July 05, 2004 12:00 PM

Playful Parenting

Cheers! Two tongue-in-cheeky paperbacks—Christie Mellor’s The Three-Martini Playdate: A Practical Guide to Happy Parenting, and Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads by Gary Greenberg and Jeannie Hayden, offer brave new concepts for taking the drudgery out of child care.

CHILD LABOR Instead of letting tots wreak havoc when you entertain, Mellor advises teaching them to pass canapés or use a shaker to mix cocktails. “This is not only an aid to you…but a practical exercise in hand-eye coordination,” she writes.

BE A SPORT Greenberg and Hayden suggest dads bond with infants by doing dramatic readings of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED while pointing out pix. Babies “love the umps.”

BAN THE TUBE Nix commercial TV, says Mellor, who adds, “Unaware that they want…mutant action figures,” sprouts will thank Santa for “tiny cars, a cuddly sock monkey…gifts that will cost you less than a cheap pedicure.”

DIAPER GENIUS Instead of a smelly diaper pail, say Greenberg and Hayden, place a garbage bin under a window outside baby’s room. When you need to toss a diaper, “open the window and throw down a long-range jumper.”

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