Useful parenting resources that worked (for me)
As baby number 2 is due in the very near future, I thought I’d start a little list of parenting resources I’ve found useful over the last couple of years. I think it’s important to say that these resources worked for me most of the time. Everyone’s approach is so different, it’s unlikely that anyone will want to do the same things I did, but I loved reading about parenting when I was pregnant the first time (and to be fair, still do), so hopefully it’ll be interesting, if nothing else.
Routines and parenting styles
There are approximately one million different ways to feed, discipline, play with, talk to (etc) your child. There are so many manuals you could read forever and never find one that quite fits. In fact, the ones I found myself most attracted to often wildly contradicted one another. So I’ve just taken the bits and bobs that felt right and somehow they seemed to work for me reasonably well.
- The Baby Whisperer. I need a routine. I really wasn’t happy feeding on demand, and a couple of months after Theo was born (maybe 2? 3? Stuff like this disappears from my head, why is that?), I decided to look into routines. My old boss and a friend of mine had both recommended The Baby Whisperer, so after looking around at a few of the other routines out there, I decided to give it a go. Well, she has some completely mental ideas, most of which I did not take up at all, but the routine itself made sense and was actually reasonably easy to implement. Theo never (back then) slept for longer than 20 minutes, so the ‘me time’ never really materialised, but I think the 3-4 hourly feeds saved my sanity, and I’ll definitely be considering it next time around.
- RIE Parenting. Facebook recommended that I take a look at Janet Lansbury’s page, as a few friends were following it. I had a look and it’s since had a huge influence on me. It just feels right. The idea behind it is that babies and young children are already little people, and should be involved in what happens to them. Asking a newborn permission to pick them up or get them dressed seems a little silly, but I love the idea of narrating what you’re doing, so that they begin to understand what’s happening to them and why. They don’t need tons of stimulation, what they need is a loving person to be there, openly communicating with them. RIE also suggests that you don’t need dangling mirrors above the cot or flash cards or walkers or other aides to help their learning or mobility. We never used a walker (while looking into it, I discovered that it actually makes them learn to walk more slowly on their own), barely did tummy time, and have always just talked to Theo like a small person, rather than communicating in baby talk. Two years in, he’s confident, joyful, thoughtful and was also a very early walker (he started right before I went back to work at around 9 1/2 months). Obviously a lot of this is down to his nature, but this approach, while I didn’t adopt it wholesale, just really fit for us.
- Baby-led Weaning. This is messy, but it’s also so much fun and made mealtimes much easier when we were weaning. Theo still turned into a fussy toddler eater (although he will usually at least try something before he spits it out), so sadly it didn’t result in a super “I’ll eat anything!” child (at least, not so far), but highly recommend this approach for anyone who wants to have their hands free at mealtimes. (If you want to read more about our weaning process, you can do here and here)
What the hell is wrong with my baby!?
I did a lot of late night googling when Theo was little, and these sites came up time and time again. I don’t like looking at forums like Mumsnet for answers, so these were a bit more official and, I found, more useful.
- Babycentre. There is a page on this site for pretty much everything that you could potentially be asking about regarding your baby. So, so useful.
- NHS rash guide. I looked at this page far too many times to be healthy, but what can I say: baby acne, chicken pox, “viral rash”, eczema…. Theo had a lot of rashes as a baby!
- Febrile seizure advice. Theo had two of these quite close together when he was around one, and the chances are high he’ll have more before his body is fully able to moderate its own temperature when he’s 3 or 4. If your child has a fever, top tip: cool them down immediately! These are really, really, really not fun.
Where are the other parents like me?
I’m always looking for new, fun parenting bloggers, and these are a few of my favourites. Again, I’ll probably add to this list as I start doing the night feeds again and desperately seeking out new material to read. I’m sure this list was much longer even six months ago, but these are the ones that have stayed with me.
- Husband and wife freelance writers Robyn Wilder and Stuart Heritage‘s blog posts and articles never fail to connect with me. Our sons are around the same age, which helps, but they’re both just so funny and articulate about parenting.
- Hurrah for Gin and The Unmumsy Mum (blog and book!) purely for laughs.
- The Only Girl in the House – because she has FIVE BOYS, so surely I can cope with just one and a tiny girl, right?
Other useful things
- The Wonder Weeks book. Sometimes Theo would develop this horrible, high-pitched squeal. It was hideous, and was always joined by even worse sleep than usual. Sure enough, if I checked the Wonder Weeks book, it would appear he was going through another developmental leap. I’m not 100% sure this was actually helpful in any way, apart from reassuring me that there was a reason behind his behaviour, but it’s interesting to read and full of ideas for fun and engaging games that you can play with your baby at different ages.
- Swaddles. We didn’t try swaddling until a couple of weeks before Theo was too old to be swaddled, and I wish we’d done it sooner. It helped him sleep so much during the day. We didn’t do it at night, but naptimes, this worked a treat. We used these last time around, and will be giving this one a go this time, as it lets the baby have a little bit more freedom, while still mimicking the ‘hug’ feeling of being in the womb.
Things that didn’t work.
- Sleep training. After my cry for help back in September, a friend got in touch and shared the sleep training plan he had been given by a sleep expert. His son’s sleep was TERRIBLE, definitely worse than Theo’s (he hadn’t slept for more than 2 hours in a row since birth, pretty much), and the plan had completely changed his sleep patterns in just a few days. My cousin also used a sleep training expert, and that worked equally quickly. This clearly works for some babies, so I say the below only from my own personal experience, but for us, it was a nightmare – each night was worse than the last. In the end, Peter shouted at me at 3 in the morning on the third night, asking what the point of this all was, and who I was actually doing it for. He went into Theo’s room and brought him into bed with us, where he fell asleep almost instantly. I was so glad he’d done it, and since then we’ve not tried anything similar again. I’m not against leaving him to have a little cry or moan while he settles himself, but I never want to hear him crying like he did during those three nights again. If his sleep goes back to being awful, we’ll get through it. In the end, the only thing that changed his sleep was time. He was a bad sleeper for almost two years and then all of a sudden he wasn’t. Sleep deprivation is like torture, so being patient is really hard, but if I’d known a year ago that at 22 months all of a sudden his sleep would improve, I think I would have worried a whole lot less!
What about you? Any resources you think I should look into for baby number 2?