Ten or so months into being a mom, I may look like I know what I’m doing. My daughter is happy. Growing. Learning. Developing. Trying to get into trouble like crazy. But I have a confession: I actually have no idea what I’m doing.
I feel like I’m the opposite of most new parents. Most new parents feel flabbergasted in the early weeks but start feeling more confident several weeks in. Me? I felt like I knew what I was doing from the get-go. I always trusted my mommy instincts and did what felt right to me, a technique that has apparently gotten us this far. It’s only now that I feel like I’m really winging it.
Now that I think about it though , the only time I really question my parenting ability is when I look outside of my own house. I remember when my daughter was 4 months old or so. I looked up sample schedules for 4-month-olds online. These moms made their days seem so cut and dried! So regimented! So predictable! At 4 months old, the only thing that was predictable about my daughter was that she would have a massive poop at some point that would cause an outfit change for both of us. So I stuck with what was working for us. Some days that meant snoozing in bed together until 10 a.m. after a long sleepless night. But I stopped feeling guilty about that, and finally our days settled into a predictable pattern.
I think that the whole food thing is really what has thrown me for a loop lately. I’m taking a really laid back approach to solids—I let her feed herself a lot, but I also mix in purees because sometimes that’s the most convenient. Sometimes she eats almost nothing. Sometimes I’m amazed at how much of a banana she can throw down the gullet.
But I made the mistake of heading to a big baby-food company’s website, where I first had to fill out a questionnaire. When I clicked the box that said my daughter wasn’t crawling yet, it was like “ARE YOU SURE? YOUR DAUGHTER IS ANCIENT, SHE SHOULD BE CRAWLING” (or something to that effect). It also had a sample food schedule. I’m sure the baby-food experts spend a lot of time making sure their sample food schedules are nutritionally sound, but oh my goodness, it was specific! When you’re breastfeeding, you (or at least I) have no idea how much milk your child is getting, so seeing solids laid out in extremely specific amounts (a third of a pack?) freaked me out and made me worry that I wasn’t giving my daughter a balanced diet. I go with the “a little of this, a little of that” approach, while trying to make sure she’s able to explore lots of healthy foods (and saying no to grandparents who want to give treats).
Am I giving enough variety? Enough fruits? Enough veggies? Enough milk on top of the solids? Honestly, I have no idea if I’m doing it right. I do know that now that we’ve kicked solids into high (chair) gear, I feel like I spend entire days feeding, washing bibs, washing trays and doing it all again a few hours later. The baby’s happy as a clam and she’s sleeping a totally rocking amount, so she’s not waking up hungry in the night. I guess what all of this tells me is that I should stop giving too much power to the “expert” online resources. I count Google as an online bestie, but the time has come to stop searching for every answer. In parenting, there are no right answers, just different answers. —Erin