I have three children. So: people mistake me for a baby professional.
This post is juxtaposed with my thoughts last week about how moms are the health experts in their children’s lives. I still believe that. But, if you were to ask me for baby techniques? I have very little to offer.
When asked how my babies self-sooth, I draw a blank stare. They don’t! I have never sleep trained and wouldn’t know where to begin. My swaddle is pitiful. I don’t know how to prepare a bottle of formula. Really, I don’t.
Part of this is because I don’t ignore my instincts. I’ll cry if I go against where my heart is tugging. And when my baby cries or fusses or squirms, I don’t care what time it is; I’m going to nurse! I can’t not. I can’t not!
I just go with the flow. Baby’s wants and baby’s needs are the same. Many mothers will say: “My baby won’t let me put them down!” Well, good! That’s a baby with a good desire. Your baby was inside you. It wants to be close to its mom, to nurse, and be loved, to experience the most basic human language: touch. When they’re outside, they can’t get close enough. Trust me: holding your baby won’t create a bad habit. Babies don’t have bad habits. They have survival instincts and desires that create emotional stability for independence later on. Hold your baby. Nurse your baby. DO what YOU want to do with your baby! Habits need not apply.
But, I must say: when mom needs a break, that’s a good desire too! Don’t feel bad wanting an hour to yourself. Your desire for a break is your natural response to being pulled at, sucked on, and needed 24/7. Getting a break helps you be a better mom. So: get someone else to hold the baby and take a break guilt-free.
People talk a lot about different techniques on how to handle your baby, but I don’t think any ONE technique is superior to another. I think they ALL belong in your tool box. You pull things out as you need them. There’s no reason to use tools just to use them. If your baby is inconsolable, break out the swaddle and see if it works. If your baby will go to day care and need to crib sleep, then sleep train. If you adopted or for some other reason can’t nurse, thank goodness for formula!
From the beginning, I’ve just done what I wanted to do with my babies. I’ve kept them close. I’ve nursed them (still, I nurse my 18-month-old daughter on demand!). I sleep with them. They can hop in my bed whenever they want!
And you know what? They’re thriving. They are not what people warned me they would become. Instead of clingy, needy, and unable to cope with the world, they are independent, happy, and clambering to get away from me. I’m tickled every time my daughter pushes me away to go on an adventure with her brothers. I’m delighted when I see my 5-year-old son hop on the bus to preschool without fear. I love seeing my 3-year-old son interact with others in his joy-filled clowny way.
These things we want to do to nurture our babies are called instincts. They’re human-natured and they’re there for a reason. Trust them. And ignore the ideas people throw at you about habits and manipulation and how your baby is taking advantage of you. Pish posh. Babies and mamas. Mamas and babies. They’re the most beautiful combination when left alone.