Monday, January 21, 2013

Mommy Mondays: Hugs and Cuddles

I'll be the first to admit I don't hold a lot of stock in "baby books."  Don't get me wrong, The Happiest Baby on the Block got us through those first few months, and I've got The Happiest Toddler on the Block  on order.  But I think the reason it worked for me, was because it confirmed my basic instincts.

For hundreds of years, prior to the advent of the printing press, parents were able to raise their children.  And although the infant mortality rate was higher back then, I'm pretty sure that was due to illness, not from infanticide when parents didn't know what to do with their screaming child.

I'm not a huge Jungian "collective unconscious" believer, but I have to believe that all that childrearing knowledge, passed down through community efforts, generation after generation, must have rubbed off somehow.  I really wanted to go into parenting trusting my instincts.

So where have my instincts led me? Are they that different from other parents? And how's it working out?
Set Realistic Expectations:
   This is one of my pet peeves.  And I'll admit I was guilty of not setting realistic expectations before Thatbaby arrived.  I remember talking to my friend L about my plan to have Thatboy feed the baby at night sometimes, trading off so we each got sleep.  Which is when L kindly informed me that my plan wasn't going to fly.  Because I'd have to get up and pump at that time anyway.  And then wash the bottles.
     I remember when Thatbaby was born, looking at him and thinking how perfect he was.  I know I'm not the only parent with that feeling.  And yet, for many, it only takes about 2 weeks before they start asking when their "perfect" baby is going to fix him/herself and sleep better at night.  Which isn't a realistic expectation at 2 weeks.  One of the things that everyone around me noted was how much more relaxed and less anxious I was after having Thatbaby.  My usual, anxiety filled self just wasn't worked up about anything, figuring that whatever was happening was probably normal.  Right now, I'm dealing with a mother at daycare who seem completely taken aback that her child gets sick from school.  Realistic expectations people.


Feeding I don't think it's a secret by now I'm an advocate of breastfeeding.  But even my own instincts in this realm have surprised me.  I was fairly certain that I was going to quit at 1 year.  And then 12 months came and went, and my instincts told me not to just deny him because of a number.  The same way I refused to quit night nursing just because he hit a certain weight and age.  Right now, we're still breastfeeding, but he's dropped down to two sessions a day.  And in those two sessions I feel good knowing I'm providing him extra immunity against flu season and extra nutrition during those toddler food strikes.  

     It's also been very important for me that he develop a healthy relationship with food.  He doesn't get rewarded with food treats for good behavior or bad days.  We don't force him to eat what he doesn't want to eat (again, why I'm thankful for nursing).  Thatbaby will have days where he's not very hungry and other days where he has 3 servings of a meal.  It all balances out in the end.

Holding: I actually got into an argument last week because someone tried to say there's no benefit to touch, physical contact, holding. And I don't mean physical benefit.  She basically said there's no emotional benefit to touch.  But we all know there is.  So this was one of my instinct ones.  Thatbaby needed to be held, a lot, when he was younger.  I think this kind of combines with the previous tenant.  In order to address his emotional needs, we held him.  A lot. It used to be said you spoiled a child by holding them.  And that has long been disproven.  Still, it is sometimes hard to balance your needs with your child's needs.  Which is why I am such a big proponent of baby wearing.  Because his needs get met, and so do mine.  And you know what?  Eventually Thatbaby didn't need to be held so much, as he naturally and developmentally became more independent.

SleepThis is a touchy subject for most parents.  Because we all want to sleep, and we all want our children to sleep well.  I'm not an advocate of sleep training, even though all my friends have done it in some respect.  But no one in my family did it, and we're all great sleepers (except when I'm pregnant).  I just can't believe that sleep, something everyone does and needs isn't an innate quality.  There's no "breathing training" or "blinking training."  And Thatbaby has really proven me true.  My friends who have sleep trained were able to brag about their children sleeping through the night much earlier than mine, but mine got there too.  By 11 months he was putting himself to sleep for naps, bed around the same time.  I've also found he sleeps great throughout the night - as long as he's healthy and comfortable, which means when he does wake up, I address his needs because I know something's up.  

 So how do you do it?  Do you go by instinct or by the book?  Are there things you do that are different than your peers?  Aspects of motherhood that you handle differently than you thought you would?


  1. I love your attitude towards child-rearing. I saw my mother raise my sister in much the same way and it just seems like the way to go. And is far less stressful than worrying whether you're constantly "doing it right". Whatever that means.

  2. Love it. We aren't sleep training N, mostly because I'm not sure what that even means and I figure he's doing what he's going to do. It's great to hear you are still breastfeeding after a year - my "goal" is 1 year too but you make an excellent point about giving him all that extra immunity during flu season. We start day care in a month when I go back to work . . . Typhoid Mary here we come!!

  3. From a mother who has raised two boys ( a teenager still at home) I think you nailed it, just go with the flow. There are so many journeys that await you, with twists and turns, that can't be predicted or foreseen. You will know, if you listen to your instinct, when to hold tight, or to let go.


  4. We don't own a single baby book - it's all been a mix of instinct, emailing the pediatrician, calling my mom, and polling my mom friends. Every kid is so different that there really can't be ONE right way.