Here are a list of five different items that have occurred to me over the last four and a half years of being a Dad. These tips might be helpful to some of you out there, others might say, “Yeah, no kidding,” and others may have something else to add. Any input is welcomed in the comments section. Disclaimer: these tips are not based on science, expert opinions, or in-depth research, just things that have worked for my family. Enjoy.
1) Judge your kids diet by their poop– a parent can go crazy worrying about getting their kid all the nutrients on every list of every “expert’s” book/blog. A stool with the consistency of peanut butter (either chunky or smooth) in a toddler shows a healthy digestive tract, which means everything is a-ok with the belly. Parents will definitely notice a change in the frequency and quality of their kids’ output when there is too much of one thing or not enough of another. If everything is running like the Jiffy train from Geneva, there shouldn’t be much concern little junior isn’t getting enough riboflavin, cobalamin, or LDLs.
2) Try to get your toddler to like soy milk – WAIT! WAIT! DON’T SKIP TO THE NEXT ITEM!! I’m not going to just go on and on about how soy milk is “better” than regular milk. Soy milk does not spoil as quickly, and can be consumed at room temperature. Giving it to your newly-mobile toddler will minimize the amount of beverages dumped because somebody left a cup in the play oven for three hours.
3) Buy a ton of the same loud socks – Few things are as frustrating as being held up on the way out of the house due to missing footwear. Buying 47 pair of purple polka-dot* socks will end the frustration of having seven different individual socks, thus making it necessary to pray to the heavens as a pile of clean laundry is fished through to find that ONE FREAKIN” SOCK!! Buying the same loud sock will make them abundant and easy to find. After proof-reading this paragraph, I realized this could be good advice for adults, too, but we are less likely to put one sock on a doll and the other in the dishwasher.
4) When nursing an infant, keep formula in the house – I’m no lactation consultant, but I do know that over-tired, stressed out moms combined with super-hungry, crying babies produces a situation where one feels feeding the other is necessary but physically not possible. Having a can of formula in the house is a signal to Mom that her baby’s survival is not ALL ON HER. Sometimes just knowing this allows enough relaxation to occur so Mom and baby can nurse together, or maybe Dad has to crack the can at 2:45am so Mom can get enough sleep to recharge. Either way, the cost of having some around is much less than the stress of not having it. And trust me, your baby will be fine if some formula crosses you’re his/her lips, even if those bullies at La Leche League will have you believe otherwise. **
5) Don’t travel with white shirts – Stains on a toddler’s shirt are inevitable no matter where you are. When you’re on vacation, doing your laundry is an inconsistent proposition. Machines that are less efficient than at home, well water heavy in minerals, and limited access laundry services may make getting intense stains out impossible. Darker shirts can hide that stuff (and the stains can even act as a cheap souvenir) if one of the above problems gets in your way. There is no hope if a white shirt is muddied while hiking a mountain or playing an impromptu game of “pickle” with the cousins from Scottsdale on the second day of a 2 week trip. Black, purples, and dark greens will hide any but the most drastic stains until you can get back on home turf.
* I just learned that this is the correct spelling of “polka-dot.” I always thought it was “poka-dot.” I could look on Wikipedia to see the word has anything to do with polka music and dancing, but I think I will resist the urge, and just tell myself the two are related.
** My wife is insists I add that this tip also makes the Dad feel helpful. It is our (men) way of using the “hunter-gatherer” mentality to provide for our babies.