Baby books: friend or foe?

Like many new mums, before our baby was born I acquired a variety of books, you know the sort – ‘The Ultimate Baby Guide’, ‘Parenting Made Easy’, ‘Babies for Dummies’ that kind of thing. But now I’m wondering if sometimes these sorts of texts do more harm than good.

For example, the advice in these books varies massively. In one book we own, it is advised that breastfed babies are not introduced to a bottle until they are 3-6 weeks old as they can’t differentiate the different sucking techniques needed and it will confuse them, and maybe even lead to them refusing the breast. Yet in a different book we have, it says to introduce bottles right away because they CAN do get the different techniques right! We followed the advice of the first book because I didn’t want to run the risk of anything upsetting my breastfeeding and as a result, she refused to take a bottle until she was nearly 5 months old.

Another issue I have with these books is that they’ve set out these landmarks of what every baby “should” be doing at different stages, and I don’t know about you other mums but it has made me feel like I’m doing something wrong if Isla isn’t. For example one of my books said that at 8 weeks, your baby should be “self soothing”, i.e when we put her down for a nap when she’s awake, she should fall asleep on her own and just a simple hand on her belly and ssshhhhing will suffice to soothe her to sleep if she cries. I thought this was too young but gave it a go anyway and suffice to say, Isla was not happy being placed alone in her basket and would cry and cry, no amount of ssshhhhing would calm her and I had to resort to rocking her to sleep as usual. The fact that she wasn’t doing exactly as the book says makes me feel like Isla is behind and that I’m doing something wrong.

But Hubs, bless his heart, made me feel infinitely better by saying this, which I’d like to share with you all:

“Not one author of a book or blog has ever met Isla. Only you, I and those close to us will ever know what is best for her. Keep doing what we are doing.”

And when I relayed this to my friends they were also in agreement as one said “you are a fantastic mother, now ignore the bloody baby books. Ur happy, she’s happy, that’s all thats important.”

And another said “We are all a special edition one of a kind and a book profiling all babies as the same and will respond in the same ways is nothing short of absurd and a nice money maker from nervous/gullible parents. If anything you do with Isla is wrong according to these clowns, never be right. You’re amazing with her.”

So mums, what I’ve learned here is ignore the advice about what we and our babies “should” be doing and just go with your instincts. By all means, keep a baby book handy for medical reference, but when it comes to development, ignore the books and let our babies do as we will. Now I’m off to build a bonfire…

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