Homes 203: Preparing For Children

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Homes 202: Marriage

Raising a child is highly challenging, but can be extremely rewarding

Nobody can successfully plan for conceiving a child

  • The probability of conception is very high if a woman has sex at the peak of her fertility cycle
  • No birth control outside of abstinence has a 100% chance of preventing conception
    • Condoms in a wallet for longer than a month have a 50% chance of breaking
  • Consider adoption if you can’t conceive and want a child
    • Adoption is also a type of community service
    • For some reason, you can usually adopt more quickly and affordably from a foreign country

You can have as many or as few children as you want

  • Some people stay married and never have children
  • In urban areas, one or two children are typical, but three may appear excessive
  • In rural areas, society expects at least four children in a family

A successful parent is a highly nurturing Level 3 Leader and later a Level 4 Leader as a grandparent

  • You’re guaranteed to make dumb decisions, so learn to accept them and move on
  • Your ability to lead shows itself as you fight the temptation to become lazy with your marriage or parental responsibilities
  • Though passively approaching issues as they arise is tempting, they usually become much larger later

Parenting magnifies every portion of a family dynamic

  • Children inherit dysfunction and take it farther than their parents
  • Children also inherit their parents’ redeeming qualities

You can’t learn too much about raising children

  • Perfect parenting is a useless endeavor, but good parenting is always possible
  • Children test patience and limits from being high-maintenance, perpetually needy, and from pushing on every boundary they see
  • Parenting develops slowly over time as babies learn their skills

Acquire everything you need for a baby

Many baby products aren’t essential, or you can find more creative and affordable answers

Health and hygiene needs

  • Brush and comb
  • Cotton balls and cotton swabs
  • First aid supplies, baby pain reliever, medicine droppers, nasal aspirator, teething medication, and thermometer
  • Humidifier or vaporizer and vaporizer fluid
  • Find a good pediatrician

Bath needs

  • Baby lotion, baby soap, and tearless shampoo
  • Soft-bristle baby brush
  • Various washcloths

Clothing (at least a dozen or so outfits)

  • Baby caps (for the first few months) and hats
  • Booties and socks
  • Coats, jackets, sweaters, and shirts
  • Gowns, stretchies, and one-piece footed rompers
  • Receiving blankets and sleeper outfits

Food needs

  • Bottle feeding route
    • Baby formula (an abundant supply)
    • Bottles and bottle warmer
    • Bottle sterilizer
    • Bottle brushes and drying rack
    • Breast pump (if applicable)
  • Nursing route
    • Nursing pillow
  • Absorbent bibs (at least a dozen), drop cloths, and burp cloths
  • High chair
  • Infant spoons, plates, utensils, and spill-proof cups
  • Pacifiers
  • Plenty of dishwasher detergent or dish soap

Diaper and waste needs

  • Baby oil or rash ointment, baby powder, and wipes
  • Diapers, diaper bag, and diaper pail
    • Eastern cultures don’t use diapers and instead hold babies over a toilet when they need to go, which works for some people in the West

Nursery needs

  • Crib blankets, sheets, and changing pads
  • Changing table and dresser
  • Crib or bassinet or rocker, crib bumpers, crib mattress, and crib mattress pad
  • Playmat, rattle, teethers, simple baby toys, and swing

Safety needs

  • Baby car seat (if you have a vehicle)
  • Bumpers for sharp edges, cabinet door locks, and electrical outlet covers
  • High-quality vacuum
  • Safety gates

Get mentally prepared for a baby

Adjust for a pregnant lifestyle

  • Don’t go anywhere without bringing food and water
  • Always keep bags for morning sickness
  • Adjust your physical exercise regimen to allow lower-stress workouts

Schedule pregnancy needs in advance

  • Healthy births incubate for about 38-42 weeks
    • However, premature babies can often survive an early birth
  • Diagnose early problems with an ultrasound after 6-12 weeks
  • Get another ultrasound at about 20 weeks to discover its gender
    • A mom can sometimes accurately sense the child’s gender, but any guess is about 50%

Don’t worry about your timing for announcing the birth

  • After you announce a baby, you don’t have to make pregnancy-related excuses (e.g., declining alcohol, exhaustion)
  • However, you’ll have to tell everyone about complications after you’ve announced
  • The easiest method is to share the news as conversations take place

Research babies

  • Spend as much time as possible around babies and small children before you have one
    • Volunteer at a church’s childcare or a daycare
  • Hundreds of great parenting books and articles teach what you need to know

You will be overwhelmed

  • Your happiness will dip from all the extra stress from the child
  • Learn happiness and stress management through all stages of parenting
  • Set low expectations to stay happy
  • Learn to avoid worrying, since it drains energy
  • Happy moments and reprieves occur sporadically throughout parenting but can be rare

You never technically have “downtime” after the child is born

Life doesn’t change, but it adds the baby on top of everything

  • Keep the positive aspects of your old lifestyle as you adapt to your new one

You won’t sleep for more than 3-4 hours at a time for at least four months

  • Babies will wake you for food and diaper changes, so your work is easy but at odd hours
  • Your routine normalizes later, but tasks for the children will continue to rob sleep
  • If you’re bold, shift to an alternative sleep cycle to minimize stress

A parent’s scarcest resource is time

  • Children drain energy and make messes, which means the house will never stay clean to the same level as before
  • Homes become more unclean as they learn to grab things, crawl around, run around, and open things

Your relationships with family and friends will change

Some things you might want to say about parenting are taboo

  • When you’re pregnant, you must talk about the baby in almost every conversation
    • Even with the rest of life, society expects you to revolve your whole purpose around the new child
    • At the same time, you can’t talk about your miscarriage, since everyone finds death uncomfortable
  • You should say that you fell in love with the baby when you saw them
    • Feeling confused and overwhelmed is normal, but nobody likes to admit it
    • Many people see love as binary, but it’s a developed skill through caring for them
  • You can’t talk about how lonely or unhappy you are as a parent
    • It’s normal to feel alienated from society, especially after the constant attention during the pregnancy
    • People like to put children on a pedestal, which means they can’t understand your unhappiness with your children
  • Thankfully, you can discuss everything with other new parents or genuine people

All your single friends will notice you don’t have time for them

  • Some of them will be oblivious to the fact that you can’t spontaneously go anywhere

Many of your friends disappear for no apparent reason

  • Some of them may wish you well but don’t care for your company anymore
  • Disassociation is typical and often comes from their desire for a child or anxiety about babies
  • Keep any friends who do stick around through your absence from the public

Some friends, especially women, will likely become obsessed about your baby

All your parent friends in the same demographic will respect and connect with you more

  • New parents who have their child around the same time as you will be especially close
  • Don’t take offense if parents of older children try to act as mentors and politely express your views
  • Eventually, some of your friends will try to arrange playdates with their children and yours

Be prepared for grandparents to involve themselves more, even if you don’t have a great relationship with them

  • New grandparents are especially eager to over-involve themselves
  • Wisely manage family friendships, since your decisions profoundly affect crucial developments in your childrens’ lives

Keep your marriage a priority

  • Give the child routinely to a babysitter for one-on-one time
  • Husbands will typically feel less important than the baby
    • The issues don’t resolve over time, so the wife must address his concerns

Children are motivated from birth exclusively by personally set goals

As a general rule, they follow consistent patterns they observe around them

  • Discuss expectations together with your spouse before the issues arise
  • Training them on how to behave is far more effortless than retraining them later

A child old enough to observe their environment will do whatever they can to get what they want

  • A toddler throwing a temper tantrum knows enough persistence will get them the thing they desire
  • You can usually see a child’s willful desire as early as six months
  • Though many cultures regard spanking as controversial, parents have almost no other practical method for setting boundaries before children can talk

Babies grow faster than you’ll expect

Within the first month, children start developing basic motor skills and focusing on people

Between 1-3 months they start tracking other people, making noises, and responding to people

At about one month, place them on their stomach for at least two hours a day

The first two months is the most dangerous time for a baby since they get sick and heal themselves within eight hours

At four months they’ll start moving on their own, distinguishing emotions by vocal tone, and putting things in their mouth

  • Four months is the best time to start disciplining them since they know what they’re grabbing

Before reaching six months, they can count things and understand what is and isn’t helpful

  • Make a game for them by putting pennies in a pile of sand and having them drop them into a piggy bank

Their teeth will start growing and will start solid foods at around six months

  • Teething will lead to plenty of unexplained crying
  • Console them with a teething ring or amber necklace

By eight months, they should distinguish meanings of sentences

At 8-9 months, they should start eating hard foods, either by baby-led weaning or spoon-feeding

  • Spoon-feeding takes more work than baby-led feeding but creates less mess
  • Baby-led weaning guides them to grab large pieces of food with the freedom to make a mess and learning not to choke

At 8-12 months they will sit up on their own and correctly grasp objects

  • They’ll make noises which sound like words and body language gestures and will start interacting directly with others
  • They’ll begin to feel anxiety about solitude and may feel shy around strangers
  • They’re usually about 1/3 the height of an adult by their first birthday

By their second birthday, you can predict their adult height by doubling it

  • Don’t give them any computer media (e.g., TV, computers, tablets, phones) until they’re at least two years old, but preferably twelve

Plan for their future

  • Write a letter to them every year around the same time, add a small amount of money to each envelope, and give it as a graduation present
  • Reserve a great email address for your child and send them pictures, notes, and messages, then share the password as an 18th birthday present
  • Take a picture of them every birthday with them holding last year’s photo

Take care of babies more easily

Learn how to comfort them

  • Make them less likely to cry by raising your eyebrows when holding them
  • Stroke their head, which is how they comfort themselves in the womb
  • Shush and rock the baby to distract them

Do not panic when you hear a crying baby

  • A baby’s cry is biologically meant to inspire panic, but most of the time isn’t the correct response
    • You’ll slowly learn which types of crying are severe or non-urgent
  • You’ll sometimes need to walk away from the baby, especially if you’re losing your temper

Babies cry for many reasons

  • They are hungry
  • They’re tired
  • They’re in pain, feel sick or have gas from not getting burped (colic)
  • They feel discomfort from being too hot, too cold or have a soiled diaper
  • They’re lonely and want someone to hold them
  • They’re bored and want to play, want attention or want their environment to change
  • They want to suck something
  • They feel like they’re falling from not being swaddled

Help both you and the baby sleep better

From their birth, make plenty of the noise you usually make throughout your day

  • Whatever sound level you make will determine how deep they sleep for years
  • If you can, play loud and high-energy music while the baby sleeps

Try to remove their connection to sleeping with you

  • Sleep with a baby blanket for one night to put your smell on it to comfort them without sleeping with them
  • Set your bed next to the baby’s instead of sleeping with them
  • Give them pacifiers to fall asleep with
    • Honey is dangerous for infants, so don’t add it to pacifiers until the baby is at least one year old
  • Try to avoid getting them to sleep consistently with rocking, caressing, singing or holding them

Set a night light over their crib to see them better without waking them if you’re comfortable with always using one later

Use rituals to get them to sleep at the same time every day

  • Establish a predictable nap routine during the day
  • Carry them around more during the day if they have a difficult time getting to bed
  • Adapt your schedule as they grow

Watch for babies with allergies to synthetic sleepwear or airborne irritants

A baby in your arms can sleep in any position

  • Eat on top of the baby or use your phone when they sleep face down
  • Learn to hold the baby with only one arm or get a baby sling

A newborn infant needs feeding about once every three hours

Breastfeeding is ideal, but not necessary

  • Babies have a stronger immune system while they’re breastfeeding
  • You can still breastfeed when you’re sick
  • If you’re nursing, don’t try to go on a diet
  • Don’t give babies pacifiers if you’re breastfeeding

Bottle-feeding is far more convenient than breastfeeding

  • However, baby formula is expensive
    • Baby formula is almost as nutritionally beneficial as breastfeeding
    • Use filtered water in the formula if you’re concerned about the baby’s health
  • Use a hybrid of convenience and cost by extracting milk with a breast pump and then feeding from a bottle
  • If you don’t have a bottle warmer, put the bottle in a cup of warm water
  • If you use a bottle, you’ll need to burp them by hitting their back while leaning them forward
    • Burping can often take as much or more time than feeding
    • Babies get colic if you don’t burp them and can’t relax or sleep
    • Get a bottle vent to cut down on burping time from the baby not drinking bubbles

Most babies switch to solid foods automatically without provocation

  • Baby-led weaning has long-term benefits but involves more cleaning than spoon-feeding
  • If a baby doesn’t want to eat, start moving chocolate toward their mouth and stuff food in their mouth when they open it

Newborn infants need diaper changes about once every three hours

Cloth diapers cost and cause as much ecological impact as disposable diapers with one baby, but become more advantageous across multiple ones

Babies will get diaper rash and will need ointment

  • Anything that heals skin works for babies, including bag balm or coconut oil
  • Baby powder can treat diaper rash, but don’t let it get in their lungs
    • Make an alternative baby powder by browning flour in the oven

Children are prepared for toilet training when their diaper is completely dry overnight

  • Either invest in a trainer toilet or use an attachment for a full-size one

Plan for wherever you go

Bring enough of everything everywhere you go in a separate bag

  • Diapers, diaper rash ointment, and baby wipes
  • A nursing cover or bottles, formula, and bottled water

On a long airplane or train ride, give out small gifts with an apologetic note to every passenger who will hear the crying baby

Bathe the baby every few days to manage odors

Clean particularly thoroughly around the neck, especially once they’ve accumulated some fat

Put the baby and bath toys inside a laundry hamper in a full-size bathtub to give them something to hold to

Cut down on diaper rash irritations by adding two tablespoons of baking soda to the bath water

Find more natural ways to carry babies

Avoid holding them by investing in a sling, wrap or back-mounted sling

Stuff them inside your jacket once they’re big enough

Instead of pushing a baby in a stroller, roll them in a wagon behind a remote-controlled car

Dressing children in overalls give something for you to grab

Use your typical language when you talk with them

“Baby talk” is teaching the baby a foreign language nobody knows

If it’s frequent enough, speaking gibberish can stunt their development

Once your child can start talking, you’ve moved into the most dynamic portion of parenting

Next: Homes 204: Parenting