Top 10 Books to Read to a Baby in 2017 (And the Benefits of Reading to Them)

top-10-books-for-kids-smallerThere’s no doubt you’ve heard about the importance of reading to your child, especially as he or she gets a bit older and can comprehend what you’re saying.

But even when your child is an infant – before he or she can talk or comprehend language – reading still has benefits.

But what should you read? Does it even matter when your child is a baby?

Keep reading, and not only will I get into the benefits of reading to a baby (and the science behind it), but I’ll give you a rundown of the top 10 books to read to a baby in 2017.

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How to Split Nighttime Duties with a Newborn (Even When Dad is Working)

Undoubtedly the single greatest challenge of raising a newborn child is something you’ve likely taken for granted your entire life: how to manage sleep.

And no, not managing sleep for the baby: the baby will sleep whenever it feels like sleeping.

Before becoming a new parent, you commonly hear two seemingly contradictory things:

  1. Newborn babies sleep all the time (somewhere in the range of 16-20 hours per day)
  2. As a parent of a newborn, you will get very little sleep

“What the f**k?”  you think to yourself.  If the baby is sleeping 16-20 hours per day, surely I can find my usual 6-8 hours of sleep in there somewhere, right?

Here’s the part where experienced parents laugh at you.

I thought the same thing when my daughter was born.  I knew sleep was going to be rough in the beginning, but with the baby sleeping most of the day, I thought for sure there would be some way to still get something close to my normal amount of sleep.

Ha…I was so wrong.

I’m not going to get into the exact details of why I didn’t sleep much, because it’s irrelevant for the topic of this post.  Every kid is different, and I can guarantee your experience will be at least somewhat different from mine.

But…we can all agree that nighttime sleep will never be the same while a newborn is in the house.  So, with that in mind, I want to discuss some strategies around how to tackle these nighttime duties in your average two-parent home.

It won’t be easy, but here it goes…

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How to Start a Baby Registry Online (Everything You Need to Know)

how-to-start-baby-registry-onlineSetting up a baby registry is one of those fun things you get to do before the baby is born (maybe as fun as designing the baby’s nursery).

It’s kind of like writing a Christmas list when you’re a little kid…you pick out things you want, you don’t pay for them, and you just wait and see if you get the items on your list.

It used to be that you would physically go into a store and set up a registry there (and some people still do it this way).  Friends and family would then need to go into that store to make a purchase off your registry.

But with the internet as it is today, you can do it all online much more efficiently, with a lot more options.

There are a few things to know about how to start a baby registry online, however.

I’ll get into those here, along with the many places you can register (with my personal recommendations).

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Can You Influence a Baby’s First Words? (and Should You?)

influence-baby-first-wordsA baby speaking its first word(s) is often viewed as one of the key milestones in its first 9-14 months of existence.

Which means, as a parent, you’ve spent nearly a year being babbled at.

It’s cute and all, but you’re dying for some real conversation with your infant child. The babbling has taken a toll on your vocabulary as the gibberish nonsense has now become a part of your daily conversation.

Even the dog looks confused.


Naturally, some parents try to speed up the process and even attempt influence their baby’s first words (see Jimmy Fallon’s book, Dada).

Can you actually influence a baby’s first words? And should you?

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The Ultimate Guide to the Best Push Presents (2017): Gifts for Mom After Birth

If you or your wife is giving birth for the first time, you’ve probably heard of the “push present.”

A push present is exactly what it sounds it like: a gift for pushing out the baby – to the woman who did all the pushing – typically given by the baby’s father.  Makes sense.

Giving birth to a child isn’t easy.  It’s an accomplishment of sorts; after all, it’s commonly referred to as a “miracle” (despite the fact that having children is incredibly common, and has been since the beginning of the human race).

Okay, I’m only kidding (a little bit); I don’t mean to downplay the monumental event that is childbirth. It is literally life-changing.  So naturally, it’s an occasion that may be worthy of a gift.

When is this gift generally given? What are the best push presents?

Where did the idea of the “push present” even come from? And why is it semi-controversial?

Relax, I’ll explain all of this – so keep on reading…

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First Time Dad Tips: 10 Things You Should Know

Image Credit: Paul Bradbury/Caiaimage/Getty Images
Image Credit: Paul Bradbury/Caiaimage/Getty Images

Becoming a dad for the first time is pretty scary.

Every day you find yourself facing issues you’ve never dealt with before. And not only are you dealing with a new child, but likely a new mother as well (I think most mothers would agree that this adds a layer of complexity to the father’s experience).

The good thing is, billions of people before you have managed to become parents and more or less did an OK job. You aren’t expected to know everything, and most of what you need to know you will learn along the way.

As a first-time-dad-to-be, I researched this topic quite a bit.  There’s a lot of information out there for “first time parents,” but most of the writing is from a woman’s perspective and therefore tends to skew toward first time moms.

A lot of first time dad tips are the same, but there are some key differences.

What are they? Let’s get right into ’em.

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5 Critical Things to Consider When Designing a New Baby Room

baby-nursery-designDesigning a new baby room is definitely one of those fun things that couples get to work on together prior to a baby’s birth.  From colors, to furniture, to overall style – there’s definitely a lot of room for creativity.

My wife and I had a pretty unique situation, in that our future baby room was, at the time…

…occupied by a bunny.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Our pet bunny had its own room.  That’s what happens when you move into a three bedroom condo and don’t have kids for a few years.

So, on top of the usual room designing tasks, we had one extra step: find a new place for the bunny to live.  I won’t bore you with those details, because chances are, you don’t have to deal with this exact scenario.

Regardless of what your situation is, however, you are probably looking to fully transform the current space.  And in doing so, there are some important factors you will want to think about.

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11 Things Parents Should Know about the Cost of Raising a Child

(This is a guest post by Jenn Matthews)

Raising a child is not cheap and it is rarely ever easy. Those who wish to be parents someday and those who are new to the parenting world will find out that the cost of raising a child is astronomical and, if you plan to have more than one child, you really need to think about your budget and how you will allocate your money.

A study performed by the Department of Agriculture estimates the total cost to raise a child from birth through the age of 17, as of 2015, is about $233,000. This boils down to about $14,000 per year.

For many households in the US, this is a BIG chunk of parents’ paycheck, especially those who work in lower wage jobs and only bring home around $52,000 per year (the median household income in the US).

It is estimated that the cost of raising a child will rise about three percent every year, so it is safe to say if you do not have a child yet, you will pay more to raise your baby.

Below, we will take a look at 11 things you should know about the cost of raising a child. These 11 things will help you rethink your situation and budget a little better to afford the things your child needs.

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The 5 Most Common Mistakes of New Parents

Image source:
Image source:

Parents, regardless of experience, are prone to making mistakes.  Raising a human being is not easy.

Without too much exaggeration, every little thing you do as a parent can (but not necessarily will) shape your child in some way.

It can be especially terrifying as a new parent.  You know, frantically Googling every little thing.

What the hell did people do before Google?

The good news is, most mistakes that new parents make are not fatal.  You learn from each issue that comes up and eventually parenthood isn’t terribly daunting.

The more problematic mistakes are the more common ones that tend to repeat and persist.

And half the reason that they’re common and problematic is because you don’t even realize you’re making a mistake.

So what are the most common mistakes of new parents?

Keep reading, and I’ll tell you…

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Should I Get a Puppy or Have a Baby? (The Answer is Here.)

puppy-or-baby-smallIt’s a silly question, but I think it’s one that many couples debate. Even if the question itself is never explicitly asked out loud, it’s a real consideration for a lot of couples.

And it isn’t always “puppy or baby,” but more often: “Which one should come first?”

If you want a dog and want a baby, chances are you will end up with both at some point. Instead of trying out which should come first, should you simply declare “I want to make my life as difficult as possible” and go for both simultaneously?

What I’ve typically seen (anecdotally) is that couples like to first get a puppy, then have a baby.

It’s just good prep, right?

Let’s examine the merits of all options…

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Why You Shouldn’t Save for College (…or should you?)

Most expenses that we incur for our children are absolutely necessary.

Food? Check.

Clothes? Check.

Housing? Check.

Diapers? Debatable…

Okay, fine, they’re necessary too.

But there’s one thing you’ll find on many parents’ lists that isn’t quite as critical: saving for a college education.

Conventional parenting advice would tell you that saving for a college education is a prudent decision that you’d be crazy to go against. After all, how can you expect your child to get a good college education if you don’t pay for it? [insert sarcastic tone]

Look, I get it. Paying for a child’s college education puts them in a good economic position when they graduate debt-free, and allows them to focus on their studies while in school without worrying about working to pay for tuition.

That’s all great, in a perfect world where you have lots of money and your son or daughter is internally motivated to get a college education.  But it’s not a perfect world.

And remember, I’m here to occasionally take a contrarian view on certain issues.

So let’s get into it.

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Should I Find Out the Gender of My Baby? (And Why or Why Not?)

SHOULD I FIND OUT THE GENDER OF MY BABY-smallAs you probably already know, a pregnant woman can find out the gender of her baby via ultrasound between 16 and 20 weeks into the pregnancy.

This tends to bring up the debate of:

Should I find out the gender of my baby?

This really isn’t a life or death decision by any means.  

It’s a personal preference.  

It’s between you and your spouse, and it’s a decision that really affects no one but the both of you.

With that said, I have a few thoughts on it…

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How to Get Your Dog Ready for a Baby (5 Key Tips)

Image Credit:
Image Credit:

If you’re anything like us, you decided it would be a good idea to get a puppy before you started trying to conceive your first child.

After all, raising your first baby isn’t difficult enough. You like a good challenge and you were excited about the prospect of not only changing diapers, but walking a dog and cleaning up dog poop.

And keeping dog toys separate from baby toys.  And keeping the dog from attacking the baby.


You thought of all these things and getting a puppy still seemed like an AMAZING idea.

[cue the whomp-whomp-whomp downer music]

Don’t worry, I’m right there with you in the oh-shit-we-didn’t-really-think-this-through department.

Okay, so, the baby is on the way.  The puppy is maturing into a not-so-terrible dog, but still has plenty of crazy puppy tendencies.

At least, that’s how ours is.

And now you’re wondering how to get your dog ready for a baby.

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What is a Chemical Pregnancy? (It’s Not What It Sounds Like)


When I first heard the phrase “chemical pregnancy,” my mind immediately jumped to an image of a baby being created synthetically in a lab with chemicals.

“Chemical pregnancy” also sounds like a good name for sci-fi movie or maybe a punk rock band name.

Alas, it’s none of the above.

What is a chemical pregnancy?

A chemical pregnancy is essentially a very early miscarriage, generally occurring during the 5th week of gestation (i.e. within the week following your missed period).

If you didn’t know you were pregnant at the time, you would likely attribute it to a late period, as this is what most of the symptoms amount to.

I’m not a doctor and would never claim to be an expert on this subject (so if you think you may be experiencing this and have concerns, please do talk with your doctor), but my wife and I did experience this the very first month we tried to conceive.  We were initially unsure of what this meant for our future conception chances.

I’ll explain further…

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Welcome to Cynical Parent.

Yes, I’m the Cynical Parent.

I started this website/blog to document my journey through parenthood, beginning with the initial pregnancy and ending with…well, we’ll see. I don’t claim to be an expert of any sort, but I can promise you that I am a thoughtful, methodical, and cynical person.

What’s a “cynical parent?”

A cynical parent is one who doesn’t believe something just because someone said it or wrote it. There’s so much misinformation in the world (especially on the internet), and even so-called “experts” disagree on some very basic ideas and principles. Many have an agenda that they’re pushing, self-serving or not. All of that nonsense can and does cloud the facts.

My basic assumption is that people generally don’t know what they’re talking about until they prove otherwise. It’s a sad way to go through life, I’ll admit, but it keeps me on my toes and forces me to get to the truth (or as close to it as I can get).

Parenthood is one of those adventures that has lots of paths – lots of twists and turns with many decision points. It’s like one of those “choose your own adventure” books from 20 years ago, except that it’s 6 million pages long and can literally mean life or death in some cases. (Do they still have those books?)

So, what better way to tackle parenthood than with a sprinkling of cynicism (or perhaps a giant vat full) and a blog to document everything along the way. Hopefully someone out there can benefit from both my findings and mistakes (and I can guarantee there will be plenty).

There’s no topic I won’t touch – everything from poopy diapers (and where to get the best prices on them) to discussing whether or not parents should save for their children’s college education. This is the kind of stuff we all have to deal with when it comes to raising children (and sadly, some parents choose to simply not deal with it at all).

You don’t have to agree with everything I write; in fact, I hope you’re just as critical as I am and share your criticism with me in the comments of each blog post. I’m always up for a good discussion (or debate).

Whether you’re currently a parent, parent-to-be, or hopeful that you’ll be one someday, I think you’ll find something useful and interesting here.

(If you’ve stumbled onto this site accidentally, here’s the exit.)