When I was pregnant I thought I knew it all. I’d changed nappies before. I’d bathed babies. I’d held newborns. Caring for my own baby? Pah. Easy.
And then she was born.
As a pregnant woman, I swore I would be an Earth Mother type. I was going to follow my instincts and not read a single book. But then Frog turned four weeks old and suddenly woke up. Gone was my sleeping, content baby. In her place was a little ball of trapped wind. With a fierce temper.
And so I turned to the internet. Babycentre and Netmums became my new best friends. I spent my evenings “researching” my baby. I read countless baby forums and got completely obsessed with finding out how other mothers were doing things. I was a convert to the Gina Ford way one week, the Baby Whisperer the next. It is fair to say, I was a very disloyal baby guru worshipper.
The result? I was a nervous wreck, and so was my baby. One minute I was rocking her to sleep, the next I was leaving her to cry, afraid I would be setting up “bad habits”. Then I would break and would be back with her, rocking rocking rocking. As soon as she was asleep, I’d be back online, trying to find out what I was doing wrong. And there were countless answers and other willing mums ready to tell me.
But here’s the thing: every single answer was different. Where one mum advised breastfeeding to sleep, another said leave her to cry. Where one expert advised scheduling feeds, another advocated the benefits of feeding on demand. And I realised, no one had the answer for my baby. Because no one had my baby.
So I threw the books in the bin.
And I learned to trust my instincts again. As soon as I started to relax and do things my own way, Frog became noticeably happier. And anyway, I now know what was wrong with her all along. She was suffering from a problem no expert or forum mum spotted. She wasn’t overtired. She hadn’t developed a “bad sleep association”. She didn’t need “sleep training”. No. She just needed a really good fart.