Monthly Archives: January 2013

Playing

I’ve become more confident about playing Rambunctious Dad, now that V. is stronger and more robust. She definitely enjoys playing ‘aeroplanes’: being held aloft under the armpits as though she is flying. Although, I’m not throwing her up in the air, a bit of up and down movement gets a big grin from her. Sometimes the odd squeak of enjoyment.

I have no idea if this type of play helps with her development or in learning anything. But it’s fun for both of us. It’s nice for me to give her a sense of floating around, weightless. Sometimes I add a jet engine noise to her ‘flights’ so she can pretend to be Ironman. But that’s probably for my own amusement.

If I’m lying on my back at the time, I will rest her body along my forearms, just to make it more comfortable for her. And when I’m standing, I remember to pull in my abdominals as V. is lifted above my head. To support the low back from the long lever I’ve created with my arms. A habit from my fitness training.

A word of warning: when your daughter is held aloft, and you’re looking up at her, keep your mouth closed. Particularly when she’s drooling. Some of that drool might come out of her mouth, forming a long drip of spittle that breaks off and falls into your own mouth. I’m just saying, you might not want that to happen.

Baby carrier review

I mentioned just before Christmas that we were using a baby carrier for short trips out and about in our local area. Now, at five months, V. is a little bigger, has better neck control and is more robust. So the baby carrier is becoming a more useful alternative to our pram. It doesn’t hurt that it comes in a military green colour and kinda has the feel of a flak jacket when you put it on.

What’s suprising me, though, is how much my back starts to complain after just a couple of hours of wearing this thing.

As a personal trainer, it’s a matter of professional pride to eliminate this weakness from my performance. Yes, this is how personal trainers talk. It’s also disappointing because, in my professional life, I focus a lot on maintaining a pain-free, flexible and healthy back.

I suspect that this problem is common no matter which baby carrier you have. Ours is the best baby carrier on the market – a present from my Dad. It has many adjustable straps, padded waist belt and a support bar that runs down the spine.

The manufacturer’s own website shows the waist belt being positioned around the belly button. As I have always adjusted rucksacks so that the waist belt sits on my hips, I did the same with the baby carrier. I feel this allows some of the weight to be taken on the hips and not by my lower back or shoulders. Another issue to look at are the shoes I wear when I have the carrier on.

Any shoe or boot with a heel will tilt your hips into an anterior pelvic tilt. This can put undue pressure on the low back as the lower vertebrae go into hyperextension. Could those hiking boots I sometimes wear also be contributing to the soreness? I’ve switched to flatter shoes when wearing the carrier.

Both of these strategies have helped relieve tiredness and stiffness in my back when carrying V. around.

But I see a problem further ahead. As the baby gets bigger, its common to turn her around in the baby carrier so that she can face forwards. That is great for her experience. However this means that a heavier baby has now moved her centre of gravity forwards, away form yours. As far as I understand it, this means even more demands on the back and shoulders.
Nothing new to pregnant women, of course.

Clearly, I need to think about a dedicated workout to help cope with the stresses and strains of the new dad experience.

Putting her down for her mid-morning scream

Daytime naps are proving more difficult that sleeping through the night.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that we’re loosely following Alison Scott-Wright’s system for sleep training. This means baby gets two naps during the day. The first one occurs after an 11am feed. She then gets one after the 2.30pm feed.

It’s the morning nap that V. is not taking to. She simply does not want to go to sleep in the middle of a bright, sunny morning. In an attempt to tire her out a little more before putting down for a nap, we’ve increased playtime activities. It’s difficult to judge whether we’re tiring her out or showing her how much more fun she’s missing out on if she lets us put her down.

We only have a couple of months to go before our system recommends to drop one of the daytime naps. Of course, it’s the afternoon one that is supposed to go. We shall see how this goes down with the little lady.

Any baby-rearing system you care to try out – be it for sleep training, potty training or weaning – is only going to work by the grace of your baby and some major tinkering about to fit your personal circumstances.

Using a baby list of things

My wife and I are inveterate makers of to-do lists. We’re better at making to-do lists than actually completing them. Up till now this has been a hobby. Now, though, after 5 months, baby brain has left us unable to even remember something as obvious as packing a clean nappy in the nappy bag.

So our lists have finally come in handy. It takes thinking out of the equation and we fret less that we’ve forgotten something essential or otherwise.

Here’s our top three list of the lists that are proving most valuable to date:

• 1st breastfeed of the day – allows us to arrange the nursery with nappy change items, cloths, glass of water, cue up an audiobook on the mobile phone et al

• Nappy bag essentials – our bag contains 26 separate items. Pointless trying to remember them all.

• Weekly Domestic chores – spreading out the chores over the week

These lists are printed up and posted up on the nursery wall, next to the front door and in the kitchen.

Laundry tubs are bags of fun

With the reusable nappies firmly part of our daily lives,

With a growing baby’s wardrobe plus continuous resuable nappy use, laundry has rather taken over the flat. And my laundry skills have been lacking. Once in a while we’ve find ourselves without muslin cloths or a baby towel for bath time or an insert for one of the nappies or any underwear for the grownups.

Buying more linen and clothes isn’t advisable. Knowing myself and F., we’ll just end up with larger piles of laundry.

So at Christmas, my wife gave me a set of plastic tubs in a variety of colours. You know the kind: flexible ones that seem to be on every building site nowadays. I already have one for our tiny roof garden. Now I have a set to help organise the laundry. They’re tough, but very light, flexible (for shoving into corners), wipeable and stackable.

The first step was to colour code the tubs. There is therefore no need to sort out a laundry load in front of the washing machine. It’s all in one tub. The other advantage is that it becomes very easy to see what type of washing is building up and therefore ought to take priority. The nappies have their own zippable bag which essential to keep the smell in until they are washed. Everything thing goes in a tub.

I’m now working on a laundry schedule. My aim is to cut down the number of washes we do on the week and to maximise exactly what goes into each wash.

Don’t forget dinner

In the early weeks after our baby’s arrival, I was finding the logistics of cooking meals a challenge. The baby’s feeding, naps and evening routine so dominate our schedule, it was easy to end up with dinners that were either overcooked or left to go cold on the plate.

The physical demands of looking after a newborn baby, and particularly breastfeeding, means that F. really appreciates nutritious home cooked meals. And as the main cook of the house, I’m happy to oblige. So I’ve had to adapt my culinary ambitions to fit around the baby.

I’m favouring slow cooked casseroles and curries. When we don’t know when breastfeeding will finish because V. has decided to be a fussy eater, they can stay in a pot on low heat for hours. Or while we work towards putting baby down for the night.

When we only have a small window in our day to eat, I’ll make a stir fry. I will pre-chopped vegetables and meats then store them in the fridge for later. Noodles are quicker to make than rice and don’t need so much watching.

If the baby’s crying, one or both of us may be up and down from the dinner table to the nursery and back many times. To keep the meal warmer for longer, I serve it up on warm plates and keep a glass lid handy to place over the meal when it’s not being eaten.