In December of last year my husband Rhys and I welcomed a little pink bundle into the world, who is now 4.5 months old. Since then I have been learning the ropes of motherhood by strictly following the parenting style known at “Winging It.”
Since then, I have to say, I am shocked by how many “rules” there are out there with regards to bringing up a baby.
According to numerous mummy blogs and articles written by ‘infant sleep consultants’ (a job you apparently become qualified for by having a baby yourself who is a fantastic sleeper), if you just follow your intuition and take a relaxed approach to parenting you will end up creating a monster.
Specifically, a monster who will never (EVER!) learn how to self-settle and who will require you to breastfeed her, whilst singing “twinkle, twinkle little star” and bouncing up and down on a fit ball with her in your arms every day until her 18th birthday.
Well, don’t I feel foolish. Here I was enjoying rocking, feeding and cuddling my sweet baby to sleep. What a novice I am! I can’t even start to comprehend how embarrassing it’s going to be for our daughter to have to drag me with her to school camp and her friend’s sleepover parties just so she can get some shut-eye. Like being a teenager isn’t mortifying enough!
So after scouring through the online treasure trove of sleep advice, I have come to the conclusion that I have two options here:
I can carry on enjoying my baby and helping her off to sleep in a way that is nice and easy for the both of us, or
I can stop being such a lazy parent and start some “gentle” sleep training techniques. This may require a bit more effort on my part and maybe a few tears (baby’s, mum’s or both) but eventually baby will “learn” that she doesn’t need me to fall asleep and she can (apparently) comfort herself. That, despite only being 4 months new, she doesn’t need her embarrassing mother with her terrible singing voice to rock her and hold her while her delicate long lashes get heavier and her big blue eyes close in adorable defeat as sleep takes over…
Actually, you know what? Scrap the sleep training. While the rocking, feeding, singing and bouncing is keeping everyone happy, I think I will just stick with what works. And maybe I will just need to look into buying a bigger fit ball.
UPDATE: December, 2017: This was the first blog I ever wrote, back in May 2015.
My daughter is now 3 years old and I can't even remember the last time I rocked, fed or bounced her to sleep. I can imagine how it would go if I tried...: "Mummy? What are you doing?!"
So it's a good thing I didn't end up investing in that bigger fit ball.
Just like all phases in parenthood, that phase passed and was replaced by other challenges. Such is life with children and why we must try and do all we can to enjoy the journey, because there is no finish line.
Georgina Dowden is a mother, midwife and lactation consultant (IBCLC).
In her day to day life, she looks after her two beautiful children and also supports other families on their parenting journey.
If you would like to get in touch sleep/settling support, click here:
Home visits for breastfeeding support available if you live in the Northern Rivers of NSW.
(Originally published at: www.babydoc.com.au)