Baby Talk With Babypants

Chris Ballew dispenses advice on poo, parenting, and other newborn topics.

I'm still somewhere between three hours and three weeks from officially becoming a father, but I feel qualified to provide the following observations: 1) The most asinine "debate" humans can have is whether or not "we're pregnant" or "she's pregnant." 2) Forget what they say in books and magazines—the best advice the mate of a pregnant woman can get is what Triple Door booker Scott Giampino told me about eight months ago: Just be there.

That said, I still have no idea what I'm getting myself into, and EVERYTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE! (Seriously, it's as if everyone has a little secret about having kids, and that secret is that EVERYTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE!) And considering we're due on Halloween, and we've been calling our son Casper for nine months, I thought it appropriate to ask Presidents of the U.S.A.'s Chris Ballew—whose second album of kids' music, This Is Fun, as Caspar Babypants, drops on Nov. 2—for a little advice. Here, the father of a 10- and 13-year-old dishes the details about being a dad, poo, and getting pregnant . . . again.

SW: So what parenting tips do you have?

Ballew: I think the blanket, big-picture advice I would have for parents is learn to be empathetic, and acknowledge what your kids say. You don't always have to say yes, but acknowledge what they say, and hear them, and let them know you heard them—and I think you can eliminate a lot of stressful interactions through simple empathy.

What about advice for brand-new fathers, from, say, day 1 to day 101?

What I did is I got up every morning with my baby. And I was the morning-duty guy. And that was incredibly awesome time, and really mellow and quiet and watching the sun come up with the baby in your arms and falling asleep again on the couch and feeding it and kind of bonding with the baby during the morning hours. I did that with both my kids their entire childhood. I just love those memories.

Before you started making music for kids as Caspar Babypants, when you were raising your kids, was there any music in particular that they responded really well to?

Yeah, mine. I used to lay them out on a blanket and just play guitar and improvise songs for them. And they responded to them great. Of course, I recorded them all as I did them, so I have all these fragments—the blanket sessions, as I call them—and some of those are turning into great Caspar songs. They [also] responded to classical music and the Beatles and a Sesame Street collection of hits lying around that they loved. They liked it all.

Disposable or reusable diapers?

There's no conclusive evidence as to which one is more taxing on the environment. So for pure convenience, and lack of touching poo, which you do a lot as a parent, I'd go disposable.

How do you feel about BabyBjörns?

Oh, I love them. I love seeing little babies coming towards me, all kicking and looking around. They're just hilarious.

Is there an indispensable baby/parenting accessory?

Oh, the little bouncy swingy thing that claps into the doorway. It's kind of a sling with leg holes that you put the baby in and they can kind of bounce around in while you're in the kitchen making dinner. That thing is killer.

For first-timers, what's the best way to get pregnant?

Have sex. A lot. I tried once and then tried again. And, bam, it worked. Yeah, have sex. That's a short answer. Two syllables.

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