There's all this planning involved with having a baby. Books read. Classes taken. Personal experiences from friends and family abound . . . and ultimately, what you find out in practice is that there's no right way to raise a baby in any regard.
In a way, it's liberating because that means there's really not much you can do to screw up a child. In another way, though, it makes wading through all the methods and closing in on what you think is ideal much more difficult. I'm still struggling to find best practices. However, I've learned the most by paying close attention to Ada.
You know -- my daughter, the individual. Go figure!
Take breastfeeding, for example. All Ada's life I've fed her on demand as I've read to do in books and on various sites. Offer the breast whenever baby is hungry. Pay attention to the cues. Hand-sucking, lip-smacking, crankiness, etc.
Thing is, Ada seemed to want to eat ALL THE TIME. Always. And I was assured this is normal baby behavior.
- Breastfed babies eat more frequently because breastmilk is digested quickly.
- Breastfed babies eat almost constantly during growth spurts, which happen constantly.
- Breastfed babies find comfort at the breast and like to suck.
- Breastmilk -- offered aplenty -- is the best hydration for sicknesses.
- The list goes on, as I'm sure many of you know.
It got worse and worse . . . and I'd like to say I stayed relaxed. Stephen will tell you another story. OK. There were definitely
And then a couple weeks ago, I started to pay attention. No to guidelines in books. Not to the La Leche League website. Not to friends. Not to family members.
I don't know what changed, but I noticed something. What, exactly? I guess the seed may have been planted when my mom would continually tell me that Ada looks tired. She said so often, to the point where I'd get annoyed and quip back: "I think I know when my baby is tired, thanks."
Cocky for no good reason. I never followed any sort of baby scheduling method, but we settled into a three-hour schedule for naps. It was what I read was normal for her age. A total of 14 hours of a sleep a day. So, again, I went with it. It was what most people I know are doing. It was best. Or so I thought.
I think I lost my place in this whole narrative. Anyway: If we had to fight so hard for her to eat all the time, I thought, maybe she wasn't hungry at all. DING-DING-DING! Then I realized that Ada shows strong hunger cues when she's OVERTIRED and, at least to me, it seems she's overtired a lot because she needs more frequent/longer naps.
Could it be that easy? Yup.
All these times Ada was hankering for the boob an hour and a half after her feeding? I'm pretty sure she was actually sleepy!
Now I follow a loose, but more attentive, schedule for napping and it seems like everything has changed. She eats much more when she eats. I can simply sit on the couch and feed. No more ascending the stairs to our darkened bedroom, using a nursing cover, and cranking white noise. Sobbing and pleading. In other words, I can actually sneak in some guilty pleasure TV (like Tia and Tamara's reality show. Awful, I know -- but I used to watch Sister Sister! That was the main goal all along, right?).
I'm sure other, more seasoned moms would have discovered the issue much sooner. For me, it took a while. But by paying attention to Ada, I figured it out. I feel like so much of our day has gotten better. I know it's all subject to change. Still, I consider this one of my first victories as a new mom. Score one for the home team!
Have you had any moments of clarity like this one? Now that we've figured this out, I am looking at pretty much everything I'm doing in a new way. It's pretty rad.
Like what you just read? Stay connected! You can subscribe to the feed of these posts, chat with us on Twitter or Facebook. And you can always email us with your questions and comments.