Some veteran advice for soon-to-be, first-time parents
Kyle and Christy are going to have a baby in a month or two.It’s their first. They are, as you might suspect, excited.I’ve a little bit of experience with babies. I used to have two. Now they’re 24 and 21 – one out of college and one, I soon hope, to be out of college. While they are girls, if I called either one of them “baby,” I’d get one of those, “Oh Dad,” looks.On the occasion of Kyle and Christy’s expanding family, I wanted to offer some free and unsolicited advice. Lots of other folks will be doing the same thing, but I figured I’d get mine in early.Item No. 1. Take advantage of grandparents. Take it from someone who lived a thousand miles from their kids’ grandparents, you don’t want to miss the opportunity for free baby-sitting, free help around the house and free (fill in the blank because it’s a long list). Grandmothers are not just well meaning, but they usually know what they’re talking about when it comes to kids. After all, they raised you.
Item No. 2. Babies, while not indestructible, are incredibly resilient. That doesn’t mean you can bounce them off the floor. Handle them with care. But don’t get paranoid about breaking them. The advice in baby books is usually pretty sound, but there is no substitute for common sense. Item No. 3. Start a savings account for the baby. Do it now. Lots of folks will give you presents for the baby, including money. Start saving every dime and resist the temptation to spend it, no matter how much you like the looks of that new flat screen TV. Call it a college fund. Call it whatever you’d like. Figure out a way to contribute to it regularly. Put it into an account that earns interest. If tuition increases continue at the same pace for the next 18 years as they have for the last 18 years, you can win the Colorado lottery and still won’t have enough money to pay for college.Item No. 4. Kyle, when the baby comes, start changing diapers from the get-go. Because you didn’t go through the actual childbirth (you know, passing something the size of a large melon has to really smart) the least you can do is change the dirty diapers. And remember, until the baby starts eating real food, it’s no big deal. Item No. 5. Don’t be afraid to tell those you trust that you need help with the baby. Too often parents are for whatever reason reluctant to do that. Most folks are thrilled to help.Item No. 6. On the days that follow those long sleepless nights when the baby decides it would be fun to stay awake all night, often howling at the top of his or her dear little lungs, resist the temptation to take it out on your spouse, co-workers or any dogs in the immediate vicinity. Believe it or not, kicking a stout Rubbermaid trash container will help. The plastic gives nicely and won’t hurt your foot, and it’s a good way to rid yourself of a lot of pent-up energy and anger.
Item No. 7. Read to your baby. Play music for the baby – unless, of course, you’re a fan of say, Barry Manilow, in which case just read. At this point, don’t worry about baby books. Whatever you’re reading will be fine. You simply want your baby to hear your voice.Item No. 8. Insist on some time for yourself.Item No. 9. Loosen up and relax. Few things are as important as they first seem. That includes when the baby cries … nine times out of 10 a little cuddling, a little nourishment and perhaps a dry diaper will handle the problem.Item No. 10. When the two of you or either of you and someone else (like a well-meaning grandmother or family friend) get into a tizzy, and that’s inevitable, especially with the new baby, give yourself some time to cool off before trying to resolve it. And remember that proving right or wrong often isn’t really all that important.Item No. 11. No matter what you’ve been told, it’s awfully hard to spoil a baby. A teenager, yes. A baby, no.
So, that’s my advice, except for one final item. Never miss an opportunity to tell the baby how much you love it. Children need that every day. And the adults in the family need it, too.Publisher Jim Morgan writes a Tuesday column. He can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext 240or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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