How to have fun with your Baby?
May 29, 2011 12:10 PM   Subscribe

Babyjbenben is 7 weeks old - now what? I want to know the intimate details of hanging out and having good times with my son! I'm looking for reference sources and first-hand accounts that aren't annoying, and instead, inspirational feel-good fun. Please help.

Thanks, everyone!

During my pregnancy (which was truly lovely) I religiously avoided all books, blogs, and accounts of pregnancy except for here on MetaFilter. I was having a great time, and I didn't feel the need to expose myself to anyone else's experiences, bad or otherwise. Nature took care of everything, my role was to roll with it and enjoy every second of the experience!

But now my son is truly becoming his own little being, and with noticeable developmental milestones, and I think I could be doing better.

The only book I read with any attention+ enjoyment (because it was charming AND pragmatic) was Eat, Sleep, Poop. It was written by a pedatrician with his own newborn, so I now feel comfortable with all the basic physical/medical stuff I need to know.

But what about my son's emotional experience? His inner life?

For sure we're discovering stuff together as we go along. Babyjbenben indicates something, we respond. Mr. jbenben and I are really good about reading Babyjbenben's clues. I'm thinking, tho, that there must be great resources out there that talk about the various stages, whatever age they happen, and I'd like to read about this topic.

The reason I didn't read pregnancy blogs and the like was because folks attracted to those sites seemed to be about dramaz and me me me. Not my style, thanks.

That said, I'm interested now to know what to do with your infant during, say, sleep changes. Or how to play with little wee ones who don't have full motor skills yet. Surely there are internet or printed resources out there that don't cate to the schmaltzy or self-involved side of things. What are they?

Please give me your best tips, blogs, and resources. My family thanks you!
posted by jbenben to Human Relations (13 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
This book might be of interest to you.

posted by space_cookie at 12:31 PM on May 29, 2011

For play ideas I like Baby Owner's Games and Activities Manual and Baby Play. For inner life I found What's Going On In There really interesting (it's pretty heavily sciencey, though). I have one Brazelton Touchpoints book that is good, but not as in depth as I would have liked.

I like the AlphaMom blog and have found some good tips on there, though it does veer a little too much into Mommy Blogging sometimes for my taste. Still, some good advice on sleeping, eating, and play.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 12:32 PM on May 29, 2011

I really like The Baby Book by Dr. Sears as a good general reference, and it has a TON of ideas about dealing with sleep changes and the like. Very empathetic, and they have about a zillion kids themselves. There are sections about the different stages and fun little games to play with them to demonstrate their development.

It's a bit preachy about some things (breastfeeding, cosleeping, etc.) and I think that people either love the tone of the book, or hate it.

Either way, it's worth skimming through it when you're at the bookstore.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:34 PM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

My kid is as yet unborn, but as a pregnant lady I feel very much the same as you. I love, love, love this book by Penelope Leach. It's very thoughtful and focused on what's going on inside the kid, I've found it a great mixture of philosophical and scientific in a way that's made me really understand why babies have the milestones and limitations they do, and why they enjoy and understand different types of interaction at different stages. It is sometimes criticized for being too much text or too long, but frankly I would rather have something that feels like it's written for adults than so many of the "ladies are dumb, babies are weird, here's how to make it simple" resources out there.
posted by crabintheocean at 12:53 PM on May 29, 2011 [4 favorites] has a weekly e-mail you can receive for your child's age that I have found pretty useful. It has links to a variety of information (milestones, ideas for games, mommy forums, specific questions) that you can click or not as you choose. I like being able to decide if I want more information on developmental stuff, games, practical problems, etc.

(You can get Dr. Spock, Dr. Sears (which makes me stabby; it's as divisive as rope-rider suggests), and What to Expect: The First Year all for a buck or less, used, or find them all at the library, so there's no real downside to trying all the biggies out and seeing which one you like, as a general baby reference.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:54 PM on May 29, 2011

Best answer: That said, I'm interested now to know what to do with your infant during, say, sleep changes. Or how to play with little wee ones who don't have full motor skills yet. Surely there are internet or printed resources out there that don't cate to the schmaltzy or self-involved side of things. What are they?

You'll get a lot of book suggestions and the cannon is pretty well fixed for the current coming up crop of parents, but what I wanted to point out is that it's only really in the last few generations that parents were expected to raise their children in isolation. If there's a mother and baby group near you (and there pretty much will be unless you're very rural), you might benefit from time spent with other parents of infants if you're not getting that. It isn't only babies who learn from watching - as a spieces, we are monkey see, monkey do from cradle to grave.

Otherwise: Dr Sears :)
posted by DarlingBri at 12:59 PM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My advice (don't have kids yet, but this is my plan, anyway) is to think about the kind of things you want your kiddo to enjoy when he's 3, 5, 10, 20. Start doing those things now.

Children's museums - and grown up museums too.

If you do jigsaw puzzles, or tangrams, or knit, keep doing that. Either with baby in arms, or sling or while baby naps. Stimulating your brain is just as important as stimulating his brain.

Books (read the same five or six books over and over to him, repetition is really important to kids, switch some out around holiday time, build a pile of favorites, rotate through)

Nature - parks, beaches, hikes, mountains

music - if you're musically inclined, play for him

food - make sure he's already seeing you enjoy cooking and eating the kinds of foods you want him to enjoy in the long run.

narrate your day. "Mommy's loading up the dishwasher. This blue bowl came from Grammy, she brought it back from wherever she visited last summer. We make sure we don't stick all the spoons together so they get nice and clean. Let's turn this on now, even though daddy likes it to be more full. Mommy doesn't want the dishes to sit around and get stinky."

Invite friends over. Chat. Laugh.

Here's a list of fun free things to do with kids.

Here's a TED talk about a child learning language that is interesting without being too gooey.

In preparation for having kids in the not too distant future, I'm reading this book Simplicity Parenting which talks about having a schedule, making time for "free time," having consistency, and cutting out "excess" media consumption.

On Preview, definitely surround yourself with as many people as possible. The idea of one adult alone with one or more children all day long seems strange to me. Of course it takes more than one set of eyes to keep track of kids. They move fast, and even when they're not mobile, mom just needs a break and some real adult company.
posted by bilabial at 1:07 PM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I found Dr. Sears to be kind of a crackpot. I am an AP hippie parent and he basically made me want to give my baby formula JUST TO PISS HIM OFF. I think it's the tone - the Sears parenting library is big on telling you what's best and very short on offering evidence for why. Also they're a tad indulgent about vaccine paranoia, which I disapprove of.

I really liked The Wonder Weeks, which is based on Actual Scientific Research (something I'm sure you will find is in extremely short supply when it comes to parenting advice - everybody wants to tell you how to do it, almost nobody has any proof to back it up). It's translated from Dutch, and sometimes not that well - some of the lines sounded really odd to me until I figured out what was happening.

The authors studied a bunch of babies and parents and worked out that babies go through age-linked developmental leaps (or, as I like to think of them DAYS OF FREAKING OUT ALL THE TIME). It was really helpful to me to be able to think "Aha! He's figuring out that there are distances between objects, that's why he's fussy and weird." and generally think of my baby as a tiny scientist.

I also liked What's Going On In There: How The Brain and Mind Develop During the First Five Years of Life, which is by a neuroscientist.

But I am a curious nerd so your mileage on these tomes may vary!

On the internet, I've gotten good information and support in two places:

The Mothering forums, but they are VERY VERY VERY HIT AND MISS. You will find that they are full of thoughtful, gentle parents who want to be emotionally responsive to their children and not park them in from of the TV 24/7... but also full of people who don't believe in germ theory. Overall I find them slightly more useful than irritating, but that may be because I have zero tolerance for the consumer-mom lifestyle as espoused in many other places on the internet. ("My baby matches my car!!!")

Ask Moxie is pretty amazing. She doesn't do as many Q&As as she used to, but the archives are a goldmine of sensible parenting advice on sleep, breastfeeding, development, whatever. The parents who post there are thoughtful and articulate. Recommended!
posted by thehmsbeagle at 1:13 PM on May 29, 2011 [8 favorites]

Dr. Sears, ugh.

My daughter is 14 (almost 15) months. We almost never read books, or the internet. We just responded to her actions and emotions. It might sound a little preachy but it does really help you figure out what your own baby is like. The personality develops very early, doesn't it?


(Exception to the book thing was sleep related.)
posted by miss tea at 2:51 PM on May 29, 2011

Seconding Ask Moxie and Wonder Weeks. Knowing when my son was having a harder time because he was hitting a developmental stage saved my sanity. Sometimes it's just hunkering down and waiting for the next stage to hit.
posted by wallaby at 4:08 PM on May 29, 2011

This is out of left field, but something about the way you phrased your question made me think you might appreciate Nathaniel Hawthorne's diary of taking care of his son by himself for three weeks, Twenty Days with Julian and Little Bunny. Can't say it'd be useful for you for a few years, but it seems to fit in with your philosophy.
posted by Diablevert at 4:59 PM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

I absolutely loathe Dr. Sears and Dr. Spock because of the parenting-guilt attachment crap they pull on brand new, vulnerable parents. With that in mind, I really appreciate Michel Cohen's parenting book, The New Basics. It's a very hands off "your kid will be fine no matter what" approach which is a nice antidote to the Sears-ian crap about letting your toddler define his boundaries and so forth. He's both no nonsense and laid back.
posted by zoomorphic at 9:26 PM on May 29, 2011

"But what about my son's emotional experience? His inner life? "

As he gets a little older, "Raising Cain," which is about protecting the emotional life of boys from a society that says, basically, they shouldn't have one. I found it very useful and interesting ... and helpful in understanding the adult men in my life. Maybe dads don't need it as much but as a mom it helped me understand a lot better what boys face in the world.

"Between Parent and Child" has somewhat outdated and stilted "example conversations" and a few of the ideas have been supplanted (it's from 1965), but the basic ideas are pretty sound. You read it going, "Oh, right, that IS what I felt like when a teacher said that to me ..." or whatever. The basic premise is to be permissive in your child's speech and expression, but strict in their actions. That is, they can express negative emotions with your sympathy and support, but they aren't allowed to hit or hurt or behaving in destructive ways. It also talks a lot about being specific rather than categorical in both praise and blame (not "you never clean up after yourself!" but "The milk hasn't been put away"), which is hot again after Nurtureshock. (Which, incidentally, I also enjoyed.)

Those are both for as your little one gets a bit older, but I found both becoming surprisingly relevant as my toddler became verbal.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:21 AM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

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