When you become pregnant with your first child, something strange happens. Women from all walks of life seem to magically appear, like moths attracted to light, ready to spout their words of wisdom and advice…whether you want it or not. On top of that, there seems to be endless articles and books that will tell everything you need to know about how your first year of life will be with your newborn. If you’re anything like me, you read oodles of them. Yet, in the end, all they caused was more anxiety about parenthood.
Thankfully, it’s been a whole year since then, and I’m happy to announce I continue to be a proud owner of a still living, healthy little boy. Nobody died and nobody is broken (which is a significant improvement over my attempts at keeping plants alive). I ignored tons of advice from many folks with good intentions because sometimes you just gotta trust that you know what rules are best for your newborn.
Everywhere I read and everyone I talked to insisted that tummy time was absolutely vital for my son’s development. If he didn’t have at least X amount of minutes per day, he would not develop the strength to crawl, roll, lift his head, and I guess he would just be a non-moving infant forever. This was completely silly. My son got plenty of time to practice lifting his head and working his core as I held him. He HATED tummy time every single time I put him down for it…and I hated forcing him to do it.
So, I held him instead and guess what? He had zero problems or delays in his milestones. He rolled over early and crawled right on time. Not once has he had any problems playing with toys, reaching out for things, or grasping and manipulating things in his hands. Forcing your child to lay on the ground for a certain period of time just didn’t work for us. What’s the point of making both of us miserable when we could snuggle and play together comfortably from the couch or bed?
Nobody in my family ever stressed on this, but let me tell you, it is everywhere online. “Don’t use a bottle until at least 6 weeks old. Don’t use a pacifier. Blah blah blah! If you do your kid will never accept the breast again!”
The dreaded words, “nipple confusion” is just about everywhere. It’s the idea that switching from breast to bottle or pacifier will ultimately result in your child preferring the fake nipple over your real ones. Maybe this was a thing for some people, but not for us. After 2 weeks of screaming from my son and severe exhaustion on our part, we were all too happy to plug his face with a pacifier. Additionally, we ended up having to use bottles from time to time. Yes he ate faster from a bottle than from a breast, but he never refused to eat from me. Now again, maybe this is a sign my son had a good temperament. However, I know that I won’t be stressing out about this for my next kid. Too much anxiety for a “maybe” problem.
Breast or Formula
This brings me to my next point. The arguments out there over feeding your child are absolutely insane! People actually get ugly about this topic, as if it’s anyone else’s business what you choose feed your child. (Don’t get me started about the puree and baby led weaning debate. That’s its own can of worms you can read about here.)To be honest, I preferred to breast feed my child. It was cheaper, more convenient, and felt natural for me. My son latched wonderfully from the get go and the only hiccup I had was when my milk was coming in.
That being said, I supplemented with formula from time to time because there were periods where I couldn’t keep up with the demand. I also struggled with supply when I returned to work. My employer worked with me to provide me all the time I needed for breastfeeding. However, I found the logistics of pumping 3-4 times per day at work was still too difficult for me. We eventually slipped into a routine of feeding only at night…and then slowly weaned to nothing but formula at around 7.5 months.
In any case, I remember crying so many times (damned hormones) over not being able to provide him everything he needed. I remember the mom guilt I had at having to supplement, thinking I was harming him in some way because I was unable to keep up. I stressed obsessively…until I saw him growing big, strong, and healthy even though he had the dreaded “formula.” He was satisfied and content. Suddenly, none of it mattered anymore. This nonsense will not cause me any more stress from here on out.
Sterilizing and Purifying
You know what else everyone told me I had to do? Sterilize all my bottles and equipment. Plus, you can only use bottled water or distilled water when you make formula or else you child WILL DIE A TERRIBLE BACTERIA RIDDEN DEATH. Right? Except that never happened (I wonder how we managed to survive as a species without the Pur filter).
I sterilized my bottles once when I opened the package for the first time by washing them in the dishwasher. That was it. And I also used tap water for his bottles…like right out of the tap…not boiled or anything *gasp*!! Fortunately for us, he never once so much as coughed because of it. Wanna know a secret? I also let him drink milk that had set out for longer than an hour and reused bottles without washing them with soap. Don’t tell anyone, though. It’s our secret.
I agonized over this when Bean was born. I worried he woke often and didn’t get enough sleep throughout the day, as he was a terrible napper. For months, I read articles and blogs discussing how to get your baby to sleep longer and how you should have them scheduled, “eat, play, nap!” I read that he needed to be getting X hours per night, X hours per day, which varied drastically depending on how many months old he was. Then there was the dreaded sleep regression. I even cried because my son struggled to sleep through the night for months. How was he supposed to go through a sleep regression when he struggled to sleep as it was?
Eventually, I got so sick of reading about all the requirements and just let my son guide me. Maybe this was also because I had just gotten so damned tired I didn’t have the energy any longer for the stress. If he woke to feed in the night, be it for hunger or comfort, I fed him. Conversely, if he slept through a feeding, I let him.
I won’t lie and say I never had another worry again. In fact, when he was about 11 months old I started to wonder if he would ever sleep fully through the night. Then, something magical happened. He just did it…and then he did it again…and again. Most nights now, he sleeps through and when he wakes, puts himself back to sleep. Sometimes, if he loses his pacifier, he will wake us up for a new one. However, this happens less and less as the weeks go by. He even weaned himself naturally from the night feeds as he ate more and more solids. In the end, I should have just listened to my son and let him guide me all along.
This is another lovely piece of advice people seem hell bent on telling everyone. “You should never let your child sleep in the carseat, or sit in it longer than X amount of time per day.” When he sleeps, he is supposed to be lying flat only. Even if I thought about doing this, I don’t think I would have maintained my sanity. With the lack of napping and my own sleep deprivation, if my son fell asleep in the carseat, I let him freaking sleep. Sometimes I even drove around until he fell asleep. He didn’t grow up with a hunchback or have deformed limbs. His head wasn’t misshapen nor did he suffocate because of his posture. He was just fine and I was a little less insane. Win win.
I also used the exact same laundry detergent as we normally use on our clothes. I didn’t buy anything special. Despite everyone telling me that I had to have something unscented and made for sensitive skin, Bean never suffered for it. Now, Bean did get diagnosed with a mild form of eczema around 4 months that fabric softener seemed to make worse. However, once I discontinued using the fabric softener, his eczema was easily controlled.
Now, I’m not saying there’s no merit in using unscented detergent or even the best baby detergent out there. I’m just saying it would have made no difference in our case except to empty our wallets a bit more and make laundry more annoying in general. I really like my life to be simplified, so you can bet your butt I won’t be worrying about this for my next child either.
What types of advice did you get with your first? Was there anything you would do differently? Let me know in the comments below!