It is exciting to bear another life inside you. Pregnancy and baby birth bring a feeling of euphoria, like never before.
However, all hell breaks loose when you share the news with the world. Almost everyone has something to say to you. The truckloads of advice that comes through is confusing, exasperating and simply crazy. Some of it is actually self-contradictory. One day they would say the complete opposite of what they said earlier. ‘Get a pram to push the child around, you will hurt your back by carrying him all day’. That goes on a day they sympathise with your overworked schedule. The next day they say,’Chunk the pram. Hold him in your arms while he is little and cherish the moments. These days will be gone before you know’. Huh? What are you supposed to do exactly?
Take some, ignore some.
Here is an easy list of what you must straight-away ignore
Are you co-sleeping? They say, the baby will never learn to sleep on his own. The couple can have years of disturbance in between them.
We say, no way. Holding the baby, rocking him to sleep or cuddling around him does not spoil him. It only makes him grow fond of you and love you completely. By being emotionally available to them, you make them become emotionally available to you. Nothing beats the joy of holding him close to your breath, watch him wander off in his dreams and feel his baby smell. Who would want to give that up? The child will outgrow the need to co-sleep on his own. Until then, don’t fret.
Let him cry
If you give in to your child’s demands, he will take advantage of your vulnerability. Let him cry if he has to. He will learn to self-soothe.
Oh really? Are children so manipulative? They want to coax you into helping them, so that they can get the maximum out of you? We beg to differ. It is proven now that crying out method is damaging to the child’s nerves and psychology. You have to be around to meet his needs. He is so little to meet his own. Yes, there could be times when the demands are unreasonable and you can use your judgement. You can actually let him cry. However, if he is feeling scared at night, roll over to his bed. If he is too tired to walk, give him a lift. Don’t let him cry it out.
Feed every four hours
You need to set a healthy body clock. Ensure a meal-time every four hours and never feed at night. Adults do that too. Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks and Dinner – nice and simple. And if the child is not hungry when the clock asks him to be? Force it down his throat. Use screens to distract him and feed him forcefully. If nothing works, shout and show who is the boss.
Unfortunately this advice is taken up so widely, it sounds like gospel truth. Why can’t we let the child decide. Its called demand feeding. Feed him when he asks. It can be every two hours or every five hours. Every child is different. Some take small meals. Some gobble up twice as much. And their digestion system is geared for that. Can we not let nature take its course? Why do we have to decide for the child? We won’t know if his stomach is full, gassy, acidic or simply not demanding. Let him work out his meal schedules. As he grows, it will automatically get adjusted to adult routines. Until then, he is the boss.
Time the Screen
That’s an important advice. Let us admit. Go by the clock and shout ‘switch off’ as the TV crosses one hour of streaming. Snatch the remote and put the screen off because somebody said – at one year, no more than one hour.
That sounds mean by every standard. Imagine being pulled out of an interesting activity without warning. Children can’t look the clock. Don’t be a bully. How about restricting screen time with more understandable limits. Lets just say, you can watch any two cartoons of your choice and then switch off after that. At the back of your mind, you know two cartoons sum up to one hour. Sometimes, the TV guys will run a marathon of Peppa Pig stories and you might end up showing two hours of screen. Can we just call that day an exception instead of acting out after one hour? How about warnings? Can we tell them it will be time to switch off in the next 10 minutes and let them get prepared. Every day cannot be the same. Screens need not be timed each day; they only need to be adjusted fairly over a week or longer. Battle won.
Google it up
Save your trip to the doctor or decide the best course of action for your children based on what Google says. So handy!
On the internet, anyone can publish anything. The googled facts cannot guide you with the upbringing of your child. For example, an article will back an authoritative style of parenting and it may not suit your child’s nature. If you feel like being lenient with him/her, go ahead. You are the expert. No one else gets to say anything on the matter. With time, things evolve and so do parenting patterns. Using the age-old recycled parenting tips take away the essence of parenting.
Take it with a pinch of salt
Every advice may not always work for your kind of situation. What works for one family at one point in time, may be absolutely worthless in another era with a different generation.
Besides, you will find polarised views on every advice. Take co-sleeping for instance. Research, if any, can be heavily biased to suit the funding authority. Some advice has vested commercial interest behind them. It will be sensible to always check the source and alter the recipe to suit yourself. Sleeping early everyday may be a great idea but you can let your children stretch a little when cousins come over. How about being flexible?