21st Century Dad
One Dad's Thoughts, Ideas, and Feelings.
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How to Prepare for a Baby’s Arrival on a Budget

April 10th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Isn’t it amazing that such a small mammal requires so much stuff? Preparing for a baby’s arrival is a huge undertaking. You don’t have to buy brand new. Used is perfectly OK. I will even tell you how to get things for free!

Are you one of those people who likes shiny, brand new things? Get over it! You’re about to have a baby. Some outfits are worn only once or twice as babies grow so rapidly. Clothes still look fresh enough even after a couple hand-me-down cycles. Maternity clothing only gets a couple months of wear as moms expand into the next size up.

Friends and Family

Once you share the joyous news, anyone with available hand-me-downs will speak up. The easy way out would be to just donate the items, but most people would rather offer their help someone they know. Our friend Barb has a daughter a year older than Twilli. She gave us an entire suitcase full of very cute and stylish clothing.

Thrift Stores

You can’t blog about bargains without mentioning thrift stores. Just about everything you’d need except diapers, wipes, and formula is available here. If the expectant grandparents are around, bring them along. The Goodwill chain of thrift stores here offer discounts to senior citizens. On a recent trip to the thrift store, we found an outfit identical to one Twilli had as a newborn, except this one is her current size.

Freesource and Freecycle

I’ve used Freesource and The Freecycle Network to de-clutter my house. When we learned the joyous news, we knew we had to work the groups for free baby stuff.

In large metropolitan areas, there are several groups that you can join within reasonable distance. Baby items are abundant, offered almost daily. You might also score some items that aren’t posted to the boards when you pick up the item you claimed. We got most of the clothes, bedding, blankets, a bath basin, a bassinet, and some toys.

Craigslist

We got our crib for $40 and changing table for $35. The lady who sold us the changing table also threw in a bunch of other goodies she had lying around. Children grow out of things. They are fickle creatures. Many nearly-new toys and items are sold here too.

The Baby Shower and Gift Registry

I’m not saying you should mooch off your friends and family, but creating a baby registry is a great way to obtain some of the items you will need. Your friends and family are genuinely happy for you and they want the opportunity to express their joy. They don’t want to play a guessing game. Ask and ye shall receive. Sometimes, a group will pool together to get you a big-ticket item, but this is not the time to be greedy. Some retailers offer you a discount if you buy items on your registry that your friends and family did not pick out.

Twilli’s mom and I were overwhelmed at the show of support at our baby shower. We’re socially outgoing and we were able to leverage the relationship equity that we spent years building up. Traditionally, this is a women-only affair, but we elected to have a co-ed baby shower to be more inclusive of all our friends. The friends who could not make it to the big bash and our out-of-town friends also came through. We got to know our UPS driver very well.

We couldn’t have pulled it off ourselves. Our dear friend Shantelle is a party and event planner. Part of her gift to us was to provide her services. Now she has built up a successful business organizing tea parties for young girls. You better believe that in a few years, Twilli will be having a tea party.

Take What You Can Get… You’ll Need It.

The arrival of a child is an exciting time. It’s easy to get carried away and fall into the trap of consumerism. You want the very best for your child, but the very best also means that you, as parents, are financially responsible parents too.

When you announce that you are expecting your first child, everyone you meet, especially people who already have children, become very supportive. You’ll need all the help you can get. Accept it graciously. It takes a village.

 

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Back From Daytona Beach

March 30th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Roadtrip TwilliWe’re back from Daytona Beach. Oh wait, I forgot to tell you all that we left on Friday morning afternoon. I was way too busy with woefully inadequate preparation efforts to post anything indicating that we were leaving for a weekend getaway.

This was Twilli’s first extended roadtrip and she did great. She did a lot better than her parents. We forgot to pack several items and stopped at Target while en route.

We forgot a few things at Target, so we made another stop at Publix.

We forgot a few things at Publix. At this point, we just said, “aw #$%!&* it!”

Traveling with a baby is only slightly less complicated than the task General Eisenhower had commanding the Allies in World War II. Fortunately, the only thing at stake is the sanity of a family unit rather than freedom and democracy in Europe.

Some highlights from our trip:

  • Twilli got to meet her grandfather for the first time.
  • We could see the ocean through our hotel window while lying in bed.
  • Beth at Mom is Just a Nickname talked her family into meeting up with us in St. Augustine. We spent the afternoon strolling through the historic district together.

The return trip was much smoother. Our battle with entropy was not of the same magnitude it was on Friday morning and afternoon. The unnecessary stuff we brought didn’t need to be loaded back in to the car, saving us some time. Despite our difficulties, this was some much-needed time away from home to recharge the batteries.

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Dad’s Adventures in Babywearing

March 20th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Babywearing DaddyRenee and I became babywearing enthusiasts out of our quest to maintain the highest level of productivity possible. What I didn’t anticipate was how much extra closeness that it fosters.

We do things very counter-intuitively in the U.S. Babies are weaned off the breast by 6 months and potty training doesn’t start until age 2. Attachment parenting practitioners start potty training by 6 months and continue breastfeeding for 2 years.

Most of the baby carriers available have a feminine design aesthetic. Some can be made masculine with a different choice of fabric print, such as soft structured carriers and mei tais. The ring slings, moby wraps, and pouches are more feminine to me.

Baby carriers come in a variety of designs. You will have to try them on for yourself to see which ones work best for you. Try meetup.com or Yahoo! Groups to find a babywearing meeting in your area. At such meetings, you’ll be able to try on a wide variety of carriers and get expert instruction on how to properly wear them.

It wasn’t long before I discovered that the Ergo Baby is my favorite. It’s a soft structured carrier. Renee’s DIY Scandi-style Mei Tai is challenging for the top spot. That’s what I’m using in the picture above.

The fun doesn’t have to end when your infant becomes a toddler. I’ve seen children as old as 4 being worn in a carrier.

There are many benefits of babywearing. Even if you don’t believe in attachment parenting, there are pragmatic considerations.

  • You have two hands free.
  • No need to navigate a bulky stroller in crowded areas.
  • It’s much safer than putting the infant car seat in the shopping cart.
  • Managing multiple children becomes easier.

Give babywearing a chance. If your wife has been the sole baby wearer, she may have one or more carriers with a feminine design. Get over your machismo. At least try it in the safety of your own home. You may end up liking it enough to get a carrier of your own.

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Babies and Their Individual Quirks

March 10th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Everybody has their quirks. It starts early.

We keep a bottle of hand sanitizer by the changing table. Every time I change Twilli’s diaper, I dispense some and rub my hands together. Every time I do this, she squeals in delight and starts laughing!

Renee doesn’t get any response. Weird.

UPDATE:

This also works with any old bottle of hand sanitizer. We were at Target yesterday, and I successfully calmed down a cranky baby by using hand sanitizer on my own hands.

Your Baby at 6 Months

March 7th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Feed MeFeed Me!

Observing the milestones is one of the joys of fatherhood. On an objective level, you’re sticking a rubber-coated spoon filled with bland cereal in a child’s mouth. That doesn’t sound too exciting now, does it?

Letting Twilli try solid food for the first time was my big thrill for the day. She had been watching us intently at mealtime for the past month. We took it as a signal that she was ready to transition to solids.

Imagine my delight when Twilli grabbed the spoon and shoved it in her mouth! Okay, fine, many of baby’s actions aren’t 100% intentional. She dropped an f-bomb a couple months ago. (I swear that’s what it sounded like.) We made 1’s and 0’s out of the event (the feeding, not the f-bomb). I did so with my Nikon D80 and Renee captured video on the LX1.

Baby Milestones

The most important thing to keep in mind here is that it’s not a contest. These are just generally accepted guidelines based on years of observations. Each child is different. Your child isn’t developmentally challenged or behind just because the book written by the experts says she ought to be doing something. Your baby may be doing some or all of these things by the 6th month:

  • Rolling over – she’s not really interested in doing this autonomously.
  • Recognizes people – at least her immediate family.
  • Passes items from one hand to the other – she’s a little early with this one.
  • Sits up – with a little bit of help. Watching her fall over face first is actually comical.

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