Building Daddy Confidence with Infants

Father shopping with babies

Grocery shopping with a baby is a great way to build Daddy confidence.

On Saturday my husband saw two female friends who recently had babies. Both of them had left their children at home with the fathers, very happy to have a day’s vacation. From the brief conversations he had with them, they seemed giddy. He told me about this because he wants me to tell other fathers that they may not realize how much their wives need the break.

Staying home alone with the baby is one thing, but going to a public place alone with an infant is another entirely. My husband says this is where he gained his confidence as a new parent. So, with my husband’s advice over the shoulder, I want to share his guide to building Daddy confidence by taking the baby grocery shopping.


Daddy’s on Display

In our family, my husband has always been the grocery shopper, even before we had children. When our daughter was about six weeks old, he started taking her with him to the store. When our son was born three years later, he took both children with him.

Going to the store is different than walking to the park or going to a friend’s house. When you are shopping, you have to multi-task. If you come home with the goods and you keep the baby reasonably happy, you have accomplished a great feat.

According to my husband, grocery shopping is a high-profile activity for a father because the store is full of women watching. It has the potential to go very badly—at least it feels like it has that potential. Women often spoke to him. Having children with him was an invitation to conversation. If things were going well, they often said, “What a good father.” If the baby was crying, they would say, “What a good sport.”


What to Take

Picking up heavy things and putting them into the cart was harder with a sling, so he usually used a grocery cart with an attached baby seat. This gave him greater mobility to reach and lift. He always had the sling with him, though. If the baby needed comfort from the high stimulation of bright lights, he would put the baby in a sling—which usually led to a nap. Once he was taking both a toddler and an infant, he did keep the baby in a sling. He fondly remembers the baby seat in the shopping cart, though, having a little face staring up at him as he pushed through the store.


Baby Steps for New Parents

It’s not until you have a break from it that you realize how intense early parenting is.

It is hard to start going out alone together when your baby is very young, but, if you don’t try when they are babies, it will be harder later. You learn a lot, and they learn what behavior is expected of them in public.

“The odds are slightly stacked against you,” my husband says. “You have no breasts. You can’t hand the baby off. You have to figure out how to comfort your baby.”

Having successfully accomplished the grocery shopping week after week, it gave him more confidence going forward that he was capable of being a good parent.

Image © Pavel Losevsky | Dreamstime.com

No father would stack the kids in the cart with the groceries. My husband wants you to know that he didn’t do that. Blame stock photos!

Vitamin D During Pregnancy

Vitamin D Drops

Vitamin D is a building block in repair and maintenance of the body. Because of its role in building the body of a developing fetus, it is particularly important for every pregnant woman to eat vitamin D-rich foods and even to take a supplement. As research accumulates, it becomes clear that adequate vitamin D during pregnancy has far reaching health effects throughout our lives.


The Risk

Research has found pregnant women who get sufficient vitamin D are less likely to have pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and general infections. For babies, a vitamin D deficiency can cause more serious problems because it can interrupt normal development. Children born with vitamin D deficiency are more likely to experience wheezing, dental caries, rickets, and even multiple sclerosis (MS). One study showed that children whose mothers had higher levels of vitamin D during pregnancy had higher bone density at 10 years old.


Sources of Vitamin D

There are few foods rich in vitamin D, but we can find it naturally in mushrooms, whole eggs, and fatty fish like salmon and tuna. Some foods are frequently vitamin-D fortified, such as milk, yogurt, orange juice, and cereal. We also synthesize vitamin D through our skin when exposed to ultraviolet rays.


Supplements

It’s important to maintain optimal vitamin D levels during pregnancy. If you suspect that you might have been deficient when you became pregnant, you can have your levels tested to determine the proper amount for your supplement.

Though the importance of vitamin D is clear, there are still questions to be answered such as “How much?” and “When?” A 2009 study found that “even with supplementation, only a small percentage of women and babies were vitamin D sufficient. Further research is required to determine the optimal timing and dosing of vitamin D in pregnancy.”

For now, if you are pregnant, be sure that you eat foods rich in vitamin D and consider a supplement for your health and for the future health of your child. The Canadian Dermatology Association recommends people concerned about vitamin D levels take 1,000 units of vitamin D supplements a day. We carry D Drops and Baby D Drops, a lanolin-derived supplement without additives or chemicals. Read more about vitamin D and its importance in the “Details” section of D Drops.

Breastfeeding Research in the News

Doctor talking to a mother

When the British Medical Journal two weeks ago published a review paper, an opinion piece, on the nutritional INadequacy of the World Health Organization’s recommendation that infants exclusively breastfeed for six month, a wave of media coverage followed. As often happens, the adequacy of the publication was of less importance in media coverage than the potential audience share that fear-based headlines could pull in.

A few articles did point out that the review acknowledges that 3 of 4 authors “have performed consultancy work and/or received research funding from companies manufacturing infant formulas and baby foods within the past three years.” This seems like a very interesting point worth pursuing, especially in light of the historical context of marketing breastmilk replacement products globally and the original catalysts to the WHO recommendations.

Just planting a doubt in a mother’s mind can sometimes be enough to change behavior. The use of fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) through careful so-called research or careful framing but avoidance of research is a tried and true propaganda technique. Unfortunately, it works.


Backlash Against Poor Research

Responses to the review on the British Medical Journal (BMJ) website, including those by researchers active in the field, by physicians, by activists, and by interested observers, bring up interesting points about the quality and content of the view as well as about the context. Research is not conducted in a vacuum. Researchers have life experiences, personal interests, and paid positions to protect. Peer review is intended to bring up issues within the design and execution of the research, but it seldom addresses the hidden push and pull that subtly shapes outcomes and reports. Having spent a good portion of my life in graduate school and specifically addressing the biases of scientific research in my doctoral work, I know how flexible the concept of “truth” can sometimes be. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not.

The BMJ will no doubt publish formal responses. There will probably be women who were looking for a reason not to keep breastfeeding who find it in superficial news stories. Serious breastfeeding research will continue. And, policymakers will keep looking for ways to support exclusive breastfeeding as the best way to feed babies.

The review was published January 13, 2011. Since then, on January 20, 2011, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a “Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding.” This is not a quick response but an extensive report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They have made it easy for community members to understand what they can do to support breastfeeding.

“A study published last year in the journal Pediatrics estimated that the nation would save $13 billion per year in health care and other costs if 90 percent of U.S. babies were exclusively breastfed for six months. . . . ‘I believe that we as a nation are beginning to see a shift in how we think and talk about breastfeeding,’ said Dr. Benjamin. ‘With this “Call to Action,” I am urging everyone to help make breastfeeding easier.’”
Everyone Can Help Make Breastfeeding Easier, Surgeon General Says in “Call to Action”

Health Canada also has a very short open period for comments on “Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants – Recommendations from Birth to Six Months,” their “evidence-informed recommendations to assist health professionals in communicating consistent guidance on infant nutrition to Canadian parents and caregivers.”

Policymakers understand that breastfed babies are healthy babies, and, among all of the other benefits, healthy babies save money. Your reasons and mine for breastfeeding might be closer to home, but it is easy to see that the support is widespread outside circles where there is profit to be made from breastmilk substitutes or early weaning foods.

When it comes down to it, most women aren’t reading research papers. They want to do the best for their babies, and they trust their healthcare providers and others in positions to support their choices. Yesterday, January 25, 2011, TIME Magazine published an article about U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin’s call for community support of breastfeeding: “It takes a village to help moms succeed.” We may not want to be swayed so easily, but the messages we get in the media about parenting influence us. Not all of those messages are negative. I embrace those messages that ask us to support women rather than isolating them in fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

Next week, we’ll look at research into breastfeeding support.

Image © Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.com

Time to Sign Up for a CSA

Winter vegetables

Late January is the time of the year when CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) open to seasonal subscriptions. I’ve noticed several farms I follow sent their notifications last week. You could wait until April and hope for the best, but many farms have limited shares available, and they can go quickly with popular farms.

If you are planning to eat more local foods in the coming year, signing up with a CSA is a great way to eat local, seasonal foods.

Why does sign up start so early? This is a slower time of year for most farmers, so they have more time to focus on marketing. This is also the time to plan for planting. Getting your payment early in the season helps cash flow as farmers place their orders for equipment, seeds, and everything they need for the upcoming season.

If you have a favorite CSA or local food resources, be sure to tell your friends and neighbors so they can enjoy the local harvest as well.


CSA Directories

Local Harvest CSA Directory (U.S.)
Organic Consumers Home Delivery Directory (U.S., Canada, & International)
CSA Listing (U.S. & International)
Ontario CSA Directory (Ontario only)

Image © Jeroen Kins | Dreamstime.com

Create a Toy Trading Circle

Circle of children

Are the holiday toys getting old yet? If you need to renew the toy box, you can lend, borrow, or trade with parents in the same situation. Create a toy trading circle to keep your child’s toys new.

I don’t know how often a child needs a new toy—really NEEDS a new toy—but I found it worked best to vary the time between new toys. Surprise new toys were wonderful! Surprise old favorite even more so.

Now that they have more control over their own possessions, my children still trade toys with their friends. I don’t think there is an age limit on the idea of toy trading.


Set the Rules with the Parents

Talk to parents at play groups and in the neighborhood to see if they are experiencing a similar toy fatigue. Whether you involve the children depends very much on their age. A two-year old is very unlikely to give up any toy in their hands, but a few years later you might find your child intrigued by the idea of a trade. Set the rules of the trade with the other parents.


Clean Toys

Be sure to clean the toys well. If the toys can’t be put in the dishwasher, at least find a non-toxic toy cleaner to clean them up for the next family. Usually, vinegar and warm water will do.


Buy and Sell Toys on Consignment

If you haven’t found a circle of friends to trade toys with, create your own circle with a consignment store.


Toy Retirement

If you have enough toys in your own family, you can rotate toys out of the toy box into the attic. When I found that my children had too many toys and too little time to appreciate them, I created a toy retirement program. Put one away to get one back out. It was interesting to see which toys they chose once they had to give it some careful thought. You might learn something you didn’t know about your child’s real preferences.

Image © Marzanna Syncerz | Dreamstime.com