IS YOUR BABY ________ YET?
Fill in the blank
space with anything from ‘sleeping through the night’, through
‘teething’, to ‘walking’, ‘talking’ and so on, and you will
have an idea of what this article is about.
Many first time
mothers have been asked such questions at some time or other. Sometimes,
it’s been asked by people who mean well; sometimes, it’s asked by
people who feel they know more than you when it comes to parenting and
child development, possibly because they are ‘veteran’ moms.
For a new mom, who
is struggling to come to terms with her new life style, and is probably
still lacking sleep, this sort of question can be upsetting, regardless of
the motive behind it. It makes it look as if the mom is not doing a good
job of parenting. It’s worse when they start to compare your baby with
someone else’s. You know, saying things like “Mary’s child is the
same age as yours, and he’s already walking” (or whatever milestone is
generate feelings of inadequacy in a new mom. They can be upsetting and
discouraging. They imply that there is something wrong with your baby. We
need to refrain from saying things like that, or at least, carefully
consider our choice of words if our motives are pure.
How should a new
mother respond to questions and comments like that? You are bound to
encounter them, so you need to be armed with the right response. Here are
a few pointers in the right direction:
First, you need to
have the right attitude about motherhood. Arm yourself with the following
thoughts, which are facts:
are the expert on your baby, and not anyone else.
two babies are exactly alike.
baby is unique, with his/her own timetable for developing.
is a very wide range of ‘normal’, in babies and children; the age
at which they achieve milestones varies greatly, even among children
in the same family.
do not pretend: if your baby is happy and thriving, you have nothing
to worry about, as a general principle.
are the best mother your baby could ever have, if you love him/her.
Second, decide on
a course of action, ready for when the situation arises.
your own maternal instincts. If you have any doubts as to your
baby’s health or development, do not hesitate to contact your
doctor, even if just to be reassured that all is well.
to feel negative about such comments. Most people who say things like
that are ignorant of the way children develop, and really do not mean
to hurt you by their comments. Remind yourself that they do not know
determined to enjoy the experience of motherhood. Once you have that
mindset firmly ingrained in your consciousness, it will be hard for
you to be moved when people say negative things about your parenting
techniques, or about your baby.
you choose to respond to such a comment, you could say something like
“He’ll start walking when he’s ready, I’m not worried about
baby, David, only recently started ‘sleeping through the night’ (when
he’s been waking up almost every two hours since the day he was born,
sleeping for five hours straight, is sleeping through the night, I tell
you!), and he is still maturing in that department.
When he was 3 months old, someone asked me “is he sleeping
through the night yet? He should be.” This person is a mother of three
grown up children, yet she is totally ignorant of the fact that babies not
only have different rates of sleep maturity, but the vast majority of them
do not start to ‘sleep through the night’ within the first year of
life for physiological reasons. I knew that, so I told her not to worry
about that, that the baby was just fine. It upset me, though, but not for
long, because I reminded myself of the facts stated above.
Nobody knows your
baby as well as you do, not even your doctor. (They do not live with your
baby, so how can they possibly know him/her??). In fact, doctors realize
this, which is why they take a mother’s complaints/comments about her
baby very seriously. They are aware that a mother is the most sensitive
person when it comes to a baby’s well-being.
Your baby is going
to pass through childhood only once; you cannot afford to waste this
precious phase of your lives, worrying about problems which (in all
likelihood) do not exist. Take care of your baby the best way you know to
do, and enjoy the experience while you’re at it!