Advice to parents is a fascinating area. It is the root of many conflicts between interfering ‘elders’ who suggest things which would now be frowned upon from sleeping on tummies through feeding water, to relatively recent friends and neighbours who are vociferous proponents or detractors regarding other trends such as co-sleeping.
Advice for weaning has changed since I had my first lad. Back then, in 2007, weaning before six months was, if not a cardinal sin, certainly not something easily discussed or admitted amongst the chattering NCT classes (of which I am, predictably, a member). The advice was half way through the first year. I waited, till six months, and he was vaguely interested in some baby led weaning with breastmilk, occasional babyrice, sweet potatoes and bananas.
Now? Things have shifted. Weaning can now be between four and six months. My son’s GP told me it was akin to walking – you wouldn’t sit a child down if he/she was trying to walk, so why intervene if a child is trying to eat. I understand the reasoning, and have usually followed advice, so why did I feel a faint stirring in my loins? A desire to say, back to a medical professional, but, but, but…
It is true that there is nothing more aggravating (and intimidating) than being a new parent, bleary eyed and only just used to be in charge, and being told you should be doing something another way. Especially when cleaving to official advice from doctors, midwives, health visitors and a couple of books you read when 18 weeks pregnant is all you really have. It is an intense time when many of us feel unsure of ourselves. So why do people do it? My Mum was great about the current advice but I know many Mums less lucky. I used to be flummoxed at the advice thrown at them. Less so now though.
If I feel weird and want to both defend holding back on the ‘nanas and yams with Spider-boy imagine how I’d feel if I was suddenly told the way I’d tucked my baby up at night (on his/her front in the ’80s, say) was wrong and furthermore dangerous. I too might feel torn. On the one hand cross or embarrassed or retrospectively nervous about my past choices, on the other feeling somehow compelled to tell others what I had been told was safe.
But things change. I keep wondering how parenting will change if my boys have kids. What will be the faux pas then? The devil in me predicts break out book ‘Happy Slappy‘ challenging current ideas about not using physical violence when punishing kids. I can only hope that then I’ll have the courage to speak up, and my lads’ voices echo in their NCT classes saying ‘I was never hit as a child and it never did me any harm‘.