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Image / Editorial

Tips from a new dad: Find an alternative to stupid baby monitors and treat your child like a wedding


by Laurence Mackin
24th Sep 2019

dad teaching his child to take step

A new fortnightly column from dad Laurence Mackin will offer laughs, lessons and, well, who knows what. This week is all about toddling through Brexit, rollovers and security cameras


 My child has walked. What an achievement. Empires fall and Brexit boils, yet here we are on the day that Boris Johnson’s actions are being ruled unlawful, and while the world burns I’m sitting on the floor, trying to tempt a baby officially into toddlerhood with some strategic shaking of a dolly.

Perhaps the EU should try it with Mr Bo Shambles. 

My daughter is just over a year old and if you are thinking that this will be one of those half-assed, “doesn’t the time fly by when you have kids, sure you’d hardly know if you were coming or going” columns then yes, come in and make yourself comfortable.

There is a blink-and-you-will-miss-it quality to everything these days. Although you won’t have missed it entirely because chances are it has already been filmed and put on the family WhatsApp.

Terrifyingly unbalanced

It does seem like only yesterday she was barely able to rollover. Now she walks – terrifyingly unbalanced on each bleary step, the baby black Nikes I bought her doing little to help her progress, and giggling thrillingly with each gorgeously, clunky step.

She also now points – my daughter has taken to pointing at everything with a little grunt, from food to people to essential parts of our home’s infrastructure that she immediately demands be put in her little creamy fingers.

“As I face into my 40s, my child is facing into her single figures. If I could silt up the clock and cling to her youth, I’d do it in heartbeat.”

It will no doubt be a short time before she is riding off on the back of a motorcycle, to do something deeply inappropriate that it is crucial I never find out about. 

As I face into my 40s, my child is facing into her single figures. If I could silt up the clock and cling to her youth, I’d do it in heartbeat. But instead we will have to march on. One bumbly step at a time.

What could possibly go wrong. 

Parenting tip #1

As part of this column, I’m going to offer a parenting tip I have learned through my blood, sweat and early morning tears (or more accurately those of my wife).

You can then take it, apply it to your own child/life, and find that no, it’s of little use because every child is infuriatingly different. 

This week I learned that having a child is a bit like having a wedding in that everything seems to be 20% more expensive and it mostly only comes in white.

The good bit is that, much like wedding fever, you can actually save plenty of money by ignoring what it’s for and concentrating on what it does. 

“Having a child is a bit like having a wedding – everything seems to be 20% more expensive and it mostly only comes in white.”

For example, if you can confidently lie to your hairdresser, tailor and lovely food maker that what you’re buying is not for a wedding but in fact for a really great party for all your friends for no reason at all, then you can expect to save plenty of cash.

The same goes for your little chunk of love. 

Baby monitors

We’ve been through two baby monitors from two good companies, both of which came recommended online, and cost north of €150 – and both of which were adequate at best, either when it came to range, picture quality, or stupid features. (Side note: Why would you make a device designed to be beside a sleeping child that beeps loudly when it runs out of battery, or when it drops signal for no apparent reason? Why would put a light at the front of a camera that never turns off? Do you hate babies? Have you considered a career change? Are you history’s greatest monster?) 

“Why would you make a device designed to be beside a sleeping child that beeps loudly when it runs out of battery?”

So finally, in search of something that worked off wifi, would connect to my phone wherever I was and had a good picture that would pan and zoom, we had the brainwave to look not for baby monitors but to look instead at indoor security cameras.

There are dozens to choose from – we went with the Xiaomi Mi Home because we have a robo hoover from the same company. It’s brilliant, by the way. It’s nicknamed Little Pig: “That’ll do Pig, that’ll do”. (Side note #2: I’m also angling for a second column on IMAGE called Domestic Devices I Have Loved and Lost, but that is for another day.) 

It turns out it’s a terrific bit of kit.

Our security camera is roughly 10 times better than its poxy baby monitor compatriots and cost the grand total of 40 yoyos.

So, learn from my mistakes. Do your wedding in secret (at least from the suppliers).  

And don’t get taken for a baby mug. 

Laurence Mackin is an editor, writer and dad. Stay tuned to IMAGE.ie for his next column on October 8th.


Read more: First-time fatherhood

Read more: 5 things you’ll think when you have your second child

Read more: Why siblings are good for your health

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