More Baby Advice You Don’t Need.

It’s been quite a while since a baby or pregnancy related post, and as time races by I dare say I have outgrown the subject. But then, the other day, as I stood facing my over crowded book shelves and looking to see what could be donated to make room for new stuff, I was halted yet again by that shelf.

The shelf that I never want to touch, the one full of memories of those endless days of pregnancy and life with a newborn. There are so many reminders on that shelf. Reminders of worry, sleepless nights, toilet training dilemma’s, health concerns, the desire to get it all just right. And even though the day will inevitably come that at least some of these books will be given away in the hope that they help another new mum somewhere, I have to face up to just how few words of wisdom they actually have to offer.

I can honestly say that after buying and or borrowing pretty much every book written in the last twenty years on raising babies and toddlers, I can now say without a shadow of a doubt that they are all a crock of shit. These that remain represent the pick of a mostly unhelpful crop. {And it’s not a coincidence that the ones I have kept are mostly of the crunchy granola variety}. Some had just one or two tips that worked for me at the exact time I needed it. Some didn’t even have that much. Every parent knows those times when you desperately seek something, anything, that will make sense of what is happening with their child. And the people who write these books know this. They know that we parents will devour every new offering. Especially if, like yours truly, you have always sought answers, and refuge, in the pages of a book.

What I do know to be true is that after four children and almost twenty years, baby books generally aren’t worth looking at. The one thing they are guaranteed to do is confuse you. First you will be told to let the baby cry it out, only to be scared shitless by the next book telling you that you must respond to every whimper lest your baby doesn’t form proper attachments and has issues in later life. There’s tough love pitted against gentle parenting everywhere you look. Add to that the magazines and online articles berating confusing parents at every turn, and do you really need anymore expert advice? Of course not.

So, typically, and with my hypocrite flag flying high, I now want to share what I think is the most important thing a new parent should know. {Pay attention, this is gold}. The fact of the matter is that when it comes to eating, sleeping, and toileting, THE BABY IS IN CONTROL. You can try to steer/coax/train/guide them all you like, but many battles will be averted once you realise that you can not make a person be asleep when they don’t want to be. Similarly you can not make them swallow food, pee, or poop, on command. Learning this was a hard won breakthrough.

And apart from the midwife-y type textbooks that helped me learn more about the physiology of the birth process, there are really no baby books I would recommend of the doubtless hundreds I have read. These days most of them piss me off. The train-your-baby-to-sleep-like-an-adult gurus are a pet hate. Ditto the what-to-expect books that simply prepare you for a highly medically-managed intervention-laden birth scenario. I find it very interesting that the how-to-raise-your-baby books have nothing very helpful to teach us that we can’t figure out for ourselves, but continue to outsell the active-birth/home-birth/midwifery-led birth books that are less in demand but so much more valuable.

So new parents: save your money and your sanity and skip the baby books. One thing that is glaringly obvious yet completely overlooked is that none of our babies have read these books and therefore don’t know the script. They have no idea what’s expected of them. Forget about what the books are telling you, and go with that instinct you think isn’t there. Write your own book, become your own baby expert. I guarantee that the more you read the less you will know and the less clear things will be.

And remember, guilt and doubt will become your new best friends whatever you do, but at least you will have more time to figure it out instead of reading about all the things that won’t work.

Remember, write your own book.

Starring your own unique baby and you.

til next time,

Ana.

  1. hi ana. i found your blog through documenting delight. so refreshing to to read your advice. i was just telling a new mama today (who was feeling overwhelmed by all the books and blogs and such out there offering advice) to stop reading it all. i’ll take your advice and write my own book too! thanks!!!!! it is perfect timing!

    Reply

    1. Hi and welcome! So glad to hear that you also feel the same, and that you passed it on to your friend. I almost feel sorry for new mums with the information and advice overload. Thanks for reading!

      Reply

  2. This is so perfect! Why oh why does it take so long to learn this truth?? 😛
    I pretty much stopped reading parenting books after Maggie. I was so irritated with all the CONFLICTING advice. You CAN NOT win in this parenting game, according to these books because you’re going to do it wrong based on someone’s view. *le sigh*

    Reply

    1. We’re winning IF we ignore the parenting books!

      Reply

      1. True. 😀

        Reply

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