As the title suggests we’ve had difficulty getting our infant to eat. We had tried a wide range of things to no avail. This week we tried something new and it seems to be working. Firstly we bought a whole dinning set with our girl’s favourite character Anpanman on it. Now she always wants to use them and happily says ‘Anpanman’ while eating. The second thing we did was buy a toy food set. The set was the cheapest thing I could find and consists of a plastic frying pan and a range of plastic food. I never had anything like this as a child and didn’t even think that it would be a fun thing to have. Since buying it though it has proven to be our daughter’s favourite toy. She is now always ‘frying’ things in the pan and chewing away on the fake waffle. The final thing we did was a two in one combo. We served her very small amounts of food and praised her mightily when she finished it. Usually she asks for more so we give her a tiny bit more and when she’s finished that we keep on praising her eating. These things seem to have worked for our girl as she’s been eating better now then in months.
The thing that I have noticed most since having a child is that humans really are blank slates. We have no instinct whatsoever. This is so that we can adapt to any society that humanity makes. We could be living in the worst imaginable society and we would adapt to it and even justify its existence to others. That also means we could be living in the best possible society. Society is what we make it. It’s ridiculous that so much of our society is based on what has come before us. That we do things because that is the way it’s always been done. This is the worst excuse to do anything because it means we are doing it without thought or reason. People even talk about human instinct as if it exists. If we have an instinct it is to adapt to whatever society we are in. That’s all. Humans aren’t greedy we are born in a society that prizes greed so we become greedy. Whatever we teach our children, whatever our society teaches the next generation is what society becomes. With that in mind we can build a better society.
Based on observation, thoughts and a little idealism
There is an amazing park near our house. A good park makes me feel like I’m living in some Utopian society or at the very least like society is moving along in a positive direction. A bad park though is a bleak and depressing place. It makes you wonder what is wrong with the world that they can’t provide a nice playground area for children. Fortunately I live in an area that has gone to the trouble to provide a good park. I go to this park with my daughter regularly and enjoy people watching. Since this is a nice park is seems to bring out the best in people. By in large I see very happy families.
I live in Japan which is famous for its absent fathers so it really warms my heart whenever I see fathers spending time with their family. It’s interesting to see the different types of father. There is the father that has a one year old child and brings a soccer ball along. The father who stands back and watches stopping the child every now and then if they are doing something dangerous. Another father is playing with their kids. Another one is there helping the children navigate the playground equipment. Then there is the father on his mobile phone the whole time. There are probably more but these are what I’ve observed at the park.
The soccer ball bringing father is the most curious one for me. Maybe at home the infant goes crazy for the soccer ball so the father brings it along. I guess I should clarify the situation. There are two types of soccer ball bringing father. One brings a soccer ball and other stuff and instead of being in the playground are out on the ground. That soccer ball bringing father has crossed over to the playing with their kid father. So what about the soccer ball bringing father who isn’t playing with his kid? For a long time I wondered why would they bring a soccer ball. Then I realised that they aren’t bring the ball for the child. It’s for them. You can see these fathers doing ball tricks in the park while the child runs around doing something else with the mum. No one seems to actually be watching these ball tricks. The father is apparently just there at the park. I have a number of theories about this father. The first theory is that the father is being given some rest time. A bit of unwind time to just chill and rehash his old hobby. My second theory is that he was always in a soccer club growing up and doesn’t really know how to play with a child. My third theory is that this father is overwhelmed and has no idea how to be a dad.
The get in there and plays with the kids father and the playground navigating father are two aspects of the same style. These fathers are obviously motivated to interact with their children. Perhaps it’s to show them the world or perhaps it’s just because they find it fun. Maybe its just because there sure that’s what they are meant to do at the park. The plays with their kids father is the most enjoyable for me to watch. These fathers are clearly having fun. You can see them pant and sweat. You know that they are exhausted but the smile on their face is almost as big as the smile on their kids face. This is the happy family ideal you see in commercials and TV shows. This is the style of parenting I most idealise and aspire to. Perhaps I’m a victim of mass media or perhaps I’m just the type of person to get in there and do it.
The stand back and watches father is the strangest to me. Probably because it is the opposite to my style. I wonder how they do it. How do you become the parent that just sits back and has the children play? I’m not asking in a critical way. I’m genuinely curious. My wife recently pointed out that I’m a 100% attention dad. When I’m with my daughter I’m with her the whole time. There is no break. It’s exhausting and makes me wonder how do parents become the watchers while the kids do their own thing. Perhaps that is the key. Perhaps just watching is enough. I actually tried to ease off the amount of attention I give my daughter. I found that she could handle it some days but other days she’d just be grumpy wondering why her biggest toy wasn’t playing with her. I just find standing back and watching boring. Seeing these parents impresses me though. Their are obvious advantages to it for both sides. The child learns to play by themselves, an extremely important lesson, and the parents can rest. I wonder though at the cost. How do those children see that father? Do they see him at all? Is it the same as being an absent father or is standing there enough. Do they remember that as dad taking me to the park and think of their dad fondly? Watching the interaction with one watcher dad and his child I noticed that he would say “No, that’s dangerous.” and the child would immediately say “No, It’s not.” and go ahead and do it. So does this way lead to a more independent child? Perhaps it just means that dad is going to have a tough time when the kids are teenagers. Bringing it back to my way, am I raising a dependent child? One who won’t be able to just entertain herself. I guess we are always trying to get the best outcome for our child playing fortune teller but making it up as we go.
The mobile phone dad is the least attractive to me. The dad that isn’t really there. Is this the same as the watcher dad though? If just being there is enough to leave a pleasant and positive feeling towards the dad then perhaps this is perfectly justified. Perhaps this is the busy dad that is making time for his child but can’t escape work. Far more preferable to the dad that can’t make it to the park. The one that makes the phone calls at home while the mum and child go off to the park.
In conclusion, there are many parenting models. This isn’t an academic paper so I certainly haven’t talked about all the models or even presented it in an unbiased manner. You may naturally fall into a model based on your own personality. Really though I suggest to parents to think about the type of parent they want to be. Discuss it with your partner. Find out what each of you think parenting means. Hopefully your ideas match. Parents are instrumental in a child’s development. It’s important to think about how you are influencing them and what you can do to feel at the end of the day you did a good job.
Earlier last year I went to Korea with our baby girl. She’s one and a half now so I guess I should be calling her infant instead of baby. I went with my parents and my sister but was obviously the primary carer. At the time I was going to write a blog about travelling with a baby but couldn’t think of anything particularly special to write. My main feeling at the time was that it wasn’t really that different to daily life. I did notice that I was a lot more worried about what I would feed baby but since I generally feed our baby what we are eating it ended up not being an issue. Besides you can always go to the supermarket to get what you need. We regularly stopped in to get bananas, milk and bread since those are baby’s favourite snacks. Something to always keep in mind is; ‘what can baby do while I am there?’ One of the things I made sure we did while I was in Korea was devote a day to doing something baby would enjoy. We found a kids land in one of the malls. It was an amazing centre. Overall she had a pretty good time. It helped that I had my niece and nephew along. They were a great help in keeping baby amused.
Last month we went to Australia. It was a sixteen hour journey to get there; usually it’s a ten hour flight from Tokyo but we had to get to Tokyo first and that took six hours. Baby handled it well. She seems to like planes, this is her fifth time flying to and back from a place so she’s already a seasoned traveler. I would give the following tips to anyone wanting to fly with a baby. For starters its not like driving in the car or catching the bus. You don’t have to buckle up except for on take off and landing. Generally the trips are quite smooth so you can comfortably let baby walk up and down the aisles (or crawl). Take a toy or two though since it can really help fill the time. We did both a day flight and a night flight. They’ve both got pros and cons to them. If you are flying a night flight you can get the baby to sleep at their usually sleeping time and then hopefully sleep yourself or watch some movies. That’s the dream anyway. Day flights you’ve got to entertain baby for a significant part of it. This doesn’t sound ideal but if you are like me and can’t sleep on planes it means you get to go to sleep at your usually time in a warm bed. Not such a bad thing. One thing I learnt which doesn’t seem to be well known is that you can designate a bag as a baby bag when getting on the plane and they don’t take out liquids. You know as long as you aren’t crazy about it. So flying with a baby isn’t so daunting. I’d do it again.
As in Korea I found that going around Australia wasn’t so different as home life. I had my standard baby bag with everything I need for an emergency; nappies, water, food, clothes and a toy. Every place I met up with friends at in some way involved something that baby could do. Usually a playground with a swing. This was a bit difference to my Korean visit since I didn’t know anyone there. In Korea we mostly went to historical places and shopping. Two things that aren’t exciting for babies. In both these cases I just made sure baby knew we hadn’t forgotten about her and played with her on the go. One huge difference I found was distances. When you are travelling you tend to go that extra distance to do something. Instead of doing a twenty minute car trip its more like an hour car trip. This can make a bit of a difference for the baby’s experience. Especially if they aren’t such a big fan of cars. In my personal experience buses and trains are better for babies then cars. You can give them more attention and they can share the experience with you.
What being a good dad should mean.
This is going to be a little ranty. I’ll try and reign it in.
I am regularly told I am a good dad. This is of course true. I am a good dad. However, the reasons I am being told that I am a good dad worries me. The three reasons that I’m told I’m a good dad that worry me are; I am able to hold my baby without it crying, actually even with her crying I’m told that me holding her at all is amazing; I am able to feed her; I take her out of the house to do things on my own. If these are signs of a good dad I would hate to see what an average or bad dad would be.
Let’s have a closer look at these and why they worry me starting with the first one. Maybe I am being some dreamy idealist but being able to hold your own baby without it crying is a basic ability. That’s just being a parent. If you can’t do that as a dad you had better have a really good reason like not having any arms. That’s a good reason. “The baby has always cried whenever I’ve held it.” is not a good reason. Obviously you’re not actually being comforting if that’s the case since that is generally the purpose of holding your baby. What’s even more worrying is the follow up statement. So many times I’ve been told that men don’t hold babies. This can’t be right. This has to be a monumental error in generalising. If not then I really feel sorry for the mums and the babies in those families and seriously wonder what is going on with society.
Onto the second thing I am often complimented on. Being able to feed the baby is also a basic part of parenting. You really don’t want your baby to become so reliant on the mother when it comes to keeping him or her alive. If something happens to mum you want to be able to easily take up the slack and help out with the baby. That’s what being a good dad is about. Being able to feed the baby is just part of that. The more you do it the better you get at feeding time and baby gets used to the idea that you are also a feeder. As an added bonus it gives mum a chance to have a break. The bottom line though is that It’s really just a matter of doing something that you have to do. I honestly can not imagine being unable to feed my baby. This would cause my wife so much extra unnecessary trouble and I would feel like a useless tit.
Onto the third worrying point. This one actually really annoys me. I honestly think this is more a problem with society than dads. I’ll be out with my baby at the park or in the public baths or at a restaurant and someone will come up to me and ask “Oh is the mum just in the toilet.” The reason this annoys me should be fairly obvious. Are dads looking after their children on their own so rare that any dad with their child is automatically assumed to be just babysitting for a few minutes until the mum comes back? I doubt it. I’ve been out and about in Japan many times seeing dads looking after their kids on their own. I strongly suspect although I can’t verify it that this is purely a problem of perspective. People going around assuming that dads have nothing to do with child rearing. This does nothing but propagate the opinion and leads some of the more easily socialised males to become useless dads.
It’s great that we are encouraging dads. Giving a compliment when they are getting right into the thick of it. It’s really about standards though. Is the bar for dads so low that it’s amazing that the dad does anything at all? This isn’t the message we should be sending. If you see parents that you think are doing a good job say so but don’t propagate this image of dads as being some useless appendage to the family unit. Our society still view mums as the ones that do everything. What truly amazes me is that people’s eyes just glaze over when I mention that I’m that one that spends the most time with our baby. Since this never seems to get any kind of reaction I assume people just think I’m bragging or they just can’t comprehend it and ignore it. I’m happy to be called a good dad but say it for the right reasons and don’t forget to say that the mum is doing a good job too. The bar for them is set so high that the smallest things can trigger condemnation.
A blog about getting a baby to sleep
In my circle of friends with babies it’s generally the dad’s job to get the baby to sleep at night. The first month or so was reasonably easy. We watched Harvey Karp’s video the happiest kid on the block. I won’t go into detail because that’s his thing not my thing. If you’re about to have a baby you should watch it. He has great advice for getting a baby to sleep. We found though that it only lasted for about two months then the techniques stopped working. Maybe you’ll be lucky and it’ll last longer.
With our techniques outdated what were we to do? Mum, the baby’s not my mum, had no trouble getting her to sleep. Onto the breast and the baby was asleep in no time. There were a couple of flaws with this technique though. First, mum was the only one that could get her to sleep. Baby didn’t want anything to do with me when it came to bed time. Second, mum couldn’t do anything after she’d put baby to bed. Third, it was making baby very reliant on breast milk as a means of sleeping and would have trouble if she couldn’t have any. It wasn’t ideal.
After a semi frustrating month of trying things out I developed the voice. I found that while calming the baby off to sleep I had to be calm myself. I had to rise above the wails of my baby and reach an inner peace. Not easy when your baby is crying. The result; I would speak about the importance of sleeping and why humans needed to sleep in a calm and logic way. I could probably be talking about anything the key here is the slow constant rhythmic way of speaking. Once I got into the rhythm of it I would relax which in turn made my voice relaxed as well as slow, constant and rhythmic.
For any dads out there trying to get a baby to sleep I recommend developing your own calm voice. The key here is to never lose your cool in the face of a crying baby. Pat her or him and just talk away don’t worry about if the baby can hear your voice over the sound of his or her crying. Just keep it constant slow and calm and you should be right. Practice it on your friends. If they start getting sleepy then you’ve got the voice.
- Your Baby’s Snooze Time Routine (nappytimes.wordpress.com)
- Dr Harvey Karp’s ‘Happiest Baby’ technique: Calming method that stormed the U.S. comes to the UK (dailymail.co.uk)
- Happiest baby on the block (happiestbaby.com)