Baby Basics - Study Your Stress Away
Someone once told me, you wouldn’t attempt a marathon without doing some training (unless you’re Jedward), so why not apply the same logic to pregnancy, birth and parenting? It may be that you’re one of those maternal types, broody from your first cuddle with Tiny Tears, surrounded by friends and family who provide a steady stream of little people for you to practice on. OR you could fall into my camp - an only child, married to an only child, whose baby experience was limited to putting nappies on an incontinent Jack Russell during her twilight years. I had good reason to be nervous.
Opting to study my fear away, I read books. Lots of books. It’s a big weird world out there so it’s likely that your fancy will not only have a tome dedicated to it, there may also be a network of mothers who share your enthusiasm for dolphin-spectated water-births. You will quickly discover that baby books cover the entire parenting spectrum from militant mummy (you will eat/sleep/poo when I say you can) to earth mummy (cockle-friendly shampoo and quinoa puree) to independent mummy (“Allegra chose her own nursery; it’s important to us she feels empowered”) and everything in between. For every great read available, there are twenty others touting tripe, so consult with chums and get some honest critique before you make your purchase(s). Amazon do a great range of ‘used’ versions of almost anything you can think of, giving you the opportunity to go nuts without breaking the bank.
I had multiple recommendations for ‘Your Baby Week by Week‘ by Simone Cave & Dr Caroline Fertleman – it’s a friendly, concise, relatable guide which covers all day-to-day baby trouble shooting. Unfortunately, it has been subject to a bit of an online hate campaign, but I urge you to ignore the Minnesota housewives with too much time on their hands – this book became my bible for understanding the simple things like how much sleep nipper needs, how often and much you should be feeding, and that it’s okay to want to phone 999 when your baby does its first sneeze.
Facebook has lots of baby groups and if you don’t mind the occasional shouty autocrat, they are generally pretty cosy and supportive places to air any questions or concerns. It’s worth keeping in mind that you’re dealing with the global public, so before posting or commenting, ask yourself if you’re prepared for the world to respond. The most innocuous of statements can be unintentionally polarising and illicit some punchy responses. The more general pages aren’t so bad, but once you start to diversify and make scary ‘parenting decisions’ e.g. baby-led weaning, controlled crying, co-sleeping and replacing formula with Irn Bru, the emotional stakes get quite a bit higher. I once posted an utterly benign question on a weaning site, which further down the thread turned into virtual handbags between two of the moderators and two members. I quietly left, taking my oatmeal fish finger recipe with me.
Fallen out of love with Facebook? Too many puns put you off Twitter? Instagram might well be the one of you. By searching for a hashtag of interest, it will bring up a plethora of pertinent pics (try saying that three times fast). The pros: It looks pretty and is very user friendly. The cons: As it’s often more about the images than the words, it’s not quite so easy to strike up a useful debate between users as it is on other social media platforms. You’ll eventually stumble upon and be rendered stupefied by a girl in Taipei who posts daily outfit updates for her pet Prairie Dog.
I love an app. Who doesn’t? There seems to be one for everything now and baby related paraphernalia is no different. Thanks to modern technology, you can go from tracking your fertility pre-pregnancy, to tracking your teenager’s Fiat 500 as they pootle off into the sunset on their first date. Relax Melodies has been a constant companion to me ever since I realised that the secret to keeping newly hatched Lola napping was the sound of a shower at full pelt. There’s a timer facility too so if you didn’t want to commit long term to one of the many white-noise toys out there, this would serve as a discreet compromise. I have just discovered Baby Sparks and although it’s early days, I’m already loving it. If you’re a freestyler like me and making it all up as you go along, this app is brilliant for offering developmental milestone inspiration. Sound complicated? It’s basically a series of helpful videos on things like helping baby roll over, crawl, and develop a pincer grip. Of course you can always skip those bits and focus on the crowd pleasers; no one will notice your baby can’t do tummy time if it can clap its hands and do a hi 5.