Monday, April 11, 2005

Advice

You barely announce you are pregnant before it begins. Everyone has some advice. People watch what you eat, how you carry yourself and the activities you undertake. Some think you should find out the baby's sex as soon as possible; others tell you it must be a surprise. Should you work or stay home with your baby? Don't worry, your friends and family will be sure to tell you. Your great aunt will be confident that the nursery should be pink and floral; your sister wants you to buy bears, but mother-in-law favors ducks. Worst of all, everyone has an opinion on what you should name your baby!

Once the baby comes, it only gets worse. As you take baby for a walk in his stroller, old ladies will admonish you for not covering his head with a hat or swaddling him tightly enough. Everyone will ask how he is sleeping and offer their own advice: schedule him, follow his schedule, start him on solids early, use formula at night, co-sleep, put him in his own room, swaddle, run a fan, use a crib vibrator, play soft music, breastfeed more often, let him cry it out, never let him cry. The sheer volume of advice is mind-boggling and to exacerbate things, the advice is never consistent. You are sure to get contradictory suggestions from reliable sources.

So, what is a new mother to do? First, seek out a couple sources of advice you trust. How do you do this? Start with your pediatrician. Theoretically, you chose your baby's doctor by getting referrals and interviewing doctors. You chose someone with a logical approach and a friendly manner so take advantage of that research and listen to your doctor. If nothing else, this gives you the authority to tell busybodies "Oh, junior's doctor specifically recommended this."

You cannot call your doctor for everything, however, so you will need some other advisors. Consider the members of your family and your friends. Is there anyone who is calm, collected, smart, and funny and has raised happy, healthy children? Is your mother overbearing or relaxed? Is she willing to read up on newer theories of child rising? Look at those you admire and aspire to follow their lead. Whoever you choose to listen to, make sure you listen to your own instincts too. No one spends more time with your baby, understands your family and your household better than you.

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