My daughter is now 2 years old and my son 10 months. This advice page is written to warn all new mums and mums-to-be that too much information can be a dangerous thing. No child will ever be ‘textbook’, so why set your self up to fail by reading these books and being left feeling like your not good enough or your child doesn’t match up? Trust your instincts and everyone is happier.
Like most new mums, I spent most of the first few months with my first-born in a complete daze, having not realized just how hard looking after a baby is. I therefore wanted a book to tell me exactly what to do and how to remedy every problem. I thought, as a rational adult would, that if I did this, that and the other, then the desired results were guaranteed. The problem, of cause, is that babies don’t live in the rational world. So in search of the elusive answers, I read. However, I didn’t just read, I overdosed on the need to “have a manual”.
I read EVERY SINGLE BOOK my local library had on parenting and babies. When I’d finished all the books the library had, I started re-reading them all again! This went on for the first four months of my daughter’s life.
Looking back now, if I could have my time again, this is the most important thing I would change. I wish I’d never read any of the parenting books. So many different ideas and opinions, often conflicting, just served to turn me into a nervous wreck. I’d worry about everything. I expected my baby to be ‘textbook’ (when no child ever is) and felt the need for constant reassurance from the books, always fearing I was doing something wrong.
One day my husband arrived home to me in tears. To cut a long story short, I thought I must be the worst parent in the world because she didn't do as the books said she should!?! My husband could see the problem but I couldn’t, I relied on the books too much and never believed that I knew best with my baby. The net result of this conversation was that my husband made me promise never ever to read a parenting book again because I was a brilliant mum and I just needed to trust my instincts and stop questioning myself. I have never picked up another parenting book since then and I have never looked back.
Someone once gave me a great piece of advice:
Let your baby be the manual, not a book.
I know what it’s like. You have a new baby who doesn’t know about the big wide world, you don’t know what to do, and daddy doesn’t know what to do. So what do you do? The answer is simple and it is not supplied by a manual of any kind. One very important person in this can tell you exactly what to do… YOUR BABY. You just need to listen.
If you sit back, and really listen to what your baby is telling you, you will become fluent in the language of your little one (and his/her language will be different to every other child’s, including their brothers and sisters). Listen to the cries (because different ones mean different things), look at his posture and body language, trial and error, but most of all trust your instincts, they will be right! No book can tell you how to do this, because no two babies communicate to their mum in the same way.
If he wants to sleep, let him sleep for as long as he likes. If he isn’t tired when you think he ‘should’, don’t force him to sleep because it just stresses everyone out. Some babies sleep most of the time, others very little. Every one is different and only your baby can tell you how his body clock works, not a book. One size never fits all – so the books can’t possibly be right for all babies.
If he wants to feed, let him feed. If one day he wants to feed every 3 hours, great, but the next day he might want to feed every half hour. This is fine if it’s what his body is telling him. Again, every baby is different, so trust your instincts not what is ‘textbook’ behaviour.
Don’t worry too much about routines. Following your baby’s own body clock will lead to your baby getting into it’s own routine much quicker than if you impose your routine on it. Plus everyone’s happy and there is less crying.
In summary, too much information from too many books is dangerous. If you must read a parenting book, pick just one and take everything in that book with a bucket load (not just a pinch) of salt. Your child is different to every other one, (s)he will have his or her own way of telling you what is needed. Any nobody will know your baby better than you, so trust your instincts, don’t worry and leave yourself the time to enjoy being a mum.
I have written a few baby related guides, why don’t you have a look at some of my others.