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Fatherhood in the 21st Century


Category: Child Care Tips

I don’t know what it is, but my daughter loves to cry for me.

She’s almost 7 months now, and I’m just not very comforting to her for some reason. I cannot soothe her. This is frustrating on a thousand levels, not only for my ego, but also for my wife who has to bear the burden of putting my daughter to sleep several times per day.

Initially, I wasn’t too concerned about this. After all babies, like cats and dogs, tend to love those who feed them. Since my breasts, although very nice, do not produce any milk, it’s natural that I’m not number 1 on her list of favourite people. Still, I do give her bottles from time to time, and I give her almost all of her baths – which is something that she enjoys a lot. Still, over time it wore on me. Why didn’t she respond better to me? Why aren’t I a soothing shoulder for her to calm down on?

In reality, this is not that unusual. Dads just can’t provide the basic needs that babies need when they are little – unless they are completely bottle fed. Even then, baby lived inside mom for a long time. Her voice is familiar. Her smell is familiar. Dad is kind of, well… strange.

My new role is as ‘the fun one’. I make her giggle. I tickle her. I give her zerbits. When I can, I’ll continue to give her bottles, and I’ll keep trying to soothe and comfort her. Eventually it will happen. In the meantime, there’s no sense in beating myself up over it.

This is a guest post by Jane Thompson of -Nick’s Dad

Often parents see a sea change in their little one’s growth through the first year.  Your little one can be swift and energetic, leaving you gasping to keep pace.  Once they start crawling and moving about, trouble starts.  No one can deny the importance of baby proofing before your baby is out of the crib and moving about in your beautiful and spacious home.

Estimate The Requirements

Babies are curious by nature.  They toss things about and often tend to pop small things into their mouth.  While baby proofing your house, assess the characteristics of your home and think from the baby’s point of view.  Go down on your knees if required.  Think of the corners your baby can go to, any free wires, unlocked cabinets where cleaning supplies are, or any big things which can fall upon your baby, etc.

Mishaps That Can Occur In a jiffy

Thinking your baby can meet with a mishap within your house can be unnerving so keep in mind all the places the baby would go to.  Babies are prone to a lot of accidents before they reach the age of 4.  Choking is the most dangerous of these as babies put objects into their mouth.  Fire and drowning incidents are big hazards for young kids too.

Babies Choking

By virtue of their small size babies can get into small spaces where there is a danger of suffocation.  Do not lay your baby on a water bed unattended or leave the baby with pillows all around.  Although the pillows will not let the baby fall, suffocation is possible.  Soft toys, pillows, and cushions should not be placed near small infants who are yet to gain control of their movements.

Keep Popping Things Away

Curious babies tend to explore things when they get hold of them.   The baby’s crib should be far from window, curtains, or blind cords as the baby tends to pull them.  Do not tie a thread to a pacifier and hang it around the baby’s neck as this can lead to choking.  Likewise, do not leave the baby with toys that have long strings.

The living room can be a hazardous place for the curious crawling toddler and is one of the places that needs baby proofing attention the most.   Seal unused power sockets and plugs to prevent babies digging at them.  Ensure there are no free wires in which the baby can to get caught in or pull a heavy object upon them.  Remember to install baby gates on the top and bottom of staircases and ensure baby’s head does not get stuck between the rails.

Baby Proofing – Not Tough As It Seems

For first-timers, this can be pretty demanding as they have to learn a lot about babies and providing safety.  Do not worry as this will happen eventually.  While making your home safe, you will realize the hazards if you view like a baby would.  Parents must be conscious of what the baby can do and what they must do to avoid mishaps occurring inadvertently

I took two flights last weekend with my wife and son. I have heard many horror stories about traveling in airplanes with kids, so I took action early on to try and make sure the flight went well. None of these tips are sourced from experts, but they did work for me. If you have any tips that you would like to add, please leave a comment.

Talk About Flying

As soon as I booked the flights I started talking about flying with Nick. I explained that we would go to the airport, explained the check-in procedure, explained security, and explained boarding. I continued to do these things as I talked about the trip.

Experience Flying

I made flying a part of playtime. I would pick Nick up, make engine noises, shake and vibrate, and then run forward flying him up into the air. I would bounce him and say “Yeah! Bouncing is fun!”

Including Flying At Story time

I tell Nick an adventure story or two each night before he falls asleep. I tried to make at least one of them include flying.

Take a Drink With You

Kids don’t know to swallow when their ears pop from altitude changes, and the drinks aren’t served until you get to altitude, so take a drink onto the plane with you (buy it past the security checkpoints). I told Nick to have a drink when his ears started to feel funny.

That’s it. Everything went perfectly for us, no crying, so screaming, and no fear. He loved flying and wants to do it again as soon as he can. I can’t promise that these tips will work for you, but they definitely worked well for me.

I’m told I have a unique view of the world by many people. I try very hard to listen to alternate points of view, and I read people like Seth Godin and Tim Ferriss. To me, my view isn’t really unique, it’s just different from the mainstream.

It comes as little surprise to those same people that I have some different views on parenting. For example, Nick is quite stubborn, and I really like that. Yes, it makes my job as a parent harder, but I think a stubborn streak will serve him a lot better in life than subservience. I try to reason with Nick and talk to him in a normal (read: not baby) voice as much as possible. I get a lot of raised eyebrows, but I think I’m doing the right thing.

On Saturday, I was faced with a parenting dilemma. We had purchased a kite the day before, and we were intending to make it fly that afternoon. Mom had made a request: clean up the living room before we go out. Ordinarily, I will pitch in to pick up toys as long as Nick is doing something as well. Today, he decided that it was more fun to roll around on the couch. Mom was getting frustrated, and the point was fast approaching where we should start laying down the law by taking toys away if he didn’t listen. Instead, I chose an alternate method. I played stubborn.

I kept asking him to clean up his toys. Every time he left the room, I followed him and turned him back towards the living room. I shut every door upstairs so that he had no escape, and I blocked the areas of the living room that were clean.

This went on for about 45 minutes. I know – a really long time. I would ask, he would ignore. I would ask, he would try to run. Then, something strange happened. He sat down in the middle of the mess and started to cry. Then he stood up, picked up his toys, and put them all away. On top of that, he was a perfect child until he went to sleep for his nap. He listened, came when called, and behaved well.

I view this as a parenting victory – I think that my actions reinforced who was in charge and enforced the rule that he needs to listen to his parents. Still, I know there are a lot of people who would say that 45 minutes was WAY too long to wait, and that he should have had a spanking and grounding after being told twice.

What do you think? Did I do well, or was I a pushover? What methods do you use to get your toddler to listen?

The worst four-letter word is of course…CAN’T. As in, I can’t do this, or I can’t do that. For some reason, Nick has started to say this a lot lately.

There are times when every four letter word is useful. The *F* one comes in handy when you drive your car into something, and I like to use the *S* one sometimes when I step in a pile of dog doo doo or a police car pulls up me behind when I am speeding.

The *C* word though – can’t – I’m not sure where it fits in. Yes, I could say that we CAN’T go to Toy’s R Us this afternoon, although saying that I don’t want to is probably more appropriate. Telling your son you can’t afford a new toy probably isn’t true either – you likely just don’t want to spend the money on that item.

When my son says he can’t do something, I try to respond with yes you can, I’ll help if you need it, or sure you can, let me teach you. I don’t like how often I hear the word can’t in today’s world. Perhaps it’s because I’m a sucker for motivational tapes and books, but I really believe that the words that we use to describe our situations and feelings have an effect on us. I wouldn’t say that I believe in “The Secret” (I’ve never seen it or read it), but I don’t see any reason to put negative thoughts out into the world.

Am I being pedantic? Or am I teaching my son a life lesson? If I explain why I don’t wan’t him to say he can’t do something, will he remember the lesson his entire life and achieve great things, or will he think of Dad as a stuffy old writer who was always correcting him?

I remember reading somewhere that instead of saying “I can’t do something”, you should say “How CAN I do this?”. That is a lesson that I would like my son to learn.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

I do my best to be an active parent and not let the television babysit for me, but there are times when it is nice to turn on the Backyardigans (or more likely Thomas & Friends) and let my son be entertained.

As Nick gets older, he is more and more aware of the technology around him, especially as he sees Mom and Dad engaging in it. He’s been viewing videos on YouTube since he was six months old (In fact, for a time viewing The Wiggles was one of the best ways to get him to calm down when he was upset). He talks to Grandma and Grandpa on the telephone, and he sees me checking e-mail on my Blackberry.

With his growing addiction to Thomas & Friends, it was only natural that trains would extend into his YouTube viewing. In many ways this is great, because there is a plethora of Thomas & Friends videos and fan recreations on YouTube, many of them very well done and with millions of views.

I began wondering if I could capture some of these videos and transfer them to my telephone for use in outside situations. There are lots of places where kids are forced to wait such as doctor’s offices, restaurants, the mall, in the car, etc where a 5 minute video could prevent a crying fit or prevent him from running around bothering others.

What I found was a handy website called KeepVid ( This site allows you to download and save any video from YouTube (or other streaming video sites). It even gives you a few options for how you would like the video to be saved. Be aware that there may be copyright issues with downloading some videos.

This was great, and I could now watch the videos on my laptop without an internet connection. However, it didn’t really solve the problem of getting the videos onto my phone; none of the download options were compatible with my Blackberry. For that problem I turned to AVS Video Converter ( This software allowed me to convert the video into the correct format. Because I use the free version, there is a watermark at the beginning and end of the videos. Those of you using different devices may be able to download videos directly to your device without any conversion.

The end result is a 5 minute babysitter that grasps Nick’s attention when I really need it.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

I don’t pretend to be an expert on food. To be honest, I’m not even very knowledgeable about the topic of food. Sure, I’m a pretty good cook, and I have some ideas about what food is good for us and what food is bad for us. However, I don’t know enough to keep me from being in the 66% of people who are currently overweight.

A few weeks ago, Nick and I went to Wal-Mart in the afternoon and we bought a three pack of Reese Peanut Butter Cups. We each had one, and the third cup stayed in my coat pocket. That night when it was time for a bedtime snack, I offered him the third peanut butter cup. My wife made it clear that this was not an appropriate snack. Of course, when I actually thought about it, I also knew that this was not a healthy snack. However, habit and convenience led me to not think about it.

I think that most of us know about food, but we don’t spend a lot of time actually thinking about food or the food that we eat. Of course, as adults, we have every right to eat whatever we want and live with the consequences of that. However, my concern was that I was teaching Nick some poor eating habits, and that did not sit well with me. I reached out to a Nutritionist with a list of questions, and that will be the subject of a coming blog post. In the meantime, I came across an excellent video from TED 2010. In it, Jamie Oliver (of Food Network fame) talks about childhood obesity and the way that we feed our kids. It’s about 20 minutes long, and really made me think about how I feed my son, and also about how I feed myself. I hope that you enjoy it.


The medical journal The Lancet has retracted the controversial 1998 study which first suggested a link between the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine and Autism.

I hardly think that this will quiet the controversy, but it is an interesting development. Here is a link to the story on

The story at CNN has some interesting related articles and a video, but I am also copying the story here for you to read.

The Following Is From

(CNN) — The medical journal The Lancet on Tuesday retracted a controversial 1998 paper that linked the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism.
The study subsequently had been discredited, and last week, the lead author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, was found to have acted unethically in conducting the research.
The General Medical Council, which oversees doctors in Britain, said that “there was a biased selection of patients in The Lancet paper” and that his “conduct in this regard was dishonest and irresponsible.”

The panel found that Wakefield subjected some children in the study to various invasive medical procedures such as colonoscopies and MRI scans. He also paid children for blood samples for research purposes at his son’s birthday party, an act that “showed a callous disregard” for the “distress and pain” of the children, the panel said.
Following the council’s findings last week, The Lancet retracted the study and released this statement.

“It has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al. are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation. In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were ‘consecutively referred’ and that investigations were ‘approved’ by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record.”

Dr. Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, said he reviewed the GMC report regarding Wakefield’s conduct. “It’s the most appalling catalog and litany of some the most terrible behavior in any research and is therefore very clear that it has to be retracted,” he said.
CNN was unable to reach Wakefield for a comment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention praised The Lancet’s retraction, saying, “It builds on the overwhelming body of research by the world’s leading scientists that concludes there is no link between MMR vaccine and autism. We want to remind parents that vaccines are very safe and effective and they save lives. Parents who have questions about the safety of vaccines should talk to their pediatrician or their child’s health care provider.”

Since its publication, Wakefield’s study has attracted many critics who argued that the work had been so flawed it should not be regarded as scientific. Wakefield theorized that the measles vaccine caused gastrointestinal problems and that those GI problems led to autism. In his view, the virus used in the vaccine grew in the intestinal tract, leading the bowel to become porous because of inflammation. Then material seeped from the bowel into the blood, Wakefield’s theory said, affecting the nervous system and causing autism. But subsequent research has been unable to duplicate Wakefield’s findings.

A September 2008 study replicated key parts of Wakefield’s original paper and found no evidence that the vaccine had a connection to either autism or GI disorders. The study, conducted at Columbia University, Massachusetts General Hospital and the CDC, also found no relationship between the timing of the vaccine and children getting GI disorders or autism.
The Wakefield study has been a key piece of evidence cited by parents who do not vaccinate their children. “The story became credible because it was published in The Lancet,” Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation, said Tuesday. “It was in The Lancet, and we really rely on these medical journals.”

Singer, the mother of a child with autism, added, “That study did a lot of harm. People became afraid of vaccinations — this is the Wakefield legacy — this unscientifically grounded fear of vaccinations that result in children dying from vaccine-preventable diseases.”

Retractions are rare in medical journals and usually occur as a result of fraud or plagiarism, said Marcia Angell, a former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine. “It is a major event when there is a retraction like this,” she said. “It sounds like there was a misleading design of the study … patients not randomly chosen. There were ethical violations.”

William Schaffner, professor and chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, described the journal’s level of action as “unprecedented.”

“Since Wakefield’s study came out, some 20 other studies have come out, and each one of these studies, done by different researchers, in different populations and in different countries has denied the associations between vaccines and autism,” he said. “… Scientifically, this story is over.”

Schaffner added, “This series of events is damning and should refocus all of us in the field to find better methods of diagnosis and treatments.” The Lancet came under criticism for the initial publication of the paper 12 years ago.

Calling the Lancet’s retraction “exceptionally disingenuous,” Dr. Paul Offit, author of “Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure,” said the medical journal has much to be embarrassed about over the matter.

“The science in that paper was never that good enough to warrant publication,” he said. “And it did a lot of harm. …

“The mere publishing of this paper created something that will never fully go way — the false notion that MMR caused autism,” said Offit, the chief of division of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The retraction did little to change the opinion of Rebecca Estepp, a spokeswoman for Talk About Curing Autism. Estepp said her son has autism and bowel problems. She said she remains convinced he had a vaccine reaction and that Wakefield’s research helped doctors identify how to help her son. “I guess the GMC can say whatever they want to say for the rest of their existence, but I know that my son got better because of Dr. Wakefield,” she said.

Cases in which U.S. families have sued alleging a vaccine-autism link have had mixed outcomes. In 2007, a U.S. federal program intended to compensate victims of injuries caused by vaccines concluded that a 9-year-old girl’s underlying illness had predisposed her to symptoms of autism and was “significantly aggravated” by the vaccinations. Two years later, three different American families sought compensation from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, but the panel ruled that they had not presented sufficient evidence to prove that the vaccines caused autism in their children.

Stork Craft & Fisher Price Recall 2.1 Million Cribs

I’ve got a few comments and extra information about this recall, but first, in case you haven’t heard about this yet, here is the link to the actual recall.

Note that this recall affects all of North America.

Getting through to Stork Craft has been almost impossible this week. However, I did manage to find a link to the Stork Craft blog that not only seems to work, but also provides the information that concerned parents need to get.

The company has also issued a YouTube interview with the President of Stork Craft. You can view it here:

Stork Craft has also posted a YouTube video showing how to install the recall kit. You can view it here:

You should also note that this is not the first time Stork Craft has had a recall on these cribs. I covered the last recall here:

While the repair kit has been approved by Canadian and US officials, one US official, Inez Tenenbaum, head of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, suggested on NBC’s Today show that “It is made of plastic, so if you can afford another crib that does not have a drop-side, or even if you can’t afford it, there are many charities in communities that can provide you with a new crib. That really is the safest way to handle this situation.”

This is the crib that we have; we have inspected it and have found everything to be in good working order. Nick is still sleeping in it for the time being.

Depending on the age of your child, you have a few options.
1. Replace the crib with a new crib.
2. Repair the crib as per the recall.
3. Replace the crib with a toddler bed.

Parenting is never easy, is it?

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

Let me start out this post by saying two things:

1. I am not a doctor, just a concerned parent. This post represents only my opinion, and you should do your own research and consult your own experts before making a decision.

2. I live in Canada. This may seem insignificant, but my readers that live in the United States have many more, and in my opinion better, options available to them.

The Canadian government, like most other governments, has locked up the market on the swine flu vaccine. This means that if you want to get it, you will probably have to get it from a government clinic or vaccination program. This also means that the vast majority of the vaccines on the market today will have been chosen by the government in order to protect the widest cross section of people. Any pandemic prevention program is a numbers game; save the lives of the most number of people possible.

It is in that last sentence that things go from theory to reality for most parents, especially those that live in Canada. You see, the Canadian government has chosen two vaccines to distribute amongst its citizens. One is adjuvanted, one is non-adjuvanted. An adjuvant is a chemical substance that is added to a vaccine to quote “make it more effective” endquote. While that sounds like a good thing, it is a little misleading. See, the efficacy of the adjuvanted vaccine is around 98%, while the efficacy of the non-adjuvanted vaccine is about 95%. That hardly seems like a difference that makes it worth adding extra chemicals to a drug. In reality, an adjuvant does one other thing: it allows the drug manufacturer to use less anti-viral ingredients in the vaccine. Anti-virals are the ingredient that makes the vaccine work, and they are also the ingredient that is in very short supply. By adding an adjuvant to a drug, the manufacturer uses up less of the precious anti-viral ingredient and therefore increases the number of vaccines available to inoculate people. Thus, more people are able to get vaccinated.

At first glance, this seems like a great thing; more people get protected, and the world becomes safer, even for those who are not vaccinated. What’s the problem? Depending on where you live and what your government believes there is either no problem, or some very large concerns are raised. In much of Europe, adjuvants have been used for years. The adjuvant used in the Canadian vaccine is called AS03, and adults in Europe have been taking it or a variant of it for over a decade with very few side effects.

Notice two things: In Europe, and Adults.

In the United States, according to my research, the FDA currently has no approved vaccinations that contain adjuvants, despite their track record in Europe and approval by the World Health Organization. Why? Also, there has been very little data on their use in children. According to the drug information sheet, for children 6 months to 35 months “No clinical data are available for influenza vaccines with AS03 in this age group.”

Wait, did I read that right? There is no history of this drug being used in children from 6 months to 3 years old? Yes, that is correct. In effect, this vaccination program is going to be a very large clinical trial for the safety of adjuvants in children. Sounds creepy to me.

But, didn’t I just say that there are two vaccines, and adjuvanted version, and a non-adjuvanted version? Why not just request the non-adjuvanted version? Interesting. See, in addition to there being no research on the safety of this adjuvant in children under three, there is also no research into the safety of the adjuvant in pregnant women. So, even though the government claims that the adjuvant is safe for pregnant women, they also say that the preferred vaccine for pregnant women is the non-adjuvanted version. Because of this, the end-user does not get to choose the vaccine they receive. To me, that sounds like talking out both sides of your mouth.

Both versions of the drug available in Canada also contain Thimersol.

In the US, you have many other options, including Thimersol free versions, if you can find them, as well as a live-virus version that is inhaled into the nose as a mist.

I placed a phone call to my local health district, and was told that I could request the non-adjuvanted version, but that the decision on which version to give would ultimately be made by the person in charge of the clinic based on demand. There would be no guarantees.

What is a parent to do?

First of all, I’m not a Thimersol conspiracy believer. The drug (which acts as a preservative) is believed by many people to be a trigger for Autism, a disorder with whom any parent is well-versed in this day and age. The problem is, Thimersol was removed from almost every vaccine given to kids in 2001, and the rates of Autism continue to rise. This leads me to think that there is no Thimersol-Autism connection, and the vast majority of doctors agree with this. In my mind, there is no worry here.

Now I need to deal with the issue of adjuvants. There is a lot of talk about these chemicals on the internet, some of it correct, some of it sort of correct, and even more that is wildly wrong. The most glaring example of this is the claim that the adjuvant used in an anthrax vaccine is the cause of Gulf-War Syndrome. All of the actual research that I could find says that this is wrong, and that there was no adjuvant used in that vaccine. Other conspiracy options on the net include the adjuvant being used to sterilize our children for population control to the adjuvant causing a whole host of neurological disorders. I did not however, find any conspiracies relating to a zombie apocalypse, which is a good thing. Unless, of course, the lack of zombie conspiracies is actually a conspiracy in itself?

Even though I love a good conspiracy, I don’t believe that the government is going to knowingly sterilize an entire generation of people. However, I still don’t like the idea of my son being used as a test mule for the government or a drug company.

My available options were as follows:

1. Drive to the US for the nasal mist version.

2. Give my son the adjuvant-free version.

3. Give my son the dose and version reccomended by the government.

I strongly considered option #1. If I lived in the US, this would be my choice. However, the odds of being able to find it in the states near me, coupled with the fact that they probably wouldn’t give it to my son because we were from out of state meant that I had to let it go. My preferred choice was #2. I would gladly trade 3% in effectiveness for the reliability of a known vaccine (the swine flu vaccine anti-viral is created the same way that the seasonal flu anti-viral is created). However, I also decided that, if no other option was available, that I would allow him to get the adjuvant version.

In the end, we trekked to the swine flu vaccination clinic, stated outright that we wished for the non-adjuvant vaccine, and were promptly denied. There was only enough for pregnant women, period. Nick got the adjuvant version.

My decision process basically revolved around two factors. I did not believe that the government (and more importantly, doctors) would knowingly put an entire generation at risk, and also because I did not want Nick to get the swine flu. I have relatives in the medical field, and all of their stories are about how terrible this disease is. I know that there are a lot of anecdotal stories about the swine flu being milder than the regular flu, but in my experience many of these people are not being tested to determine whether they actually have swine flu or the seasonal flu. Doctors are treating everyone as if they have the swine flu to be cautious, but are not testing due to cost. The stories of confirmed swine flu cases I have heard all involve hospitals, very high fevers, and a lot of pain. In addition, the swine flu seems to be affecting younger children more, probably because they have been exposed to fewer viruses over their lives, while older people are more likely to already have some form of protection from the disease.

This was not an easy decision, and I know many will think me foolish for making the decision that I did. At last study, over 50% of people in Canada were not planning on taking the vaccine. I ultimately decided, based on Nick’s previous lack of reactions to vaccines and a (I can’t believe I’m saying this)  trust in the government experts, that my son would be safer taking the vaccine than not taking it.

Whatever you decide to do, please make sure that you thoroughly investigate all of your sources of information. There is a lot of great information out there, but there is also a lot of wildly inaccurate information floating around. Good luck to all of you in whatever you choose.

 Drug Data Sheet:

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs