You’ll know by now that older people – mainly mums, aunties and in-laws – just love telling you how they used to do things when they were new mums. You will learn to block most of this out while singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star very loudly in your own head, but sometimes it’s worth tuning in, because some of their anecdotes are quite entertaining… in fact, some might even be helpful…
They: Left the pram outside in all seasons because it made you nap like a dream
You: Are too paranoid about someone (what, like one of the snails that lives in your garden?) kidnapping your baby to leave them unattended, so they mostly nap on or around you, especially when they’re tiny. Never the less, you do get the gist – your baby DOES tend to sleep better when they’ve had a bit of fresh air.
They: Weaned you at 6 weeks/12 weeks/while you were still in the womb
You: Follow modern guidelines to introduce solids from six months, maybe five and a half if you’re feeling really daring. Your elders might tell you that food will help your baby sleep better, but this is a myth – milk, whether from boob or bottle, is far more calorie-rich and nutritious than a bit of pureed carrot or cardboardy baby rice. It doesn’t help that the four month sleep regression is very, very real and totally unrelated to what they eat – the oldies might well insist this is a sign your baby is gagging for solids, but actually, it’s more likely to make it worse, since their tummies have a lot of adjusting to do once solids are in the picture.
They: Bunged you in a playpen when they needed to get stuff done
You: Resist buying a playpen, but unwittingly use various modern versions, like ball pools and Jumperoos, that serve the exact same purpose – stopping your baby from flailing around all over the place so that you can Get Shit Done (sorry mum…), while looking a little bit less like a tiny prison cell.
They: Drank booze and maybe even smoked while pregnant
You: Know better. You might well have the odd cheeky glass of wine when you’re pregnant (if, of course, you can stomach it) but this is one scenario where modern science has proved that your mum definitely doesn’t know best.
They: Smacked you when you were naughty – or at least shouted something about waiting until your dad got home
You: Know that your defenceless baby isn’t really capable of being “naughty” yet, and even if they were, you would try and reason with them gently, perhaps before implementing new fangled punishments like “time out” and “the naughty step”. In fact, you feel guilty if you even raise your voice, and wouldn’t dream of getting physical. Your mum, of course, rolls her eyes when you talk to your baby as if you are Oprah at her most empathetic, just like your baby will roll their eyes at you one day.
They: Put you to sleep on your front and you consequently slept through the night when you were a minute old.
You: Follow the advice to put your baby to sleep flat on their back, in a cot empty of bumpers and cuddly toys. It’s true that babies on their tummies often sleep more deeply – but it’s just not worth the risk. Since 1992, when the official guidelines changed and parents were advised to put their little ones on their backs, deaths from SIDS have dropped by 50%. But don’t panic if, after a few months, your baby starts to gravitate towards their side or tummy – once they’re strong enough to get into the position, they’re strong enough to get out of it too.
They: Tried not to hold or cuddle you too much, because they didn’t want to “spoil” you
You: Cuddle your baby as much as you damn well please because guess what? They’re a baby and you love them. And funnily enough, Granny seems pretty keen on cuddling them a lot too…