Three months ago, my wife and I were overjoyed to welcome our first baby, a boy named Bennett. Since I work at a children’s museum, I’ve been regularly bringing Bennett along with me to the office. Fortunately, I am lucky to work with an incredible group of colleagues who have welcomed his presence. There’s been more than a few occasions where I’ve needed to pause a meeting to feed him or change his diaper and they’ve been nothing but supportive and patient!
As you know—and I’ve quickly figured out–there’s an incredible learning curve when you become a new parent. It’s hard to believe that you need to take a test to get a driver’s permit, but not to take a newborn home from the hospital. Having never changed a diaper or burped a baby before Bennett arrived, it is absolutely wonderful to have CMEE members to turn to for parenting advice! Here are just a few of the tips I’ve received:
1. Don’t be an “academic parent.” Be an “animal parent.”
Initially—and much to the amusement of my co-workers with kids of their own–I downloaded a baby feeding app. During the first few weeks, I kept meticulous notes about when Bennett was fed, how long he nursed, and how often he peed and pooped. It was exhausting trying to maintain all of that information and I soon abandonded the app. Instead, I stopped fixating on how many ounces he ate during a feeding and worrying about whether he had six or ten wet diapers each day. As long as he’s got a healthy appetite and he’s wearing a diaper when we leave the house, we’re doing just fine. And if he’s not bawling when we get into the car? I consider that a bonus! If he does cry, I’ve learned a little Neil Young, Bill Monroe, or Roy Orbison does wonders to settle him down.
2. Buy stock in diaper companies
I honestly had no clue how many diapers a baby needs during just one day. I had heard that newborns could go through 80+ diapers in a week, but I assumed that number would go way down in the first few weeks, once Bennett got the hang of how all his hydraulics worked. Three months later, I’m still waiting for that number to decrease. Babies use more diapers than a person with a cold uses tissues. No wonder we stock diapers at the Museum for families to use in case of emergency!
3. Being a new parent is like being in the army
With the sleep deprivation, new parents develop a “thousand yard stare”–just like soldiers. And, like the commercial says, “We do more before 9am than most people do all day.” We also need a quartermaster to look after all of the supplies, equipment, and logistics that come with having a kid. For example, who knew an electric wipes warmer was vital for properly caring for a baby. Finally, parents like to trade their own kind of “war stories” involving their children. My current favorite involving Bennett was the unexpected explosion in his underpants that made casualties of my pants, shirt, and tie just before I was to leave for work.
If you have other parenting tips or even “war stories,” I invite you to share them on CMEE’s Facebook page. They will be very useful not only to me, but also to the many parents enrolled in “Baby and Me” programs at the Museum this summer.
I hope you’re enjoying a wonderful Fourth of July weekend. I look forward to seeing you soon at CMEE and introducing you to Bennett. Even though he’s only three months old, we take many walks together through the Museum each day.