You are your baby’s expert (not google)
When I was a new parent I was determined to be the best, most informed parent I could be. So I grabbed a book that caught my eye about putting babies to sleep. As I read it I started to feel terrible…I was doing everything wrong. The author undermined everything I thought I knew about putting my baby to sleep and I felt terrible. After two days of trying this “expert’s” method, I gave up. It wasn’t for me. And it wasn’t working for my newborn. I realized though, that I was so fragile in my confidence as a parent, and so vulnerable to having my instincts undermined.
The next book (and actually the only one I read from then on) was The Baby Book, by Dr Sears. I still highly recommend The Baby Book. It’s more of a reference book, than a page-turner, but what I loved most about it was the message that I, the parent, was my baby’s expert. If my baby was crying and my gut said pick my baby up, that was the right thing to do. If I felt like my baby was hungry and wanted to nurse, great, let’s nurse. I’m not sure why, but this encouragement felt liberating.
I feel like, because we have all this expert advice at our fingertips, we have somehow lost confidence in our own judgement. I also think that corporations and “experts” can profit on that insecurity. I’m not saying we shouldn’t ever ask for help. And I’m certainly not saying there haven’t been times when I’ve felt lost as a parent (or googled “why is parenting so hard” at 3am). But I am saying that we need to rebuild our own confidence that the person(s) who know our babies the most, is us. We are the ones who spend hours on end trying to read their cues and cries. Each baby is unique (I know…I’ve had five). So before you try to adapt other people’s ideas of how to parent, listen to your gut and trust that you are actually your baby’s biggest expert.
As a midwife I spend a lot of my time with families in their homes, checking in to see how they and their newborns are doing. In this work I feel like I am constantly reminding families to trust their guts. You can’t spoil a baby. Of course that baby doesn’t want to be put down. And yes, when your baby cries you can pick him/her up without fear that you are somehow being manipulated. Your baby doesn’t know how to control their arms, let alone wind you around their finger.
At the end of the day no one knows your baby like you, so trust your gut.