Have you ever set rules concerning your child that people rolled their eyes at, laughed at and went on to say something like this, “It’s ok, you’re just being fussy because this is your first child!” Here is a list of things commonly mistaken for first time parents being too fussy that I think we should share with the world so they understand us better. This is just a courtesy because honestly, whether they understand or not or whether they agree or not, they ought to respect our wishes concerning our child(ren).
1. Restricting visits to the newborn
Most hospitals are strict when it comes to the number of people they allow in to see a new born baby. Yes, this is done to prevent overcrowding and chaos at the hospital but even more importantly than that, it is done to reduce the amount of contact the new born gets as they are still adapting to the new environment and are prone to illness if overexposed during this sensitive time. Culturally however, people feel that they show their excitement and joy for you by seeing you whilst you’re in hospital otherwise they seem not to care if they are not all squashed in the little room by your bedside, shouting over the million people who’ve come to visit the lady in the bed next to yours. Giving birth is quite an ordeal so ask for space if you need it. Politely let people know that you will invite them over to your place when you’re rested and when you feel baby is old enough to handle playing pass the hot potato.
2. Attending to baby as soon as they cry
New borns don’t just cry for the sake of it. Crying is their only method of communicating their needs to you. As you fall into some kind of routine you’ll be able to tell what baby needs each time they cry be it a diaper change, a nap, a feed, a burp or a rub on the tummy because it’s hard to do a number 2. In light of this, I totally disagree with people who say that you should let your child cry for a bit or those who say that the speed at which I rush to attend to my baby is over zealous and that it is because I’m just excited seeing as though it’s my first child. No! it is because I understand that my baby depends on me and that they have a need so I will attend to it immediately.
3. Insisting that people wash/ sanitize their hands before carrying baby
You wash your hands before you eat your food, yes? Well you should anyway. That’s because you want to make sure that your hands are clean and that you do not get sick from eating germs which you have been collecting unknowingly as you go about your day. Same goes when you want to carry my baby. This small, helpless being that we all need to protect the best way we can. If I could make you all take a shower before carrying my baby, I would but cleaning your hands is a good start. A shocking 87% of people don’t wash their hands when they come out of the toilet. Then are those who are less guilty of being careless and get germs unintentionally for example, by holding the rail when they go up a flight of stairs which a gazillion people have touched before them or by shaking peoples’ hands not knowing that they just came out of the toilet and did not wash their hands. Pretty gross huh! So don’t hesitate to insist that people wash their hands before carrying your baby.
4. No kisses for baby!
It’s all about protecting our little ones from germs. Asking people not to kiss your baby doesn’t mean that they’re filthy and disgusting. It just means protecting baby from “what if’s” is more important protecting feelings feelings by letting them kiss baby. There are other ways to show affection. If they really want what’s best for you and the baby they claim to love so much then they will want to protect baby too and they won’t get offended by your rules. People kiss their dogs, kiss their partners lips and Lord knows what else, so please don’t let them kiss your baby. This little baby got herpes from being kissed by an infected person. Let that sink in. And put mittens on baby’s hands because if people don’t kiss baby, they will play with his/her hands which will go straight into the mouth afterwards. Be crafty about it.
5. Rocking baby to sleep
There is a big debate about soothing baby versus letting them learn to soothe themselves and to put themselves to sleep. Granted, taking the first approach is quite a task for the first 18 or so months because every time baby needs to sleep they will need your help but there does come a time when they will depend on you less and less until they can fall asleep on their own and I feel that letting that happen naturally is great because you don’t have to put up with a screaming baby while you force yourself to be strong and to ignore them. I think lessons on tough love can come later but if self-soothing works for you then go for it.
6. Having a specific diet for baby
We are all told at the hospital that exclusive breast feeding for the first 6 months is best for your child and this is because breast milk contains essential and easy to digest nutrients at this stage in baby’s life. Moms who opt to bottle feed and use formula for various reasons, are encouraged to properly sterilize bottles, use the correct measurements and to use clean water when making baby’s bottle. Now many a times I’ve heard people say that if your baby is not sleeping well at night during this stage then they are hungry and you need to give them mealie meal porridge or baby cereal or isitshwala/ sadza so that they sleep better. Before 4 months a baby is not able to digest any kind of solids even with a watery consistency so no I’m not just being a fussy first time parent by insisting that my child has breast milk only. None of my children will eat solids before the recommended time especially not so that i can have a few extra hours of sleep. Increased breast/ bottle feeding sessions will do the trick and as for sleep, will catch up with you when I can my old friend.
7. Feeding on demand
Then comes people’s opinions on when to feed your baby. It’s good to have a routine so as to put some sort of order in your and baby’s life. In fact I encourage that you have a feeding schedule. This will come in handy if you ever need to leave baby at home with a child minder so they have an idea of when to feed him/her. It will also help you to learn to interpret when baby is crying because they are hungry based on when last they had a feed. That being said, I also strongly feel that this schedule should be set at your baby’s pace because every child is different and only your baby can truly tell when they are hungry. If their crying and you’ve eliminated all other possible causes, even if they’ve just had a feed 1 hour ago and they usually feed after every 2 hours, offer them milk. I don’t believe you can over feed an infant because at this early stage, they regulate themselves and will refuse to drink if they are not hungry.
8. Keeping a close eye on baby as they discover the world
This one really had me stunned. I was very aware of where my child would play especially when he became a bit mobile which coincided with him teething so everything he picked up went straight into the mouth. I was constantly alert and on my feet making sure he was not eating twigs, stones, dirt and people would say let him eat, don’t worry, it will make his tummy strong, kids eat dirt all the time and they don’t get sick!!! I don’t feel that I’m denying my child some kind of childhood pleasure so he won’t eat dirt on my watch especially since in the event that he does eat it and get sick, those same people won’t be anywhere to be found come time to pay hospital bills. Yes, God does ultimately watch over our kids but He made us their guardians for a reason.
9. Being specific about appropriate and unwelcome gifts for baby
As the child’s parents, we are responsible for governing what our child is and is not exposed to and so it is important to state what kinds of gifts we will and will not accept as a way of regulating that exposure. We did not want stuffed animals and violent toys like guns and war tank trucks for our son. We also didn’t want clothes with negative labels and prints like skulls or little rascals. Some people went ahead and bought these things anyway and we simply regifted these to people who would appreciate them. People might think you’re being uptight but whether you want to please people or make sure your child grows up with values that you set for them is entirely up to you.
So call me a fussy, overly sensitive mom if you like but my child’s well being comes first! Please some of the rules you set regarding your children that were not readily welcomed and how you managed to enforce them but also keep the peace. We are eager to hear from you.
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