I was on Twitter recently when an expectant Mum asked, “What do peeps think of Robin Barker’s Baby Love book?”
Expectant and new Mums are bombarded with advice. Family, friends, strangers, Child Health Nurses, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, parenting books – there is information and advice available in response to any and every parenting question that has ever existed, just ask Uncle Google or Aunt Amazon. At a time in our lives when we are most likely apprehensive with uncertainty, others appear to see it as their duty to scare prepare us for what is to come. Some advice is welcome and requested, some – well, not so much; some is well meaning and thoughtful, and unfortunately, quite a lot would actually be much better left unsaid!
Now, I confess that I do own Baby Love and did refer to it many times when Immy was a baby. In hindsight, it was really useful on more than one occasion. Easy to read, well indexed, and I didn’t find it advocated anything I felt was too extreme. But ultimately, it was just one point of view and I picked out the bits I found useful, and it was by no means the only parenting book I read. I read many baby related titles – everything from Gina Ford to Elizabeth Pantley. In fact, I read until I found one book that suited me and my emotions, and the experiences I was having with my new baby.
Then I stopped.
The book in question was Pinky McKay’s Sleeping Like A Baby. Pinky’s book resonated with me and offered an approach that I felt comfortable with, given that I was a new parent completely in love with my brand new baby. In all honesty, I thought I would be more of a ‘tough love’ parent but instead, once on the journey, I found that I had a soft, marshmellow centre and therefore found myself adopting a gentler parenting style and Pinky’s book told me that this was okay.
Apart from the book, I also learnt that I had to trust my instincts. Yes, babies like routine but I didn’t need Gina’s routine, I needed to be sensitive to the cues that my baby was giving to find her natural rhythm and routine. I realised that small babies can’t manipulate their parents and really can’t be spoilt. They need love and reassurance and the best way to provide that is through touch and attention and familiarity. A new baby needs Mum to be Mum, their very own Mummy who offers all of these things and looks out for what her own baby needs, not what others decree is right but what is right for that individual Mum with her own unique baby. A book that provides a ‘one size fits all’ would certainly make this whole parenting gig easier but in reality it really is an impossibility.
And my response to the tweet; “It can be good to read widely but ultimately you need to learn to trust your own instincts as you know your baby best.”