Conformity, peer observations, the gulf between what ‘should’ be and what is.
I heard the phrase, ‘well at his age he should be…’ again today. Well, at 8 months he is not doing what he ‘should be’ and defying many books and opinions on what is expected and average for his age. he doesn’t sleep through, has continued problems with wind, and what feels like a billion feeds a day (and night) and thats just the tip of the iceberg.
This constant reference to an what is expected and the average level for you babies age, can be, and is, very unnerving to new mums. As humans we like a yard stick to measure against. We come to motherhood from a life long career of school and otherwise, made up of targets and attainment at various stages and ages. For most of us these have been the mainstay of our lives, guiding us through with achievements to tick off and levels to reach.
However, this is often not the case with our new bundles of joy, they just won’t follow the stages in the book. As a result many hours are spent questioning our own methods, be it on feeding, sleeping through, weaning, breast feeding, co sleeping, dummy use, etc.
It goes a bit like this,
- ‘8 months, he shouldn’t need the night feeds and should be sleeping through.’
- ‘She shouldn’t be having that many feeds a day if she is eating surely’
- ‘He should be in his own cot by now, and shouldn’t need to co-sleep’
- ‘At this age colic isn’t a problem, they should have grown out of it’
- ‘3 naps a day seems far too many/few should you be putting her down more/less’
I’m sure you can think of many more (these are some that my friends and I have heard).
After many hours worrying that in not reaching these goals I was somehow ruining my baby, I decided enough was enough. I reminded myself, these are rough ideas of where my baby could be at, and not where he should be.
I also tell myself, that they are averages, and by its very mathematical nature an average is made up of a range of different numbers. Often with some lows and highs quite far from that average itself, and that without these high and low outliers the average wouldn’t be an average.
I think of the second time mums who are floored by the sheer number of differences between their new baby’s habits and ways, when compared to baby number one. and take a moment to consider if two siblings can be so different, ‘why should’ my baby always conform to these ‘shoulds’.
I think of all these different things, take a deep breath and know my baby and I will work through it together.
So I have binned off the books and Internet (expect of course the encouraging words of Baby Wisdom) and smile sweetly and say ‘of course he is an individual’ if any of these ‘shoulds’ get wheeled out.
The books and advice are there if there is a real problem, but if it is working for you, keep enjoying your wonderfully unique little baby, and parent your way.
By a Newbie mum, muddling through…
Noise and Napping
There are few things that make me really mad, but since being a new mum, with a baby who needs a lot of sleep, but fights it with every fibre of his being, (naps are hard to come by) I find myself frequently enraged and somewhat incensed by those who deem to make noise in the day.
You may find yourself questioning this if you have a self settling angel, who would sleep through a thunder storm, and who you have to rouse from a nap for a feed. If so, firstly I envy you, and secondly sorry, this post may seem a little harsh and dare I say it, unhinged.
But if like me your baby isn’t a fan of snuggling down for a bit of shut eye, and you find you have ever increasing convoluted ways of getting them to sleep and keeping them asleep, you are probably already nodding in agreement!
For those with sleeping angels here are a few napping lengths us in the non sleeping camp might go to, to get the baby a bit of shut eye during the day.
Feeding to sleep, rocking to sleep, sitting by the crib with your hand at an uncomfortable angle stroking the baby’s head. Having a low level sound on (washing machine, white noise, hair dryer, music etc). Sitting in a dark room with the baby on your lap for the full nap, or the alternative of engaging in a repeated convoluted procedure where once the baby is the right level of ‘asleep’ you try and shift them to the cot, which may need to be repeated several times when they stir themselves awake.
For the movement babies, there is driving around for an hour to achieve a nap, or the sitting on the drive for an hour once they are asleep. The endless walking with the pram or sling to get them asleep and keep them that way.
Having done all of these most with limited success, that might go a little to explain the sheer magnitude of rage I feel when, on getting the baby to sleep, someone has the audacity to mow their lawn or power-wash their car and wake him up. Noise makers often feel the need to walk their barky dog, or even stop in the vicinity of my sleeping baby and speak to a friend. How dare they! And don’t get me started on the ice-cream van. The bells, and the gaggle of children coming out to meet it. Great fun I’m sure, but could the driver be so kind and not stop directly outside my house!
The people who ring just when he has drifted off and wake my baby are clearly trying to annoy me. They often get a little more than they bargained for when i answer the phone. As did the lovely postman who rang the bell twice yesterday just as the baby was drifting off. I think my murderous expression as I ripped open the door with a rather huffy ‘What?!’ scared him a little.
Or the teenagers who seemed to be having a ‘who can scream the loudest contest’ when we were walking past. With a crazed look on my face I said ”maybe you could shut up, it’s not like I have been walking around for an hour to get my baby to sleep, and you have woken him 2 minutes later’. They heard the tone saw the look, and scarpered.
For all my annoyance, and zealous belief that noisy activities should be banned round my baby during sleep time, and when i am trying to get him to sleep, the shoe was firmly on the other foot last night.
The OH was in charge of bedtime, not quite as tricky as nap time on the whole, but still a fairly convoluted procedure. I was out walking the dog (yes it is as annoying when it is your own dog barking – but at least you can tell it to shut up). On returning home I was on the phone, first the door opening and then my continued chatter, sent my OH flying down the stairs to kindly ask me to end the call and shut up – I had woken an almost sleeping baby! Oops!!
At least he understands my sleeping baby rage now!