In 2013, some friends of ours shared with us the good news they'd be having their first child. They are excellent people, so we were very happy for them and the kid they'd soon welcome.
I've been a dad nearly half my life now (yikes), but the only bit of wisdom I shared with them was to listen to all the advice being offered by we who have already been in your shoes and then do as you see fit. It's your experience, so own it.
Having said that, here's one more recommendation -- let your child hear music. Science says your embryonic progeny will benefit from hearing music inside the womb. There are cool, new devices like Bellybuds, which are earbuds for you and your unborn fetus to share. Affix them to your stretched, cocoa-buttered belly and your uterus becomes your happy child's personal jukebox.
But,...only if you choose the right songs. Here are nine, one for each month, that could make a difference for the whole, growing family. Congrats again, Gigi and Jr. and baby Sophia! And best wishes to everyone else out there expecting a special delivery in 2014.
"Three Little Birds," Bob Marley & The Wailers Newly expectant parents benefit from this track and bond with their bun in the oven by all being reassured by the sage Bob Marley to not worry about a thing. Even though it's all very new and possibly a little scary, you'll all have help along the way. Just trust that every little thing is gonna be alright.
"All I Really Want to Do," Bob Dylan Now that the doctor has confirmed what the E.P.T. stick suggested, new moms and dads might question why they decided to do any of this at all. In the end, the best answers are to grow a loving family and literally make a new friend.
As I remind many soon-to-be or would-be parents, you are having a baby -- but only for a few years. What you're really having is a person. Dylan reminds us all to not compete, beat, cheat, mistreat, analyze, categorize or advertise our kids, who will one day grow into our most trusted confidantes.
"Bathtime In Clerkenwell," The Real Tuesday Weld If your unborn child had his or her own internal iPod, this is what the only song in the playlist would sound like -- watery, bubbly and fun.
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"Beat on The Brat," Ramones At 20 weeks, your baby can hear. No time like the second trimester to start putting the fear of god in your little one. I don't condone beating on the brat (with a baseball bat or anything else), but your life is about to become a series of psychological competitions with the ultimate opponent -- someone just like you and your spouse, only better. Might as well get a leg up with lyrical innuendoes and subtle reminders of who heads the household. Good luck.
"Air, From Orchestra Suite No. 3 -- Vocal," Johann Sebastian Bach/Bobby McFerrin & Yo-Yo Ma All the groundbreaking research regarding how toddlers, infants and even embryos benefit from music began with some tiny person listening to Mozart or some other classical composer. I like Bach, and I especially love this beautiful rendition.
It's soothing for baby and mom. Play it at the end of a long, second trimester day, ladies, when your back is aching and your feet are swollen. It'll remind you these are minor and temporary inconveniences.
"Float On," Modest Mouse It's too late to turn back now, so you may as well start being a little honest with the kid, who has heretofore been belly-protected from the harshness and flat out evil of the world. Strap your seatbelt on, kid, it's about to get bumpy.
Thankfully, Modest Mouse has crafted the perfect song to remind us what Bill Hicks said so many years ago -- it's just a ride. If things end up a bit too heavy, don't forget the serenity of your present circumstances, young unborn one: tap into it and try to float on.
"Mira La Vida," Julieta Venegas Current research suggests babies 30 weeks into their development can absorb language. Why not start now on making your child bilingual? In the past 30 years, the number of Americans who speak more than one language has doubled, so you're giving your kid a leg up on academic and career competition down the line.
Julieta Venegas has a beautiful, confident Mexican voice. In this song, she'll deliver to your child a message of how the exciting future is now truly beginning with his or her anticipated arrival.
"Home," Phillip Phillips It's the home stretch, so "Home" is appropriate in many ways. It's an encouraging, jubilant declaration of what is soon to occur -- your house is about to become a home (it's where the heart is, you know).
"Hold on to me as we go, as we roll down this unfamiliar road" and "Just know you're not alone, 'cause I'm going to make this place your home" are wonderful expressions for parents-in-waiting to share with children in the womb.
Don't just share the tune with your child (now about 15 inches long), play it during Lamaze class, at gender-reveal parties and baby showers, too. It's a feel-good tune for everyone interested in your growing family.
"What a Wonderful World," Louis Armstrong Warning, dads: do not play this one on the way to the hospital when the contractions are only minutes apart. Your wife does will not want to hear this song in the extremes of labor. Better go with "Enter Sandman" during the trip to the birthing center.
Save this one for that first ride home together. Strap your little man or baby girl in for the first of many car rides and let Satchmo reflect for you on the entire experience. "I hear babies cry, I watch them grow, they'll learn much more than I'll ever know/ And I think to myself, what a wonderful world."
What a wonderful world, indeed.
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