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Almost a year into fatherhood, there are a few essential items that I would suggest to anyone expecting a baby.  Some are things suggested to me by others, some are things I always had in mind, and some are things that were stumbled upon in my haphazard attempt to parent.

A big, comfy quilt.  I spent a lot of time with Abby sleeping on me back in the day.  It was an easy way to keep an eye on her when she was napping, and it gave me a good excuse to knock off myself.  But you can only nap really well under a really good blanket, and for my money you can’t beat an old quilt for such a purpose.  It should be a touch threadbare, a bit stained, and heavy enough that you know it is there.  I expect to continue to use this quilt for family movie nights on the on the couch and for building the roofs on many couch-cushion forts.

An overhead playmat.  I feel like I would enjoy this sort of thing in larger form, perhaps with an Xbox and small TV attached in place of the mirror.  Abby adored hers, and it was the perfect way to watch her develop the hand-eye coordination she now uses to pick up and eat small pieces of dirt.

The Ergo.  This is the greatest invention in the history of humanity.  Better than fire.  Better than the wheel.  Better than insulin.  It ends crying.  It puts babies to sleep.  It makes you look like a kangaroo-man.  It is the product that Bill Gates wishes he had invented.

The Ergo Infant Insert.  This makes your Ergo baby-ready from day one.  As such, it is the second greatest invention in history.
Sir Prancalot.  My friend Katherine gave Abby this little gem.  It has tags.  It has crinkly feet.  It has a squeaking knight.  It is adorable, and it is medieval, and that is a combination not seen since the short-lived Count Cuddlesworth of Normandy.

Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay.  It won’t solve any of your problems, but it will make them seem a lot less unbearable.