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“My pediatrician said that for a baby Joey’s age, he should nap at the same time, in the same place every day.”

“My pediatrician said that because Susie is 3 months now,she should be getting regular Vitamin D supplements.”

“My pediatrician said to start with rice cereal, when we introduce Little Larry to solids.”

“My pediatrician said never to feed her when she wakes up in the middle of the night.”

And where is it said that pediatricians are God?  That they know ALL, should be listened to above even your own gut, no matter what your baby is trying to tell you?  Hmmm…

Pediatricians, like most of us, are well-intentioned.  They tend to push their way to do something with Baby for two reasons, from my vantage point.  1) ease…to remember, to understand and, so far, hasn’t been proven problematic and 2) it’s how they were taught, usually when they were in med school.  More likely it is a combination of both. Whatever the reason, this isn’t enough for me to unconditionally follow their advice. I don’t know about you but I want more than just the easy, or for lack of a better word, the “historic” way of caring for my baby. Well-intentioned isn’t good enough for me.   If it was, I’d be less concerned with who I leave our baby with, if her car seats was properly installed or what foods I do decide to start her out with.

Here’s the thing: you’re the expert when it comes to your own baby.  This is a totally scary thought for many of us new moms but it is true.  You know her best.  You’ve known her the longest and are likely with her the most.  And here’s another scary thought: this may be the first time in our lives that we have had to take responsibility for a being other than ourselves.  We may not have ever advocated for ourselves, let alone a baby who we feel like we barely know.  But advocate we must.  If we don’t do it now, when do we? Advocating for our child is a healthy habit that it’s best to start now.  And it is a habit.  Starting now will help later on when the “should” people are quickly multiplying in number beyond just your pediatrician.  It’s always harder to voice your difference of opinion to a large group when the stakes are high than to one person over something that’s, in contrast, pretty small, right?

Pediatricians are kind of like the nurses in the hospital after you deliver.  After they learn that this beautiful jewel is your first baby, out comes the instructions to feed every four hours and other soon-to-be proven nonsense.  Sigh. So, listen to your gut when the pediatrician, your sister, the best friend who had her babies two years ago or your mother-in-law admonish you for allowing your darling to sleep in the BOB when you arrive home.  You know her best.  But if you feel like you just don’t really know, use this as an opportunity to really pay attention next time.  Using the BOB example from above- when she wakes up, what is her temperment like?  Does she have a difficult time getting to sleep at bedtime because she slept in the BOB earlier in the day? Etc. [A really good example of the importance of listening to your gut is here.]

In addition to listening to the gut, what about common sense? This also seems to be missing from some of the “my pediatrician said” statements.  Often if Baby wakes up in the middle of the night, chances are she’s crying. Crying is the only thing that babies can do to tell us that something is horribly wrong.  If she wakes in the middle of the night, might she not be hungry?  Makes sense to me.  But ignoring a baby’s crying doesn’t. Not only does it not make good sense but ignoring a baby’s crying can lead to a wealth of developmental -both emotional and physical-issues that can span beyond childhood. [For more details on what kind of developmental issues can arise from neglecting babies crying, see Dr. Bruce Perry’s work in _The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog_.]

Let me be clear: I’m no expert.  My background is more recently in victim services than child development.  I’m a new mom, trying to figure out what works best for my baby, just like you.  So, if this is helpful to you or gives you permission to trust yourself more, I’m so glad.  If it doesn’t work for you, that’s okay too.

I welcome thoughts, ideas, comments of any sort.  Thank you for reading.

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