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!

Men Who Wear Babies

Want a good cry, mothers? Peaceful Parenting at DrMomma.org asked last year during International Babywearing Week that men from around the world send in their babywearing photos. From these 729 photos, Danelle Frisbie put together a beautiful babywearing mosaic proving that Real Men Wear Babies.

Go look at these photos one by one.

Please tell me it’s not just me in tears. This collection of photos gives me hope for the world and for babywearing. I love seeing men with their babies.

Here’s To the Dad Who Didn’t Gag

Raising Arrows profile

To moms, cloth is cute. To most dads, cloth is ick. This is a tribute to the brave few who can call themselves Cloth-Diapering Dads.

Here’s to the dad who didn’t gag when his wife ditched the sposies, dressed their little one in cloth, and waited to see what his response would be at that first diaper change.

Here’s to the dad who didn’t gag when one day his wife had too many irons in the fire to be able to change that really awful smelly diaper, leaving him to the task all by himself.

Here’s to the dad who didn’t gag when he turned the diaper sprayer on full force and ended up with smelly poo all over the toilet, the wall, and himself.

Here’s to the dad who didn’t gag when he saw the credit card bill with a three-digit-and-some-change receipt to an online cloth diapering company.

Here’s to the dad who didn’t gag when he mistook the diaper pail for a real trash can and unwittingly caught a whiff of what might knock a lesser man to his knees.

Here’s to the dad who didn’t gag when his wife changed a diaper on the bed next to his sleeping body, of which he promptly rolled over and in to.

Here’s to the dad who didn’t gag when his wife forgot to throw a load of diapers in before vacation, causing them to return to a house that smelled much like a cattle yard.

Here’s to the dad who didn’t gag when his wife announced a new baby would arrive with no chance the first one would be potty-trained, thus creating double the diapers.

Here’s to the dad who listens to his wife go on and on and on about cloth diapers. Here’s to the dad who fiddles with snaps, velcro, and ties not simply as a way to humor his wife, but because he also believes cloth is best for his little one. Here’s to the dad who gets a kick out of that big ole fluffy cloth diapered bottom just as much as mama does.

Cloth-diapering Dad, you are a Cloth-Diapering Mama’s dream come true! Thank you!

Amy of Raising Arrows received the greatest number of your votes for The Most Inspiring Blogger in our Blog to Inspire contest.

This has been Amy’s last post. Thank you, Amy. It’s been a pleasure having you as our guest blogger over the last few months.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and not necessarily those of Eco Baby Steps or Parenting By Nature.

Dad’s Favorite Diapers

Pocket Cloth DiaperWhat is the most likely cloth diaper for a father to reach for? How do fathers approach diapering in general?

When Nature Mom asked for help determining what Dad’s approach to cloth diapering, one tweeting father wrote, “What do you mean what’s my approach? Why should it be any different than a woman’s approach?” Well, thank you for asking. Since the male brain and the female brain are quite different (nature) and males and females are most often culturally conditioned to be different (nurture), it would make sense if we were to find differences in approach to the simple act of diapering. With such different sensitivities to touch, for example, I would wonder whether men and women would look for different textures in diapers.

But, we didn’t go that far. We made a completely unscientific survey of friends and Facebookers over the past several days. The results lead me to believe that there are a couple of distinct ways fathers approach diapers.


What is Dad’s favorite diaper?

FuzziBunz one size diaperAmong the women on Facebook reporting on their husbands’ diaper preferences, all but a couple said that dad’s favorite diapers are pocket diapers, with bumGenius as the clear front runner. Among the reasons for choosing bumGenius were “fit and containment.” One father prefers Fuzzi Bunz because the insert goes in so far that he doesn’t have to touch much when he takes it off. This same father also prefers Fuzzi Bunz because he likes snaps.

Preferred diaper closure. Closure came up for several. Some specifically like Aplix (hook and loop), while others specifically like snaps. One wants the diaper and the cover to have opposite closures, so he likes a snap diaper with Aplix cover. My husband wants no closure on the diaper and snaps on the cover. That leaves me with absolutely nothing conclusive to say about closure except that preferences vary.

Cotton and Wool. Out of 12 who responded to the question, three mentioned that they like cotton diapers and wool covers. One likes them because they are easy, and he looks for natural fibers.

My lovely oddball. My husband also mentioned cotton diapers and wool cover, and he prefers natural fibers, but he is the oddball in his reasoning.

This is where the biggest difference in approach becomes apparent. Most of the fathers are looking for diapers that solve problems. My husband wanted a diaper that would allow HIM to solve the problem.

My husband prefers flat diapers the same size as prefolds. Our first diapers were terry on one side and flannel on the other. Even after many years of trying other styles, he still went back to these. He said that folding cloth diapers is like origami. He wants to stand back and assess the current situation then engineer a specific solution.

Another way his answer differed was that he prefers no closure at all on diapers. He never used pins or Snappis. He found them too limiting. He just used the snugness of a stretchy wool cover and a snap-under T-shirt to make sure the diaper stayed up.

Cloth diaper laundry. We didn’t ask about washing, but a couple of people mentioned washing. One woman said her husband doesn’t mind what diapers he uses “so long as I deal with the dirty laundry part.” In my family, my husband always did the diaper laundry, and he specifically said that AIO diapers were his least favorite because of the difficulty in getting them completely clean. There were too many crevices and blind seams where waste or pilled fabric accumulated. Again, he was looking at how he could solve the problems he was presented with. His job was clean diapers on healthy baby bottoms, so he worked backward to find his solution.

Non-diapering husbands. I thought I would hear more women say that their husbands didn’t do the diapering, but there was only one of twelve who said, “My husbands approach is to let me do it.” For the most part, fathers do their part in diapering. It isn’t clear to me whether fathers diaper differently than mothers, but that doesn’t matter so much. For now, I just have two loose conclusions.

1. So, the two main approaches I saw were those fathers looking for problem-solving diapers and those fathers (or, really, that father) looking for diapers with which to solve problems.

bumGenius pocket cloth diapers2. Dads’ favorite diaper is clearly a pocket diaper, a bumGenius pocket diaper, but there are a few others who still go for cotton and wool.

Results from 12 responses:

  • 8 like pocket diapers
  • 5 like bumGenius pocket diapers
  • 3 like Aplix on covers or all-in-one diapers
  • 2 like snaps on covers or all-in-one diapers
  • 2 like fitted diapers with wool covers
  • 1 likes flat diapers with wool covers
  • 1 doesn’t do the diapering at all

Infant Massage: Daddy Bonding Time

Baby getting infant massageBreastfeeding is more than a nutritional transaction. Breastfeeding is a bonding experience for mother and child.

Fathers need their bonding time with babies as well. In my family, that time was bath and massage time. After my husband would give our babies an evening bath, I would breastfeed the baby then he would give the clean, tired, well-fed baby a massage. Baby massage is a perfect activity for fathers.


Benefits of Infant Massage

  • Calming, leading to better sleep
  • Touching, leading to better bonding
  • Soothing, relieving colic


Prepare

When? Choose an unhurried time when both you and your baby can relax. Make sure she isn’t hungry or restless. We found after bath a great time for massage.

Where? Both you and your baby should be comfortable. Since he will be stripped down to his diaper or without any diaper at all, make sure the room is warm enough. Lay a towel, blanket, or sheepie down in front of you on a bed or on the floor (if it isn’t too hard). Just make sure you can reach the baby easily. My husband always did massage on the bed because our babies were so relaxed afterward that they often fell asleep for the evening.

Gaia natural baby massage oilWhat oil? There are so many choices. Just be sure that you test whatever oil or product you choose on a small patch of the baby’s skin to see whether your baby has any sensitivities. It’s much better to check first than to find your baby all pink and blotchy because of allergies. I liked the smell of apricot oil on the baby. ByNature.ca also sells a mineral oil-free baby massage oil from Gaia Natural Baby.

What to do? This is the heart of the matter, and this is where I am going to send you to the experts. You don’t want to be to vigorous with your massage, and there are specific techniques that are helpful with, for example, digestion. There are a lot of books and videos on baby massage, but I see no particular reason to part from the classics.

Frédérick Leboyer, Loving Hands: The Traditional Indian Art of Baby Massage (1976). The first and by far most influential birth and baby book I ever read was Leboyer’s Birth Without Violence. Loving Hands continues that gentle approach to parenting to encourage loving touch. Now available in paperback as Loving Hands: The Traditional Art of Baby Massage.

Vimala Schneider McClure, Infant Massage (1978). Another classic drawn from experience with south Asian massage has been revised over the past 30 years and is still in print. The author is the founder of the International Association of Infant Massage, and revisions of her book have been influenced by the experiences of infant massage teachers.

To all of the fathers ready to bond with your babies, I wish you the best on your baby massage adventure. It’s a beautiful time to spend with a baby.

Image © Dmitry Naumov | Dreamstime.com