Knowing what’s best for your little one is one of the hardest things to do, and then living with that decision and its consequences brings its own roller coaster of emotions – especially when the decision didn’t pan out the way you’d hoped.
From tummy time, sensory play, breastfeeding, combi-feeding, bottle feeding, dummy / no dummy, colours of poo, amount of wee, reflux, colic, germs are everywhere, weight gain, jabs / no jabs, health visitors, internet searches, regretting internet searches… the list is endless. The whirlwind of questions (especially when you’re at your most vulnerable, sleep deprived and hormonal) can be a recipe for disaster. Your life as a parent is riddled with decision after decision. Knowing what’s best for your little one throughout their first weeks, months and for their entire lives is a huge weight to bare. So here is my attempt to talk you through some top tips on how to stay calm, collected and ultimately make the best decisions for you and your baby.
The best book I read before my little one was born and then re-read during the first year was ‘The book you wish your parents had read’. This was an absolutely fantastic read and a book that I will be sure to go back to throughout my journey as a parent.
Although google search is tempting and often a fantastic tool – you can also find yourself caught down a terrifying rabbit hole of horror stories, massive exaggerations and worst case scenarios. Stick to sites which look at all perspectives and give the pros and cons of both, rather than promoting one over the other. Find other mums / dads who write their own findings (like us at End-Rich!) – often they will have pearls of wisdom from their own experiences. Our recent posts ‘Expectations vs Reality of Giving Birth’ , ‘The First Year of Being a Mummy’, ‘How bring a parent has changed me for the better’ and ‘Growing Up Mixed Race – Happy, Healthy and Secure‘ are filled with some heartfelt anecdotes, personal recommendations and experiences which may help you on your journey.
From whether to breastfeed? bottle feed? immunise? co-sleep? introduce a dummy? send little one to nursery? how long to take for maternity leave? become a full time mum? or be a ‘modern’ woman and juggle both…? Knowing what’s best for your little one can be a tumultuous and infuriating journey. Researching using reliable, well documented and medically sound sources is, in my opinion and experience the only way to go.
Follow your instincts
Mamma knows best… and Dadda too! When it comes to knowing what’s best for your little one, the best thing you can do it follow your instincts. Research is fantastic and will help guide your decisions – but ultimately, always trust your gut as a parent. Often, before there are any other symptoms, a mummy or daddy will know that there is something not quite right with their little one. Before a tooth pops up and gums begin to redden, mummy and daddy will notice the tiniest changes in their little one’s behaviour and make decisions based on this. Regardless of what others say, if your gut is screaming at you – follow it!
Take people's advice with a handful of salt!
Although well meaning, family, friends and colleagues will dish out advice and anecdotes with spades of enthusiasm expecting you take on board everything they’re advising. To quote Alex’s favourite author, “Advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill.” Tolkien. Remember that all children are different. All parents are different. Ultimately, what works for one family may not work for another. Advice can however be really useful – especially when you’re struggling to know what’s best for your little one. Just be sure to take what’s being said with a handful of salt.
At times, you may feel as though you’ve settled on a decision that you’re happy with. In come the advice givers and before you’ve had a chance to action what you’ve settled on, you’ve been told that the opposite is best and are left in a state of confusion!
My advice? Ironic I know… Take on board the opinions of others, but couple this with your own research, your gut instinct and common sense. No one said knowing what’s best for your little one would be easy!
Accept and ask for help
If you’re like us and have a fantastic support network make sure you take full advantage of this! Accept help – pick people’s brains and learn from the older generation and their experiences.
Remember that you are not perfect! The perfect parent, family, baby, child etc… does not exist – regardless of what some people showcase on social media! Perfection is overrated anyway! You will make decisions you later regret, you will worry and spend your nights in the deep dark depths of google – but guess what? Your little one won’t care! As long as you’re doing your best and arming yourself with some solid research from good sources, common sense, your instinct and asking for help – you will know what’s best for your little one. Surround them with love, warmth and kindness and you’ll see your little one flourish and grow beautifully regardless of whether they took to the dummy or not!
Behind every great kid is a Mamma who’s pretty sure she’s screwing it up!