You know what none of the books I read before having a baby told me? A lot of baby advice, even from pediatricians, is simply suggestions.
I started out thinking the only way to do things was exactly how I was told to do it or a method I had read about. Maybe I’m slow, but it took me quite a while to realize that a lot of what I was being told was just opinion, or one person’s suggested method. I thought I might do something “wrong,” and my baby would suffer.
I once had a doctor tell me my son was the perfect size, then tell me to change our feeding schedule because it wasn’t the norm for his age. Contradictory?
Looking back, I could have relaxed a lot more from the get go and let common sense, and my gut, play a larger role.
I know why I didn’t relax initially. It has never been harder to be a beginner at something. Think about it; how many times have you started something new where they gave you a living being to keep alive on day one? It’s terrifying. All I wanted was an expert to tell me exactly what to do so I wouldn’t screw my baby up (at least not for a few years).
I really wish someone had said, “As long as you love him, do your best to meet his needs, and pay attention, you’ll be a great mom.”
Unfortunately, all the recalls and warning labels terrified me into forgetting that even uneducated junkies manage to keep babies alive. The pursuit of perfection gets in the way of realizing that simply giving a damn makes you a pretty good parent.
Whether you stay at home, go back to work, use a nanny, put your baby in daycare, use cloth diapers, use disposables, make your baby food, buy organic, use the cry-out method, nurse/rock your baby to sleep, co-sleep, breastfeed, use formula, make a million crafts together, use the TV as an occasional babysitter, teach your baby five languages, home school, etc., etc., you’ll figure out what works for your family, and you’ll be great.
My baby is very much alive and thriving, but I’m not going to write a how-to book. There are a gazillion other right ways to raise a child.