How To Raise a Human

So, after over three years of challenges (a whole bunch of crap we don't need to go into), we're finally expecting our first human in a couple of months!

I figured I'd reach out to all you sensible folk at BM and see if we can put together some tips, advice, life lessons, and "whatever you do..." kind of things.

Personally, I'd like for us to raise a feminist (we know the baby is a male), someone who respects diversity, and who questions the world rather than taking it at face value.  Especially important these days, I think.  Easier said than done!  As it stands I'm planning on not raising a Christian/Jewish/Muslim/Scientologist etc. child, but help to guide them until they are ready, able and willing to make a decision on whether they want to follow a doctrine or not.
Yeah? Well, y'know... that's just like uh... your opinion, man.


  • WonderedObjectWonderedObject SAN Francisco, CA
    Whatever you do, don't let them grow up a Patriots fan.

    Serious note, congrats! I can't really speak on it that much as the most experience I have is being the cool uncle to a few nieces and nephews. I'd say one of the best things I was taught growing up was to simply treat everyone with respect. Man, woman, or alien. Ideally that'll trickle down into the rest of their personality.

  • Whatever you do, don't let them grow up a Patriots fan.

    Serious note, congrats! I can't really speak on it that much as the most experience I have is being the cool uncle to a few nieces and nephews. I'd say one of the best things I was taught growing up was to simply treat everyone with respect. Man, woman, or alien. Ideally that'll trickle down into the rest of their personality.

    I don't think this thread is directed only toward parents.  Many of us (myself included) have friends and family and our own experiences that mould who we are and how we deal with things, and what we have observed that was good (or otherwise).  A cool uncle is good for me!

    Unfortunately for my child, they will grow up a Mets and an Everton fan.  Which basically means a lifetime of disappointment since they weren't born in the 1980's.
    Yeah? Well, y'know... that's just like uh... your opinion, man.
  • OliviaDOliviaD Cincinnati, Ohio
    edited March 21
    Congrats! My husband and I are first time parents and it's scary man. We are aiming to raise a decent human being that cares about others and has a good head on his shoulders. Our little guy will be 4 months in a couple days so we aren't that experienced in child raising. I can tell you about things that have helped us for far.
  • DeeDee Adelaide
    edited March 21
    Congratulations! My only useful advice is to avoid internet parenting forums like the plague. I'm not even kidding. They are a hot bed of judgemental crazies and no matter what you're doing there will be an online gang ready to pile on and tell you you're doing it wrong and probably abusing your child in the process.

    I have one child (18 now) and as someone who didn't grow up around much younger siblings and had no parent friends at the time, I was clueless. I basically treated my daughter like a tiny adult - spoke to her like I would anyone else from day one (a bit less colourful swearing, perhaps), took her with me out for breakfast or to cafes or when she was a bit older to movies and whatever artsy thing I wanted to look at. She's turned out to be a gem - which could be just her nature, but I like to take the credit. ;-)

    Edit: babies make the weirdest noises. Don't panic when you hear all that snuffling and snorting they do throughout the night!
    jazzminawadavemcbcdriveA_Ron_HubbardMichelleTravisOldGriswoldgguenotdarwinfeeshyand 3 others.
  • trippytrippy Saint Louis
    edited March 21

    My primary advice for new parents is get 'Happiest Baby on the Block' by Dr Harvey Karp.  That will get you through the first 3 months.  Being able to calm your baby is ridiculously fulfilling (and understanding why your baby is crying when its not hungry or needs changing, cause thats a scary scary thing).

    As for the rest, I'd say you may be looking a bit too far ahead.   Let you're child percolate a bit, Feed him and clean him every so often, and let him develop his personality, and start taking cues from that.     I'd also add that in my unscientific research, the quickest way to raise a christian/muslim/whateverian  is to say you arent going to raise one of those.  Expose your kids to other ideas (in my personal experience a really good way is to find a Unitarian Church.  About as liberal a church as you can find.  I'm sure there are other options).

    In terms of raising a feminist, that should be relatively easy.  I'm making the assumption you are a dude from your picture.  REspect the women in your life and your spawn will take cues from how you act.

    Nothing says 'This situation is serious' like a corpse on the floor.
  • TaraC73TaraC73 Manchester NH
    My general advice...
    1) feed your kid age-appropriate stuff
    2) change the diaper regularly
    3) put on season appropriate clothing, and remember up til 7-8 months (when they are mobile and less blobby) they really do need an extra layer and definitely a hat on the newborn til about a month old.
    4) You cannot spoil the baby by picking it up whenever it cries!
    5) do whatever you need to do to get some sleep: co-sleep, baby in his own crib in his room or yours, baby in bassinet or even a laundry basket...
    6) many babies resist being swaddled - but deep down they all love it. Don't give up on it, practice it now before he gets here. The tighter the better. They fucking love being burrito'd and will absolutely sleep better like that.
    7) don't worry about church or religion or instilling morals and values into the baby just yet. Just love him to death and love on him at all times.
    Don't tell me what I can't do!
  • davemcbdavemcb Melbourne
    edited March 21
    My best piece of advice is begin how you plan to continue, if you want to go out for breakfast, lunch or dinner and you can afford it than do it. A baby doesn't mean you have to become hermits, dress them for the appropriate weather and make sure you have your changes of clothes etc and its all good. 

    Also don't make everyone be super quiet around your baby as well otherwise you will have to be super quiet whenever they sleep. We made sure from early on IE in the hospital that the cleaners used the vacuum cleaner around her and we were never quiet. This helps because it is physically impossible for myself or my wife to be quiet and we needed a child that was bomb proof and can sleep through anything.   

    I'll make an assumption as well that you're a dude so the last bit of advice is help out all the time, sure you don't have boobs or make milk to feed your baby in the middle of the night but change the nappies/diaper (whatever they cal them in your country), clean up the house, do some washing etc your wife/partner will be exhausted so pick up the slack. Its not really that hard, I'm lazy by nature but made sure it wasn't all on my wife considering she had to go through pregnancy, labour and birth where my physical involvement in the pregnancy was done 9 months before the birth. 

    Enjoy all the moments because if you blink you miss them, you will never get that time back so make the most of it. It is an awesome thing to go through and gets better to see them develop and grow. 
  • cdrivecdrive Houston, TX
    Aw congrats man. There is really nothing more cosmically awesome.

    @trippy totally beat me to it, but totally check out Dr. Harvey Karp's video on the 5S's. His method is magic.

    Co-signing with @Dee about some of those mommy-zilla forums. Take those forums with a grain of salt. Lots of nasty mean people out there who just care about being right.

    It's kinda like Kung Fu Panda. There is no secret ingredient. Or, and I realize how cliche this sounds, but the secret ingredient is you. The ability to Reason, and respecting diversity & women are all pillars of character that you strongly value, so just be you and create a super loving happy home for your new bundle of joy. The rest just sort of falls in line.
  • DeeDee Adelaide
    @TaraC73 Yes with the swaddling! I don't know why they like that because the idea of it gives me nightmares, but my daughter wouldn't settle at first and then the health nurse showed me how to swaddle her up tight (which I privately thought was inhuman) and she went right off to sleep. She loved it and I was sold after that.

    Oh, also - hats outside in the sun always. In Australia it drives me nuts when I see tiny babies and practically bald toddlers out in our hot sun with naked heads. We even have "no hat, no play" rules at our schools.
  • trippytrippy Saint Louis
    Basically I think we're saying swaddle the heck out of your progeny  (swaddling is the first 'S' of Happiest Baby's 5 Ss)
    Nothing says 'This situation is serious' like a corpse on the floor.
  • davemcbdavemcb Melbourne
    I can't wrap a birthday present properly so I was never going to get the swaddle technique done well enough to know how to do that but we had a swaddle bag that worked brilliantly
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    Solid advice so far.  I've found the hardest thing I have to deal with is when my kid has the same weaknesses that I do.  So, try to love yourself and your partner as much as you can, so that when you're confronting a mini version of your worst self you can roll with it easier.  It's also very hard when they struggle with things you have struggled with, because it can trigger a bunch of bad memories and make you feel like a panicky failure.  Try to be as loving and patient and present as you can, but also realize you're not perfect and there is no perfect parent and no perfect child.  Don't listen to the online crazies, but it does help if you have parents that you consider solid (bonus points if those are your own parents, haha) to bounce ideas off of.
  • FernNYC17FernNYC17 New York, NY
    Congrats! i'm up to baby no.2 myself. All this advice has been great. Only advise i'll add it more for you and your Partner. Pick a show you both want to binge together. Game of thrones, This is us, Sorpanos, re watch TNG anything. and make it a Date type of deal that when the baby is settled usually at night sit down and watch the show and talk about anything. i find that with both kids you run around and are basically on baby duty or at work all day that you hardly ever get time speak to you significant other. other then barking orders or requesting something. so far my wife and i each picked a show we wanted to binge. she picked Frazier and we saw about 3 episode a night while chatting and having really late dinners and i picked The Expanse (thanks to Bald Move) and we are finished season 1 and half way through S2. The best part is I have a scheduled time to exhale and re connect with my wife all while watching a good show. Hope this helps.
    Is there a good place that I can squanch around here?
  • xulsolar22xulsolar22 Houston, TX

    Absolutely agree with all the Harvey Karp 5 S's recommendations.  In fact, go ahead and bookmark this video:  or get a copy of the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD before baby arrives.  This method saved my sanity after enduring multiple sleepless nights with an upset baby who had a cow's milk/soy allergy.  Do get the muslin baby blankets (like from aden + anais) because they make for a nice, strong swaddle.

    Get a nursing pillow and bring it with you to the hospital if you guys are planning on breastfeeding.  Having adequate support just makes the process of learning how to do it much easier.

    Also, don't let the first 2 weeks home with baby fool you.  Both of mine were super sleepy during this time.  I even bought a Kindle after the first few weeks home with my first born, thinking I would be able to get a lot of reading done during my maternity leave.  Ha!  I haven't loaded a new book on that thing since 2012.
  • MichelleMichelle California
    edited March 21
    Congratulations, @OldGriswold!  You're about to embark on the best, most exhausting but most rewarding adventure you will *ever* have. 

    Like @WonderedObject, I have none of my own kids but I do have two nieces (now 10 and 13).  I've always felt that it was important to guide them in my own way, with love and compassion and humor and wisdom and fun.  I do try to always have real and honest conversations with them, and to allow them to speak their minds.  I feel it's important for kids to feel like they're being heard, rather than always 'spoken at'.  To me, this helps build their confidence.  In other words, always be there with an open mind and open heart, along with the tough love and discipline.  You'll be great parents.  :)
    "Scorch the damn earth before you." - Liz Taylor, AHS
  • calebthrowercalebthrower South Carolina
    Best advice I can offer is do what works for you and your family. You will hear lots of information about what worked and didn't work for other people's children but go with what feels comfortable to your family. And try not to compare what you do to others that you see on facebook/instagram whatever. Books are great to read but each child is different and don't get bummed if somethings doesn't go the way a book says it should.
  • I highly recommend "baby led weaning" for feeding. Our guy is a toddler now and is a great eater, and I think it has a lot to do with how we introduced food to him. For us it meant we didn't have to make a bunch of pureed food and/or buy baby food - he just started out eating chunks of what we were eating for the most part. Sweet potatoes were a big one. We also would make lot of pancake type things with meat, veg, eggs, etc in them.

  • MrXMrX CO
    edited March 21
    "Bringing Up Bébé" is another book that we thought was very helpful for the first 6 months. Basically is about how the French are a lot more chill about raising kids than Americans are, and had a lot of good advice stemming from that.
  • TaraC73TaraC73 Manchester NH
    @Dee my bestie's first had the worst time sleeping. Literally the kid wouldn't slee more than a half hour at a time! He would break out of her swaddles and wail and cry. She was at wits end. around 3 months old I went to sit for him and decide to try and swaddle him. That fucking kid slept the whole 5 hours she was gone lmao!!! She thought he was dead or something! Swaddle tight, hold with their face against your chest (not smothering lol) and if they use a binkie, jam that thing in their mouth and kind of hold it in with your chest, all the while patting their bum pretty solidly and saying shush shush shush... instant baby sleep for every baby I've ever had to take care of!!

    Ditto on the sun bonnet! Hats at imperative! Remember their tiny brain isn't covered by skull for a long time you need to protect that noggin! LOL!!
    Don't tell me what I can't do!
  • DeeDee Adelaide
    Kindness, resilience and assertiveness are awesome traits for children to have, and often get overlooked when parents are "imparting their wisdom".

    Anecdote alert: when my daughter was about 6 or 7 we were at the playground and a kid from her class approached her. Lily snapped at him, "Stop talking to me! I don't like you!" I was horrified. I hauled her aside and did the "how would you feel if someone spoke to you like that" speech, made her apologise, etc. Later at home I asked her why she'd been so mean and she said this kid kept wanting to be her friend and she didn't want to be friends with him. I told her that she didn't have to be friends with anyone she didn't want to, but she would always have to deal in some form with people she didn't like so she needed to learn to be "polite but distant". (Like I said above, I basically spoke to her like an adult.) She's now an expert in managing conversation with annoying older relatives, bus stop strangers and difficult customers, ha ha.

    And on that note - one thing I did notice back then is that so many parents DO try to force friendships on their kids. My advice would be that unless you want to see how mean your kid can really get, don't do that.
  • TaraC73TaraC73 Manchester NH
    My golden rule for my kids is this: you don't have to be friends with anyone, but you must be respectful and nice to everyone (with the exclusion of people who are mean to you - then you need to ignore them but never sink to their level...)

    This is why we don't do "whole class" birthday parties - while I never want a kid to feel left out, I also don't believe in forcing a kid to invite people to their party they aren't even friends with. We invite a few real friends and that's that.
    Don't tell me what I can't do!
  • davemcbdavemcb Melbourne
    The other element that also comes into it, is you don't have to use everyone's advice. Some of it will be great some will just make you angry. People will also contradict the information that comes across from others which is really confusing and can make things worse.

    Trust your judgement and don't listen to me, do what you feel comfortable doing.
  • I would say allow your child to ask questions.  Embrace his inquisitiveness.  You'd may amazed how many parents I see that downplay their children when they ask questions.
    "I muffle motherfuckers up like Meineke"  Ghostface Killah (Clipse of Doom)
    "I don't give a fuck about your war or your President"  Snake Plissken (Escape from New York)

  • trippytrippy Saint Louis
    edited March 22
    Just to add a little something... and can tend to be one of those topics that divides a room (opinion wise).  Think about cloth diapers.   We found a place online that had several packages.  Spent about 300 bucks on the outset.  Included these velcro cover things (no safety pins), and these flushable liners.   Spent another 150 for a dedicated washing machine  I found at a garage sale (did not use a service).  Ended up being way cheaper in the long run than disposables, the kid was pretty much potty trained at around a year and a half, and no diaper rash issues (as you are generally changing and cleaning them way more often than disposables).  While they will make your baby's butt look too big, another side benefit is they have a nice cushion when learning to walk.   Environmentally speaking, it is waaaaayyy better.
    Nothing says 'This situation is serious' like a corpse on the floor.
  • HatorianHatorian Dagobah
    Some of this may have already been said.

    - There are very few "parenting truths". What works for one kid doesn't work for another.

    - Do what you feel is right. Parents have an innate ability to raise a child. Trust your feelings.

    - research but make your own decisions based on that research
    No Half Measures....
  • Our first, just turned one last week. So I'll give you my relative tips based on this last year. 

    As mentioned by many others "The Happiest Baby on the Block" is great. You can buy a used DVD off Amazon for like 5 bucks. There is also a book but we didn't read that, and the DVD seemed very sufficient for about 2 hours of visual explanation. The tips are a life saver for the first 0-6 months. 

    The "Expectant Father", and "The New Father" by Armin Brott are both great for a new parent. They are broken into months and really give you a good understanding of all the things that are happening with your baby that month, and things you can do to help them, teach them, etc. If you're not in to reading then you can just read the first few pages every month and be a leg up. 

    I'll second the cloth diaper thing, it saves a lot of money, and isn't nearly as hard as some people would make you believe. However our little one has had a lot of rashes (our daycare won't do cloth diapers) and thus we haven't gotten out as much use out of them as we would have liked. You can't use diaper rash cream with ours, so we've ended up using a lot of disposables too. 

    Breastfeeding - is great, both for your baby and saving you money on formula. There are TONS of support group, help, etc. for new mothers, make sure you know about these resources and be supportive of your wife. It takes a little getting used to, but once my wife got used to it (after maybe a month or two) it became quite natural. If your wife is going to go back to work after some time, make sure she ends up with a good breast pump (don't skimp!), and some are even covered by insurance or you could by used if necessary.

    Open a 529 plan for your baby if you can afford to. We did ours through Vanguard since our state didn't offer any tax savings. Set up automatic contributions. The earlier you start the more you can take advantage of compounding interest. Don't wait like us or it might not get done until your kid's first birthday! I did a lot of research and the 529 plans seemed far better than other type of college saving plan. Of course if you can't financially afford to put money aside right now then don't, it's better to pay off things if you have any debt than save for your kid's education 18 years later. 

    Things to buy: The book/guide "Baby Bargains" is amazing. If you're like me and have to review/research everything this book does an amazing job of putting everything together in one place. You can still do additional research if you want, but the book has been pretty good at giving you a general idea of what brands/products to stay away from and what ones are well regarded. They have a section for everything you could want, from cribs, strollers, car seats, play pens, etc. Make sure you get the latest edition.

    Don't go crazy and buy tons of stuff. Family, friends will probably gift you a ton of cloths and other things. We haven't bought more than a thing or two for clothing for our baby. The bigger things that we did need to buy and are very important:
    1. A good car seat (we like our Chicco)
    2. A good stroller (we've got a baby jogger city mini - it's not a jogging stroller, just a super compact one) with a car sear adapter for the first few months. Go for lots of walks with your baby and let them get some fresh air!
    3. White noise machine if you have an open floor plan or noisy house
    4. Changing station so you don't have to bend over. We bought an ikea dresser (diapers/wipes/etc in the top drawer) and attached a changing pad on top. Our diaper jenie went next to it (these are useful, especially if you're using disposables).
    5. A good diaper bag that both you and your wife feel comfortable carrying. 
    6. Maybe this should be number one, but a good high chair that is easy to clean. We ended up buying a baby bjorne, which is one of our most expensive purchases (even buying an open box deal), but it was super worth it. It's so easy to clean and so compact next to others that we are very happy with it. The other major advantages is the tray sits right next to your baby so the food doesn't fall down and get all over them. CLEANING FOOD EVERYWHERE SUCKS!
    7. A crib that is the right size for your space and has adjustable height levels. Don't 
    get suckered in for the 2k crib and dresser packages unless you've got money to burn.

    Don't be afraid to buy open box or used stuff (the only thing you probably shouldn't buy used is the crib or car seat for safety reasons). We've had to hardly buy any toys or clothes, and got a lot from friends who were just trying to get rid of stuff. 

    (Continued in next post)
  • edited March 22
    As others mentioned, don't be afraid to let your baby try everything you eat (of course listen to doctors, no cows milk first year etc...) The time between 4-8(?) months is the time that your baby is really open to trying new foods, after that they get more picky. So give them exposure to all kinds of things once they start eating at the table so that they won't be a picky eater later in life. If they don't like something keep trying the next day, some times it takes many tries before they accept the new food. 

    In regards to the birth, we hired a doula (some of the best money I ever spent!!!!! and it was reimbursable through my health care savings account). When my wife went in to labor, I was pretty scared shitless (I kept my composure, but underneath I was incredibly nervous) and I can't tell you how awesome it was to have the help of an experienced person that had been through it before countless times there to help support my wife and ME throughout the entire birth process. You have to find someone you trust and our comfortable with though, as obviously your experience will differ depending on the person. Meet them in person and interview them before you hire them if this is something you want to do. 

    For hospitals (if you have a choice, otherwise skip this paragraph), we went with a place that did Midwives. We felt we got to spend a lot more time with them than we would have with a doctor. Visit the hospital, almost all of them do tours, and make sure it's some place that you are comfortable with. 

    Finally (whew!) make sure you pick a good childrens doctor/clinic for your baby. I can't tell you how much we love that we can get in usually same day or next day at ours (in case it's somewhat urgent) and how they schedule appointments on Saturdays too.  

    If you're doing daycare let us know and I'd be happy to give you my experience with that too. Any questions about anything above just ask. 

    Last thing, I bought a journal that we started writing in occasionally for our baby. From my wife's pregnancy until now. We let relatives and close friends write something when they visit some times, and I hope one day she'll appreciate the whole process. I know I've gone back and read stuff from a year and a half ago and it was awesome to have that memory recorded. 

    P.S. I'm from New York originally, I'd say make your kid a Yankees fan! It will be better than having to root for the Mets right? I jest. :) Congratulations!
  • trippytrippy Saint Louis
    Hatorian said:

     ...Parents have an innate ability to raise a child... 

    By way of destroying the positive vibes in this thread (which is kinda my thing),  you should watch Cops more. ;)

    I will add that in my experience, those prospective parents that ask questions (i.e. the OP in this thread), tend to be the better parents.  Those that state "oh yeah, I'm  ready. 100% confident in my ability to be a new parent",  not so much.
    Nothing says 'This situation is serious' like a corpse on the floor.
  • Wow. You folks, all of you, thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. The responses here are so overwhelming but I have read, and will continue to reread all of them.
    Yeah? Well, y'know... that's just like uh... your opinion, man.
  • Lot of really good advice here, but I'd like to throw something in that no one has mentioned. Feminist? Respects Diversity? There is no money in that! Get that kid a basketball and practice with him everyday. Even when he doesn't want to? Especially when he doesn't want to. Show him clips of Jason Kidd in his prime, and tell him you won't respect him until he can dunk over Frederic Weis. Convince him that the only way to make it in this world is making big bucks in the NBA, and there is no other life worth living. That kid will be pumping you the green and buying you a house before he turns 20. Got to think long term. 
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