Old Wives Tales

oldwivesAngel has this competition, with prizes going on right now. (A set of five autographed “No-Cry” books by Elizabeth Pantley and a mystery gift)

Her instructions?

Anyone can enter, and to enter I would like you to write a blog post about an old-wives tale that has to do with raising a child, and whether or not you think it has any relevance today (you can find some here if you’re stuck for ideas).

Link to this post so I can find the posts of course and spread the word. I’ll post the books to the winner no matter where in the world they are.

And I will send something special- and not necessarily parenting related- to the person who refers the most people here, so be sure others know to tell me where they came from ;). Competition closes a week from today on October 29th.”

So here’s my entry. And I have a few things I’d like to talk about:

1. Heartburn means your baby will have lots of hair. I’d say this one’s pretty much true. I had heartburn (not bad either) maybe twice in my pregnancy. My Kid was born practically bald and it took him about two years to grow a full head of hair. He has very fine, blond hair, like me.

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2. If you crave sweets while you’re pregnant it’s going to be a girl. Absolute trollop. At least for me, mother to a boy. I had another reason for craving sweets. Because my morning sickness was SO bad nothing would stay in my stomach for longer than 2 minutes.

Eventually I discovered that I could stomach wine gums and jelly babies and it was all I craved. Why? Because they were digested so quickly, there was nothing that my body could push the eject button on, and I was getting some nutrients and sugar from the sweets, so they stayed.

3. Breastfeeding is easy, simple and natural. I dont know how many times I heard/read that while pregnant. What breastfeeding actually turned out to be was a whole other difficult and time-consuming mess.

Feeds could sometimes take up to an hour. I was always thirsty, tired and hungry and cranky. Bottle-feeding turned out to be so much easier, and so much less traumatic than I’d expected.

4. If your new baby is constantly crying and seems hungry your milk is too weak. I have only one word for this, and I wish I’d remembered it when people were telling me this: “Bullshit”. It means your baby is going through a growth spurt and is demanding more milk, and that your milk supply will soon adjust, if you’re patient enough. Drink as much liquids as you can, and try persist, if breastfeeding is your thing.

5. A baby should learn to soothe itself without a pacifier/dummy. I say nay, and say . Better to be a dummy sucker than a thumb sucker, I say. I know some grown ups who still suck their thumbs, but I dont know any grown ups who still suck a dummy, do you?

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Now, at the ripe old age of nearly two, we’re firmly on our way to ditching the dummy successfully. We reached a point where he accepted that dummies were only for sleeping. Then we reached a point where he no longer asked for his dummy during the day at all. And now, we’re on our way to not needing the dummy at night either.

Despite old wives tales, despite having not followed the rules, and despite having been a rather bad mommy, I don’t think I’ve done a bad job thus far. Why? Because I listened to the most important wives tale of all.

Trust your maternal instinct. If it feels wrong, don’t do it. If it feels right, do it.

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Photo Credit: ‘Old Wives Tales’: CafeMama on Flickr.

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Sleepless Night

1 month old

1 month old

The other night, after I blogged about ways to soothe your baby, mine did not want to sleep that night. Refused point blank, and cried, and cried and cried. No matter what I did. Tried giving him a bottle, putting his nightlight on, playing soft music and generally leaving him to cry it out.

Which, as every mother knows, is the MOST frustrating thing to do, because it is impossible for you to fall asleep while you can hear your child crying. So, eventually, sometime after midnight I landed up running a really hot lavender scented bath, lit two candles and lay in the bath with my son.

He at first thought it was playtime, because bathtime normally is. But, then I lay him on my chest and rubbed his back, and he eventually fell asleep in the bath. Then I dressed my sleepy baby, gave him a warm bottle, and put him to bed. He slept. But only for another 2 hours or so. He woke up crying unconsolably again.

I lay on the couch with him swaddled in his blankets, put his head on my chest, and wouldn’t let him lift his head up. Until eventually he fell asleep from sheer exhaustion from trying to fight me.

Why, after sleeping through since 5 months of age, did he suddenly now have one bad night, out of the blue? I reckon it’s because The Boyfriend’s Parents disturbed his routine. Normally he stays with them from Saturday night and gets back home Sunday afternoon, and he is bathed and put through his bedtime routine here. But this time The Boyfriend’s mother bathed him and gave him dinner way before she brought him home to us. She messed with his entire routine.

That just goes to show the importance of routine, I guess.

But, regardless of the fact that I didn’t get much sleep that night, it was a rare opportunity to spend some quality time with my baby at night. Lying in the bath, with him sleeping on my chest, rubbing his back, feeling his heart beat against mine, and watching the rise and fall of his chest as he breathed was something I haven’t been able to do since he was about 2 weeks old. He hasn’t slept on my chest since he was very, very new. Even though I was tired and frustrated, feeling his little weight on my chest was worthwhile.

And it’s a kind of bonding that dads dont really get to experience. Because, let’s face it, when babies are inconsolable, or completely miserable, the only person they want is mommy.

And sometimes. Just sometimes. Those mommy moments aren’t as bad as they seem.

Ten Foolproof Ways To Soothe a Crying Baby

aka ‘The Bad Mommy’s Guide To Getting Your Baby to Shoosh and Quit That Crying’.

1. Check the basics.
Wet nappy? Hungry? Hot or cold? Uncomfortable position? Cover all your bases before trying other things. Sometimes a crying baby is merely telling you he’d like a new nappy, or it’s time for some grub.

2. Massage.
Nothing beats a mother’s loving touch. First warm your hands; use a bit of lavender or camomile baby massage oil (diluted as instructed) and stroke your baby’s body with gentle but firm circular movements. He can be lying on a changing surface or a towel over your lap. This is an especially good technique when colic strikes or you have been apart too long. Massage every day if possible. I always do it after bath time, just before bed. Great way to make him sleepy, and is very relaxing for the both of you.

If you dont have lavender oil, use baby oil. Sunflower or olive oil can even be used, and is very good for dry, irritable sensitive skin. Massaging the ‘T zone’ – the forehead and bridge of the nose is a sure way to get my son’s eyelids feeling heavy.

3. Water.
Run a slightly-hotter-than-usual bath. Add some lavender oil, light a few candles and get some bubbles going (using baby-friendly products). Submerge yourself, and lie your baby on your chest to hear your heartbeat. I’ve had baths at 2am with my baby, even though it’s the last thing on earth I felt like doing, it really, really helped. It’s relaxing for both mom and baby. Try feeding in the bath as well. A hot bath is one of the best things that helped for colic. Dont make the bath hot to begin with, but constantly add a little more hot water so that your baby’s body adjusts to the temperature.

4. Movement.
Put your baby in the pram, and go for a walk. Wear your baby. Put your baby in a sling, and walk around the garden. Try a rocking chair. Even a swing chair. I had one of these. Miracle worker, I tell you. I even passed it on to another mom, who swears by it. Adores it, has bought enough batteries to last until her kid is 18. Put your baby in the car seat and go for a drive. Put the babyseat on top of the washing machine or dryer while it’s going through a cycle. The vibration is very soothing.

Put baby over your knees, on his tummy, and your hand on his back, and cradling his head, and bounce your knees gently. If there’s a wind that’s stuck, that will dislodge it.

5. Music.
Classical music doesn’t seem to be very soothing for my child, I must be honest. I bought all these classical music CDs thinking I was going to make my baby a genius, when it turns out that the music actually bothers him. Wanna know what he does like? Reggae music. That’s what soothes him. So find what music works for you, and turn it up! Hold your baby close to you, and sway gently with him to the music.

6. Get out!
Put the pram out in the garden, under a tree so baby can watch the moving leaves and branches. That’s one big mobile, right there, for free. Fresh air is great for making baby sleepy. Go on an outing. Sometime baby has the best sleep, in the pram, in a busy mall, while you can get a good dose of retail therapy.

7. Recreate the womb.
Your baby was used to a confined, warm environment – he lived in your cramped womb for 40 weeks. Remind him of the womb. Wrap him up like a burrito (swaddle him) hold him close to you, so he can hear your heart beat. Gently make a shushing sound, which will recreate the sound of your bood running through your veins that he heard constantly while in the womb. Dont try to make the house too quiet, as when he was in your womb he was used to a lot of background noise. So keep things on a low-level hum around the house.

8. Ask for help.
If you’re at the point where you’re tempted to throw your baby in the rubbish bin, give him to someone else and take a break. If there’s no one around, call someone and tell them to come quick, it’s an emergency. You’ll usually find that handing baby to someone who’s calm and fresh, is an instant soother. If there’s no one to help, put the baby on the floor for a few minutes and go into another room, and pull yourself together. Your baby cant fall off the floor, and it’s unlikely he can hurt himself.

9. Skin-on-skin.
Sometimes babies just need some closeness and reassurance. Skin on skin contact can provide this. Make sure the room is warm enough. Put a blanket over the two of you. Rub his back, run a feather or something light over his skin to tickle him. Distract him. Run your hands all over his skin and try to remain calm.

10. Sucking.
Offer a dummy. Dont worry about your child getting attached to the dummy, that’s a worry for another day. Focus on today. Offer the breast or a bottle. Sucking is a natural comfort reflex that fulfils a variety of different needs. Want to know how it works? Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, just behind your teeth. Feeling of instant calm? well, that’s what a dummy does for a baby. So dont diss it til you’ve tried it!

Lastly…

“Remind yourself that you’re not always going to know what to do. You can’t keep a baby happy all day long. When you don’t know what to do, don’t think any less of yourself for it. Nobody’s perfect and not all babies are the same.”

Just try to remain as calm as possible. Baby is not crying to ruin your day, or manipulate you, even though it may feel that way. Baby is crying to communicate with you. He has a need that he wants you to fulfil.

It’s up to you to figure out what that is. Good luck.