I’m not really one for reading parenting books. When I was pregnant I flicked through What To Expect When You’re Expecting and Clemmie Hooper’s How To Grow A Baby And Push It Out. But I never really thought about what I’d do when I actually had a baby to look after.
FYI I say “I” here because I can only write this post from my perspective, but it goes without saying (I hope) that the husbear and I are very much on the same page.
I’ve never made a conscious choice about what parenting style I wanted to adopt. I’ve just followed my intuition and here I am. But it seems I’m very firmly in the baby-led camp. I’ve never really attempted to force a routine onto Sebastian, because I’ve found it much too stressful and upsetting for him.
Sleep – bedtime and naps
We tried in the early days to get some kind of evening plan in place, but it soon became apparent that the little one had absolutely no desire to go to sleep before about 10pm, and if we tried to get him to sleep earlier, one of us would just spend the evening sat upstairs with him while he was wide awake. So we just kept him downstairs with us and all went to bed together.
As he got a bit older, at around 6 months, he decided to change his bed time and brought it much further forward to about 5pm. That was a bit stressful because it meant that there was no way the husbear could get home in time to see him after work. I tried a few times to keep him awake for a bit longer but it just caused a bedtime meltdown and Sebastian would cry until he was in his pjs and on the boob, where he’d fall asleep in minutes.
Now at 10 months old we’re reaching a better bedtime of around 7pm (provided we’ve had some good daytime naps).
Naps are still a bit all over the place, because if he doesn’t want to sleep he won’t. We tried for an hour the other day – with boob, bottle, quiet room, cuddles, closed curtains, dummy, shushing – but nothing worked so we gave in and brought him back downstairs again.
I’ve never wanted Sebastian to only be able to sleep in his cot – to me, it’s good that he can sleep in the car or his pram or on me, because it gives us flexibility with our day. I’d hate for both of us to miss out on doing what we want to do because we have to be home for a certain time for naps.
That said, I am getting to the point where I’d like a more consistent afternoon nap, so I’ll be trying to wear him out playing in the morning and get some quiet time in the afternoon. Any tips are welcome!
Crying and cuddles
I don’t believe a baby can be spoiled. Yes there are definitely different ways in which babies like to feel loved, but I don’t think a baby can be given too much love and closeness. They don’t have the cognitive ability to manipulate at this age. They can’t articulate how they’re feeling and request help. So when Sebastian cries, we go to him, pick him up and cuddle him.
We’re lucky to have a baby that doesn’t really cry unless something is wrong. He doesn’t wake up screaming; he wasn’t colicky when newborn; he doesn’t even cry when he’s got a dirty nappy; so if he’s crying (and I mean properly crying) then I know something is wrong and he needs to know his Mummy and Daddy are there for him. I’m not against controlled crying per se, as I know from talking to other Mums that it’s been the only thing that has enabled them to survive, but I know it’s not for me.
I think The Gentle Parenting Book (Sarah Ockwell-Smith) might be the only parenting manual I’ve read and I only got it because it was 99p on Kindle and I was intrigued to hear what gentle parenting actually was. I read it pretty quickly and have to say I agreed with most of it. There were bits that took it a bit far for me and started to make me feel guilty that I couldn’t offer that level of support for Sebastian, like suggesting you don’t put your child into any form of childcare until they are three years old. I’d love to be able to stay with Sebastian for longer, but I have to balance that with other experiences, like being able to afford to take him on holiday for example. Anyway, here is not the time or place to talk about going back to work. That’s a story for another day.
So I guess you could say that we’re following the gentle parenting method? But honestly it doesn’t feel like an active decision we’ve made. As parents, we have just gone with the flow and done what we have felt to be right. There’s so much conflicting information out there that I don’t think there’s really any choice but to do what you think is best.
What kind of parenting style do you follow?