Is the title of my new book. It’s quite short. It only has one line, and I’ll publish it here for free:
Do only what’s best for you, your baby and your family
— ignore the nay-sayers.
Very good friends of ours came over a few months back for dinner. They remarked at what a good baby Eryn was and had a great time playing with her. As the evening wore on, it was eventually time to put Eryn to bed and the conversation naturally moved to baby sleep techniques. My girlfriend, who is very happy not to have children, nor plans to have them any time soon (if ever), took an immediate offensive and announced quite strongly that she would never rock or cajole a baby to sleep, “No. If we ever have kids, they’re crying it out. Sorry hunny, you have to learn how to sleep and I just don’t have the time for that nonsense. My cousin has to jump through hoops to get his kid to sleep. There’s no way in hell I’m doing that.”
I kept quiet and just smiled secretly. It’s very easy for the babyless to be experts on parenting. I think it’s easier than having parental credentials actually. Little did my friend know that our bedtime routine consists of a nice little bath, a massage and Qur’an recitation by baba, maybe some rocking or a story, and then I nurse Eryn to sleep. She was most likely basing her opinions on the experiences of her cousin and not out of a discussion on how we parent Eryn. I don’t actually know what she would say to me nursing Eryn to sleep.
So I excused myself and got ready to put Eryn to bed — all the while smiling my secret parental smile. Anyone can decide to let their baby cry it out — but let’s have that discussion after you’ve survived the first 6 weeks, when you will indeed do ANYTHING to get your baby to stop crying or to put it to sleep. Especially if your baby was anything like Eryn, and cried non stop for an hour or more, the same time every day, for no apparent reason (which most babies do). But if using a cry it out method will work for her in the future, good for them. Their baby will turn out just fine. Just like I did and (hopefully) just like Eryn will.
Before we went on holiday, our neighbours came over to visit Eryn. They lucked out and got to witness breakfast and lunch.
When it comes to solids, we did a little bit of a mix between scheduled food introductions and baby-led weaning. Rice cereal was started at 5 months, which went OK, but she was never a fan of the cereals. We struggled with anything pureed, and I was never a fan of playing choo-choo train or airplane — I don’t have the patience for that. I also tried oh so very hard not to take it personally when she hated every. single. delicious. meal that took me 2 hours to cook. I almost resigned myself to not having a “good eater.” For months she just wasn’t that into solids.
The moment she could grab anything and put it in her mouth we stopped with the purees and went straight to regular human food. She didn’t even like mashed. Now she gets chunks of everything but because she’s still not an expert in actually feeding herself, she’s quite messy. But oh does she eat (except when she’s teething / sick / bored / not hungry / more interested in crawling / moody…. and at these times I try to remind myself to relax, she won’t starve. Even though at the moment she’s still getting over her croup, and is so congested she’s only been having 3-5 minutes at the breast because she can’t breathe. That plus finicky eating due to her 7th tooth… Sigh. She won’t starve, right?).
Every morning Cheerios go flying. Or french toast. This morning it was whole wheat pancakes. She’s messy and we allow her to experience her food. I may not have the patience for choo-choo, but I can clean my floor 3 times a day no problem. Our neighbours were impressed with Eryn’s gastronomical display, and went on quite a bit with the praise: We’re good parents. She’s such a good eater. It’s so wonderful we’re relaxed enough to do this. Look how adept she is. She even can drink from a cup. My goodness, good for you. Good for her. Rose petals and gold stars for everyone. Yay.
That was a month ago. Today I find out they’ve been speaking about our food “antics” to others — and how that should never be done. That it’s better to “tell” the child how and when to eat — spoon feed and be done with it. That they can’t believe we could allow our child to be so messy.
If that worked for them and their now “grown up” children, great. I once met a mother who fed her child purées out of a bottle until the baby was passed the age of one. Ok, great. It must have been annoying though to teach an older toddler how to take purée from a spoon. Just like it’s annoying for me to clean my floor. Regardless, everyone has and will grow up just fine.
Oh well. Neighbourhood gossip aside, the only thing this does for me is wish we’d had a productive debate or discussion last month, instead of hearing high praise, only to find out they’re disgusted by our parenting techniques. Luckily you can choose your friends.
And we’ve decided to use our neighbour’s name as Eryn’s Bogeyman.