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On the birth of Jessica I see fit to share some advice:

- Firstly, all advice should be taken with a pinch of salt. Babies do not arrive with an instruction manual. Even if they did, it would be of no use, because babies can’t read. Regardless of this I shall continue.

- Spend as much time with her as you can. Yor greatest gift is memories. You are not just building memories for yourself, but also building them for her.

- Do not buy too many clothes. Babies and children grow out of clothes before they wear out.

- All children are monsters. She will keep you awake. She will scare you. She will consume your time and your money like the all consuming quatermass monster. But it will be worth it.

- Babies scream, vomit and feed at one end; and piss and shit at the other. When you are most tired provided you remember which end is which you will do fine.

- Breast feeding or bottle feeding is entirely mum’s choice. Anyone that thinks otherwise should be slapped.

- Baby baths are a waste of money and awkward to use. Stick the baby in the bath with yourself. Its fun.

- Non-disposable nappies are NOT green. Washing them uses energy and pollutes water. Disposable nappies give you time and sanity.

- You will find yourself holding a shitty nappy asking the question, “Does this poo look OK?”

- Going shopping with a baby requires planning. Allow an extra half hour to get ready.

- Babies reteach you how to play. Enjoy it.

- Whatever activity you do with your child, at some stage in the future they will have gone off to do something more interesting and you are playing by yourself. Yes, I have found myself alone colouring a gnome on a toadstool saying to myself, “This is going to be the best coloured gnome ever!”

- Drugs work. Yes Calpol is your friend.

- Dad – get Mum to go out and leave you with the baby. It gives her a break and you learn so much.

- Babies are very hard to break.

- “Mum knows best” – if ever you feel something is wrong with your child you are possibly right. Mum is always an expert on her own child.

- Its OK to be upset. You are abnormal if your child does not make you cry at some point.

- Take loads of photos in the first year. Your baby will change appearance daily.

- Children make you feel old. Its their job.

- A child costs money. There will be a brief period when Jessica stops consuming formula and you stop buying nappies when you feel financially better off. Make the most of it. This period is short-lived.

- Jessica does not need expensive toys. An expensive mobile hanging over her cot is most probably an out of focus blur. Most toys are bought for the benefit of the parent or the person giving it.

- The best toy is a cardboard box. The more expensive the toy that it contained the better the box.

- A small paddling pool is a must. You can fill it full of plastic balls, leave Jessica in it and know exactly where she is. In summer you can take it outside and play in the water with her.

- A baby is a distraction whilst driving. Be aware of this.

- Child seats are not designed to be taken in and out of a car. Once installed leave it there, or add an extra hour onto any trip you plan to take.

- Baby’s love playing with poo. You will never forget the day she discovers this.

- Don’t worry. If babies weren’t robust we would be extinct.

- Make time for yourselves. Be prepared to use babysitters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, anyone.

- Don’t wind Jessica without a towel on your shoulder. You end up with vomit down your back.

- If you hold a naked baby ensure it is the opposite side to your wallet. There is nothing worse than drying out pissy bank notes on the radiator.

- Don’t be afraid to dismiss visitors to your new-born when you or she has had enough. The people that matter to you will understand, if not they can go to hell.

- Don’t use your baby as an excuse for not doing something.

- Make a will and buy life insurance. Hope you don’t need either.

- Jessica has inherited both of her parents good points.

- Remember Jessica has also inherited both of her parents bad attributes.

- You cannot plan life

- Dad, do not cut your daughter’s hair. I cut my daughter’s hair and have still not been forgiven.

- Do not compare Jessica to any other child. Children develop at their own pace and no two children are alike. It is not a race. Its an adventure.

- A farmer’s daughter is never too young to wear overalls.

- Every child should have a teddy bear.

- Sing to Jessica. You will be surprised how early she will remember this.

- Parents make mistakes.

- Finally I refer you back to my first point.

When a farming friend and his wife had their firstborn I sent them this advice bsaed upon my then fifteen years of experience as a parent. Of course I still muddle along like any other parent does!

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