So, you’ve got an old baby….

“I’ve got a new born at home”

“Awwwww how adorable”

“I’ve got a toddler at home”

“Ah I bet they’re keeping you on your toes”

“I’ve got an old baby at home”

“WTF are you talking about get away from me.”

Since Captain Poo Pants turned 1 a couple of weeks back I’ve been thinking about how having an old baby differs from having a new born.  Despite them being ostensibly the same baby and posing baby type challenges all of the good parenting you’ve learnt is now out of date and you have to learn some more. Otherwise you’ll end up like that guy from work that uses a spreadsheet package as a database. 

Having a hamster and having a budgie both count as having a pet but you soon learn that only one will flap round the lounge knocking your ornaments off.  And so here are the key ways in which having an old baby is different from having a baby baby to help you prepare.

Play

Gone are the days when playfully batting a stuffed bear was an achievement worthy of a family wide telegram. Play now consists of 2 hours of shuttle crawls up and down the lounge followed by repeated attempts to topple a grandfather clock on top of themselves.

Nappies

Have you ever tried putting a pair of trousers on a greyhound during the 2103 at Wathamstow? No? Oh well best of luck. I hope your carpet and walls are shit-proof.

Bathtime

Getting clean is no longer a playful splish on the gentle slope down to bed time but Total Wipeout style carnage where all of the water must be either drunk or splashed onto the floor and into your joists.

Mealtimes

Now there is beef in their ears afterwards a lot.

Crying

Crying is no longer a way to let the world know you’re hungry or cold but a method to deal with more immediate and serious emergencies like being put down for 3 seconds or having some trousers put on.

Teeth

They now have teeth which need to be cleaned. With the amount of time spent awake in the night getting these bastards through his gums we’re taking such good care of them that he’ll still have them when he leaves home. Just need to get him to stop trying to bite the head off the toothbrush.

Wee

Just gallons of the stuff. Getting that morning nappy to the bin needs the assistance of a team of locally engaged porters.

What have I missed?

The Captain Poo Pants guide to baby toys

Even at 8 months old Captain Poo Pants still isn’t of an age to appreciate an historically accurate recreation of the Battle of Kursk using Micromachines. One of the things I was looking forward to most about fatherhood (other than the warm embrace of a loving family stuff) was having a legitimate reason to play with toys again and so whilst I wait a few years until we can get some wrestlers or boglins we are pleased to present the Captain Poo Pants guide to baby toys.

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Early days
For the first couple of months your baby will be content with staring at a bulb or failing to bat a stuffed giraffe before falling back to sleep for three hours. You might like to pile all the toys you’ve bought in a corner or in a special box.

Movement
As your baby gets older it will begin derive pleasure from learning that limbs can be manipulated to produce momental alterations in spacetime. I can never remember the name of the Jumparoo (just had to go upstairs to check the front) so most mornings Captain Poo Pants gets a go on his Boing-a-tron. Top tip: It is worth confirming you don’t have a shitted nappy before commencing boinging.

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Bathtime toys
Bath time is a great occasion to get your baby used to splish splashing but also to the fact that rubber ducks taste bad when covered in soap. We did however create months of entertainment pouring water from a hollow tug boat.
Top tip: Your curious baby may look up at the exact moment you’re pouring so take care if you want to avoid a full Guantanamo-style waterboarding.

That’s not a toy
Like an aggressive magpie, as soon as you try and sneak a look at your phone (for example to catch up on an hilarious dad blog or sharing the link to such a blog with friends or with your sister-in-law who works for a publisher with a track record of printing new authors of parenting books) your little one will stop everything, drop even the most riveting of stuffed owls, and insist on pressing their eyes against the warming glow of the screen.

Sensory toys
Stimulation of the senses is enjoyable which is why adults like things like the northern lights and David Sneddon.  In an attempt to stop CPP lurching for my phone and spending thousands of pounds on trebuchets on Clash of Clans we got him a toy phone and tv remote that make noises; the remote even speaks in French. However as his fine motor skills don’t yet allow him to accurately press buttons he tends to hold them in death pincer grips so all you can hear over and over is “Hello, it’s going to be a great day…….neuf…neuf…..neuf…..neuf….neuf …Hello, it’s going to be a great day…..neuf” which can surprisingly become annoying in a matter of seconds.

Nighttime toys
In the witching hour all manner of objects become exciting play things; feet become tantalising tentacles of mystery; the light on the cot camera becomes as powerful and distracting as a thousand suns.

Attachment toys
As your baby gets a bit older they might become attached to a particular toy.  To avoid tears in the future I’m doing my best to steer CPP away from the toys with the flimsiest necks and googliest eyes. “Hey why don’t we play with Mr cuboid of industrial wall filler?”

Teething toys
Let’s get one thing straight – everything is a teething toy; socks, carpet, electrical cabling.

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Suitable for Alsatians
The great baby toy deception is that most baby toys are just dog toys with the price quadrupled. Every baby in the world has popular teething toy Sophie the Giraffe (pictured). Whoever came up with it must be a trillionaire yet you could pick up something similar at Pets at Home for 99p – it even squeaks!

So yeah?
You can spend thousands of pounds on baby toys but if they want to they’ll still happily ignore whatever it is you’ve bought and spend an hour laughing at their own feet or scratching some material.

Given the choice, Captain Poo Pants’s top pasttimes of choice would always be:

1) Looking in the mirror then not looking in the mirror then looking in the mirror again.

2) Having a blanket thrown over his head.

3) Scratching the inside of other people’s mouths.

Monkey Music

Perhaps if I woke to find myself on the starting line of the Olympic 100m final, my shorts had just fallen down and a spider had got on me, there exists a scenario where I would be further outside my comfort zone than I was at Monkey Music this Monday.

Monkey Music, for those unfamiliar, is a musical and sensory experience for babies and toddlers. From being the passive recipient of sensory information (i.e. sitting there confused whilst strangers sing and shake maraccas at them) they graduate to boinging, then prancing, then hitting stuff and finally to being so annoyingly loud that everyone agrees they’re too old to come anymore.

It is co-hosted by an inanimate stuffed monkey and (crucially for insurance purposes) a qualified childcare professional; so imagine any programme Vernon Kay has co-presented. The group is made up of experienced mums and babies and a smattering of awkward looking dads in tight blue jeans of which I was one.

The non-furry host is an enthusiastic figure that you might get on children’s television. One minute looking at a tree and the next bursting into a song about a tree.  “What a nice tree. Do you know any songs about a tree boys and girls?”

🎵”Oh the leaves on the tree are green, green, green. It’s branches are long, long, long🎵 etc.

Impressively she memorised all of the babies’ names and was able to slot them into some of the songs. If it had been me instead of 🎵Johnnie🎵 and 🎵Katy🎵 it would have been🎵snot face🎵,🎵big ‘ed🎵.

As well as being quite clearly a fish out of water, being my first week I didn’t know any of the songs either. Whilst the other moms were singing along with their babies, I was left mumbling along and arching my eyebrows as if I was actually singing the right words – a bit like that time John Redwood had to sing the Welsh national anthem.

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One song I did know was old Mcdonald which I think might have been thrown in there as a musical life belt for me. There were props for old McDonald’s animals and consisting as they did of a horse, a sheep, a dog and a cat I sincerely hoped that old McDonald was primarily an arable farmer. Unless he has a market for non-traditional milk, I can’t see that the wool from a single sheep would be sufficient to keep the farm afloat. With the possibility of Brexit threatening the removal of agricultural subsidies, he must be a very worried man.

Captain Poo Pants perked up a bit when we moved on from the bit where his dad was pretending to sing and got to use props of our own.  I don’t think we did everything right – he was making a grab for the rainmaker belonging to the babynext to him (not the done thing). Instead of sitting on my lap for a clapping song he was arching his back and screaming.  Instead of shaking the maracca he was eating it. And as we were supposed to be settling down for quiet time and watching some bubbles at the end he was loudly and violently sucking his fingers and farting.

Even though we did everything wrong, I felt like a berk and Isaac didn’t smile the whole time we were there, we’re signing up for another 6 weeks 👍

What the dad books don’t tell you

 

I read quite a few dad books before Captain Poo Pants was born and whilst some of them gave helpful pointers like babies wear nappies and drink milk, I found too many of them pious and preachy (hey why not write your baby a song and sing it through the womb wall? Piss off mate – why don’t you write me a song then stick it in the bin, yeah?).  They all seemed to be written by dads with kids called St. Austell or Bean or Ptolemy or Cornflower or Febreeze or whatever and not one of them dealt with the important stuff like how to clean sick out of your new carpet.

As a slightly more experienced dad, I have had a go at my own list of truths for new dads that are a bit more realistic about the first few months.

Your new face is crumpled

Thought your most attractive years were still ahead of you?  Nope – they went years ago. You missed them. You now look like a greyscale photocopy of Mother Teresa.   This is it now – you have crepe face.

You will grow fat as those before you grew fat

If you’re honest with yourself you’ve been eating for at least two ever since you found out your partner was pregnant.  If she’s breastfeeding she’ll need 300 extra calories a day which is about a Snickers bar so if you just buy this massive strip of Snickers bars, you’ll be really well prepared and OH THEY’VE ALL GONE HOW DID THIS HAPPEN???

You will become a different type of lover

The parenting books say that your relationship with your partner will blossom as your family moves into an exciting new stage.  This is true but it means that rather than saying “hey let’s go out to dinner tonight somewhere fancy.  My treat”, you’ll instead find yourself saying “hey come in here and have a look at the colour of this poo.”

You will become a comfortable poo handler

No one except Gillian McKeith willingly delves through poo and for most new dads, it’s one of the things we’re most worried about.  However, once you’ve got the hang of nappies, you can whip it away almost immediately and with a shield of 30 or 40 wet wipes you needn’t come in contact with the remainder either; no worries.  What no one tells you though is that it’s now your job to empty the nappy bin and transport what can only be described as a turd anaconda out to the bins every couple of days.

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Turd Anaconda

You can read the Captain Poo Pants guide to poo here!

You won’t break it but it will break you

Contrary to your natural instincts, it isn’t necessary to engage a retinue of servants to carry your little one down the stairs in a sedan chair.  You will be holding on so tight that it won’t be able to make a jump for it even if it wanted to.  Before you know it you’ll be employing a range of advanced carrying techniques (outward facing, hip sitting, spinning the baby on your finger etc.).  It’s more likely that you’ll be the one getting broken with more headbutts, solar plexus poundings and flappy armed eye gouges than Wrestlemania XIV.

You will become a source of curiosity to your friends

If your friends don’t have kids there is an easy way of separating those that are planning to have one shortly and those that aren’t.  The former ask you about rates of maternity pay, how you can get the baby into a routine etc.  The latter ask “…..so……have you tried breast milk yet then?”

You will redefine ‘time to yourself’

This no longer means a day on the booze followed by a morning blowing off in front of the Hollyoaks omnibus.  Time to yourself now means you *might* be able to have a wee with the door closed a bit later this afternoon.

The Captain Poo Pants guide to poo for new parents (part 1)

Poo is one of the top three topics of conversation in our household these days alongside whether it’s warm enough and which episode of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares to watch next. As every new parent knows, poo has mystical fortune telling qualities and so each offering is pored over meticulously for clues and pointers – a bit like that time Gillian McKeith guest starred in CSI Miami.

So the Captain Poo Pants Chronicles is pleased to present the Captain Poo Pants guide to poo for new parents.

The chicken korma

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Standard fare. Mild, yet fragrant. Your grandad could probably handle it.

The poosplosion

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An early months occurence resulting from too much Infacol or other accelerant. May require head to toe deep clean, clothes to be burnt and house to be exorcised.

The Playdoh fun factory

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This is a ‘new to solid foods’ presentation where the output is instantly recognisable as the input but in one of a selection of new and interesting shapes.

The Cadbury’s Picnic

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Sticky, crunchy and unpopular. Another ‘new to solid foods’ offering. Every bit of nutrition has been sucked out leaving an unrecognisable and unmarketable length.

The KFC popcorn chicken

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A small but ghastly ball of unpleasantness barely worth the name.

The John Torode

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A perfect quinelle moulded between the thighs rather than between warmed spoons.

The Eyjafjallajökull

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A noxious cloud that terrifies bystanders and grounds air traffic. Although all the indications point to an upcoming explosion, none is forthcoming.

Why not spice up your day by starting a checklist. If you get all of the above in a single day, give yourself a reward (but not before booking a doctor’s appointment).

Putting a waistcoat on a cat: Getting your baby dressed in the morning

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Dressing your baby is just like dressing a salad; a salad where the lettuce keeps jumping out of the bowl and getting back into the fridge.

Like a lot of newborns Captain Poo Pants spent his first couple of days in a perspex box reclining under heat lamps for jaundice. My first experience of dressing him was therefore wrestling him into a Lone Ranger eye protection mask and our first days of parenthood were like watching an endless documentary about Ray Charles’s holiday.

Blindfolding someone that doesn’t want to be blindfolded is difficult at the best of times. Blindfolding someone who doesn’t know what eyes are is more difficult still. Dressing him has got easier since then but every day is still a major operation.

The first tranche of clothes you’ll come across are marked 0-3 indicating the number of days they will fit your baby for before you need to buy a whole new wardrobe. Don’t worry, you can store these somewhere inconvenient ‘in case we have another one’.

You might succumb to the temptation to buy clothes that are ‘fashionable’ or ‘nice’ but just like with your own clothes this will quickly give way to comfort and ease of access. Just think, if you soiled your underwear 8 times a day, would you wear dungarees? That’s why Captain Poo Pants, like a miniature Robin Hood, almost always wears leggings.

The gentleness and tenderness with which you approach dressing in the first months, afraid you might pull an ear off, quickly gives way to what I like to call ‘enforced yoga’.  By 4 or 5 months as your little one is able to combine superhuman strength with erratic and irresponsible limb thrashing, the whole operation  becomes as complicated as putting a waistcoat on a cat, as difficult as changing Michael Flatley’s trousers mid-riverdance, as tricky as working backstage at a modelling show for centipedes, as taxing as trying to capture an octopus streaking at the cup final.

At almost 7 months, Captain Poo Pants and me have built up and understanding. He now recognises that the darkness and isolation of having a jumper pulled over his head isn’t permanent. He knows to push his arms up his sleeves and although he still goes a bit Gene Kelly when he sees his trousers, maybe one day we’ll master that as well.

As long as he isn’t bawling, soiling himself or me, dressing time is a fun, albeit time consuming, time of the day.

6 terrifying things your little terror will terrify you with

Having a baby is frightening and danger lurks around every corner.  EVERY corner.  The first time we took Captain Poo Pants out for a walk, I had to restrain myself from wrestling a greyhound that was paying too much interest in the pram.  I would have done it though; I would wrestle any species of dog (or any other animal for that matter) to keep him safe.  As time has passed I have learnt that although the rest of the world is scary, it’s the little, unexpected things your baby does that are scariest of all.  Here are the ones I have found most terrifying.

  1. The Tom Daley
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Daley: Couldn’t do this on stairs

Why not wait until you are about to be carried lovingly down the stairs before testing out your reverse somersault with pike and a half turn out of daddy’s arms? Professional divers use water to land in but stairs are probably just as good and, as we all know, notoriously soft. Hey, why not launch yourself off daddy’s belt buckle or gut in order to get an extra foot or two of air?

2. The Mikhail Gorbachev

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Gorbachev: blotchy

Babies lose their new baby skin pretty quickly and before you know it you’re carrying round more creams than a door to door patisserie chef.  Nappy rash, eczema, cradle cap, dribble rash; all identified and an appropriate cream sourced.  Every so often though a previously unidentified blotch appears.  Is it dribble related?  Is it the Huntu virus previously only found in remote parts of South East Asia??  Is it a mark on my glasses?

If you look at any online parenting forum for information, they all go like this.

Parent 1: Hi my son/daughter has a slight red rash on their stomach.  Any idea what it could be?

Parent 2: I ain’t a doctor babe but that soundz liek meningitis babe.

Parent1: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH

Yeah thanks for that, parents on the internet.  Thanks a lot.

3. The Sixth Sense

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Kid from the sixth sense: had a sixth sense

One moment they’re looking into your eyes laughing away, the next looking worriedly over your shoulder.  What is it Captain Poo Pants?  What can you see?  Can you see people?  Do they talk to you?  Is the ghost doing a wanker sign behind my back?

4. The Phil Mitchell

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Phil Mitchell: Angry or just getting to grips with solid food?

They can be happily playing one minute and all of a sudden become scarlet and stop breathing.  It’s always a massive shit but you automatically assume every time that their head’s going to explode (A marginally worse outcome than them ending up with someone that looks like Shirley).

5. The psiren

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Psiren: Lures you to the cot and then sucks your brains out through your nose

A mystery one-off middle of the night screech that you hear through the baby monitor. Both you and your partner sit bolt upright, awake, silent, listening for another sound……none comes.  You both close your eyes and drift back to sleep.  Another one!  Then nothing again; only the sound of your heartbeats, the darkness of the night gripping you (the buzz of the baby monitor pissing you off).

The baby is luring you into their room, daring you to look over the side of the cot even though they are clearly asleep.  Where did the sound come from?  Could we both have imagined it? And then BAM, the baby sucks your brains out through your nose.  More accurately, they wake up because you’ve got your face three inches away from theirs breathing heavily with terror and spend the next hour awake because they think it’s morning.

6. The Vega

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Vega: Wolverine would have been a more accessible name for this one but I was a Street Fighter 2 fan so piss off.  Vega was the first baddie you had to fight (in between Balrog and Sagat).

This is of particular concern if your baby, like Captain Poo Pants, has hands the size of those foam ones they had on Gladiators and the finger power of a pro Subbuteo player.  In the crucial moments after waking from a nap, if you don’t reach him in time, he will quite happily savage his own scalp with 5 seconds of vigorous, unrelenting scratching action – quite literally scratching an itch that has to be scratched. Hey, everyone needs a getting up routine don’t they?