When the wee lad was born, we had read all about the baby’s development, up until that point. I mean, that I had read everything there was to read about the pregnancy, including what was happening to the baby and what was happening to me. There was so much to focus on, and it didn’t actually cross my mind that I should read the next chapter, i.e. what happens when the baby is actually there.
To be honest, I had also skipped the chapter that was focusing on the birth, as I found it too scary! I was just so caught up in the moment, and there was so much information to deal with that I didn’t have the capacity to read about the next steps.
So, when we got home from the hospital, we had to start quickly reading about what to do now and what to expect from this little person. And, in addition to reading, there was no lack of “helpful” suggestions from family and friends on what kind of routine we should follow. And, of course, there was the advice from health workers and also from the people working in the “baby shops”. (I was this close to losing my mind!)
The “official” advice in Norway is that babies should be fed on demand – if he is hungry, he should be fed. Sounds fair enough, but how do you know if he is hungry, or not? I was told that I would hear the difference in his cry. (Imagine how bad I felt as a mother when I couldn’t hear any difference!)
So, when he cried we fed him. This was exhausting, as he cried a lot. So, after some more advice and as the lad got bigger, we managed to get into a feeding routine. And, we were so proud with ourselves!
Then, there was the issue of the sleeping arrangements. Should we “co-sleep” (when the baby sleeps in the mums’ bed), or should he sleep in his own bed? And, what type of bed should he have: a little cot or a big cot? Should we have a Moses basket for when the baby sleeps in the daytime, or is it ok for him to sleep in his cot in the daytime?
And, can he sleep in the pram? (Or, would we need a special pram with extra ventilation for the baby to sleep in, which a shop assistant insisted?) Should the baby be swaddled, or not? (Again, I was just about to lose my mind with all these questions!)
Don’t even get me started on how to choose a pram!
We found that advice differs from country to country, so between my parents in Norway, my parents-in-law in the UK, and my brother-in-law in California, we were so lucky that we got lots of different advice. We felt that we could pick and choose what suited us best. But, at the hospital we were told to be careful about listening to advice from other countries, as they may not be as good as the “official Norwegian guidelines” – but why would the advice given in Norway be any better than advice in other countries? So that made me even more confused! (And, as a new mom, I was not at the point, yet, where I trusted own opinion.)
So, we decided to get some books to figure out what was “correct”. One of the books actually made me cry. It suggested to follow a strict routine when it comes to feeding, eating and nappy changing; and, it was only when the baby was about 3 months old that the routine would allow me to go for a walk!
I totally panicked, and my husband kindly took the book away from me. The other book was a bit more flexible and just gave a rough outline for a routine. It actually allowed me to go for walks. But, I still didn’t feel all that comfortable with it. In the end, we decided to try to use “common sense”.
Now that we had the routines (kind of) under control, I started to read another book, this time about the development of the baby. It read that this month the baby should smile, then the next month he should try to put his toes in his mouth, and then he should try to turn around and so on, and so on. Imagine my worry when he turned over before he even tried to eat his toes! I actually found myself helping him put his toes in his mouth (something he found really funny, so I managed to make him laugh and made myself feel like a good mother again).
I stopped reading baby books all together, and I feel so much better for it. I don’t actually know when he will get his next tooth, when he is supposed to start walking, or when he will say his first word. All I know is that he can now finally hold his own bottle (at 9 months old) and that he has lots of teeth already, and I am sure he will get some more…at some point. And hopefully, he will have started both, walking and talking, by the time he starts school (as most kids do). So, I will try not to worry too much about when it will all happen.
What was your best piece of new parent advice? Did you find a certain baby book helpful? Please share with World Moms Blog in the comments below!
Photo credit to http://www.flickr.com/photos/pedroklien/2853811359/. This photo has a creative commons attribution license.