Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The 21st Century and the Rise of Idealistic Parenting

I am sure there is a proper name for this new kind of parenting that has appeared over the past 10 years or so, however in the meantime I will just refer to it as idealistic parenting.  It is not my aim to be controversial here but purely to put across the impact some of these narrow-minded ideas can have on a first time mum who is trying to do the very best for her baby yet may not have a lot of confidence in what she is doing.  Here are just three of the most popular parenting ideals...

This is probably the topic which has made me most angry at it is one I have been most effected by.  There is a growing consensus that young babies should not be put in a routine, that everything should dictated by the baby and be done on demand.  Now I only have experience with C in this matter and I cannot comment how successful this has been for others, however this approach with C DID NOT WORK!  At 12 weeks old she barely slept at all during the day and screamed constantly almost all the time.  I tried cranial osteopathy, I tried every colic remedy on the market and nothing seemed to help.  I was depressed, tired and at my wits end.  I then came across an article online that suggested that maybe she was overtired.  This concept had never crossed my mind.  Surely if a baby was tired, they’d sleep?  But apparently not all baby’s know how to get off to sleep.  Sceptical, but willing to give anything a try, I bought a well-known sleep training book (I can hear some of you screaming NOOOOOO already) and started implementing the techniques advised.  Within a day I had a different baby on my hands. She was refreshed, happy and smiley.  If it wasn’t for all the negative press around routine and sleep training I would have tried something earlier and it makes me angry that the misinformation flying around caused both C and myself weeks of unnecessary misery.  

As time passes the next sleep milestone to overcome is dropping a nap.  Again, the new popular consensus seems to be that a baby will drop a nap when they are ready and again the process it led by the baby.  With C, the clear indication that she was ready to drop a nap was refusal to go to sleep at her normal time in the evenings.  At no point however did she try to alter her daytime routine.  It took me to drop a nap and reorganise her remaining naps accordingly for things to resolve themselves.  Luckily, by this point I was more confident in my instincts as a mother to act promptly and not let our bedtime routine spiral out of control.

Baby Led Weaning

I am actually an advocate of baby led weaning but I do have concerns about those that preach that you “should not put a spoon anywhere near a baby’s mouth”… yes that really has been said to me by someone at a baby group I went to.  The idea behind baby led weaning is it gets baby used to a variety of textures and flavours early on resulting in a less fussy child later on.  With C I practised a mixture of puree and baby led weaning, and heaven forbid some of those purees were even shop bought not homemade!  If I am totally honest I probably practised about 25% baby led weaning, 25% homemade purees and 50% shop bought purees.  For me and C, I felt this balance worked quite well.  At 18 months she is now one of the best eaters amongst her friends.  Her favourite foods are peas and carrots which she always picks out of her food and eats them first.  Of course, I may just have been lucky but it’s important to point out that a good eater cannot only be achieved from a 100% baby led weaning diet as some would have you believe.


Before I start, I should make it clear I consider myself one of the lucky ones.  I breastfed C successfully for a year.  She never had any formula and I weaned her straight on to cow’s milk.  My reasons for stopping breastfeeding were primarily selfish in that I felt that I needed control of my life back.  Unknown to me at the time, I was also pregnant with baby number 2.  I know many women for variety of reasons are unable to breastfeed as long as I did either due to work commitments or medical reasons therefore I was shocked and surprised to come across some individuals very negative reaction to me giving up breastfeeding as apparently I should have let my toddler decide when to wean themselves off the breast.  I’m sorry, that approach was not for me.  I do not expect to be judged on that, it is a personal decision.  I am proud that I was able to breastfeed her as long as I did.

I should reiterate that the comments I have made above are purely my own opinion and I do not expect everyone to agree with them.  The purpose of this post was to put across a more open-minded approach to parenting to counteract some of the narrow-minded idealism out there.  We should not be making new parents feel stressed and depressed trying to follow idealistic ideas which then don’t work with their baby.  Life is all about finding a balance that suits your situation and having the confidence to follow your instincts on what is best for your baby.  It is not a competition, and even if it was, the idealistic approach often does not produce winning results.

1 comment:

  1. Gosh! I could almost write my own post in response! All in support of yours, I might add.

    Sleeping, as you know, was a biggie for us. We had to use CC/CIO or break. But I really felt I couldn't talk to some of my closest friends about it, because they were so anti it.

    My best friend did BLW and now, at almost 3, their LO won't eat anything 'sloppy' that needs a spoon. That includes pasta sauce or mashed potato. Like you, S was a mix of BLW & purees and he's a brilliant eater.

    BF is such a personal thing. We had to combi-feed and only made it to 6 months. I'm proud we got that far. You can't look at kids in a school playground and spot the ones that were BF and the one's that weren't!

    Sorry for the long response. I get quite irritated by these things too. I especially hate these parenting techniques with a label. I sometimes wonder if people opt for them more so they can say they 'did BLW' or 'did attachment parenting' etc, than because they think they're the right thing for them.