Category Archives: Newborn and dad

Everyone has an opinion about babies

F. experienced it initially when our daughter was just a few weeks old.

Although still not entirely confident taking a newborn out and about in early October, F. thought that meeting a good friend for coffee in the local area would be a nice trip out for her and the baby. As my wife walked along the street with her friend, V. in her arms, a passing woman said to her in no uncertain terms ‘That baby ought to be wrapped up better’. The busybody continued walking on, leaving F. stunned.

Later on, F.’s response was to be more upset than shocked. And we were astonished and angry that anyone should be that presumptive. Neither of us could understand how that woman could possible justify giving that advice in such a way. Correction: criticism, not advice. We tried to brush it off. But on subsequent trips out with the baby, I could see F.’s confidence affected and doubt would flash into her mind about her decisions.

No one told us about this kind of thing happening. And I’ve certainly not read anything in any of our baby books. But as soon as you say this to other parents, the stories come out. I mentioned F.’s high street encounter to a client, a mother of three who lives in Primrose Hill. And she happily told me of an experience she’d had when out with her youngest daughter one evening. A complete stranger had said to her “You should be at home by now, you stupid cow”. Years later, this incident was now a family joke. But, for those of you who are expecting your first baby, I can tell you it’s not funny at the time. And it really is hard to believe just how prevalent this activity is.

Up until a couple of months ago, I had not directly experienced this phenomenon. I had started to think that perhaps strangers wagging fingers was a gender-issue: mum’s being seen as soft-targets for the opinionated. But one afternoon in John Lewis, I had a mild, passive-aggressive swipe taken at me whilst queuing to return a kettle.

I was waiting in the Electricals department for service. V. was strapped to my front in her baby carrier, dozing. Although we were indoors, she still had her warm coat on as it was February and I hadn’t anticipated being in a queue for quite so long. Getting served at the reception desk in front of me was a well-spoken woman in her fifties, trying to get a spare part for her fridge. As a harassed staff member made a couple of phone calls on her behalf, she turned to look at my daughter. With a smile, she nodded to V.’s coat, ‘she’ll be warm in that’.

So, basically we can’t win. The baby’s either too cold or too hot. My advice is that, should this happen to you, ignore them.

Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’

This last week has seen V. develop a taste for rolling from her back to her front. It’s a developmental milestone you hear about and she is bang on time. But it’s still a delightful surprise to watch it during playtime.

There’s a catch, though. She has also been doing it during some daytime naps, whilst lying in her cotbed. Rolling over wakes her up and she finds herself all twisted up in her sleep sack. V. cries and we find her on her tummy, unable to roll back onto her back. Nightime sleeps have not been disrupted in this way but we think its because she’s far too tired to be so active.

All the online advice seems to agree that this perfectly natural phase is disruptive to the baby’s sleep. The usual sources also agree that the baby will learn the skill of rolling back within a couple of weeks. To speed up the process, we’re encouraging rolling during playtime. By giving V. little nudges during tummy time, we’re hoping she’ll learn the skill for herself and will self-correct during naps. The knack with rolling is to tuck one arm under near you or lay it out along the floor, lying next to your ear and roll over that. Of course one leg has to bee thrown over the hip to help momentum.

In the meantime, me or F. tuck V.’s sleep sack a little tighter under the mattress to reduce the amount of rolling. I’ve also sewed a couple of snap fasteners into her daytime sleep sack to slightly reduce the wriggle room.

FYI the title of this blog is more Rawhide than Limp Bizkit. Although other answers I would have accepted are; Rolling in the Benjamins, Roll Out The Barrel or Rolling Thunder.

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.

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.

Baby’s 5-star New Year’s Eve

Despite my fear of being in public with a screaming, uncontrollable baby, Mrs D. and I celebrated New Year’s Eve with a refined afternoon tea in the world’s number 1 bar: the Artesian at the Langham Hotel.

No cocktails for us, but the bar is a good location to people-watch and we have good memories of the place: F. stayed there the night before our wedding. Not me, of course.

I did say I had a fear of V. having a public display of apoplexy. Truth be told, it adds an element of nervousness to being out with her. Visiting a 5 star hotel intensifies my anticipation that my daughter will kick off, big-style.

It’s not something I’m proud of. F. has no such problem. So I take my lead from her and don’t let it stop me from going anywhere we like save a library or regular movie screening. As it turned out, during our visit, V. was mostly out like a light. When she did wake up, she was due for a formula feed. That kept her quiet.

Goodbye 2012, hello 2013. Goodbye, the year of her birth, our home birth, trials and tribulations of breastfeeding, first immunisations, two-hourly feeds. Hello to potty-training, weaning, learning to walk.