5 Essential Dad Gadgets
For guys, impending parenthood can be a turbulent time. A man begins to contemplate all the wonderful, but also frightening ways in which his life will change. These five gadgets can help make his new life easier.
Wii Fit (or Other Base for Exercise at Home)
Dad still trying to shed those final pounds of Couvade weight? Good luck with a new baby at home. The discretionary time (much like the discretionary money) that used to be spent in the gym has vanished with the arrival of the little bundle of joy. With the demands of home and work, finding time to commute to the gym, with enough time to get a significant workout … well, something’s got to give. For those looking for a diverting workout, but not necessarily training for the Olympics, the Wii Fit can provide a great alternative to a gym membership.
The yoga program is a great introduction to this form of stretching and exercise, and using the Wii allays Dad’s fear of looking like a fool in a public class; the aerobics are a legit way to burn calories; and the strength exercises are downright challenging even for a buff dad.
The price of the game console plus the Wii Fit balance board can be daunting (over $400 for both if you can find them), but it’s probably less than half a year’s membership at the local sweat shop.
Cameras, Printers, and Photo Display Gizmos
Dads can sometimes feel out of the loop with a newborn in the house (particularly if Baby is breastfeeding and not taking a bottle). One great way to keep Dad involved is to task him with being family documentarian, and gear him up for the task. For snapshots with rich color from a camera that’s easy to use, the Canon PowerShot SD790IS is an outstanding compact 10 MP point-and-shoot (around $200). For the really breathtaking photos, hook him up with the Canon Digital Rebel XSi (around $700). Dad will soon capture close-ups and quiet firsts so cute your hearts will break for years to come.
You can find photo printers starting at about $50. Or you can skip the whole print thing and carry your photos wherever you go with the Tao digital picture frame keychain (around $40). This gizmo displays up to about 30 of your favorite snapshots on a tiny 1.5-inch OLED screen that Dad can take with him anywhere.
Video Accessories and Games
It’s true that “appointment” TV viewing gets to be much more difficult with the arrival of the new baby. Feeding and nap schedules are unpredictable in those first few months, and the nighttime routine can be downright crazy. Settling in every Monday night for a peaceful three-hour stretch of spectating is rarely possible and probably inadvisable. But this doesn’t mean a guy can’t keep up with his favorite team (or Desperate Housewives for that matter). While cable operators are offering their own digital video recorders, TiVo continues to offer the most user-friendly interface, and it follows you wherever you go, regardless of your cable operator. monthly service is about $12. As a bonus, add Netflix to your TiVO and get unlimited access to over 12,000 movies.
Today’s video games can deliver the thrill of competition and are ready day and night. Spore (EA Games, around $50) may be a good choice for the expecting dad. The game player must nurture his creation as it evolves from a multi-cell organism to a pack animal, to a civilization, to a space-conquering empire. Besides, who needs TV when there are so many cool shows online? (Like DadLabs!)
One essential that’s needed to balance your domestic responsibilities (laundry, yard work, however you split things up) and your shift work as primary caretaker—a really good baby monitor. Sure, audio monitors are fine, but sometimes the signals that newborns send can be confusing to the newbie dad. A little bit of visual confirmation can help us to make sure we’re taking the appropriate action. And because we’re guys, we like that extra gizmo factor that comes along with a video baby monitor. The Q-See 2.4-inch Digital Wireless Baby Monitor (around $160) has a spiffy remote and a relatively stable image quality. Always remember to save your receipt with monitors of any kind. Many variables can affect a monitor’s signal quality, so it may take several tries before you find one that works well in your home.
Video that works at greater distances is key to help the road warrior father. A good webcam (like the Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000, around $80) and a free subscription to Skype is a must for the Dad who just has to be hitting the road.
Cool Tools for the Car
Finally, Dad, will you really have to sink so low, sacrifice all of your feelings of masculinity, compromise your most essential metaphor for your self-image, and trade in the sporty two-seater for a minivan? Maybe.
Regardless of what kind of rig Dad carts the kids in, it’s important to keep safe and avoid getting stranded with your precious cargo. A jump-start and compressor combo (around $70) will keep you rolling even in the face of dead batteries and under-inflated tires. And, when the kids get a little older, Dad will find no end of uses for the compressor. (He has no idea how many air mattresses and soccer balls he is in for.)
GPS prices are coming down, but still the additional cost makes an upgrade to a phone equipped with GPS a promising option. The iPhone 3G has GPS built in. Perhaps avoiding getting lost in enough of an excuse to move to AT&T.
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