Fatherhood Adventures

Like most parents, we only want the best for our baby, and five-and-a-half months into this parenting thing, it’s easy to see how things can get out of hand quickly if you ride that approach too far.

Besides the obvious good health, happiness and all that other corny crap all parents desire for their kids, there’s the material world, and that’s a lot more complicated than the daily routine and demands of caring for a little person.

It’s overwhelming the amount of wonderful things enticing parents out there, particularly the new stuff in the world of technology. Where to the draw the line as far as what’s needed for our little one has become a moving target. Maybe it’s because Beckett is our first child, but we have never really tried to limit what we provide for him. They say you can’t spoil an infant and we want to see if that’s true. We have jumped head over heels into the world of babies, collecting any and all catalogs that have come in the mail, and purchased anything and everything when we wanted. We have learned a lot along the way, such as there is no need to buy a dozen onesies for a two-month-old or more than one pair of shoes for a one-month-old, but it’s been a fun voyage.

How could we possibly live without the lightest stroller on the market? What would we do without our so-called state-of-the-art Dr. Brown bottles? What can you say about the softest blankets ever and the highest thread count sheets? Or the matching jungle-themed bouncy seats and tummy time mat? Why not go overboard on clothes and shoes? Why wouldn’t we get the top-of-the-line crib? Why not buy the formula all doctors recommend?

Besides all the essentials, what has been interesting these days has been the role technology has played. There’s irony here and it involves the fact we all did just fine growing up without the latest in the tech gadgets being offered today. Nonetheless, there seems to be lots of stuff available today that makes raising children a little easier, including two of our favorites, a sound machine for his crib and a video monitor.

First, the sound machine, which plays just about every type of hum, crash, jingle and thud imaginable. It has four different versions of waves crashing on the beach; six kinds of thunderstorms; two versions of the jungle; and five ways for birds to chirp. Is it necessary? Absolutely not, but we have found it to be an asset because he seems to enjoy the sounds while he sleeps, of which he is averaging about nine hours per night these days (applause!). His favorite sound seems to be the waves crashing on the beach, but we could also just chalk that up to the fact his parents want him to love the beach as much as they do and it’s never too early to start that sort of brainwashing.

Up there with the sound machine as far as importance is the video monitor, a technological marvel in and of itself. It features a camera that can be affixed to the crib so as to point down over the mattress. It has a wireless handset that allows you to view your sleeping child as far as 300 feet away from the camera. It can be used as simply a sound monitor by turning off the video capability or you can use both at the same time. Of course, we utilize them both simultaneously. It seems silly to me to buy something and not use all of its capabilities.

The video monitor is mostly used at night these days and it stays on my nightstand while we sleep. We tried it on my wife’s side for a few nights, but her curiosity overwhelmed, and exhausted, her. She ended up staring at it the entire night, making sure he did not pull his swaddle blanket up over his head, and turned the volume way up, high enough to hear him breathing. She has a big case of that innate maternal instinct of protecting and with it comes all those natural concerns. It’s charming and wonderful, but every mother needs her sleep, so we leave it by my side of the bed.

It’s funny how our approach to the video monitor has changed. It’s still important, but we no longer let it dictate our level of comfort. It used to be with each sound, such as a loud breath, repositioning maneuver or movement of the arm, we would jump up wherever we were and check him out. Now, those sounds do not faze us. We understand now our son is just a loud and frisky sleeper. He moves a lot in his sleep and makes some strange noises, including an unmistakably piercing exhale. But we have learned that’s how he is and every peep does not deserve our attention.

I often wonder whether today’s technology is actually helping with our baby. I have concluded it does. It’s not essential, as generations have gone without before us, but it makes things a little easier. In my book, anything that helps exhausted parents keep their baby content is a good thing.

Years ago, there was no such contraption as a mobile activity center, which provides the rear-facing baby something to look at it while you keep your attention on the road. It comes in hand and plays all sorts of music when the baby kicks or touches it. Beckett’s plays that annoying, but oddly likable Barney song, and flashes bright colors constantly. It can be a little distracting for the driver, but the fact it keeps him occupied is worth it.

The holidays are near and we are already checking out the cool tech gadgets designed for babies under one-year-old. We are off this week to buy a new digital video camcorder to make sure we have it all on tape, oops, check that, all on disk.

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