The early days of parenting are a minefield – and everywhere we turn, there’s a decision to make. Get it right, and you’re welcomed into the hallowed halls of Parenting Excellency. Problem is – it’s pretty much impossible to get it all right, seeing as no-one actually knows what ‘right’ is – they just like to think that they do.
When you’re sleep-deprived and battling hormones, questions like ‘breast or bottle?’ and ‘reusable or disposable?’ can dominate your life and keep you awake at night. Fear not, Newborn Warrior Parents. Here’s a list of things that, in eighteen months’ time, you’ll wonder why it was such a big issue at the time.
- Re-usable vs disposable nappies. In the early days, it’s easy to be awestruck by any parent who manages to wash all those reusable nappies. In general, this isn’t as vicious a debate as others, but there are still a few parents who are unnecessarily smug because they’re saving the planet with their TotsBots (other brands are available), and some who claim that parents who do all that washing clearly don’t spend enough time with their babies. Trust me, by the time your baby is eighteen months old, you won’t care who uses what. At the end of the day, they all end up covered in shit anyway.
- Parenting style. There’s so much pressure to adopt a ‘parenting style’ these days. It’s not unusual for a parent to declare “Well, Gina Ford is the only way to raise a child really”, or to sneer at a mother if she has the gall to admit she isn’t attachment parenting. By the toddler stage, as long as you and your child are both still alive at the end of the day, it’s a win – no-one cares how you achieved it, other than to beg for your tips.
- Babywearing. Once they’re walking, you’ll just wish they were teeny enough to shove in a Babasling or strap into a pram without World War 3 breaking out.
- ‘Natural’ birth. I never understood the ‘caesarian guilt’ – then again, I suppose I’m lucky enough not to, as I did have a ‘natural’ birth (if you count SB being forced out by a large amount of syntocin coursing through my veins as ‘natural’). I know a lot of people feel like they missed out on the ‘natural birth experience’, but in all honesty, there’s a reason they don’t sell ‘vaginal birth’ on those Experience Day gift websites. Shoving a tiny human through your lady hole isn’t all it’s made out to be. If you want an experience, go zorbing. But anyway, by the time you get to toddlerhood, the only time you’ll really think about the birth is on the eve of birthdays, and when you’re trying to stop yourself getting too broody.
- Pain relief during labour. Some people get really wound up about this. It’s a competition to see who put themselves through the most torture during labour. “Oh, you had an epidural? Well I attached the tens machine to my breasts with crocodile clips and gave myself a 10,000 volt shock right to the nips – now that is how you do birth”. No-one really gives a shit. You won’t have a doctor look you up and down at your baby’s twelve month check and say “Well, it’s no surprise that Ptolemy can’t count to five yet – you did have a spinal block after all”.
- Baby-led weaning vs pureed food. I never did quite figure out why people get so worked up about this one, but trust me, by the time they’re eighteen months old, it doesn’t matter whether they started with mushed baby rice or a full roast dinner. If you can stop them from eating fluff, hair clips and their own poop, you’re doing a pretty good job.
- Breast vs bottle. Ah, that age-old debate, scourge of new parents everywhere. Look, let’s be real here. When I walk into SB’s nursery, I can’t point at a random child and say ‘They were breastfed’. No-one can. Breast is best, we all know that and we can sing it until the cows come home, but the majority of people couldn’t give a flying spud, especially when your baby is SB’s age. I’ve never had any other mums from SB’s rooms at nursery come up to me and say “Ooh, was she breastfed or formula fed?”. It just doesn’t happen. So stop stressing!
What I’m trying to say is that the things that, right now, probably seem like the biggest, most life-changing issues in the world, really aren’t all that huge in the grand scheme of things. In a year’s time, no-one will care how your baby was fed or weaned, or what you use to contain their bodily fluids, or whether you did cry it out or co-sleeping. When you’re right in the middle of Mommy Wars territory, it’s hard to have that perspective – but hopefully you’ll read this post and realise that it won’t last forever. In a few months’ time, the only people who still care about all of this will just get a bemused head tilt and a “What are you still banging on about this nonsense for?” in response. Take it from someone who’s come out the other side – the Mommy Wars are just like morning sickness. It’s nauseating, upsetting and there will always be that one irritating person who gets it right with apparent ease, but it doesn’t last forever.