Everyone tells you just how much this parenting gig asks of you, in terms of physical and emotional commitment, fortitude and financial planning. What they omit to tell you, in my case at least, is the good use to which you will be putting your decision-making skills at almost every step of the way. Up until getting pregnant, I thought that despite some big (controversial and well-documented) issues aside, everything about being a parent works by learning from people around you and how they may have gone about certain things at the relevant stages in their children’s upbringing. Oh, how mistaken I was.. of course, you can learn from them but chances are there’s not one parenting method that will suit you to the T. It’s as simple as you not being them and your children not being theirs. So, on most nights, I count sheep and agonize over something or the other. Here are some of the things keeping me awake just the past few months:
Sleep training or no sleep training?
Sleep training: emotional crutches like blanky, a feed or patting/ rocking vs cry it out?
Co-sleeping or crib? (We were too late thinking of moving her to a crib, so co-sleeping it is, and not unhappy with it thus far)
Bottle or sippy cup or trainer cup? (And this when I escaped the big one: Breastfeeding vs Formula. I was able to breastfeed her and have only started to wean her)
How much water intake? (Believe it or not, there’s a limit on how much water should be offered to babies, that has to do with absorption of nutrients + electrolyte balance and other stuff BUT no water in this heat is bound to make them dehydrated and/or constipated!)
Baby-led weaning or traditional weaning?
First foods: Fruits or cereal? Store-bought cereal or home-made cereal (While home-made cereal might seem like an obvious choice, pediatrician recommended store-bought because it is fortified with iron and vitamins)
Salt or no salt? (No salt recommended for babies till 1, but all food tastes so bland without it. Docs argue that babies are not accustomed to salt yet, but I feel there’s no point in feeding children absolutely unsalted food when the goal is to get them eating normal table food one day)
Veggies: Sweet Potato or Potato, Carrot or Broccoli (she hasn’t taken a liking to either as of now)
Go organic or feed easily-found mass produced food to build immunity and not over-protect child
How long to breastfeed? One year? 18 months? 2 years? When to supplement with other milk? What if she doesn’t accept other milk later on? What if she does and self-weans? Is it too early?
Cow’s milk as supplement or formula?
When to potty train?
Tonsure hair or not?
Pierce ears? When?
Teething homeopathy meds?
I’m sure I’m forgetting some. I haven’t even added the traditional vs medical conflicts that plague new mums. Invariably, your elders will be at odds with what the doctor orders. I also haven’t gotten into the numerous behavioural worries that come up. (Does my child shriek too much? Why does she not understand a NO? Do I yell too much? Am I not assertive enough? Why doesn’t she learn to play by herself? Will this resolve itself? ad infinitum)
We all make these choices and hope they turn out well. There’s no blueprint. There’s no map. There’re only instinct and hope and love.