First time parents quickly realize that suddenly being thrown into THIS new job – no training, no breaks, no going home at the end of the day to decompress and refresh – likely has the steepest learning curve they’ve ever experienced.
It can be totally overwhelming just sustaining the new little life, let alone realizing what medical and parenting choices you might have to make.
A new dad recently was surprised that I helped his baby stop crying by using “white noise.”
“I thought she only cried when she was hungry or needed a change,” he said.
I had to look at his face to make sure he wasn’t joking. I didn’t know how to say, “Yeah, well…there are actually about 5,267 other reasons for you to figure out. Good luck, buddy!”
And some of the decisions that aren’t always black and white are tough too. We make some parenting and health decisions knowing that either way could result in big problems, but we have to do what we feel is best using the information we have.
Before our first child was born, we had done some reading and were committed to a number of goals, some of them a bit out of the mainstream. Here are five of those choices that we continue to feel strongly about as baby four approaches… in a week or so!
This is the fourth in a five-part series. Catch up here:
- 5 Standards we Refuse for Prenatal Care
- Alternatives to the Orange Glucose Drink for Gestational Diabetes Screening
- 5 More Interventions we Refuse in Labor and Delivery
- Keep Baby Safe and Healthy with 5 Simple Natural Parenting Goals
1. Early Vaccines, especially the Hepatitis B vaccine given immediately after birth
The Hep B vaccine falls into the “eye goop” category for us, which I mentioned in the last post on labor and delivery procedures. There is zero chance of an STD in my body, so why bother? I always ask, “Is this necessary?”
I read Dr. Sears’ The Vaccine Book before my second was born and learned to space out vaccinations and selectively decline some as well. Particularly, the goal was (1) baby not too tiny and (2) not too many at once.
Every time we make one of the dozen or so different vaccine decisions, it’s one of the hardest parts of parenting. I don’t relish that part, nor do I think I have all the answers. We’re completely sure we’re doing the right thing. (And we’ve experienced one of the diseases we could have vaccinated against, too – brought home, ironically, by child number one…the fully vaccinated one.)
2. All artificial nipples, including pacifiers and bottles for the first month
We choose to ecologically breastfeed, and in order to give the baby the best chance at a good latch and avoid “nipple confusion,” we don’t do pacifiers or bottles right away. At least, that’s the intention.
It doesn’t always work out perfectly, but I definitely won’t allow a nurse at the hospital to pacify my tiny infant who needs to learn to nurse for comfort and for nourishment. They don’t leave my sight.
And definitely no bottles of water, which only fill the baby up with nothing instead of wholesome colostrum! (That practice is a bit outdated, but I bet some hospitals still provide them to nursing moms. My own mom couldn’t breastfeed and I strongly feel that all the bottles of water she was counseled to give “after each feeding” may have (a) nearly killed me and (b) been the cause of her seeming failure.)
Besides that, navigating the waters of “which material is safe for baby?” was tricky enough! Human tissue (mine) makes the cut easily; silicone vs. plastic vs. ??? nipples? Who knows!
Clocks and babies strike me as an artificial relationship, so I always nursed on demand, at least at first.
Babies will get straightened out eventually, and you’ll survive those first few weeks when they think night is day and vice versa!
Besides that, I can barely get anywhere on time myself, so I didn’t need one more chart or timetable to stress me out.
Everything I read about time-dependent schedules (“Only feed every 3 hours” “Must nap at this time and this time”) not only stressed me out just thinking about it, but also most moms and nurses I talked to frowned about them.
Babies get hungry. Holding them off on feeding is going to result in (1) relying on pacifiers and (2) a lot more crying. I don’t need to invite that into my life!
For sleep, as long as I’m paying attention to baby’s tired cues, I don’t need to force sleep by the clock, although adding up the number of hours baby is sleeping is a good exercise to see if you should encourage one more nap in there somewhere. One parenting book I read was a great help to me with its EASY acronym to help me figure out baby’s internal “schedule,” which is more of a routine:
- Active time (might be 10-20 minutes for a newborn, then extends)
- You time (take care of self while baby sleeps)
That was revolutionary for me and helped me get son number one to take some naps that he needed – like the poor fellow I quoted at the start, I kind of thought that every time he was consoled by nursing, he was probably hungry. Likely every other time, he was just nursing to sleep and I didn’t “get” that at first. Life was better after that simple lesson, but still no need of schedules.
And what book was it? I think it was Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, but it may have been The No-Cry Sleep Solution. I’ve lent them all out so I can’t check! Both books are good though. EDIT — reader to the rescue! It was the first book that shared this particular information.
4. “Cry it out”
I strongly believe that in the first six months, baby’s wants are equal to their needs. I won’t risk harming my attachment with my child by forcing crying and sleep before six months old.
After that, don’t ask me about sleep. It’s not one of this family’s strong points. 😉
5. Formula samples
I was coerced/forced/pushed into using formula at nine days old with my first, who was slow to gain weight. I hated every second of it and still look back with regrets, wondering what that early introduction to soy and other unnatural foods and minerals may have done to his immune system.
I know some babies and families aren’t able to breastfeed, but I really encourage you to try with all your might before turning to formula. The samples given at some hospitals (although it’s my understanding that this is decreasing, hooray!) seem to encourage and endorse artificial feeding.
Touchy subject for those who truly couldn’t breastfeed, I know, and I’m NOT picking on you, I promise. I just really, truly believe that breastmilk is the best first choice for newborns and infants. I don’t think all babies who eat formula will get allergies or be less healthy…but I do think there’s that risk, and for my own, I wanted au naturale with all my heart.
Had I truly not been able to nurse after trying everything, I would now choose homemade baby formula (kit found at Radiant Life), personally, to avoid the soy and dairy (and sweeteners, both artificial and highly processed) that are in modern commercial formula.
Have you felt thrown into the pond without a life jacket when you jumped into the world of parenting? And these are the “well child” decisions, without even the crisis of an ill little baby…