And other myths…
How many times do you read or hear ‘my baby slept through the night?’, or ‘my baby eats everything on their plate?’ or ‘my baby took a bottle no problem? as well as many other phrases that to be honest, just make you feel like a pretty crap parent.
We’ve been so lucky with our little one (he’s now 9 months old) that despite having some challenges with feeding when he was born (he had a severe tongue tie that was divided on day 6), he’s a really happy and calm baby for the most part! We really can’t complain.
He doesn’t sleep through the night, he won’t take a bottle and weaning has been hard as he seemed to gag on most things we gave him at the start and then when he found his independence, hated being fed from a spoon as he wanted to do it himself! All of this is perfectly normal though and the important thing to remind yourself (and other very helpful well-wishers) is that EVERY baby is different, there is no one size fits all and it doesn’t mean your baby is broken!
The problem with social media is that sometimes, we don’t always see the full picture. I could tell you that last night, he went to bed at 5:30pm and he woke up at 6:30am this morning! That would sound like an incredible night wouldn’t it? This is true – however, he woke at 9:30pm grizzly (teething and a cold!) and needed a feed, then again at 11:30pm and then again until I brought him into bed with us at 1am and then we co-slept/fed most of the night until he was ready to ‘wake up’ properly at 6:30am.
So what has worked for us and stopped us from losing our sanity?
- Stop comparing! This will absolutely be your undoing! The amount of times I’ve questioned things we’re doing because other peoples babies are doing it different or easier or earlier than our little boy. They are ALL different and they will do things at their own pace! Carl, my husband always reminds me that every time things have been tough, we then get through that phase. You will too! How many adults do you know that don’t sleep, eat or drink? I imagine its none! Every baby gets there in their own time!
- Sleep: There are so many sleep books/consultants/blogs out there. Please do yourself one favour and do not stress about this! Read the advice, take the bits that work for you but don’t put yourself under enormous amounts of pressure! Sarah Ockwell-Smith wrote a book called The Gentle Sleep Book and this is such an amazing resource. One of my lovely NCT mum friends recommended this and I hope it may help you too. I recently attended a @BusyLizzy_Elmbridge workshop where Leigh Swanborough from Born To Sleep shared her tips for baby sleep. She had a different approach to other workshops i’d been to (cos lets face it, sleep deprived parents will go to every workshop and buy every book on the shelf in the hope it’ll be the magic cure needed to get your baby sleeping through the night!) as she was very gentle, realistic and also acknowledged how every baby is different. She shared a really useful graphic that demonstrated the ‘ideal’ sleep times/gaps your baby should be having. Again she reiterated that this was not a your baby ‘should’ be doing this! I’ll post the graphic below.
- Bottles: I can’t tell you how many hours/days I’ve stressed about trying to get him to take a bottle as well as how many bottles we’ve tried – we’ve tried slow flow, fast flow, breast shaped bottles, bottles with teats like a boob – he just hasn’t been interested. It’s not that he can’t do it (although in the early months he did gag and splutter on every try) he just preferred breast feeding! Its been 9 months now and we’ve still not successfully managed to drop a feed in place of a bottle. The best advice I can give you is to be ok with this. I’ve been so upset and worked up that he wouldn’t take one but ultimately, it’s not forever and I know when he stops and doesn’t depend on me quite so much anymore, I’ll miss that time! I know it is much easier said than done. Unfortunately, my milk has a high level of lipase which means it doesn’t freeze well and we’ve only just started trying formula as we thought he might have a dairy allergy (thankfully he didn’t!) so this has been a bit of a learning curve too! The first one we tried, HIPP Organic he reacted to for some reason! So this morning, Ocado have delivered Cow & Gate and I’m pleased to report, he’s taken 1 oz (yep that’s it!) but no reaction. We’ll just keep trying little and often and eventually we’ll get there – he’ll take water in a sip cup and so we’ll try milk this way if the bottles don’t work out. If not, he’ll be 1 soon and then we can just give him cow’s milk.
- Weaning: Everyone told me how fun weaning would be and honestly my stomach was in knots for a good couple of months when we started because he would gag and every time I’d panic. BUT….having attended another helpful @BusyLizzy_Elmbridge First Aid workshop with Mini First Aid, so long as he was only going red, watery eyed and making noise I managed to refrain from leaping across the table to tip him upside down and he would eventually spit out whatever he’d gagged on. That said, you do need to remember ‘If they go red, let them go ahead, if they go blue, they need you’ – always trust your instinct and if you’re not sure, tilt them forward and give them a pat on the back. The one other really important tip I learned at that workshop was that you should avoid sticking your fingers in their mouth to fish it out as you could end up pushing it further back – they need to develop their tongue muscles by pushing it forward. Now we’re almost up to 3 regular meals a day – he eats some of it, most of it gets chucked on the floor or mushed into the table/high chair – and I’m ok with that now and don’t stress. This is a time where the phrase ‘if he’s hungry, he’ll eat’ is actually true! Remember: Food before one is just for fun and most importantly they are learning new textures, flavours and techniques! Whats interesting, I thought we were behind on this but this week received an email from Bounty ‘Your 9 month old: they will now be moving from purees onto more chunky textures and will soon be up to 3 meals a day) – again, I’ve put myself under enormous pressure when I didn’t need to!
- Parent guilt and feelings of inadequacy: Being a new mum is so incredible but it is also one of the toughest things i’ve ever done! Some days you feel like you’re literally winning at life and other days, its as much as you can do to put clean clothes on and have a shower whilst caring for this tiny human. I went to an event earlier in the week put on by the amazing Miriam from @parenttribedotcom with Zoe Blaskey @motherkind_zoe and Jessica Huie @jessica_huie_ said ‘I always try to remember myself as a little girl and to treat my inner little girl with kindness when I am feeling stressed’ – this is something I’m not very good at. I don’t accept help well, I don’t ask for help and I am, though i’ve never admitted it before, a bit of a control freak! I hate that feeling of helplessness but sometimes when the world around you is spinning out of control, you need to learn to let go and be at peace with the chaos – this is something my husband reminds me almost daily! I’m so lucky to have such a great support network around me and I would say this to you if you feel things are tough, surround yourself with people who lift you up; who make you a sandwich when you pop round for a coffee because even though you say you’re not hungry, they know you’ve probably not eaten anything that day; you need people in your corner that have your back and will check in just to say hey.
- Returning to work: I don’t have any words of wisdom on this one other than to say, it will be tough, be kind to yourself. A few of my NCT friends have gone back already and they said it was hard having been solely with the baby all the time they were off BUT that seeing the pictures/updates from the childminder/nursery/husbands/ grandparents/other caregivers looking after their little ones whilst they work and seeing how happy and smily and content their babies are definitely made it easier. As things stand, I’m due back in January. I’m not in any way excited to go back but I do know that it will be so good for his development to be surrounded by other babies and to be socialising/mixing well and will make our time together as a family so much more precious – and on second thoughts, it will be good for my development to be surrounded by other adults and to be socialising/mixing well!
So in short, no two babies are the same! Trust your parenting instinct. Take the advice people give you with the well meaning that was intended but don’t take it to heart. And in case no one has told you lately, you’re doing an amazing job! ❤️
What other things have worked for you? What other things have you found tough? How do you balance the amazing times with the overwhelm? I’d love you to message me with other things you think would help other parents so I can share them!