There’s one thing all mums are guilty of. Maybe dads too, and that is, not really listening to advice.
We’re parents for goodness sake. So you gave your baby brandy to sooth teething 60 years ago? Things have changed. The other mothers who weaned their babies on rusks before six months despite the gluten allergy warnings, what do they know?
I am totally guilty of this. I listened and smiled sweetly at the heaps of advice that was given to me after Boo was born and, because you have a child and everyone thinks they ‘know best, up to this day, yet walked away heeding none of it.
However I would like to think that if I could go back and tell myself what I know now, that I would listen to me. Surely I would.
This is what I would say.
1. When you are pregnant and are told to speak/sing to your bump, you have to actually do it out loud in order for it to work. Yes it I true, I spent a good part of my pregnancy speaking IN MY HEAD to the baby. What a fruit loop I am. Did I think there would be some telepathic link between me and the little person inside me? I think it wasn’t until I saw a man talking to his partner’s bump on TV that the penny dropped. I am blaming hormones.
2. When you go into hospital to have your child, pack light. I looked like I was going on a fortnight holiday to Ibiza with the amount I took for both baby and me and, after the birth, Hubster left and I was wheeled back to the ward with a carrier bag on each handle of the chair and two members of staff carrying my stuff. All you need is enough for one night and a couple of baby-grows, vests, nappies and a hat. Nappies could even be brought in later. Obviously if it’s a caesarean you need more but just have things packed and labelled at home.
3. Ditch the baby books. I read hundreds of them when I was pregnant and in the first few weeks. I remember one particularly bad night when Boo had been crying for what felt like hours and I thought to myself, well the book says new born babies only cry for the maximum of 40 minutes before they sleep again. The author of that book either lied or drugged her baby. 90 minutes later, I burnt the book and danced around the ashes.
4. We all know children don’t come with manuals. If they did though, they would say that nappies come in different sizes.
I had probably changed two nappies in my life before I had Boo. One for a child I baby sat for once (I put nappy rash cream all over his winky, bottom and legs-how was I supposed to know?) and the other for my cousin who was 21 by the time I had Boo so I had very little experience in that area. Despite ‘practising’ on the dog before Boo came, it took several incidents of poo going up her back before I realised she must need a bigger sized nappy.
5. Likewise bottle teats. I didn’t know they came in different sizes. When she started going red in the face and the colic got unbearable, someone asked what size teat I was using-how are you just supposed to know these things?
6. Next up is the baby-grow. A lovely invention that looks any baby look cute. I preferred the terry-towelling ones because they felt so nice when you rubbed them to wind the baby. The bug bear? Baby-grow with no front fastenings. The ones that had the poppers at the bottom only and you had to put them over her head. Whoever invented them had obviously never dressed a wriggly baby.
7. We all know babies have creases-on their arms, their chubby, little legs. I didn’t know they had creases in their necks. So when there came a bit of a smell I pokes around everywhere until, to my horror, I found a bit of a fungal infection in her neck crease where wet milk had not been dried and the crease in her neck had made a lovely warm breeding ground for bacteria. Sudocrem sorted it out but I made sure I checked every little crease on her body, daily, from then on.
8. When you are up doing those first night feeds, your mind plays tricks on you. At the time we lived on a normal street (as opposed to a farm) and, as Hubster spent the first four months in the spare room, I would sit by the window with the blinds open watching late night dog walkers, revellers coming in on a Saturday night and, even a deer come and go down our road. It was the evening that a shiny, glowing, planet-like orb appeared directly in front of my window that I decided to ask Hubster if he would have Boo for an hour in the morning so I could get a bit of extra sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause hallucinations.
9.This one is embarrassing. Boo had cradle cap. I read you should use olive oil (from the chemist not the cooking type infused with garlic and rosemary). I rubbed it on, rubbed more on and rubbed a but more for luck. The cradle cap got worse. Her head was read and blistered and she couldn’t stop itching it. I marched her straight to the doctors, sick with worry. The problem? I hadn’t washed it off. What a fool. The doctor must have been on the verge of declaring me an unfit mother. Who knew you had to wash the stuff off? Needless to say, Boo had a lovely head massage with baby shampoo that night.
10. All the lists of ‘what you need for baby’ say cotton wool because baby wipes are too harsh on delicate skin. What a load of nonsense. Have you ever tried dry cotton wool on a dirty bottom? It sticks. Who realistically carries a top-and-tail bowl around with lukewarm water with them? Get fragrance free wipes.
What advice would you like to give yourself if you could?