Daddy Tips

Daddy Tips

Our first daughter was born in March 2016. So I did what an excitable new dad would do: start an email newsletter. Roughly every week for nearly half a year, I sent out an email chronicling our thoughts, fears, product discoveries, and coping mechanism. This archive was originally a Google Doc and has been sent around thousands of times that I decided it was time to add it to my blog!

Volume 1

  • Your wife should eat as much as she can b4 hospital; once admitted, they will not serve her food no matter what (even if labor is 20+ hours). There is this misconception that when the water breaks or contractions start, you need to go to the hospital that second. While i’m not a dr, this seems more like a hollywood version of a birth. In reality it’s a slow process that has many steps/cues
  • Once in hospital, they will serve your wife broth, no matter what; we “cheated” and I got her a soup from an asian restaurant and just poured her only the broth (Lisa’s labor was almost 24 hours)
  • Our doula took pics during the labor… while not really her job, the whole process is kinda hazy and it’s pretty cool (and intense) to see it after
  • The first week of poops is this tar-like substance called Meconium. If it dries, it’s impossible to get off the skin, but a drop of olive oil works great (and is healthy for the baby’s skin)
  • Learn how to swaddle… fast and tight (especially the step on figure C)
  • For techies, you will need to monitor poops/pees/breastfeeding: the “total baby” app is awesome
  • Know your wife’s blood type – for some reason, they ask for it all the time (esp if you go to ICU)
  • Add your baby to insurance as soon as it is born – you’ll need to go to dr’s appt w/in 24 hours and it’s just another headache if you haven’t done it
  • Our daughter had jaundice which required her to go to ER/ICU; know before hand which ER you would go to (considerations include distance, insurance coverage, where your pediatrician can admit); again, when a dr tells you to go to the ER (which during the first 8 weeks can be bc of a fever) you don’t want to figure this out on the spot

Volume 2

  • Spelling of name: They spelled Soriya’s name wrong on her birth certificate which is turning into a huge pain. I would double and triple check that your “L”s don’t look like “I”s, etc… don’t assume that hospital staff will use good judgement.
  • Lactation consultant: We found a really good one, for those of you in NYC.
  • 529 Plan: It might be early, but you should consider opening a 529 plan for college savings. At the minimum, married filing jointly couples can get up to a 10k tax deduction (NYC and NYS) and the plans have good/cheap index options. (not sure for my CA friends)
  • Nightlight… We’ve been using this one (Kinderglo)… rechargeable and fun, and a decent amount of light

Volume 3

  • Camera: We have a sony RX 100 and it’s got the power of an SLR (i.e. the ones with the huge lens) but works like a point and click. It seriously enables me to take professional-like photos with no skill whatsoever. Here is the newest version of the camera
  • This week’s tip for calming a crying baby has been bouncing on bossu (i.e. yoga ball)… for a long time, and it works surprisingly well (pic attached… shout out to my socks!)
  • Article: “Five ways to nurture talent w/o being a psycho“: Quick read for all of us Type A folks. The main takeaway I had was “Paying attention to what your kids stare at”
  • For dads who will be helping w/bottle feeding, this link is super helpful

Volume 4

  • The reading lamp I bought thinking I would read in the middle of the night when Soriya was sleeping, turned out to be ideal for late night diaper changes. Spotlight precision to get that squirrly turd out while not bothering the other sleeper. A MUST-Have!
  • Work-outs: have gotten crushed since baby was born. Here there are 3 tips:
    • Tabata workout: 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for 8 sets… can do anything, pushups, situps, air squats. 4 minutes and there are apps to keep time
    • Card deck workout: again, no equipment required…. red cards = push ups, black = situps, then you do the # on the card… much longer than the above
    • Good old fashioned walking up stairs to work (we are on 10th floor)
  • And finally, check out my first blog post on medium.com called “March Madness: my first 30 days as a father”

Volume 5

  • Saving photos: More an open question for the group about the best way to back up photos from disparate sites. For now, I’ve been using iPhoto (w/no back up) but am leaning towards using google. More to come here and let me know if you have thoughts
  • Pacifier: The Wubunub has been a life saver. The stuffed animal creates weight on her chest which prevents her from spitting it out. And they are damn cute (yeah, I said it!)
  • Day Trip: For those of you in NYC, we took our first day trip w/Soriya. Went up to Beacon (hudson valley). Parks, a museum, tons of coffee shops and restaurants. Pretty easy and accessible.
  • Great article by my friend Adam Grant: Raising a Moral Child

Volume 6

  • Photos: A follow up to last week’s question. I came across this article in WSJ addressing this topic specifically. The verdict seems to be Flickr is the most navigatable and Google the best for back-up (but bad for sharing).
  • Food: For those of you in NYC, we started using a service called Blue Apron (Thanks Dave; s/o to John R’s friend, who is CTO). They deliver all the ingredients for a pretty comprehensive meal ($10/per person). It’s pretty easy (it takes a while to prepare) and damn tasty. As you will (or have realized), cooking in the early days is a pretty laborious task
  • A nice little passage from my friend Kajal, “Make the Ordinary Alive”

Volume 7

  • Strong Hair Dryer Song (iTunes) – This is a crazy and excruciatingly painful white noise song. It didn’t work for the first month or so but now it is helping her sleep. Download the song (99 cents – not the album) on iTunes and I rest my iPhone next to her head (screen off) and put the song on repeat. It will drive you crazy but many have told me that this puts babies into a trance and I am experiencing it.
  • Baby massage – Another thing I stumbled on during a sleepless night. I start by putting her on her stomach. [WARNING: BABIES R NOT SUPPOSED TO SLEEP ON THEIR STOMACH BC OF SIDS]. I then give her a back massage (as described here) not using oils and all that crap (i.e. just over her clothes). Again, helps get her to sleep pretty quick. Again – you MUST watch them if they are going to sleep on their stomachs.
  • Baby sign language – We took a class thru Lisa’s mom group (I guess we are those people now). It doesn’t start until 7 months but I did see it with my nephew who was able to communicate w/his parents pretty early. Apparently kids can communicate much earlier than they can speak, so you get the basics (milk, more, help) and it saves them a ton of frustration. I’ve got some links (and the person in nyc) if you are interested.
  • Song of the week -> Bloodsport by Raleigh Ritchie. For those of you into the British R&B (think Craig David meets the Weeknd) this song captures the experience w/a newborn. The hook is killer “Loving you’s a bloodsport”!

Volume 8 + 9

  • Vitamin D drops – Apparently breast-fed babies are more likely to be deficient in Vitamin D. We ended up getting these Baby D Drops which were surprisingly hard to find. All the main sites (Amazon.com and soap.com) point you to Dvisol which has tons of additives and requires a full dropper serving (vs literally one drop for the former).
  • UberFamily: We have reluctantly used Uber a few times w/our carseat (but w/o the base) which always made us slightly uncomfortable. Now for $10 extra you can get an Uber w/car seat. Haven’t tried yet but a few friends have w/good reviews. Not sure if they have the newborn inserts…. more to come.
  • Baby Ambien: Just kidding! However Lisa and I have discovered the legal equivalent. Starts with a football hold in your dominant hand, with the baby’s head in your palm. Then take your other hand and stroke from the crown of the head (3 or 4 fingers) to the hairline, and optionally, taking your fingers and gently closing the eyelids. It has worked one too many times that you will hear in our household “did you give her the baby ambien?”
  • 18th birthday emails: From the Homeboy Drew – Set up an email account for your little one. send them emails and pictures and thoughts and various highlights, etc on a regular basis. Then for their 18th birthday, you give them the password.
  • 10 Business books you need based on your favorite books as a child: Pretty entertaining… Pig Will and Pig Won’t = Thinking Fast and Slow
  • And the best piece of advice I’ve gotten so far: “Just remember… surviving is winning”

Volume 10

  • Setting a routine and rituals: We always talk about this, but the realities of work, fatigue, and logistics seem to get in the way. We say we’d like to start Soriya’s bath at 6 or 6:30 but we usually end up punting it a few days. Getting a ritual going of bath -> diaper change -> massage -> bottle is going to be a huge priority for us, bc it definitely seemed to work. (That means I need to cut back on my post-work networking!)
  • How much to feed: Being in charge of the feedings from 8 pm to ~ 2 am, I’ve got an arsenal of pumped milk. My approach had been to feed her til she stopped sucking, and then try to put her down. It seems like I may not have been feeding her enough, and some tricks the BN showed me were to rotate the bottle in circles to arouse her, burp her more frequently, and change her diaper if necessary. For context, I would give her 1-1.5 oz (she’s 10 weeks) and that would translate to 1-1.5 hours of sleep; I increased to 3 oz and she was instantly giving 3-4 hours of sleep. [NOTE: I AM NOT A DOCTOR]
  • Bath temperature: We were so paranoid about the bath being too hot, which seemed to be unfounded (that’s why she hated it).
  • Warming the bottle? I put this in the “I’m not convinced it matters” category and eventually got lazy and stopped using it (despite having a sweet bottle warmer). BN scolded me for this transgression. Will keep you posted on whether it has worked.
  • Football Hold: I was also scolded for not holding her the right way. Right pic = correct, Left = wrong. The reasoning being that the stomach helps release gas.

Volume 11

  • Managing the baby carrier in this crazy heat: We have the Becco Gemini (all Black) and I would make two observations. a) I would not get an all black carrier, it absorbs way too much heat. b) We cover her up w/one of the Aden-Anais muslin blankets which works pretty well to keep the sun off. The whole contraption does look pretty silly.
  • 2 Pacifier revelations (w/carrier): While we love the Wubanub, it is hard to use in the carrier and the shape of the nipple isn’t ideal. We solved this with a Nuk pacifier (the curved shape stays better in the mouth) and a pacifier clip attached to the carrier. Two pretty simple things, but could’ve saved some trouble earlier. (We still use the Wub at home)
  • New swaddle: Given the heat (our AC hasn’t been working well), we’ve switched over to the Kiddopotamus (away from the Halo sleep sack). Working pretty well so far.
  • Update on Baby Nurse: We never got comfortable w/some of the inconsistencies from our one experience. We might still look for someone one night a week, but will probably endeavour a more formal research process using Care.com.
  • Booking a flight internationally: We booked a flight (to Hot Dog’s wedding) and for international, lap children need their own ticket (~10% of cost). Get your details here.
  • Fun read on newborn photography: A blog post from my friends over @ weespring.

Volume 13

Happy First Father’s Day to all the rad fellas on this list

I was at coffee w/my friend Melissa, a true “baby expert” (co-founder of Weespring) and she told me that by the 12th week her twins were sleeping 12 hours straight. They are two now and she could count on two fingers the number of times they had woken her up in the middle of the night. All it required was reading a book (The Baby Sleep Solution) which would take less than an hour. I had to figure this out (and share with you fools), because we are at week 13 and have had our share of sleep troubles.

The book posits that if you can get your baby on a fixed feeding schedule (ultimately a feeding every four hours), you can then start to stretch feedings, and eventually drop the feeding in the middle of the night. It’s a super easy read and I highly recommend it (and wished we had gotten it earlier). The book is split into two parts: Daytime routine and night time routine. Since most dads are not participating in the daytime (vs. helping at night) I will focus on the latter and specifically share the notes that I made for myself. There are some important notes in the book about how to approach naps, which I recommend reading.

There are three areas of focus: schedule, routine, and soothing techniques.

Schedule: The focus is on feeding every 4 hours (at week 12 and beyond; 3 hours prior) and doing everything in your power to stretch those feedings. This ultimately gets you to span the night w/o the middle of the night feeding. There is formulaic advice about slowly decreasing the feedings in the middle of the night to wean them off.

Routine: As mentioned in previous emails, a routine needs to be established to get the baby to associate certain cues with bedtime. They recommend at least 6 steps that are done every time it is bed time. These can include (bath, diaper change, massage, hair comb, closing of shades, background music, etc). As a side note, most naps should be accompanied w/similar cues. They also recommend an “emotional toy” that also provides reminders of bed (we use the Angel Dear blanket).

The most important part of the routine that we were completely screwing up on was rocking the baby to sleep and then putting her in the crib once she was down. The book recommends (and we’ve done it for 2 days now) putting the baby in the crib when they are drowsy, but awake. While not ideal for parents, they need to learn how to self-soothe, and rocking them to sleep each time will not teach them how do fend for themselves.

Soothing: So what is the key to soothing? Nothing revolutionary, but it includes:

  • Offering a pacifier
  • Patting the baby
  • Shushing the baby
  • Turning on white noise/crib music

The key though is not taking the baby out of the crib so that they learn to self soothe. As you lead up to that middle of night feeding (~ 2am) and the baby wakes up prior to “go time” they recommend not looking/smiling at the baby (smiles lead to a spike in heart rate) and not changing the diaper (unless it’s poop). They also strongly using pumped milk/formula so that you can specifically monitor how much baby is eating. Additionally, when the baby cries in between feedings, they do not recommend going in for 3-5 minutes.

We are on day two of this and it’s worked surprisingly well. Give it a shot!

Much love!
Volume 12

  • Carrier: As I mentioned last week, we have the Beco Gemini. Definitely like it, sturdy, and it looks like we will get good mileage. One regret – we bought it in black and it absorbs crazy amounts of heat.
  • The world revolves around bath time: We have made it a #1 priority for me to get home by 6:30 and get Swaggy in the bath with an almost identical routine. Learned this from BN a few weeks back and it seems like she is getting acclimated to this routine.
  • Bicycle legs for gas: In addition to the heavy burping routine, we’ve added the bicycle to get rid of gas. (See video) Also some leg extensions combined w/pushing the knees to the abdomen (while baby is always on her back). Basically, anything that would make an adult fart, will probably do the same for the baby.
  • Some board books: We have a few books with a heavy tactile/textured element (The “I love to eat / I love to sleep” series is awesome, as is “Cuddly Animals“). I run her fingers over the various textures and she definitely notices things are different/new. And while Swaggy probably can’t even understand the noises coming out of my mouth, didn’t Malcolm Gladwell make the point in Outliers that the number of words heard (especially positive ones) at an early age can have a lasting impact on development.
  • Readquick app: What does a speed reading app have to do w/daddy tips, you ask? Well… when one is rocking, shushing, bottle feeding, the baby, chances are a bunch of us are on our smartphones. This app is killer… and well worth the $10. It takes your reading list and flashes the words at a 250/wpm pace to effectively let you speed read. More importantly, as your hands will likely be tied, it eliminates the need to swipe, switch, etc. Cool, huh?!?!

Volume 14

  • I want to re-iterate how awesome the book The Healthy Sleep Solution was. Once we read this, we almost instantly jumped to 5-6 hour blocks (hitting 8 hours 2x at gestational week 10). A quick read.
  • Pillow: Another contributor to awesome sleep was putting a small pillow under her head. This apparently helps with gas and probably contributed to the above. While we travel, we rolled up a blanket (like a sushi roll) and placed it under her head. I disclose – not SIDS tested.
  • And now for our travel tips. We flew from NYC to San Diego and thankfully had no meltdowns.
  • Pleasant Travel Surprises:
    • Meltdowns were averted – She slept or was feeding during take-off and landing.
    • People (both staff and fellow travelers) were surprisingly friendly and understanding.
    • While obvious, ear marking more than enough time for every leg significantly reduced the stress.
    • Everyone says to bring birth certificates, but FWIW we never had to pull it out.
    • The Baby Bjorn Pack and Play (though pricey) was super in terms of lightness and set up/removal
    • Travel status: Again, stating the obvious, but this is the first time we checked luggage in many many years. The small perks from having stats really matter more (than when you are traveling as a single couple). This ranges from skipping security lines (btw – baby doesn’t go thru full body scan), priority for your luggage (so that it comes out first), first free bag checked, and priority boarding.
  • Things We Would’ve Done Differently:
    • Boppy/Pillow for plane: Holding a baby on a plane is extremely exhausting. The trade off was not bringing more stuff, but in hindsight it would’ve been easier. We thought we could hold her in the carrier, but it was too complicated to get on/move around.
    • Baby Monitor: we didn’t bring it and had stayed in a house w/family. It prevented some mobility of moving around once she had gone down. Will bring next time if not staying at a hotel.
    • Jet lag – not that we could do anything differently, but the night following our return sucked!

Volume 15

  • Revisiting things that didn’t work at first: For us there were two. The “Strong Hair Dryer Song” (Track 1) which is now on all of our iPhones and iPads. This worked ok in the early days and now is straight up the Million Dollar Dream (Ted DiBiase). If there’s one thing you take away from any of my emails, it’s that this is the BEST TIP SINCE INCEPTION and the BEST 99 cents ever spent. The second was the Baby Bjorn Bouncer. This one had ZERO success for 3 months and now gets us a good 45 mins of wakeful chill time; perfect for one half of a world cup match. So remember – re-try things that didn’t work, every couple of weeks.
  • Beach Time!!!! We are off to the Jersey Shore. Didn’t realize that no sunscreen until 6 months old. Getting some guidance from this article on SPF Tents, Shirts, and other stuff. And we will NOT forget our baby monitor this time. (Baby Monitor = Freedom)
  • Baby Nurse vs. Sleep Training: As you newsletter loyalists will know, we got the baby nurse late in the game and more for sleep recovery. Now that we are in the early stages of sleep training, I’ve wondered what the expectation is for the nurse to adhere to the rules. For example, if you are stretching feedings, and baby wakes up one hour too early – is it understood that your nurse will stretch it for the next hour? Or for soothing, can you expect them to not take them out of the crib (as per the instructions)? I don’t know the answers to these questions, so am just putting it out there.
  • Baby Sitters: We’ve accumulated a nice little roster of 2 Local (brooklyn) and my cousin (manhattan). Mostly for 2-3 hours, for Lisa to get out of the house during the day (in between feedings) or for us to grab a 5 pm dinner. For those of you in Manhattan, my cousin Koliane is an amazing and reasonably priced baby sitter. She just graduated from dance school and has 3 full committed days but always looking to add evenings and weekends. And she speaks French; shoot me an email if you’d like to get in touch w/her.
  • Lullaby versions of Arcade Fire (and many other bands): These are all on Spotify and have actually started to work to soothe her before bed. I’m shouting out Arcade Fire as my favorite band but will admit that the Lullaby hits of 2011 caught my attention today (and that Born this Way really is a rip off of Express Yourself).
  • Swaggy Tabata Air Squats: Yes – I actually tried this, the video is proof. And it works. Very entertaining (Drew and John… u must try – hold the squat at the bottom for 10 seconds to get the burn). No babies were harmed in the process (just soothed).

Volume 16

  • Adventures at the beach: We took our little one down to the Jersey Shore (north of Seaside Heights!!) and had our first ocean adventure. A few things we learned:
    • Regular diapers don’t work! We should’ve used these swim diapers instead. (they happen to be sold out)
    • SPF Tent: This provided some chill space, but we didn’t really figure out where to park the baby. The car seat worked ok, carrier not at all.
    • Sand is really hard to remove from a baby’s butt crack! (numerous baths required)
  • Sleep training update: We are still going strong on the 12 weeks to healthy Sleep. The night feedings are getting much better (a 6 hour chunk) followed by a “dream feed” then usually another 4 hour chunk. We’ve been following the book pretty precisely and the results have been solid. Focusing on regular 4 hour feeding intervals and 3 naps per day has been hugely helpful. We have yet to try the (in)famous “cry it out”) and may be just delaying that subconsciously.
  • Sleep “consultants:” Yes, this really exists. One of our neighbors could not get their child to sleep after trying “everything” and opted for this $500 for 2 hours service. You will all laugh, but the remedy was a) find the right white noise machine and b) have the baby sleep in the closet where there is the least amount of natural light. While this sounds foolish, we actually were forced to do this while in San Diego (it was a walk in closet!) and that closet still holds the PR for contiguous hours slept (8 hours unbroken @ week 12).
  • But… We Have The Cheat Sheet: Another friend, out in CA hired a sleep consultant as well. She was kind enough to share her notes w/this rogue band of dads (and some enterprising moms who have snuck on) and you can find them here. I highly recommend reading and the added emphasis are mine, based on things we have already implemented.

Volume 17

  • So Why Now?
    • Baby is now 14 weeks old (gestationally)
    • We were having good success w/12 weeks to 12 hours. Good areas for us were always sleeping in the crib, scheduled feedings (4 hours), and good naps
    • However, we were struggling to drop that night feeding and it didn’t seem to be getting better
  • Which approach did we follow?
    • We debated between “Cry it Out” (i.e. never go into the room), Ferber (more of a staged cry it out), and the modified version I wrote about last week
    • Ultimately we decided to go for Cry it Out (with the option to go modified); i.e. if she cried for more than 55 minutes we’d go in, but if it was less, we’d try to stick w/the former
  • So what happened?
    • We decided to also go cold turkey on abandoning the pacifier. Why? Not because we were cruel, but since you can’t get close to the baby during Cry it Out, we figured she’d lose the pacifier within the first 10 minutes. More on this next week
    • Bed time at 7 pm –> 30 minutes of crying (not so bad)
    • Wake up at 1 am (for night feeding) –> 40 minutes (pretty bad)
    • Wake up at 4 am (for no reason) –> 52 minutes. This was brutal, the combination of sleep deprivation and being so late was rough. She stayed just shy of the 55 minute cut off
    • She awoke, on her own, at 7 am, smiling as usual (We were scared she’d hate our guts)
    • So what’s next? You’ll have to tune into next week… Mocking Bird
  • Any other tips?
    • Yes – if you live in an apartment, warn your neighbors. We didn’t, and the last thing you need to be worrying about is an angry neighbor. As a result, we issued them an apology in the AM, see below (they didn’t care)
    • This one is strictly for the dads – you will have to play “defense” on mom. The biological connection will really traumatize them. Lisa had earplugs, Bose headphones, and a shut door just to make it through the night.
    • GOOD LUCK

Volume 18

  • Sleep training continues:
    • Night 1: As a reminder, she cried 1 hour, 2x.
    • Night 2: Two more, 1-hr cry sessions
    • Night 3: (The worst), 2:45 minutes of straight crying (from 2-4:45 am)… if it continued, we don’t think we could’ve made it.
    • I will say that each morning, she would wake up smiling, as if nothing had happened.
    • Night 4: VICTORY!!!!!! A full 12 hours
    • Same for nights 5, 6, 7
  • There is a “but”:
    • On day 7, she got her 4 month shots, and was laying in bed all day drowsy and tired
    • Her schedule got off, we gave her the pacifier, and as a result, since, she’s woken up for about an hour, for the past 2 nights. More to come, but if when you begin to try sleep training, make sure you consider the 4 month vaccines
  • Moving along…
    • New white noise machine: Light, cheap, and portable for travel. Highly recommend it.
    • Bright from the Start book: Just started this one, but reconciles a lot of the scientific research with brain development. Attempts to debunk/verify things such as “classical music makes my child smarter” and also provides a good overview of cognitive milestones.
    • Time for solid foods? We are approaching that point. I’ll save that for the next episodes, but I leave you with this… a serious, wtf. Baby-led weaning. No joke, it’s like the “Cry it out” of eating. Instead of pureeing foods, you just slap your adult meal on their tray and see what happens!

Volume 19
Determined to not let Swaggy impact our regular travel plans, we headed off to San Juan for a 4 day excursion (and some due diligence on the municipal bond situation — finance joke!) Travel and plane ride went well, and we had learned our lesson from our prior trip about staying in the same time zone. We also didn’t have her passport yet, so that prevented us from our top choice, Bermuda (nicer beaches, shorter flight).

We arrived at a nice and comfortable hotel in the evening. Right around time for her evening routine of bath, bottle, and (newly sleep trained) sleep which begins around 6 pm. Unloaded the pack and play, pulled down the blackout shades, fired up the white noise machine, and she was asleep by 7ish. But wait… now what?!?!?!

Lisa and I were sitting in the dark, listening to white noise, with blackout shades down. I whispered to her “I guess we should order room service” as we tip toed around the room for the next couple of hours. This ROOKIE MISTAKE has been verified by numerous first timers and I gave myself a good slap for not thinking through this (and getting a suite). So we continued life analogous to the amish and ended up going to sleep around 8.

The next night we were a little more clever and put the pack and play in the bathroom… another tip that many ex-first timers will tell you that, they too, have done. By night three we were at the 5 pm early bird special, shucking down 2 for 1 oysters and cocktails.

Things we would have done differently:

  • Request a suite: Ceteris paribus, I would trade down in hotel quality for the extra room next time.
  • Extra outfit: You got it… ten minutes after take off, a MONSTER blowout. We hadn’t packed an extra pair of pants, so we had the option of diaper only (increased blowout risk) or finding a way to clean a pair of pants on an airplane. Which would you do 😉 ?
  • Bottle cleaner/brush: In an effort to reduce packing, we left these both at home. Definitely not the right move, cleaning all that stuff takes forever and is a pain in the ass without the right tools.
  • Little tickets that they give you for luggage: We experienced a scare when they told us upon landing that there was no sign of our car seat or stroller which we had gate checked. While ultimately it didn’t matter, having those little tickets gave us piece of mind that they actually knew where our stuff was.

Stay tuned for next week, when I review the first half of “Bright from the Start.”
Volume 20
This week I’d like to cover interesting findings from the first 1/3 of the book “Bright From the Start,” which I’ve really been enjoying. Specifically, there are certain concepts that were very new to me about how the brain works and how to best encourage development during the first 6 months. And no, it doesn’t involve playing classical music.

The first interesting topic surrounded the Corpus Callosum, the thick wall that separates the two hemispheres of the brain. (Coincidentally, this specific body part also makes a cameo in the adult book (that sounds naughty) that I’m reading called Strategic Intuition – The Creative Spark in Human Intelligence.) Early in a child’s life, their brains work in halves – the right half controls the right part of the body and the left half vice versa. However, these parts of the brain both serve very different functions and encouraging synapses to effectively “cross” the corpus callosum play a key role in brain development. So how does one do that?

  • Crossing the “mid-line”: You may notice that your baby will initially have trouble maintaining eye contact especially if you try to cross across their midline (i.e. the imaginary vertical line that splits the body). The reason is because the corpus callosum is not developed, and you will see them abandon or lose eye contact. However, with some practice (and dedicated dads) you can help them cross that line (with a rattle, toy, cooing voice) and continue to build that interaction between the two hemispheres of the brain.
  • Tummy Time: This mild form of newborn torture has been promoted as a way to strengthen the spine and neck muscles. While this is true, there is cognitive element to “TT” as well, again related to the callosum. TT is the pre-cursor to crawling (and hence walking) and the interaction between left hand and right foot, once again strengthens the interactions between the two hemispheres. (As an aside, our generation has been so conditioned to fear SIDs and anything that puts a baby on its stomach, that a lot of kids are actually skipping crawling.)
  • Breast feeding: This was a surprising one. We all know the health benefits that a baby accretes from the b**bie, but did you know that there was also a cognitive element to this feeding ritual? And a very specific daddy tip. Breast feeding stimulates brain development because of the eye contact between mother and baby and the ability for the baby’s hand to explore. However, one of the major benefits is the fact that the mother actually switches sides. This provides equal and balancing stimulation to both parts of the baby’s brain, as their hands and eyes will develop on both sides. HOWEVER, if you daddies are helping with bottle feedings, there is a natural tendency to feed with your dominant hand. As a result (and despite the awkwardness) you should try to switch hands to keep that balance for both hemispheres of the brain.
  • Car seat: Another new tidbit. Again, my original thinking was that trying to limit carseat use to time in the car was related to spinal development. However, their is also a cognitive element to the overuse of carseats – it involves the high panels on the side, to act as a “cocoon” in the event of a car accident. This cocoon prevents the baby from developing its peripheral view by driving the baby’s gaze forwards. Again, none of these points require overthinking IMHO, but it’s still neat to think about what’s going on in that little head of theirs, especially when there is an element of control from the daddy side.
  • And finally, a few exercises from the book in the image below:

Volume 21

  • Travel Tips: After a few more trips, a couple of new tips
    • Requesting a bassinet on a plane: Lisa called the airlines a few weeks before our trip and got us a bulkhead seat which allowed us to use the airplane bassinet. Other passengers were not so lucky, as there seems to only be one bassinet per plane (the kind that latches to the wall) and the remainder look like a body bag that you put on the floor. Scary!
    • Bottle Cleaning Kit: Again, what seems like a triviality, turns into a great convenience when you are on the go and need to (constantly) clean bottles and pumping apparatus.
  • Time for solid foods: Swaggy is 5.5 months old and we were a little late to the game to start with the feedings. A few observations picked up along the way.
    • Rice Cereal: After minimal research, we decided to skip the rice cereal. While there is the benefit of having Iron (which is hard to get from foods), rice cereal seemed to be more of a “practice food” for the sake of learning how to swallow. We think that she can get all the nutrients from the mix of breast feeding and bottle feeding, so decided to pass on the rice cereal. (Disclaimer – I am not a doctor)
    • One food at a time: Starting w/avocado (can someone say GUACAMOLE!) to see if there are any food allergies. Again, at this point it is more about “practicing” how to eat versus actual nutritional value.
    • Bumbo: We are in that temporary period where she needs to eat (i.e. sit up) but doesn’t have the neck control to do so on her own. We’ve been borrowing a Bumbo which is helpful. It’s one of those things that probably gets a month of usage so not necessarily worth buying (or storing).
  • 5 Finance Tips for New Parents – courtesy of my friend Gary Zimmerman (My fav is #3)
Khe Hy
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Khe Hy is the creator of RadReads.