Breaking the rules

One of the most overwhelming things about being a new parent is learning all the rules. There are lots of experts out there – and they will put the fear of God in you over the slightest, smallest thing. Everyone learns in baby care class to put your baby BACK to sleep for fear of SIDS, we learn that bumper pads should be removed because your child could move up against them and suffocate to death, and we learn of all the allergy dangers in feeding your baby too soon.

Now, if you have parents like mine, picture them on the opposite side of this experts ring, getting their boxing gloves on, shouting out how you were put to sleep on your tummy and it’s the best thing to stave off gas, and how you had bumper pads and with the exception of any mental idiosyncrasies you might have, you survived just fine, and finally, the food. All of us born at least 30 years ago were likely fed food by week 3-4 of life..and parents are quick to point out that we were all sleeping through the night much faster.

Some parents claim they were feeding us not just rice cereal but full blown meals, including meat, by one month old. Yes, many KT friends hail from the Midwest. I am left wondering about revisionist history sometimes, but still, this is what I’ve heard.

And, there are no more magical words to a new parent that “sleeping through the night.” So, food certainly becomes the low hanging fruit of temptation for the sleep deprived.

But really – what rules do you follow and what rules do you break as a parent?

Any true KT fan knows that, well, I’m pretty willing to break the rules and challenge authority because I’m pretty certain I know better for my own kid. Don’t think I didn’t challenge our pediatrician at every turn and told him as much, along the way, until he turned out to be right, or I just sorta ignored him and did my own thing.

The genes I inherited from my mother come into play with all of this, along with her opinions and shouting over in that boxing match I just alluded too.

So back to all the rules. I can tell you that I think the best way to parent is to trust your instincts. Sure, the American Academy of Pediatrics are a bunch of doctors who specialize in babies. But no one specializes in YOUR baby. And no one has to deal with your baby screaming all night, except you.

Before my darling daughter was even out of the womb, I knew I was ignoring the drama and warnings around bumper pads. Give me a break. Babies nestle up into warm, cozy corners, what is warm and cozy about cold wood or iron slots on the edge of a crib? NOTHING. But a bumper pad – now that is warm and cozy. And plus, we all survived just fine with them. So I threw caution to the wind on that one and well, it turned out just fine. There is a point to everything.

Now, the SIDS issue and putting your baby BACK to sleep, took me a bit longer to break the rules on. They really do put the fear of God in you over that one. And so, I dutifully put my baby BACK to sleep each night…but bended the rules during the day. Find me a baby that isn’t gassy and find me a parent that isn’t convinced by around week 4-6 that their baby has the dreaded colic. Guess what? Your kid, more than likely, does NOT have colic – they’re just gassy and being on their backs makes it worse.

Enter the side sleeping position in the stroller..enter the swing or the bouncy seat…even the infant car seat..anything that can keep baby at an angle – can help mommy and daddy sleep more at night. By around 5 months, I was putting our darling daughter to bed on her tummy every night. She could move her head around by then and well, she screamed bloody murder if you tried to put her on her back at all….so the American Academy of Pediatrics and their recommendations were tossed out with the bath water because, well, they weren’t sleeping in my house. If my pediatrician needed to believe we put her BACK to sleep and she flipped over on her own, well, then that’s what he needed to believe.

As for food, that one was a rockier path chez moi. The magical words of “sleeping through the night” were not just being whispered, they were being shouted into my ears by my mom and my dad from a very early point in my darling daughter’s life. My dad rarely chimes in, so it became even more tempting to start feeding her. On this one, however, my husband was adamantly opposed to feeding her much before 5 months because of the threat of allergies. So, in a rare moment, I acquiesed and doubted him and the doctor the entire time….until 16 weeks when darling daughter was sleeping through the night on just formula.

Apparently SOMETIMES the doctors and experts are right.

So what is my point in all of this? My point is – learn your baby, not just what the experts say, because there are so many extreme views out there. There are paranoid people out there.  And personally, I am never sure how many of them actually have babies at home, instead of just studying them in research.

2 Responses to Breaking the rules
  1. Shari
    April 16, 2007 | 8:19 pm

    I agree with you 100%. Many of us were raised without expert advice, and while this is a great argument for a little thing my husband and I would like to invent called “therapy insurance for your children” we all survived.

    If you listen to every piece of expert advice you’ll be neurotic and will sleep even less because of worry.

    Besides, when doctors and experts can’t even agree on what is considered pre-term and what is considered term on a pregnancy, how can they tell me at what rate my child is going to grow, mature and require certain things.

    Thanks for having the guts to say it out loud. These days it’s hard to say what you prefer without someone shaking their head and clucking at you about what is right and what is wrong for your own child.

  2. Emma
    April 17, 2007 | 2:38 pm

    DH and I laughed our collective butts off when reading your post today. Not less that a week ago did we have a heated “discussion” with both mothers regarding the addition of rice cereal to the bottle. My look of abject horror did not dissuade the mothers that they were right and I was wrong. We all decided to agree to disagree and leave it at that.

    I do think the tummy issue is valid. I am currently dealing with a very unhappy newborn with lots of gas. I try to put him on his tummy as much as possible when he’s awake, but it’s not helping…. more gripe water if you please…

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