When you become pregnant you may buy a few books and try and read up on what will happen; you may naively think that a baby is simply ‘textbook'(yep, I am sure many of us have been there!) The baby then comes along and as you are trying to find your feet, cope with the sleepless nights and learn what your new little person needs, you will also be dealing with all those other bits of ‘advice’ being fired at you. People do feel the need to inundate you with their help and tips and because they have been there before they think they do know it all. Cue overwhelmed faces from new parents who are now very confused from receiving conflicting advice from all directions.
The one thing that strikes me in all of this is that everybody seems to forget that every baby is different! Mine loved the breast, he fed lots, he hated naps and teethed early. Other babies I met in those first few months slept loads, some had colic, some napped lots, some got teeth much later and there were those who were formula-fed and would gulp it down. Each story is different and each very interesting to compare.
Believe me, I have been there listening to a Mum beam about how her baby sleeps 12 hours a night and 2 hours in the day, how it rarely cries and is a joy to have. I compared and anguished over why my baby was the complete opposite and why this Mum wasn’t as tired as me! The truth is in a few months her story may have completely changed, but as a first time Mum I didn’t know any of this and I could only think poor me.
We are all led to believe that babies act in certain ways but in all honesty, each one is unique and you as the parents are the only ones who truly do know your baby best. Take the advice but sift out the crap! Read the books but adapt the tips to your own baby’s needs. Keep an open mind and follow your instincts, you are most probably right!
Here are a few of the tips I was given and examples of why they were not right for my baby:
- ‘He can’t be teething he is too young’
He was teething and guess what people, babies can be born with teeth so they are never too young to teethe.
- ‘If he is waking too early you need to put him to bed later’
Nope, nope, nope!! This is the biggest myth out there. They may be waking for all sorts of reasons, but as a guide babies need 12 hours sleep at night, so do not start pushing bedtime later to solve your own lay in issues. An overtired baby is much more difficult to cope with. I discovered that if he napped well in the day he would go down easier at night and sleep much better- over tiredness does exist and can have funny effects on their behaviour.
- ‘Don’t give food at 5 months’ (keep feeding every 2 hours even though you are exhausted!)
Advice from a health visitor when I was begging for help. I understand that there are guidelines in place but every baby is different and if you are not overly sure always seek a second opinion. I saw my GP who advised that I tried him on a little bit of puree to begin with and see how he got on. I obviously needed to make sure he could swallow it, that he could sit upright in his highchair and keep an eye on any adverse effects. He loved having the extra food and it allowed for my poor boobs to get another hour or two break. Some babies just mature faster than others and each case needs to be looked at individually.
- ‘It won’t last forever’
You will hear this over and over and over and over and…
Just grin and bear it. It is true, but at the time it never feels like it and hearing people repeating it will make you wanna punch them in the face, but just breathe, smile and nod. But I can now vouch that no, it doesn’t last forever.
- ‘If he’s waking he must be hungry’
NO, not always true! They could be ill, teething (even without showing the teeth as they rumble underneath for a while), too hot, too cold, going through a developmental stage or a growth spurt. You will know better than anybody and you will learn how to react to each situation. For us, it was mostly the teething and I will always stand by this no matter what anybody says.
- ‘Face baby in the pram/buggy towards you’
Apparently, this is to help with your bond and them learning from your facial expressions. Well, my argument is, how about facing them outwards so they learn that there is a much bigger world out there than just Mummy’s tired face!! So how about we let them look around and learn about their surroundings too. It worked wonders for me when out walking the dog as it stopped him becoming restless.
- ‘Walk him around in the buggy, all babies sleep that way’
Again, NO! My baby was far too interested in everything around him and he only fell asleep in the buggy once, on a day he was ill. The car, on the other hand, worked a treat (but I have also met babies who hate the car).
- ‘In my day we used to…’
Give whisky? Use terry towels? Go for long drives? Let them cry it out?
Whatever the rest of that sentence ends up being, just agree. It is much easier than to argue about how times have changed, new research now shows and that you want to do things your own way. You are tired, drained and barely with it, so save your energy and again smile and nod along.
The lists could honestly go on and on and on, but you get the gist. Take guidance but adapt to it to your own child and do what is best for their needs at that time… I say at that time because they are ever-changing and something that may be true one month may not be the next. You will be kept on your toes, and as they turn into toddlers, they will enjoy keeping you up on those toes much more! Always believe in yourself and the way you are bringing up your baby and don’t let others place doubt in your mind. You really do know your baby best.
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