You always hear that babies don’t come with manuals.
But bookstores continue to house shelves of “How To Books” on childrearing. When I had a baby I took to it like signing up for a course in college. I read tons of these books: Babywise, What to Expect When You Are Expecting and of course the sequel, What to Expect the First Year, Caring For Your Baby and Child Birth to Age 5. I folded pages, highlighted passages and studied HARD! I figured if I learned all that these books contained, I would be the best parent in the world and raise the Most. Perfect. Child.
Grinning yet?? 🙂
What really happened…
After reading all the books, I had calculated all the dates that my young daughter “should” have been doing things. Now, I don’t mean the major health milestones that our pediatricians look for, I mean the “other” things. For instance, by 3 months a baby should sleep through the night. By 6 months old they should say good-bye to their pacifier. By 2.5 years old they should be fully potty trained.
I was a wreck, because my daughter was BEHIND. There were so many things that she wasn’t doing yet … I kept setting goals and then my baby would not meet them. I felt inadequate as a mother, and I was disappointed that my baby wasn’t doing “as well” as other babies her age.
Basically, I was crazy. My baby is now 8 and I look back to that time and think how could I have ever placed all those expectations and goals on a little being who was just figuring out that she had hands?
That brings me to my list. This list represents 7 little mommy truths I wish someone would have whispered in my ear 8 years ago to help me along on those first few years in Mommyhood. I am no expert in child rearing, but if there is another mother out there as lost as I was, this little bit of “my truth” might just help her through another day.
#1: Getting Baby to Bed.
If you have to sooth your baby to sleep prior to placing them in the crib, do not fear. You will not be tied to 18 years of rocking your child to sleep. They will eventually sleep on their own, in their own bed, and be an independent person. For now, do what works for your family. Cry it out, rock to sleep, co-sleep. Discuss with your pediatrician and do what works — what matters is your family’s sanity. A baby for which “cry it out” works is not “better” than another baby that it doesn’t work for. People are different and so are babies. All babies grow up and become people who sleep on their own.
#2: Limited diet.
If your baby only eats baby applesauce, pears and rice cereal and turns their nose to the mashed vegetables — its okay! You may read that babies who don’t eat vegetables are prone to not like vegetables when they are older. Thankfully, I have found this to be not true. Be patient. Perhaps right now your baby is not interested. They may never like any mashed baby veggies. But when they are older and try carrots with ranch for the first time, it may be their new favorite thing. Those toddlers who refuse to eat anything but toddler food, all grow up to be mature adults who have wide ethnic food tastes and cravings. Try a little variety here and there and if it doesn’t work, just wait awhile and try again. One day it will happen, I promise.
#3: The car seat.
I too have looked longingly at the family whose baby sits content for an hour in a car seat at a dinner party, in a restaurant – ANYWHERE. I wondered time and again if it was the carseat brand I purchased. My experience: gut wrenching high pitched crying and struggling in the car seat the ENTIRE time … Even when driving. On a road trip. For 2 hours. So even though it seems all babies everywhere love their car seats, there are a few of us mothers out there with the exception. You are not alone.
#4: The “Good Baby” label.
On planes, people would comment, “You have such a GOOD baby!” This comment was always only stated after the flight was over and my child did not kick, cry, or have a temper tantrum on the flight. Then they were labeled “good”. If my baby happened to act her age (i.e. cry, need a diaper change, teething fussiness) the “good baby” label was never provided. Don’t fall for looking for that label as I did. ALL babies are good. So the next time you are out with your children you can just concentrate on their needs and don’t place value on bystanders’ opinions.
#5: Sleeping through the Night.
This is the motherlode of all first year goals. The books say 3 months, other mothers say surely by 6 months. My experience …. 2 YEARS! Some nuts are tougher to crack than others :). It will happen, someday. For some that day is soon (lucky gals) and for others it takes more time. One day your child will do something else earlier than another baby. We all get our shining moments!
#6: Baby Phases.
This is a huge mommy truth that you may as well get used to from day one… Almost everything in childhood, whether it’s great sleeping habits or difficultly in listening to mommy, will pass. Babies go through so many phases, large and small. Once you get used to a certain routine, they will undoubtedly change it. Teething will stop a great run of sleeping through the night. Pining for Daddy will eventually change to wanting Mommy again. I too wished for a routine, but babies like to keep you guessing! So enjoy whatever phase your baby is in… before it changes.
I know there are strong feelings on both sides of this topic. In my experience, I had trouble breastfeeding and I really, REALLY wanted to. After trying for weeks, I ended up using formula to give my baby her needed nutrition. I read that with the bottle I was headed down a slippery slope straight out of the motherhood gates and I was SCARED. I want to reassure you that yes, breastfeeding IS great. And if you need or want to formula feed, that will be great too. I can’t tell a breastfed baby from a formula fed baby when I look around at my 3rd grader’s classroom. Thankfully they all turn out okay, either way.
Yes, I am not a physician nor have a background in child development, but I am a mother with real experiences to share from my time with my kids. Do you have any secrets from your experience to share with other Moms?