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29 October 2014
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    Who's the Daddy?
    Andy and Dominique.
    Diamonique and her 'Daddy' Andy Smith
    Thinking he was Hugh Grant in About a Boy, local ladies' man Andy Smith agreed to look after our virtual baby for 24 hours - and found out it wasn't childsplay!
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    Left holding the baby

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    When I was the offered the chance to look after a baby, I initially thought - that'll be easy, I’m good with animals, kids should be the same. I’ve now had time to reflect and can confirm that children are mildly more involving.

    This wasn’t just any baby though, this hi-tech piece of kit, while baby-shaped, did in fact contain all the elements needed to drive any sane person mad. Its normal use is to scare teenage children into understanding that like dogs, kids aren’t just for Christmas. And boy what an effective tool this baby really is!

    My journey into parenthood began with a firm lecture on the do’s and don’ts of operating this electronic baby. Once I had been warned not to mistreat the baby it was programmed and brought to life using a series of special keys. Unfortunately these keys were not given to me and I now had to contend with being a baby father.

    Andy and Diamonique.
    All together now.. aah!

    The first thing that hit me was the amount of stuff such a small child needs to keep it in good working order. I have often berated parents who insist on driving huge 4X4 with just one small child. But after squeezing all the stuff in my small car I began to understand the benefit of these road going beasts.

    On the journey home with baby firmly strapped in the car seat I realised I hadn’t thought of a name! While I was thinking traditional English names such as Elizabeth or Mary, I had a flash of inspiration and settled on Diamonique. Fans of a certain TV shopping channel will realize this is often used as an alternative name for Cubic Zirconium - fake diamonds. So with a fake baby it sort of sounded right.

    I struggled to get everything indoors but with me and Diamonique home, I sat down and tuned into Cbeebies as I thought this was standard practice for parents. We watched for a whole minute before my brain melted and I was forced to find something with some intellectual content.

    Diamonique stayed quiet for a couple of hours, I began to think that she may be low on batteries, but then all hell broke loose. She started crying and just wouldn’t stop, I inserted the care key and held her tight and whispered soothing songs. The sound of silence followed, I let go of the key and she was off again, so I learnt the key had to held in place.

    The crying is meant to last between one and 20 minutes, after 29 minutes I began to think Diamonique may be broken, but then a delightful sound of baby laughter ensured I could put her back down.

    As I work on the Milton Keynes Breakfast Show, I’m normally in bed by 9pm and I rise about 4am. With me and baby in our respective beds I was hoping for a quiet night, I entered the land of nod and began to dream.

    This peaceful night's sleep was shattered just after 11pm when Diamonique decided to demand my attention. I was hoping for a shorter spell this time, but no luck, 30 minutes of care followed.

    Andy and Diamonique.
    Hush-a-bye Baby...

    I put her down and hoped for the best, I woke up at 4am having not been disturbed, brilliant I thought, quick shower and I’ll be ready to go.

    As I walked towards the bathroom, I realised I’d left the baby unattended. I went back to get her, and as if by magic she started another crying fit.

    While holding the baby I attempted to work out how I could shower but I couldn’t until she was finished. In half an hour I barely managed to brush my teeth. I was now late for work, unwashed and feeling unnecessarily stressed, welcome to parenthood I hear you cry.

    Balancing my job and child proved a lot more difficult than I had envisaged. With the help of producer Lee and presenter Big George I was just about able to do my job. But in reality this would not be possible without some serious child minding facility being available.

    My time with Diamonique was due to finish that afternoon, so the last couple of crying fits further built up my desperation to hand her back to her keeper.

    It was the so called simple tasks that proved how difficult parenthood can be, without the benefit of a baby monitoring alarm, everywhere I went - so did the baby.

    I caused a few raised eye brows in the gents toilet, even more so when my fellow companions realised it wasn’t the genuine article. I now fear that I will forever be known as the odd bloke who plays with toys (not that far from the truth).

    Come hand back time, I was tired, stressed and prone to unexpected bouts of emotion aka crying for no reason. A quiet word with some mothers in the office assured me this was nothing untoward.

    Now my desire to have children has not been affected, but my previous thought that I would be a stay at home dad has now been changed forever. The lucky mum, whoever she may be, will have to stay at home while I earn the money to buy a big car, house and even a Turkish au pair.

    If Britain really does have the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe, then these electronic babies should be given out to all children as soon as possible!

    If you are aged between 13 and 17 and would like to see what it's like to be a parent with our virtual baby, please contact us at threecounties@bbc.co.uk

    Your comments

    Miss C McLintock, glasgow Tuesday, 28-Jun-2005 11:00:10 BST
    I don't think teenagers realise just how hard bringing up a baby is these days you can almost guarantee that you and your partner will find the sleepless nights and hardly any social life very hard, trust me i know from being a teenage mum myself.

    annmaire from ardoune, srdoyne Thursday, 16-Sep-2004 11:09:46 BST
    i would really like a baby as i am only 15 people tell me thatr it is to hard but i think i would be good

    leanne, blackpool Sunday, 25-Jul-2004 19:30:19 BST
    i would like to try one of these virtual babys and see what its like coz i really love babys and i think i would have the time for one


    Melissa, yeovil Wednesday, 30-Jun-2004 17:21:28 BST
    well done i think that even though you are really nice and good to look after a babi well done :-)

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