Parenting Book Frustration
Parenting should be easy, well, maybe not easy, but it should come naturally. In some ways it does, I know instinctively what to do – when my baby cries, I pick him up and tend to his needs. I know how to rock, swing, and jiggle him so that he is happy. I can provide for both his nutritional needs and his need for comfort with my own body. What makes parenting confusing is the proliferation of parenting books.
I have to admit – I am a nerd. I love to read books, both fiction and nonfiction. So I am a sucker for parenting books. I want to make sure I am doing things “right” even if I am following my natural mothering instincts. The problem is, the definition of “right” varies from book to book in the parenting genre of the bookstore. This can be very frustrating to a nerd like me who wants to do things “by the book.”
Let’s talk a little about the books. A colleague and friend gave me the book Baby 411 because it had been her favorite with her recent newborn experience. I really like this book, as it is straightforward and easy to read. It might be my favorite as far as the information it contains and the advice it gives as well. The only chapter I have problems with is the chapter on vaccinations, which is very harsh on those of us who question the safety of vaccines and want to delay the vaccination schedule for their children.
Another friend and colleague, who has her baby on a glorious schedule (what is a schedule???) recommended Baby Wise, and let me borrow it. Because I am such a book nerd, I was immediately drawn into the ideas presented in the book – I tend to believe everything I read. However, as I thought about it more and more, I realized that the ideas in this book went against all of my instincts. The only thing I thought was interesting was the idea that a baby’s schedule should follow this order: feeding, awake time, and nap, then repeat. Now, I’m not exactly sure how I’m supposed to keep Castiél awake after a feeding, but it seems like an interesting idea. Interestingly, the book Baby 411 rates Baby Wise with an F, and my pediatrician also frowns on the book’s ideas.
Finally, another friend on facebook suggested the book The Happiest Baby on the Block. This book seems to go completely against the book Baby Wise in its philosophy. I like this book much more, as it suggests that the first three months in a baby’s life are meant to be a slow transition from the womb into the real world rather than a time to attempt to instill a strict schedule. I really wish I would have had this book before Castiél was born; however, it deals mainly with the topic of colicky babies, which (Thank GOD!) Castiél is not.
All that to say, as is my normal mode of operation, after vacillating between several extremes (at least within my own thinking) as I read these books, I have finally come to a point of moderation where I feel comfortable. I’m not anti-schedule; however, I’m not trying to instill one but rather am trying to assess what Castiél’s natural schedule is and follow that. I’m not letting him “cry it out” or trying to put him to bed to fall asleep on his own – I will only have a precious few months to rock him to sleep and I am going to treasure every second of it – even if it cuts into my own sleep time. I’m going to feed him when he’s hungry, even if it means he is a “snacker” or is only nursing for comfort. I am however, not relying on nursing to solve every cry, which is helping tremendously stretch out the time between feedings. I’m going to put him to bed in his crib, but when he is fussy and doesn’t want to be there, I’ll gladly bring him to bed with me so that we can both get the sleep we need. Because he sleeps much better on his tummy, I will let him sleep on his tummy and will try to not worry so much about it but remember that I, too, slept on my tummy when I was a baby and I survived. I will thoughtfully allow Castiél to receive doctor-recommended vaccines on the regular schedule and will delay the others until he is older. As he will not be going to daycare, I have that freedom.
I can’t believe that there are so many opinions about parenting out there – and I haven’t even hit potty training, the terrible twos, or adolescent rebellion yet!!!! I hope that my instincts, along with thoughtful research and much prayer, will allow me to continue to parent successfully throughout Castiél’s life.