*disclaimer- this is a personal reflection and in no way judging other parents. This is how I feel and what has worked for me. I know every baby is different and every parent is different, so understand that I do get that different things work for different people. My blog is about me and Jack, no one else.*
Without me even realizing it, from long before I fell pregnant, all the way up to today, my philosophy about my parenting has taken a complete 180° turn.
Recently, I had someone point out to me that my parenting style was baby-led and not parent-led. Until this person said that, I hadn't even realized that it had become that way.
As soon as Jack and I started talking about children and how we wanted to raise our children, many years before it became reality, I had expressed that I felt like I had a parenting philosophy that basically the parent was in charge of everything.
I had talked about how there was no way that I thought I would let my children sleep in my bed. I assumed that feeding would be on a schedule as well as diaper changes. I assumed that I would do cry it out because I thought that crying it out was just what you did and that it would never hurt the child. I assumed that I would be feeding my babies rice cereal at 3-4 months old with a spoon and adding baby food that I had puréed soon after.
Even from the beginning of my pregnancy to the end, my view changed so much. At the beginning of my pregnancy, I assumed that I would have an epidural during labor and delivery and that it didn't matter.
The more I read, the more I learned. I researched risks of things like the epidural, and in the end, made it through 20 hours of hard labor and cried for an hour because I felt trapped into getting an epidural that I didn't want. Thank the Lord my epidural never took and while I still had the risks from the epidural for an hour, I at least got to experience the completely pain med free labor and delivery. Never in a million years did I think I would be thankful for a misplaced and failed epidural.
I knew that I would breastfeed but until I learned about it, I assumed that babies would feed on a schedule. I never understood or knew that nursing was more that just food and that because all babies are different, the same rigid schedule doesn't work for every baby.
I also assumed that I would breastfeed to 6 months and maybe a year. Until I researched it, I would have NEVER guessed that I would be at the 6 month mark of exclusively breastfeeding, never having given purees or rice cereal and not seeing an end in sight. Before I researched breastfeeding, I never knew that people did extended breastfeeding or understood why that would be done.
Until I was told that I have a baby led parenting style recently, it had never occurred to me. I knew I was going to do baby led weaning, meaning allowing the baby to nurse as long as he wanted and learn how to feed himself solid foods at his pace, whatever that may be. I hadn't realized that my entire parenting philosophy had changed.
-I feed my baby on demand, even if that means hours of comfort nursing a day. I have never kept any type of schedule except in the first two weeks when he was severely jaundiced and needed to eat every two hours and was lethargic and had to be kept awake.
- Our baby sleeps when he's tired, I've never worried or stressed about him hurrying up and sleeping through the night. (Which at 6 months, he has still yet to do.) I don't schedule his naps or watch the clock. When he's tired, I nurse him to sleep.
- Our baby sleeps with us in bed. Jack and I have never thought twice about it and he has slept in my arms every night and almost every nap since he was born. I'm not tired of it, Jack isn't tired of it.
- We cloth diaper. This is one thing that I knew I would do, my mom and dad did it, I didn't think it was a big deal. I love it just as much as my mom did. But in this category, I definitely change him more often than I expected and that others expect. I think this is one of the things that people who spend time with me comment on most, how frequently I'm changing him. (not negatively, just curious and surprised I think.) but this is another one of those baby-led things. He doesn't like to be wet at all and will sometimes fuss a bit after one pee. And, I happily change him as often as possible. Sometimes as much as every half hour while he's awake.
- Arie has absolutely never cried it out. I see no need for him to learn to "self soothe". In my opinion, he is way too young to have to start fending for himself. This is not to say he has never cried, but he rarely cries and even the people who are around him the most, hardly ever hear him cry. Since he's not on a sleeping or feeding schedule, he gets what he wants and needs when he needs or wants it. This seems to have eliminated the need for any "cry it out" type situation.
-One that I wasn't feeling too strongly about, that once I got pregnant I felt fiercely strong about was the "needing a break from baby." (I don't think there is ANYTHING wrong with a date night or having a baby sitter or daycare or going on vacation and leaving baby with grandparents, but, that is not for me.) I do not need me time and I WANT my baby with me 24/7. Even if I'm in the shower and Jack is home, I like him to be with me and have Jack hold him in the bathroom. I reaaaaalllly don't care what other people think of this one. He has only been out of earshot one time in his life and Jack took him to the neighbors to say hi and hang out in his garage for a few minutes. I just don't want to leave him and I don't need to. I think this is one that I didn't even think of before we had kids but as soon as I got pregnant, I had people talking about babysitting and my anxiety began. Aside from the fact that he nurses every 1-2 hours around the clock, I could not imagine needing a break after I waited years to finally have a baby in my arms.
Now before anyone gets offended and chalks this up as an offense that I've done, remember that this is a blog about my own personal reflections and how my views have changed about what we do with our baby. I'm not in anyone else's head or life and it's not up to me to worry about how anyone else parents. I know this is controversial because everyone feels like their way is the right way... All I'm saying here is that what we do is the right way for US. And, if anything, I hope to just increase confidence of other parents in their own parenting. Things can change and opinions about things can change, and that's okay. It's also okay if the way you thought you would do it, is actually the way you did it. Whatever works for you.