From time to time, “breaking news” stories about baby and childcare pop up in my Facebook newsfeed. Articles about screen time, testing in schools, breast feeding versus bottle feeding…that kind of thing. I’m a researcher by nature and spent hours, days, even, pouring over baby care books and articles starting literally the weekend I discovered I was pregnant with my first child, so of course, I click on them. And I read. And I shake my head, lately.
Baby care advice has changed a lot over time. My mom still has the “infant care” booklet that her mother received at the hospital in 1956 when she was born. Just for the heck of it, when I was pregnant, we read it. It suggested buying a small juicer to juice fresh oranges for the newborn (!!!) as a nutritional supplement. It supplied a recipe for a corn syrup and condensed milk baby formula. In other words, it horrified me. However, my mom is still here, as is my grandmother, who was born at home to a mother with little to no prenatal care. My great-grandmother lived to the ripe old age of 97, and regaled me with tales of her mother instructing her and her siblings to take some fresh, gummy tar from the roads and chew it to clean out their teeth. I kid you not, folks. Ninety. Seven. Years.
You see, we parents want to do what’s right. Now, I’m not saying feed your newborn freshly-squeezed orange juice (but if you have any on hand, you can feel free to send it my way), and certainly don’t go out and chew tar from the road. But what I am saying is maybe take all the “advice” you hear with a grain of salt. No one has all the answers of how to raise the perfect child. Why? Partly because you already have the perfect child (every parent does!), and partly because a lot of child-rearing is situational…like this swaddling article, for example, that I came across on this past Monday that links swaddling babies to hip dysplasia. I don’t want to cause hip dysplasia, but if I didn’t swaddle my second-born (my first hated it!), he literally would not have slept. Ever. His arms used to fly out thanks to that pesky newborn startle reflex, and the swaddle was the only thing that saved us. Telling me to put him down on his back without a swaddle would have been like saying to me “Hey, don’t sleep for three months, new mom, and see how it goes for you!” The benefit of me (and him!) getting sleep was worth the tiny risk that swaddling supposedly comes with.
So if you’re reading this and you’re a new parent, know that it will all be okay. I won’t tell you to ignore the baby books, because I know from experience that you want to do the best you can and will read everything you can get your hands on, but if you do what you think is best for your child and listen to your inner voice, everything will probably work out fine. Enjoy your baby, and don’t worry about following all the “experts”.