“I’ve been under a lot of pressure – well-meaning people – to get him into the cot by day but I just can’t see how. It’s just NOT what he wants to do right now and I am not going to enter into some power game with my little one to make him. My number 1 (2 and 3!) goal is secure attachment/happy baby/wired for empathy while his brain is forming. Gosh, there is so much pressure to do it the other way!”
So I have recently had yet another email conversation from a new mum talking about the pressure she gets from family and friends, to persuade her, against powerful personal feelings, to impose rigid routines on her young baby.
This speaks of people’s lack of acceptance of the basic biology of babies, and their belief that babies can be ‘spoilt’, and are inherently selfish, manipulative and indulgent. 1
By now with so much more information available about the essential immaturity and vulnerability of babies, one would hope that these voices would have stilled. But they remain loud as ever, encouraged by some contemporary parenting texts mostly written by non-scientists.
So friends and relations want to talk about where and how much your baby sleeps and how often you feed her at night. They want to engage in a discussion about your need to pick her up when she cries, day or night, or the observation that you allow her to fall asleep on the breast even for naps.
Don’t respond to their fear tactics, that you will ‘spoil’ her if you don’t ‘get control’ now, that if she doesn’t learn to ‘self-soothe’ now, she never will. Or that if she is in your bed at 4 months, she’ll still be there at fourteen.
You can’t ‘win’ with these beliefs. So don’t let them see into your bedroom where there is no cot, just a king-sized mattress on the floor. Don’t let them impose on your enjoyment of breastfeeding them to sleep.
The answer is simple. Most people don’t discuss their finances or sex life with their relations and friends either. Just don’t tell them.
1) Sears, W. Christian Parenting and Child Care. (1991) Nashville: Thomas Nelson