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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It's ALL Wrong (Week 24, Day 5)

Last night I took a break from working all night to do some catching up on reading about my baby girl’s development - Madeline has been eye Mommy and Daddy’s food lately, and as we are getting close to 6 months, it’s time we started testing out solids. So rather than going in completely blind into the experience, I thought I should read up on which foods to introduce first, any tips/tricks I should know about, and what to expect. I pulled out my handy “What to Expect in the First Year” and some other parenting primers to get caught up.After reading a few paragraphs, I was reminded why I had stopped reading word for word every parenting book given to me. While there were definitely helpful tips that I will consider when we make our first journey into real food land, the book also highlighted all the things that I’m doing wrong in raising my abundantly happy and healthy little girl. Some examples:
1. By now, I should be teaching her to drink out of a cup. Not a sippy cup. A real cup. What? My daughter is a little over 5 months old. She can’t sit up by herself, and spends most of her time on her tummy. And I’m supposed to be teaching her to hold until a cup, and drink by herself? Also, the book was insistent I should be feeding her water, which was news to me. I called the doctor today about some bowel issues Maddy was having, and asked about this water thing and if I was missing the boat by not introducing water into my daughters world. The doctor laughed and said that there was no need for me to be concerned.  
2. She should be sleeping fully through the night. Okay, I have to admit I expected that one, but I did not expect the accompanying tails of “behavioral issues” and “development issues” that went along with said fact. I know plenty of people that have children who did not start sleeping through the night until late in the first year, and to be fair, when Maddy is healthy, I am only up with her once in the night. When she’s not healthy - a cold, ear infection, or diaper rash can send her back to her infant days of up several times a night. So while she is not there yet, she’s close. Really close. And I’m pretty sure she doesn't have any terrible behavioral or developmental issues to show for it.
3. We recently bought Maddy an “Exersaucer”. We were really excited about this purchase - Maddy is starting to sit up more and more every day, and loves interacting with her toys. We thought this would be a great way to strengthen her legs, and give her some fun playtime. Apparently that’s wrong too - the books said that too much time in the exersaucer is constraining the the child, and doesn't develop the child’s legs the same way that floor time does.  It also said to not leave the baby in the Exersaucer all day. Well, I’m pretty sure doing anything for too long - including sitting on the couch - is not good for you, and I had not planned on having the Exersaucer replace our parenting duties.
While I hate to admit it, as I’m reading through all the dos and don’t the books have to offer, I keep hearing the motto my Dad repeated over and over again throughout my childhood: “All things in moderation”. These books are providing cautionary tales to all mothers, so that they don’t go to extremes with any one thing. If I tried adhere to every single thing the parenting books told me, I would probably be driving myself (and my daughter) up the wall. And I doubt she’d be any happier.

So now that I've gotten the tips I need to feel confident to move forward with the next adventure in parenting, I’ll close the books for another month or so, and not worry about doing everything right - I’ll just worry about loving my baby and making sure she is as happy as can be.