Ok, where do I begin.
Let's start with giving thanks to our healthy baby from above and having the best partner in crime to raise this little girl. Without having a solid foundation at home, raising another human being would be nearly impossible.
Being a dad has been the best feeling and blessing in the world. It's truly a gift to be able to raise a life of your own. It's love at its purest form. Of course, being a dad comes with a lot of work, stress, fights, lack of sleep, changing dirty diapers, washing bottles, hearing your baby cry, and a million other things. BUT (big but here) I promise you, those things will become very small compared to the love, joyful moments and milestones you will get to experience with your child like seeing your child roll over for the first time, smile at you, laugh and begin to crawl. I shared a statement on Facebook recently that I felt so true.
Becoming a father increases your capacity for love and your level of patience. It opens up another door in a person - a door which you may not even have known was there. That's what I feel with my daughter. There's suddenly another level of love that expands.
It's been a continuous learning process and constant adjustment. I've learned to enjoy the present more, take things one day at a time, and always be thankful.
A piece of advice I recently received from the TSA/Nexus Border Official (who has two daughters) told me the following which I can understand and believe 100%.
Me: What's the best advice you can give me raising a daughter in this world?
Officer: Love your daughter everyday and never give up on them. Fill your daughter's love tank so high she won't go to anyone else in the world to find it. Most girls will seek out other men to get approval and acceptance. If you focus on love, everything will be okay.
Me: *Speechless* - wow, thank you.
Below are some things I've experienced and learned over the past 8 months raising Mackenzie.
8 Month Achievement's Unlocked:
[x] Laughing / Smiling
[x] Sitting up
[x] 8 Teeth (teething is terrible!)
[x] Plays Peek-a-Boo
[x] Eating Food Puree / Baby Crackers
[x] Plays with toys
[x] Rolling Over
[x] Army Crawl
Lessons / Tips:
- Stroller Selection: If you're buying a Stroller, make sure you buy one with a big basket on the bottom. The one we bought from Baby Jogger is great but very limiting to put bags underneath. I believe the newer City Premier one has more space now. I'd also check out Nuna and UppaBaby, I've heard great things about those strollers.
- Car Seat: Get something light. From carrying the car seat around to holding Mackenzie up, I really messed up my wrist to the point I can't do a push up flat handed. Make sure you hold your growing child with your arms rather than your wrist (rookie move).
- Amazon + BuyBuyBaby + Target: Okay, these stores will save you time and money. Well maybe not money because you'll be spending a lot of money at these places. haha. Save those 20% off coupons and use them at BuyBuyBaby. Also, they price match so make sure you find the best price on Amazon. I'll do a money saving article soon.
- Diaper Pail: I don't think I can live without this thing, it's seriously the best diaper pail you can get. It's clean design, keeps odors outs and you can fit a ton of diapers surprisingly, Munchkin STEP Diaper Pail.
- Clothes: This is a big one. I didn't realize how fast kids grew out of clothes and how sizes are completely different from brand to brand. Currently, Mackenzie's wearing size 18 at Carters (big girl). I noticed some brands like Gerber to be very small.
- Formula: This one is tricky. My wife breastfed for the first 3-months, then we switched over to Gerber Good Start Gentle and it was one of the best decisions as it was taking a toll on her. Breastfeeding isn't for everyone, but after research, this has been great for our daughter.
- Bottles: Ok, there are a million types of bottles out there. We found the slow flow ones provided the best milk delivery, I recommend the Dr. Brown's with the vent system. This is great if you score a colic baby (not fun), endless crying for the first 3 or so months. Trust me, our baby was semi-colic.
- Tub: You can easily spend hundreds of dollars on any baby product, but we found this for $34.99 and it has worked really well - Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Sling and Seat Tub. At 7 months, she's trying her best to lean forward and drink the soapy water.
- Sensitive Skin: If your child has sensitive skin, you should check out WaterWipes. It's water based so it's great on the skin and it was awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance. We also love Aquaphor Baby, we use this after every bath to keep her skin nice and soft.
- High Chair: As a designer, I appreciated the design and comfort of the Peg Perego, but it's definitely not necessary if you're on a budget. The handling and height adjustments are easy to maneuver.
- Strawberries, Citrus, Tomatoes, Pineapple: Stay clear of this fruit until about a year. The acids in these foods will cause terrible butt rashes. I'm sure it won't happen for every baby, but it did for ours.
- Books: Been reading to Mackenzie on a daily basis and found tactile books have been a great way for them to learn tactile and touch perception skills.
- Educational TV: Dave and Ava are a lifesaver. It's fun, educational, and free on YouTube. You can teach your kids their ABC's, nursery rhymes, etc.
- Google Home: Pretty sure Mackenzie's first words will be "Hey Google." But honestly, this has been a lifesaver. We play music on a daily basis with timers set so we can keep a consistent schedule as best as possible. If you really want to get fancy, you can get some Hue lights and just talk to it. "Hey Google, turn on baby lights."
- Educational Savings Plan: I always grew up as a saver, so I started a college fund called a 529 plan for her which is a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for future college costs. I throw in $100/month. By the time she's in college, she'll have over $200k. I've been using Wealthfront for the last few years and love it! There's an app to track all your financial investments as well.
- BabySnap (Videos): One of my favorite baby apps and I wish i knew about this when Mackenzie was born is BabySnap. You take a short few second video everyday and it compiles them in a timeline. What's great is you can invite collaborators to post videos and comment together. Best of all, it's free and you can save the whole timeline and relive those memories because they grow fast!
- Work/Life Balance: You have to make time or it will never happen. This is a tough one, especially working from home. Luckily I can drop the little one off at her grandmother's house and I find a nice place to work free of distractions. You'll find out how much time you really had when you have a child and how easy things are. I've learned to have a consistent schedule to create rhythm and consistency for Mackenzie so she knows what to expect each day.
- Parent Group: Find a good group of friends who have kids so you can exchange battle stories. One thing for sure in life is not to do it on your own. Life gets hard, especially with a little one so make sure you find good people to get some fresh air, have a date night, and get those emotions out.
- Pray: Find time each day to give thanks and pray for health, safety and patience. Because you'll need it.
- Happy Wife, Happy Life: I'll just leave this one.
I'm sure there are a ton of things I left out, but hope this helps! I'd love to hear your thoughts if you enjoyed this piece. Please leave a comment. I would love to hear any recommendations or topics you'd like me to cover for future posts.