GOOD ADVICE/BAD ADVICE
I have been a parent for almost 36 years. That is a long time. I have raised 5 kids. I don’t claim to have done everything perfectly, nor do I know everything…but oh my goodness, were there lots of decisions to make along the way. Let me share with you some of the advice I got as my babies were growing. Some of it is bullshit, some OK and some excellent. You need to be able to discern which is which.
As I got ready to breastfeed my first baby, the nurse brought him in and instructed me to do this:
First, swab your nipples with alcohol swabs to sterilize your skin.
Feed him on both sides for 10 minutes per side. Top him up with 4 ounces of formula. Top him up again with 2 oz of sugar water. Reason being: he is a big baby and will need extra food.
The above advice is simply INCORRECT INFORMATION
Do this instead:
Understand that you do not need to swab your nipples. Your nipples are clean enough for your baby. They lived INSIDE your body for goodness sake.
Do not limit the amount of time you baby spends at the first breast. Let them have at it.
First of all- most babies do NOT need top ups. And birth weight is NOT a direct indication. And, it is rare that a baby needs to be topped up with THAT MUCH formula. If your baby does need topping up, it usually is a small amount.
Lord have mercy- your baby does not need water. Especially not SUGAR WATER. There is enough water in breast milk and formula to cover your baby’s hydration needs. This fills the babe up with a zero calorie substance mixed with a un necessary substance.
When my second baby was nursing beyond several months, I received a TON of advice telling me that he should not be still breastfeeding…because:
My milk had no more nutrition in it anymore (INCORRECT INFORMATION)
Extended breastfeeding interfered with a child’s ability to be independent (INCORRECT INFORMATION)
I was being a slave to my child (PERSONAL OPINION AND JUST PLAIN RUDENESS)
Do this instead- Understand that you breastmilk continues to have nutritive value long past the infant stage. It will be different from the milk you made when your baby was a newborn, but still valuable.
Humans were designed to breastfeed well into childhood. It IS how the human race evolved. We did not get here by the magic of artificial milk. Independence is FORGED at the breast. Your child’s independence needs to unfold slowly (and some kids…even slower) and when it does, it will be much stronger because of the foundation of love and trust you have created between you and your child. Breastfeeding toddlers can be found on the playground, fearlessly climbing to the top of the jungle gym. And adults who were breastfed well into childhood can be found backpacking across Asia! It simply is NOT a fact. Breastfeeding past infancy does NOT interfere with independence.
Meeting your child’s needs does not mean you are a slave to your baby. Besides, whose body is this anyway? If I choose to nurse my baby for a certain length of time and you regard this as a “sacrifice”- then I suggest that you do things differently with your own baby. As for me, my breasts and my baby- we will do what we like. Your judgements belong to you and I reject them.
You need to MAKE your babies take scheduled naps (PERSONAL OPINION)
Do this- understand that children need lots of sleep. And that they are humans and that’s what humans do. Some of them need more sleep than others. Some of them need a specific atmosphere for them to sleep well. If having a strict regime for sleeping works for you- great! Keep doing that. If a looser sort of rhythm works for you- great! Keep doing that. And if having no rules at all and having sleep anarchy in your house works for you- great! I am not going to mess with anybody’s program that is working for them. I am a fan of loose rhythm/structure when it comes to sleep. With babies, I enjoyed the freedom of being able to pick up and go whenever I wanted to. My babies napped wherever we were. I am NOT missing a great Mommy meetup because my baby has to nap. Nope. They are coming with me and can nap in the car, in my arms, beside me on a blanket on the floor, in a wrap or carrier…whatever.
Listen- you get to decide what works for you and what doesn’t. You can correct incorrect information and base your decisions on evidence. You can respect other people’s way of doing things and do your own thing anyway. And you can REJECT rudeness.
I will leave you with my own piece of advice and of course it is excellent...
Try your best.
Try your best to be open.
Try your best to be open to other ways of thinking, doing and being.
You may hit upon a new a new normal that feels right for you and your family. But at the core of it all- this is your baby, your family and you will do what is best for all of you. Think critically about what other people feel they need to project onto you.
Take charge of your own life, your days and how you spend your time with your family. Your advice to yourself is the one that matters most.