You’ve just had a new baby and you feel excited, overwhelmed and extremely emotional. If you are a brand new parent, this new world is especially daunting. You just want to do the best you can and you take each day as it comes. This is a completely new world to you and the people around you will offer their help and advice. However, we all know that some of this advice is just horrendous for a new parent to digest. They ask you questions about what way your baby should be behaving and what way your baby should be sleeping or eating. They say that they wouldn’t have done that with their baby and tell you all about how great their own baby is or was. They have the best intentions, but you need to know how to deal with these, mentally.
What type of questions and advice?
Ok, when I had all my babies it was a common theme.
“Is he a good baby?”
Sorry excuse me? What warrants a good baby? He’s not drawing on the walls or pulling my hair just yet. He hasn’t used curse words, although sometimes I think he’s thinking some curse words. My baby cries, does that mean he’s being bold? Oh no, I better do something to fix the boldness in him before he grows up to be a drug dealer or serial killer. God forbid. Another question that used to drive me insane was:
“Has he settled for you?”
I still struggle with understanding this. I really don’t know what this is supposed to mean. I believe that it’s related to “the routine” and being “normal”. I believe that it means that the expect babies to sleep 8 hours a night and feed every 4 hours during the day without making so much as a noise in between. That’s a settled baby. Ok, these babies don’t exist. At least not in my experience. My babies all got up during the night. My babies all had a feeding “schedule” which was whenever the hell they were hungry. Babies can only communicate with cries and a mother or father will know their baby’s cries and what they mean. Sometimes you could do everything to stop a baby from crying and he still will cry. Don’t feel like you’re doing something wrong just because someone tells you that he should be “settled”. It’s all rubbish! You know your baby and what’s best for your baby so don’t get hung up on the “routine”. Throw other people’s expectations in the bin.
“When I had you, I never had to do that”
Ah, the common one from the mother and mother in law. You will also get similar responses from your grandparents, aunts and older friends. They will say that 30 years ago, their babies slept through the night and there was no such thing as picking them up for “cuddles”. Do you know what answer I have for this one? Evolution my dear. There is no way in hell that humans born today are the same as humans that were born 30 years ago. They may well have been amazing quiet babies 30 years ago but a lot has changed since then. People that say babies are the same are deluded. Think about how we have all changed as a society, how we eat, how we exercise, how food production has changed. Do you really think that this doesn’t change the babies that are born? Babies are bound to be different from this fact alone in my opinion because humans evolve and change so I would throw this comparison out the window.
“You’re spoiling him”
This one is the real heartbreaker. I used to hold my babies a lot. My third child, my sweet little girl had reflux and I started babywearing. I held her a lot, just to ensure that she would sleep and she would always feel better in a sling, upright. I believe that this is the way that babies are meant to be carried. Do you really think that people in cave times or whatever had buggies? Do you think that they had cots? No, they carried their babies. The closeness of mother means that they can feel your heartbeat just like when they were in the womb. It’s unbelievably calming and natural. I would rather wear a baby all day than struggle to get them to “settle” in a cot for 10 minutes. You cannot spoil a baby in my opinion. They just want their mother, they want to be fed and they want to be warm. Anything outside of that is uncomfortable and foreign to them. You are not spoiling your baby, don’t worry.
“He’s too fat”
This is so irritating. Alright, if he really was like a fat, obese monster who couldn’t move his head due to extra chins or something, I get it. However, a friend was recently told that her 3 month old was eating too much and had too much weight on. He looks like the picture of health and clearly loves mama milk. He is the picture of happiness. If your baby is eating well, it’s a bloody fantastic thing! The reverse is horrendous. Once babies start moving, this will come off. Believe me, toddlers never ever stop moving. I would only worry about weight when they are past 2 years old. You know your baby, you know if or when he might be gaining too much weight. Let this go through your brain and just let your eyes glaze over looking at the person telling you this and just picture yourself headbutting them in the face.
This one is tough. There is such a thing as baby blues for the first 6 weeks after your baby is born. A GP generally would not diagnose post natal depression until those 6 weeks have passed. The reason being is that your hormones are trying to regulate back to the way they were before so you’re going to be a little topsy turvy. On top of that, you won’t be sleeping very well so you need to take this on board. Even after that period, you are going to be super emotional. Sleep deprivation can be detrimental to your mental health. If someone tells you that you’re depressed, do listen to this. They may be completely wrong but don’t fob it off completely. Listen to your husband/close friend/relative. They know you better than anyone. If they are telling you this, you should go and talk to your GP. See what he determines. If some mad stranger is saying this to you, you can tell them where to go. I cried one day in the local shopping centre because my daughter got sick all over me and my baby carrier. I had tears rolling down my face and I just turned into the wall to try to compose myself. I got no sleep the night before and she was not feeding well at all. If a stranger had said anything to me at that point, I may have flipped out there and then. Headbutting is not recommended when wearing a baby though.
How to handle it
How you handle all of the above and more, is entirely up to you as a person and your character. Some people are going to let these comments get to them. I know I did when I had my first baby. Over time, you get into the swing of this parenting thing and you know how to listen to your own instincts rather than the advice of others. Choose who you listen to carefully. If it’s someone you love and trust, take it in, consider it or give them an honest answer back. If it’s someone you barely know or have a good relationship with then it’s better to say nothing sometimes. You can tell them why you’re doing it your way but it depends on you as a person. I wasn’t strong enough for this on my first baby. I certainly am now. I used to just let them go on and I’d just agree. Some of these comments can be hurtful. You could try everything to help your baby get through a night’s sleep or feed successfully through a day and then someone says something and it makes you feel like you are doing everything wrong. You are not doing everything wrong. Please know that you know best for your baby, you are doing the right thing and bottom line is, you are doing an amazing job. Well done xxx
Reality Mammy xxx