Throughout Commando Dad: Basic Training you will be directed here to find out more information on everything from the different types of nappies available to where to find extra resources on nutrition and getting your trooper to sleep. It features short, practical ‘how to’ videos on essential skills such as holding, bathing and burping your BT. And the all-important ‘How to change a nappy’ video too, of course.

  • Chapter One: The Advance Party: Preparing Base Camp

    Your life is about to change beyond all recognition. Do as much preparation beforehand as possible to save yourself precious time and energy: both will be in short supply in the months to come.

    These additional resources supplement the information in Commando Dad: Basic Training.

    Chapter 1: The Advance party: Preparing Base Camp tells you what you need to buy, and what you need to do to prepare your home for the arrival of your baby trooper.

    Nappies: information on the different types of nappies available

    Baby troopers get through a lot of nappies: up to 12 a day for a newborn and six to eight a day for toddlers. Explore your options here.

    Disposable nappies A guide to disposable nappies, including what's available: www.babycentre.co.uk/baby/buyingforbaby/nappies/disposable

    Non-disposable nappies (also known as real, or washable, nappies): There are several types of washable nappies available. Some have a waterproof backing and others have a separate waterproof cover. They fasten with either Velcro or poppers. Biodegradable, flushable nappy liners can be useful as they protect the nappy from heavy soiling and can be flushed away.

    * Considering real nappies? Here's a good site that discusses all the pros: www.goreal.org.uk/why

    * Reviews of real nappies: www.goreal.org.uk/product

    Bottle Feeding

    Dummies

    * Comprehensive information on dummies - everything from deciding to use them to helping your troopers give them up: www.babycentre.co.uk/baby/dailycare/dummies&pacifiers

    * FSID (The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths) advise that settling your baby trooper to sleep with a dummy - even for naps - can reduce the risk of cot death. Read more here: fsid.org.uk/page.aspx?pid=416

  • Chapter Two: New Recruits: Surviving the First 24 Hours

    Basic does not always mean simple. Commando Dad basics are the key skills that you need to master in order to be an effective carer for your BT.

    These additional resources supplement the information in Commando Dad: Basic Training.

    Chapter 2: New Recruits: Surviving the First 24 Hours will explain how to hold, feed, burp, change and bath your baby trooper.

    Video 1 Video 2 Video 3

    Trooper Poo

    Baby trooper poo can be an alarming thing. The first type they pass - merconium - is the consistency and colour of treacle. And nearly as sticky. Find out what else to expect by visiting the following link: http://www.nhs.uk/Planners/birthtofive/Pages/Babypoo.aspx

    Video 4 Video 5Video 6

    Video 7 Video 8Video 9

  • Chapter Three: Sleep and Other Nocturnal Missions

    Sleep deprivation is tough. For the sake of the health and well-being of the unit, you need to ensure that you all get as much sleep as possible and that you introduce an effective sleep routine.

    These additional resources supplement the information in Commando Dad: Basic Training.

    Chapter 3: Sleep and Other Nocturnal Missions tells you when and how to introduce a sleep routine, and recognise your baby troopers ‘I am tired’ cues.

    Sleep Routines: extra information Effective routines are essential to ensure that life at base camp runs as smoothly as possible. Perhaps the most important routine in the beginning is the sleep routine, as you combat sleep deprivation. Do not introduce it before 6-8 weeks though.

    In Commando Dad basic training I outline the methods and the sleep routine that best worked for me. But there is no one single solution that fits all. If there was, there would be one single book explaining how to do it. There are golden rules, but finding an effective sleep routine that works for your unit is trial and error.

    There follows some excellent articles, and also speak to your health visitor for more information.

    Good sleep tips from NHS Choices: www.nhs.uk/Planners/birthtofive/Pages/Babysleeptips.aspx

    FSID (The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths) safety advice for putting your baby troopers down to sleep: fsid.org.uk/page.aspx?pid=406

    Useful tips for establishing a routine: www.babycentre.co.uk/baby/sleep/bedtimeroutines

  • Chapter FourOpen or Close: Kitbags: Packing Everyday Essentials

    A kitbag contains the essentials you need in any situation; no more, no less. It is too easy to over-pack or under-pack kitbags. These are potentially hazardous situations to be avoided at all costs.

    These additional resources supplement the information in Commando Dad: Basic Training.

    Chapter 4: Kitbags: Packing Everyday Essentials covers everything you need to pack a 'basic survival kit' for short times away from home, long journeys and holidays.

  • Chapter Five: Nutrition: An Army Marches on its Stomach

    To be effective, your unit needs good food. Do not underestimate the benefits of a good diet, which include improved optimum growth and development, energy, better sleep, improved immunity to colds and other illnesses and a more positive outlook. It is never too early to start building good eating habits for your troopers, or too late to start improving your own.

    These additional resources supplement the information in Commando Dad: Basic Training.

    Chapter 5: Nutrition: An Army Marches on its Stomach covers weaning, self-feeding, teething, portion sizes, how to plan meals and healthy snacks.

    Nutrition: extra resources:


    Don't just read the label – understand it. Don't believe a product is healthy because the marketing on the front tells you it is. If there is no 'traffic light' system on the label (where red is high, and green is low) look at the 'Per cent Daily Value' part of the 'Nutrition Facts' table to find out how much fat, sugar and salt it contains in one serving. Be aware that the labels are based on adult serving sizes, not trooper serving sizes.

    I guarantee that an adequate serving size for troopers will be less than you think it is. Dinner plates have grown and to make dinner seem appealing our natural inclination is to fill them. Don't. Buy smaller plates or use side plates.


    For information on the traffic light system and trooper serving sizes see the portion sizes PDF above.

    Nutrition: Recipes


    Homemade food is much healthier than ready meals are, more satisfying, often cheaper and if you're clever with freezing extra portions, just as quick. Good basic home cooked food is easy to master. If you have little to no cookery skills, please see below for some simple recipes that you can tailor to suit your taste. If you have a lot of cookery skills, please contribute your successful recipes via our forums.

    Commando Dad Tip:


    Whenever you have the opportunity to cook, cook extra portions and freeze them. These will come in very handy, especially in the early months of having a baby trooper, when time is in short supply.
    Also ensure you have the following food on hand in the freezer for emergencies. You wouldn't believe how often you'll be glad of them:

    • a loaf of bread

    • a pint (at least) of skimmed milk

    • cheese

    Soup and stews


    Soups and stews make a hearty meal and are a perfect food to have on hand in the freezer.

    You can make soup out of virtually anything, which is great as it prevents waste and saves money. Supermarkets will often sell ripe fruit and veg very cheaply – buy it up for soup. For recipes, search the internet using the main ingredients you have and the word 'soup' after (i.e. 'potato, ham, mustard, cauliflower soup') and it will come up with lots of recipes to choose from. Swap ingredients in the recipes for what you have to hand, as you don't have to follow instructions exactly. This is not brain surgery. It is soup.

    Stews are amazing one pot dinners. They actually taste better if left for a few hours so they can be prepared beforehand. Perfect time savers for busy Commando Dads. Again, stew recipes are easy to find on the internet. My favourite stew is one of Nigel Slater's and I have included a slightly adapted version of it below.

    Chorizo and Bean Stew


    Ingredients • 1-2 tablespoons of oil • 2 tins of cannellini beans • 1 tin of plum tomatoes • 2 large onions • 2 carrots • 3 garlic cloves • Stick of celery • A chorizo sausage (a 'hoop' of chorizo is normally 350g) • 3 or 4 strips of orange zest (the orange peel without a trace of the white pith attached) • a glass of dry sherry (I only have this knocking around at Christmas and so I use wine)

    Prep: • open all cans, drain and rinse your beans • chop carrots, celery, and garlic • Cut chorizo into chunks • Peel your zest off your orange (I just use a normal peeler as I don't have a zester)

    Method: • Get the heaviest based pan you have and heat the oil on a moderate heat • Add the onions and stir until they are coated in the oil and leave them a few minutes to soften (gentle cooking on a moderate heat, not frying) • Add the garlic, carrots and celery and give it a good stir. Partially cover the pan and leave to cook for about 5 more minutes • Add the chorizo sausages and your orange zest • Pour in your glass of sherry/wine and when it is bubbling away add your tomatoes and a canful of water and bring to the boil • Add your beans and then turn down and simmer (again partially covered) for about 45 minutes.

    Meals in Minutes:


    When your troopers are hungry, you need food fast. You don't need fast food.

    Eggs:

    Always make sure you have eggs in the house, as you can do so much with them. Boil them and serve them with bread and butter soldiers, scramble them, poach them, make an omelette. Make 'eggy bread' - dip bread inwhisked egg and fry.

    Potatoes:

    Potatoes are fantastic vegetables as they are filling and great value. If you are pushed for time, you can make 'baked' potatoes in the microwave (just make sure you stab it a fair few times with a fork and wrap it in

    kitchen roll first). When they are done scoop out the insides and mash with baked beans. Put them back in the skins and serve with cheese on top.

    Noodles:

    I am yet to meet the trooper that doesn't like noodles. Buy dried noodles and keep them in the cupboard for emergencies. If your trooper can't eat wheat, get rice noodles. You can reconstitute them in boiling water within minutes and serve with stir fry vegetables. I make my own stir fry - the trooper's favourite is cabbage, sweetcorn, onion and carrot, but use what you have to hand (Not potato. I tried). Make sure you chop up the noodles if your trooper is young.

    Pasta


    My fall back recipe is this pasta sauce, adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe. It is so much tastier than any pasta sauce you can buy and is also cheaper. You can have dinner on the table in 25 minutes, or freeze portions to make it even quicker. For older troopers (and myself), I put the pasta and sauce on a bed of salad with grated cheese on top. Quick Pasta Sauce

    Ingredients: • 1-2 tablespoons of oil • A small knob of butter • 2 cans of chopped plum tomatoes (or whole ones as you can break them up at the end of cooking) • 2 cloves of garlic • Fresh basil, on stalks • A dash of balsamic vinegar

    Prep: • Measure out the pasta you need • Get a pan of water on to boil for the pasta • Open your cans • Chop your garlic • Take the basil leaves of the stalks. Chop the stalks finely and tear the leaves.

    Method: • Get the heaviest based pan you have and heat the oil on a moderate heat • Gently fry garlic and chopped basil stems for a few minutes (don't let the garlic go brown or burn) • Add the cans of tomatoes and stir well • Lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the sauce is thick • When the water is boiling, add your pasta • When the sauce is ready, take it off the heat. Add a knob of better, basil leaves and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Stir.

    Commando Dad Tip:


    If the pasta is done before the sauce, drain as normal and add a few drops of oil as this will stop the pasta sticking together in clumps. Cover it to keep the heat in.
  • Chapter SixOpen or Close: Standing Orders: Establishing Daily Routines

    A well-organised and fully functioning base camp runs on slick routines. Routine brings security, certainty and order, and makes life significantly more enjoyable for the whole unit. It is never too early - or too late - to establish routines.

    These additional resources supplement the information in Commando Dad: Basic Training.

    Chapter 6: Standing Orders: Establishing Daily Routines covers routines for feeding, mealtimes, mornings, afternoons and evenings, weekends and routine flashpoints.

    Establishing Routines: more information

  • Chapter SevenOpen or Close: Morale: Commando Dad's Secret Weapon

    Parenting is a hugely important, responsible and, ultimately, rewarding job. However, at times it can feel like an isolating, unrewarding and thankless task. You need to build and maintain high morale so that, if 'down times' come, you are prepared.

    These additional resources supplement the information in Commando Dad: Basic Training.

    Chapter 7: Morale: A Commando Dad's Secret Weapon covers the importance of morale, how to build and maintain it (even in challenging situations), and how to accept and ask for help.

  • Chapter EightOpen or Close: Basic First Aid and Unit Maintenance

    For troopers, life is a battlefield of bumps, bruises and bugs. You need to learn how to distinguish between a common ailment and a more serious issue that requires immediate assistance. If you are ever in doubt about your trooper's health or well-being, seek medical advice from your medical support team.

    These additional resources supplement the information in Commando Dad: Basic Training.

    Chapter 8: Call the Medic: Basic First Aid and Unit Maintenance provides information on common - and more serious - trooper ailments, and suggests how to deal with them.

  • Chapter Nine: Welcome to the Thunderbox: Toilet-training

    Toilet-training is a big transition for your MT. You need to approach it in an upbeat fashion and make it as pleasant an experience as possible. You may have hiccups along the way, but keep your eye on the prize: you are on the threshold of being free of daytime nappies and all their associated admin.

    These additional resources supplement the information in Commando Dad: Basic Training.

    Chapter 9: Welcome to the Thunderbox: Toilet-training covers everything you need to know to help your trooper master the toilet.

  • Chapter Ten: On Manoeuvres: Transporting the Troops

    Manoeuvres are an essential part of everyday life. Ensure that when you are transporting the troops, you are prepared for anything, and that your troops are safe and accounted for at all times.

    These additional resources supplement the information in Commando Dad: Basic Training.

    Chapter 10: On Manoeuvres: Transporting the Troops covers everything you need to take into consideration when transporting the troops by foot, by car, by public transport.

    Pushchairs


    Pushchairs are a big investment. Consider second-hand models. Good places to look for second-hand pushchairs are classified ads in local newspapers; noticeboards in newsagents/ supermarkets; eBay and Freecycle. Freecycle is an online community where unwanted belongings are given good homes (and kept out of landfill) for free. Go to: www.freecycle.org and input where you live to see if there is a group in your area.

    * Tips on choosing a pushchair, or a double pushchair

    * Checking the criteria for travel to your destination

  • Chapter Eleven: Entertaining the TroopsOpen or Close

    Look lively, lads. Your troopers are your first responsibility. Entertaining and engaging them is a key skill. Bored and under-entertained troopers can change from lovely little allies into the disgruntled enemy very, very quickly. Do not let this happen.

    These additional resources supplement the information in Commando Dad: Basic Training.

    Chapter 11: Entertaining the Troops covers everything you need to take into consideration when entertaining the troops in the house, outdoors and on the move.

    * Classic games to play with the kids: ‘Hide and Seek’, ‘I Spy’, ‘This Little Piggy’, ‘Round and Round the Garden’ etc

  • Chapter Twelve: Dealing with Hostilities

    Conflict is an inevitable part of life. One of the best ways to avoid it, or minimise its impact, is to establish firm boundaries and good discipline in the unit.

    These additional resources supplement the information in Commando Dad: Basic Training.

    Chapter12: Dealing with Hostilities covers everything you need to know to deal with hostilities.

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