Jordan’s been here for a week. Actually, 8 days. And over that time, while gently rocking her to sleep while doing my Nth circuit of the downstairs, while changing her diapers, while just looking with wonder into her open, attentive and intelligent eyes, I’ve had a few moments to speculate on babies, fatherhood, and my newborn daughter.
Walking, Rocking, and Singing Beats All: When Jordan’s upset, there’s one thing that will almost always calm her down: taking a stroll around the house, singing calming songs and slowly rocking her.
Music Calms the Screaming Baby: My musical tastes could best be described as “eclectic” (though some have used somewhat more disparaging terms to describe them). My long-time friends know that I’m a big Huey Lewis and the News fan (though only one whole-heartedly endorses this admiration–hi Lis!) . The songs are perfect for singing to babies–they are upbeat, have a good rhythm, and the words are easy to remember. The albums we listen to are the early classics: Picture This, Fore and Sports, of which I think Fore is the best for calming her down. We’ve also tried a little Rush, but there aren’t many songs that work for this purpose (“Ghost of a Chance” from Roll the Bones works well though, as does “Entre Nous” and “Different Strings” from Permanent Waves.) There’s one theme that runs through all the songs I choose for Jordan: a benevolent sense of life. She doesn’t know what any of the words mean (not yet of course) but some day, she will. And some day she’ll know I did my best to welcome her with music that celebrates what’s great about life.
Pacifiers: What can I say, but this: they’re great. Some breast-feeding fanatics will tell you that introducing a pacifier a few days after the baby’s born can induce “nipple confusion”, a jargon term that basically means that the baby won’t be able to breastfeed properly. They tend to hold that anything less than breast-feeding is something akin to child abuse, they frown heavily on these bits of plastic. In practice though, our friends haven’t had this problem, and we haven’t either. Pacifiers give Jordan something to concentrate on when she’s really upset, and a few minutes on it is often enough to calm her down, and–sometimes–even let her drop off into sleep.
Looking Forward to Poopy Diapers: Ok, maybe ‘looking forward to’ isn’t the right phrase, but it’s certainly a relief when the baby is moving her bowels on a regular basis. Last weekend, Jordan didn’t go for 24 hours, which had us on edge all day. Was something wrong? Was she eating enough? Where the heck was the poop? When her bowels finally got back on track, we were immensely relieved.
Common Sense is the Key: Surf the net for five minutes and you’ll find a thousand rants about things you can do to screw up your kids, everything from the aforementioned “nipple confusion” to bottle-feeding to using/not using cloth diapers to when and if to vaccinate. Surf five minutes longer, and you’ll find a billion more rants, all of which contradict each other. After a week of being a dad I think I can safely say that the key to being a good parent is common sense. Yes, be informed, and yes, seek out differing opinions, but ultimately, go with what you think is best and what works for you and yours. None of those other people will come close to knowing a fraction of what you do about your child, so trust yourself, both your explicit rational reasoning, and your subconscious hunches.