Parenting, especially with your first born, is a learning experience. From the moment you find out you’re expecting you’re under a lot of pressure to get everything right. After all, this little life depends on you and the last thing you want to do is put your child at risk. Like, even though I consider myself kind of a natural at this, I’ve still questioned my parenting skills at least a dozen times already. I think it’s a natural part of learning the job. Others realize this, too. Which is why, I think, there’s always a steady stream of people who are so eager to share their advice out of love and experience.
But, as I’ve learned, not all advice is good advice – and not all advice is wanted advice.
Let me start out with this: I appreciate advice from all sources. Young mothers like myself, mommy blogs, even my mother-in-law ;). Each person brings a new perspective and comes from a place of wanting me to succeed at parenting. However, sometimes people confuse “well meaning suggestions for the care and maintenance of baby” with “the only 100% scientifically proven way to keep your baby alive ever.”
One bit of advice that I’d get quite often is to just let the baby cry; eventually he’ll fall asleep. I know there have been millions of mothers who’ve raised happy, healthy babies following this method, but it’s just not my style. I’m more of a scoop him up and cuddle him until he feels better kind of mum. In fact, one of the most amazing things so far has been getting to know him – his mannerisms, his cries, his facial expressions. I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out the difference between “I’m gassy and it’s making me uncomfortable” and “I left you a surprise in my diaper” or “I’m hungry, bring on the boobies.” As a parent, you have the right and responsibility to pick and choose what advice works for you and your baby.
So, what has worked for me? Well, weeding out the weird and just plain bad advice I’ve received so far, here are some bits of wisdom that I’ve taken to heart:
- Remember to look after yourself, too. If you aren’t healthy, your baby won’t be healthy either.
- If you’re breastfeeding, take care of your breasts and nipples. They’re keeping your baby alive. Show some respect.
- It’s amazing how little babies can actually do for themselves. Like regulating body temperature; if you have to put on two layers of clothing to keep warm, your baby should be wearing three.
- Find time to spend with your partner. Even if it’s just leaving baby with grandma to go grab a cup of coffee. With a newborn, any alone time feels romantic.
- These first few weeks are the hardest but the most precious. Cherish every moment – from every hungry boy cry to every mommy-baby snuggle.
Are these pretty basic tips? Absolutely. At the end of the day, you determine your parenting style. Not me. Not someone of the Internet. Not your mother-in-law. If you and your baby are happy and healthy, the rest is just the details.
Photo Credit: Stefania Orru