I read one too many parenting books during my pregnancy and the first months after my baby was born. I thought if apply all the rules and lessons I’ve learned from the books, motherhood would be a breeze but real life taught me otherwise. As much as I learned from all those books. every child is unique and they come without a manual. In addition, every “newborn mother” is unique as well. Here is what I’ve read and what actually happened:
1. I read that: When a baby is born (s)he should be given only breast milk or the bottle may cause “nipple confusion”.
I experienced: If the baby is having problems gaining weight and doctor recommends additional formula, we give the baby the bottle.
2. I read that: You shouldn’t swing the baby to sleep.
I experienced: For the first three months, all is fair in the name of a good night’s sleep.
3. I read that: You shouldn’t let the baby fall asleep on the breast or with the bottle.
I experienced: Let the baby sleep, wherever (s)he sleeps, whether on the breast, with the bottle or when swinging …
4. I’ve heard: You shouldn’t respond to your baby’s every cry and pick them up, otherwise they will get used to it and get spoiled.
I experienced: There’s no such thing as spoiling a baby by cuddling and hugging them a lot. We will give as many hugs and kisses as possible and even carry them around (or wear them). As they get older it gets harder to keep them wrapped in your arms and have a kiss anyway.
5. I read that: We need to stop the night feedings, after 6-7 months of age.
I experienced: We feed the baby, whenever the baby is hungry. (Though I believe, it shouldn’t be too frequent after 6-9 months)
6. I read that: The first teeth cuts around 6-7 months.
I experienced: It is possible that the first teeth wait until 11 – 12 months.
7. I read that: You should never ever let a child under 2 years watch TV.
I experienced: In cases of emergencies, like bathroom break or shower, brief periods of child-appropriate TV is a lifesaver.
8. I read that: We shouldn’t give a bottle to the child after 1 years of age.
I experienced: If the baby only drinks from breast or bottle and refuses glass or sippy cup, you keep on giving the bottle.
9. I’ve heard: Children can be potty trained before they are 1.
I experienced: You can’t force potty train a child if they are not ready for it.
(Edit: You learn even more with new children. I potty trained my daughter at an early age using Elimination Communication).
10. I thought: Based on my knowledge of basic genetic biology if the majority of the family is fair-haired, I should expect to give birth to children looking like me.
I experienced: You children may not take after you at all.
11. I thought: I would breastfeed my child forever.
I experienced: My breast milk decreased way before I was ready.
12. I thought: I do not need anybody. I can take care of my child and everything else by myself.
I experienced: If it were not for my mom, I wouldn’t make it to 2 months. Even if I did, I wouldn’t be my normal self.
13. I’ve heard: In the old times, motherhood was much harder because there weren’t all the conveniences we now have.
I experienced: Motherhood is still difficult with its own contemporary complexities.
I don’t completely discredit parenting books, as there are many tips and tricks which not only helped but saved my sanity. I’ve learned to take everything I read with a salt of grain, using what works for me and leaving behind what doesn’t. At the end of the day, I write my own book of parenting as I go along.