Tips & Tricks

Tips and Tricks

Didn’t come with a manual? Here are some tricks of the baby trade gleaned from Hardknock University (Distance Education division). Don’t forget to check out the Toddler section to see what’s in store once you graduate from the Infancy Phase.

Are you thinking of something I haven’t covered yet? Hey… this is an interactive site for infants! Don’t wait until you’re a toddler to find answers to your questions! Write to me and I’ll try to answer your question and incorporate it into my web site. We need every little edge we can find to succeed in this world!

Bathing

I thought I’d be happy going back to a wetworld environment but it wasn’t the same. For one thing, it’s bright and cold instead of warm and dark.  Crying (I prefer a stage 3 scream) helps generate a bit of heat and tends to speed up the process a bit.

As an aside, my handlers have this really cool technology for filling up my bath — it’s a metallic arm that creates this warm column of matter that can’t be grasped. I’m not kidding! I have tried so many times to grab this translucent bar thing and my hand just goes right through it! It’s truly amazing…

Bottle Feeding

Feeding from a bottle is a bit of an adventure. Breasts are pretty predictable; foremilk, hindmilk — not that there’s anything wrong with that. But when somebody tosses you a bottle, you never know what you’re gonna get. You could get anything from cow’s milk (what’s with that? and do baby cows ever get human milk?) to heavily diluted apple juice, to water (like apple juice but without the kick) to prune juice. Don’t know prune juice yet? I’ve got a theory about this stuff… every time I’ve had the stuff, and I mean EVERY time, I end up Code Brown in a hurry. Coincidence? I think not.

Breastfeeding

Suckling at your mother’s breast is both an art and a combat sport. For one thing, there is no symmetry — you quickly learn that one of the two is the runt of the litter and no matter how much you fuss, you’re still going to have to spend some time trying to drain that sucker, no matter how frugal it is. Just go with the flow and eventually things will iron themselves out.

The combat part is a bit more tricky, especially for you preemies and more passive types. Your breasts have a production cycle and if, for one reason or another, you miss your feeding window, you are going to have a pretty eager protuberance on your hands. Or, more precisely, you are likely to have the equivalent of a boob with a Super Soaker aimed right at your forehead.  Let me tell you, there’s nothing more likely to break the mood than getting sprayed in the eye when all you wanted to do was a little recreational sucking before bedtime. The solution to this, and I’ll repeat this often, is developing good motor control — you’ll need it for defensive purposes anytime you’re surrounded by eager boobies. Reflexive ducking is good too but difficult to master when you have no control over your lower body.

Breasts

One of the toughest concepts to grasp, for newbies, is the whole nipple-breast construct. It’s quite natural for you to believe, I mean wholeheartedly Believe, that your body does not end where the nipple begins.  In fact, there is, at least initially, a sense of oneness with the Breast. Incredible as it may seem, the Breast actually exists outside of you or me. It is a separate entity.I know…this is big.

It’s an easy mistake to make…you fuss, the Breast is suddenly in your face, then you fall asleep and the Breast is gone. Sometimes you need to fuss longer, maybe cry even…but the Breast is always  there. Oh sure, sometimes you get the runty Breast first but, admit it, even the runty one is better than no breast at all! It came to me quite suddenly, one day, as I was comfort-sucking and my Breast’s eyes suddenly looked away.  Honestly, I was not expecting that. It made me realize that the Breast existed independant of me.  It was not actually part of me but part of something or someone else. This discovery really turned my world upside down and made me go through my first existential phase. I mean, if the breast is not a part of me, then does it exist when I go to sleep? And if so, then why?

Crawling

As far as ambulatory mechanisms go, crawling is a notch above sitting still. Some of my colleagues can crawl like bats out of heck but I prefer walking erect.  My parental units freaked over the crawling thing though because, apparently, it’s one of those fabled “milestones” that tells them whether or not their offspring is going to have an IQ larger than their shoe size. Sometimes you just gotta set your own rhythm though … I mean, I’m really not fussy about crawling because you’re so low to the ground. I do it reluctantly cuz I’m just a bit freaked standing up and moving at the same time but I know this will pass.  Mark my words, walking is the way to go… I mean, how often do you see adults crawling? (and New Year’s day doesn’t count).

Crying

Crying is probably one of the most important skills an infant can learn.  Without crying, a baby cannot have its needs attended to nor can it adequately control the adults in its household. Never underestimate the power of crying.

Initially, when you’ve first made the transition to the dry world, you’ll be crying instinctively so don’t fret too much about what you’re saying because the adults will instinctively try to appease you.  So it’s okay to have the same cry routine to complain about soiled nappies, the hungries, the temperature, level of lighting or the colour of your sleeper because the adults will attempt to change all of these in a furtive effort to make you stop.

As you get more adept, you should develop a more elaborate cry routine.  Each of you will develop a routine that is different, of course .. this is necessary to prevent mothers from getting together and discovering meaningful patterns.  What is important though is that you learn about “levels” of crying and how you should use each level to achieve the desired effect.  Here’s a sample classification taken from my own repertoire:

Stage 1: Not really a “cry” … it’s a pre-cursor to crying.  This is the warning we give to tell our handlers that they’ve got less than a minute to figure out what we want before we move on to the next stage.  Phonetically, it’s much like an “eh……” sound (or “uh….” for our American cousins or “pardon me” for you Brits) but it’s uttered with a sense of urgency.

Stage 2: This is your standard every-day cry, your bread-and-butter wail that gets you everything from a new diaper to a bandaid on your chin. Practice this when you know you parental units are away  — try to find a “wahhhhh – wahhhhhh”  sound that is both sincere and has volume. Occasionally, your adults may catch on that some of these stage 2 cries aren’t sincere…learn from this and hone your technique.

Stage 3: At this stage we’re screaming.  The volume and frequency of the cry should be more intense and it should inspire a sense of urgency and concern from your handlers. This is where your acting ability shines because when the Stage 3 Scream is well executed, every male adult within 100m will reflexively rush to defend you and every female of child-bearing ager within 3 Km will begin lactating.

Stage 4: A stage 4 scream is not something to be toyed with — this is the infant equivalent of 911.  Every adult mammal, upon hearing a stage 4 scream, should immediately rush to your side with a first aid kit and be prepared to airlift you to the nearest medical facility. Don’t abuse this scream — it should only be used for true emergencies, the occasional test and, infrequently, for entertainment purposes.

Diaper Essentials

I know this is a delicate subject for some of you but diaper awareness is the single most effective method for controlling your environment.  Its tragic the number of infants who go through life not realizing that effective diaper manipulation techniques can vastly improve their quality of life.  Just follow my three “golden” rules and you’ll see immediate improvements:

  1. Never soil your diaper overnight or before a nap.  If no one can smell it, is it really dirty? Trust me, you’ll end up with a diaper rash before you can say “poo”.
  2. Modern diapers have an amazing capacity to absorb fluids. How do you fix that? Easy… next time you’ve got a bottle or sippy cup in your hands, pour it into your nappie when no one is looking.  Before you know it your diaper will be dragging on the floor.
  3. Code Brown and no one is responding? Simple… reach down, pull on the elastic closest to your leg and squirm a bit until you feel some of the squishiness oozing out. Then put on your cutest “pick me up” face and presto! instant attention!

Eating “Solids”

“Solids” are things that are put in your mouth that don’t resemble nipples. You’re expected to chew AND swallow solids. Don’t confuse solids with the assorted things you stumble upon during the day … those just need to be tasted, not swallowed.look enthusiastic when offered solids for the first time — if they think you don’t like solids they may keep you on the breast until you start school. Do you have any idea how much breast milk it takes to feed a 4 year old?

The first few things they put in your mouth are going to be disgusting… trust me.  You will want to vomit them out ASAP. Please do… I think they do that to test your gag reflex. Bear in mind that once you accept solids they WILL keep putting new stuff into your mouth.

It’ll be painful at first… especially when they start stuffing so-called ‘meat’ into your cry-hole. Holy Moly that stuff is disgusting. But it’ll all pay off when, depending on what part of the country you’re in, they start rewarding you with “fruit” — the narcotic for babies.  Fruit is sweet and it’s sweetness goes right to your brain. Ease up when you get your first hit… too much of that sweet stuff and you’re not going to be sleepy for several hours!  Once you get over the initial high though you’ll find that it’s got a sophisticated little punch to it that gives you the energy to crawl!

When you’ve had enough, give them a sign  otherwise they’ll keep shoveling it in.

Gurgling Sounds

Gurgle, chortle, chuckle, whatever you want to call it… everyone has their own signature sounds. The important thing is that you develop your own sound and stick to it… it could be “goo goo ga-ga” or “ga ga goo goo” or simply “ga!” but you need to create a sound and repeat it often so your handlers get to know it.  Hearing it brings them comfort and makes them less cranky because, when they hear you cooing or gagaing, they know you’re just fine. Once they’re comfortable with this arrangement you can start varying it to get their attention, summon them or simply make them panic for entertainment purposes.

Kisses & Hugs

A “kiss” is where you put your mouth over something (usually a person’s cheek or lips, but it could be a doll, a mirror, a photo of yourself etc.)  but don’t get to eat it. It seems pointless but, believe me, you’ll get all kinds of praise and attention once you master this little technique. Work up a bit of saliva first because they like it wet and sloppy. Hugs are more advanced and a bit more abstract — the idea is to place your arms on opposite sides of your target’s head then squeeze. I haven’t mastered this yet because my arms are too short but I’m guessing this is the big payola… I think once I get this one down pat I’ll have it made.

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