at new discoveries, joyful laughing, and kicking his legs simultaneously I've loved watching as he learns more about the world. It's a lot of fun especially when he's not yelling at you. 

Over the past 6 weeks, I had the privilege of taking paternity leave and staying home with him. It definitely gave me an increased appreciation for full time stay at home parents as well as single parents. There are lots of great parts but also lots of challenging and tiring parts. It's possible to get things done during the day but you need to be very intentional about planning out the day. With awake and sleep cycles running every 3 hours, you need to constantly be planning the next session as well as getting anything done like house work, exercise, nap, paying bills, or even a little down time. 

I totally understand how someone could go all day or even multiple days in the same clothes or without showering. On the days that were the most successful, I had a goals list for the day and priorities which could be tackled similar to a regular work day. Of course, baby can totally derail that plan with plans of his own. I think it's also a good idea for stay at home parents to purposefully connect with others outside the home since it can be exhausting and isolating fulfilling need after need day after day without adult interaction. 

All in all, I'm grateful that the company I work for introduced this benefit for dads and that I was able to invest focused time in him over the past month and a half. 

I've also been finishing up a song that I wrote for him and hope to post a version of it soon so stay tuned!

In pursuit of His best,


Friday, July 29, 2022

Dad Files: 3 Month Insights: Smiles, Swaddles, Spit Up, and Types of Cries

If baby’s other parent discovers a blowout and hands baby to you for cleanup, you are fully entitled to call foul and reject the handoff. Bonus points to you if you graciously overlook this violation of courtesy and endeavor on restoring baby to cleanliness.

Sometimes there are blowouts requiring both parents in order to properly change and clean baby. These involve fluids and poop covering essentially all parts of baby and a subsequent bath is recommended. No judgment if you opt for throwing away clothing rather than endeavoring to clean it.

By now you will begin to recognize meanings of various cries whether hungry, tired, in need of a diaper change, sick, gassy, hurt, or generally disagreeable to the current situation. Volume, tone, and length all play a part with tremolo vibrato crying reserved for the especially distraught times and commonly associated with the car alarm cry. The quicker you recognize these and take action where appropriate the better for all involved.

When you get fussy baby down for a nap and simply desire the same for yourself he will likely cry out just as you cross the sleep threshold. He may more or less get a full nap in but you will need to resign yourself to a few micro sleeps.

Increased frequency of smiles, snuggles, and baby’s recognition of you are tangible dividends for the hard work so far and make all those dirty diapers, interrupted or reduced sleep, and yelling/crying sessions more tolerable and worthwhile.

Holding baby aloft and zooming around like an airplane immediately following feeding, while fun, runs the risk of a cascade of spit up flowing down and covering anything underneath. Subsequent clothing change for you will be necessary. On the positive side, baby’s expulsion may miss his clothing entirely and allow him to soldier on in current attire. Needless to say, less aerial play options are recommended until adequate digestion time has passed.

Baby’s hair will have grown a fair amount over the past three months though a bald spot may develop in the back when he shakes head from side to side while laying down. 

When switching to zip up swaddles, baby may look like a whale flapping it’s tail when kicking or exercising legs. This is also observed if carrying while in swaddle with squirming baby resembling a flip flopping fish. Hold on tight!

In pursuit of His best,


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