I was talking to my mom the other day through all the things we mothers in 2017 are expected to think (worry) about in terms of our kids development and growth. Among other things, when I told her that the Health Visitor told me to do more tummy time with Freddy because it ‘helps with his brain development’ my mother rolled her eyes and told me to “go look in a mirror and ask yourself how are you even alive?!”
Ok, maybe you had to be there. It was pretty funny and we had a good laugh. Her point was that, back in the 1980s, “tummy time” wasn’t a thing. Maybe I slept on my tummy, but otherwise I spent a lot of time on my back. I didn’t have the standing reflex until I was much older than Freddy, I was bottle fed formula from birth, I didn’t do any baby classes, and I am pretty sure I was fed Gerber puree baby food from the jar (most likely with additives back in those days). I survived. I was ok at sports as a kid. I did well in school. I have a Bachelors and a Masters Degree. I have a happy family life (if we don’t discuss politics). I have friends. And I like to think I’m relatively (take that as you will) mentally and emotionally well-adjusted.
I get that tummy time is important, but what if my baby absolutely, positively hates it and goes mental when he’s on his tummy? I get that babies need sensory stimulation, but what if classes consistently interfere with nap-time. I get that organic, home-made food is better, but what if we barely have time to feed ourselves much less make all homemade baby food? I see the benefits of baby-led weaning. I get that breast is better than bottle. I am all on board that television isn’t great for little kids.
Look, I know there are statistics and science behind a lot of what we are told to do with our babies these days. I respect that immensely and feel grateful to be a mother in this day and age and country where infant mortality rates are extremely low and I have infinite resources at my disposal.
But sometimes it just feels like some of these things we are expected to do are more trend for the time than absolute truth (and there are some absolute truths, like vaccinations. Don’t even try to argue with me on this one). And the guidance changes. Constantly. For example, pregnant women, as of a few months ago, can now eat things with raw eggs whilst pregnant. Five years ago, you just had to add sterilised water to formula to make up a bottle. Now you have to add formula to water that is 70 degree celsius, let it cool, then give it your baby. It used to be that physicians and child-development experts said absolutely no screen-time until the age of two years old. But now Facetime is ok. When I was a kid, babies were weaned around four months old. Now we’re told to wait until six months.
When Freddy is feeling unwell or just having a rotten day, we sometimes watch a baby friendly film together because it’s what makes him feel calm. I will put Freddy on his tummy, but I don’t make him stay there long because I know he finds it uncomfortable and it makes him upset. I will attempt to get to a class one of these days, but the class of “Mummy making silly faces” might have to suffice. I’ll do my best to make all of Freddy’s food, but sometimes ready-made purees will have to do. The list goes on.
We can only do our best to follow all the guidance and advise that is available to us as a 21st century aspiring super yummy-mummies, but utlimately, we need to trust our instincts a little too and do what we feel is best for our babies.