There’s certainly plenty of opinion and advice to go around when it comes to new babies – though I have to say, living in the big city as I do, I am not subjected to nearly as much nosy “help” because of our general culture of not talking to strangers. When people do comment, they say benign things like “Aw, cute baby” and ask how old he is — maybe he’s just not old enough to elicit the remarks about my parenting or his behavior yet. Or maybe I look particularly sleep deprived or frazzled. In any case, so far I’ve gotten nothing but oohs, ahhs, and sympathetic remarks like “It only gets better from here!”
However, online at least there is plenty of “expert” advice to go around, much of it contradictory and confusing. Despite the fact that humans have been birthing infants since literally the dawn of humanity (and before if you count our primate ancestors, though their babies aren’t quite as helpless as ours) people seem to have all sorts of interesting ideas about basic infant care and behavior. Here are the top five mysteries that I’ve identified as a new parent struggling to figure it all out…
5. “Colic”. Call it fussiness, call it colic – everyone seems to expect that a young baby will have long jags of crying, particularly around 4-10 weeks of age, and particularly in the late afternoons and evenings. Why are the babies crying? No one knows. Immature nervous systems, digestive discomfort, dissatisfaction with the decor? You’d think there’d be some kind of consensus by now as to why so many babies (and their frazzled parents) go through this period of misery, but apparently not.
4. Sensitivities/allergies. It turns out – we think – that Jesse has a milk allergy, which would explain some of his issues with reflux, eczema, gassiness, and general unhappiness. Although he happens to have been on formula when we figured this out, I think he was probably reacting to the milk protein when I was breastfeeding him as well. Why it took until the child was 9 weeks old to get a handle on this, I’m not totally sure – but I think it has a lot to do with #5. We expect babies to be fussy and irritable when, in fact, there may be a very good reason why they’re crying like that.
3. Feeding. August was “Breastfeeding Month”, so there were lots of goings-on about raising awareness about it. My experiences with this are for another post entirely. Suffice it to say that most of us are very aware of breastfeeding and that generally, when a woman is bottle feeding instead, it’s not because she isn’t “aware”. It’s because people make choices for good reasons. I haven’t had anyone question me when I’ve brought out bottles in public (or at mommy & me type events) so maybe the wider world isn’t as judgmental about it as the internet might have you believe.
2. Sleep. My goodness, this is one of those topics that can spark endless debate. There are the people insisting that you must get them used to their own space immediately. No, you must keep them with you at all times! 90 minute nap cycles! Cry it out for up to an hour! Don’t let them cry at all! Feed them more during the day! Feed them on demand! On and on. Amazon has dozens of books on the subject of infant sleep and there are countless internet articles too… of course my personal favorite is the trollish commenter who says, “If you wanted the luxury of sleeping whenever you felt like it, you shouldn’t have become a parent, you selfish jerk!”
1. Why I’m still awake, typing this, and not “sleeping while the baby sleeps”. Good night everyone!