Saturday, May 19, 2007

Best-EVER Tips for Parents????

In the mail today came another parenting packet. It's mostly junk mail that includes way too many advertisements (waste of paper!). Usually it contains about 3 pamphlets reading "8 Disney books for $1.99", and then a portrait package sheet and ads for Parents magazine. I always flip through it in case there is a valuable coupon.

Flipping through it today, the Parents ad caught my eye. They had on the ad a few clips from their magazines of the past. In big bright red and yellow letters, I read 10 Best-EVER tips for parents. I was interested, yet skeptical.

The 10 tips are:
1. Start and end each day with "I love you". You may show your kids through actions, but kids need to be told, too.
2. Babyproof the house. Always stay one step ahead.
3. Set your child's sleep routine. By 3 months, your baby should be sleeping where you want her to be at 1 year.
4. Double check your car seat. Improperly installed car seats are a major cause of injury.
5. Sleep when your baby sleeps. So YOU stay refreshed.
6. Don't be a slave to milestones. He'll let you know when he's ready to crawl, walk, talk, etc.
7. Put your baby down while she's awake-learning to self soothe will help her sleep through the night.
8. Be romantic with baby around. It's OK to kiss Daddy and tell him "I love you" in front of the kids.
9. Don't be overprotective. Don't shield from all disappointments-they need to learn how to handle life's challenges.
10. Make memories for a lifetime. Read books together, ride bikes, play board games.

I love and completely agree with #1, of course. I also agree with #2, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10.

My biggest problem lies with #3. "By 3 months, your baby should be sleeping where you want her to be at 1 year". WHAT?! They call that their best advice, I call it their worst.
3 months is still so young. The stage they are at developmentally as a 3 month old is entirely different than what they are at as a 12 month old. (gee, with 9 months to go, who would think?!)
Why on earth would we expect a 3 month old to sleep like a 12 month old? I'm sure some babies are like that, but I doubt most are. I don't think they are supposed to be!

So many things are happening at 3 months to alter the sleep cycle-teething, more awareness, movements. Our oldest started showing teething symptoms at the end of 2 months. Everyone told us he was too young. Yet right at 4 months his first 2 teeth pooped through, and the following week 2 more! They also start rolling over at this time. That's a milestone. Any baby book seems to inform you that when baby is about to reach a milestone, it excites them and may alter their sleep schedule.

I think they contradict themselves. In #3 they urge parents to force the sleep "schedule", yet in #6 they encourage parents not to be a slave to milestones. Sleeping on a set routine is a milestone. And as they wrote themselves, your baby will let you know when he's ready to reach that milestone.

Why do they always want to push the sleep issue? Babies can still have needs at night. Nighttime does not take away their needs. They do have needs. The needs of a 3 month old are going to be very different from the needs of a 1 year old. (nursing needs, communication abilities...) So why should they be sleeping the same?

I feel for all of those expectant 1st-time moms who are reading these tips in this magazine. The contradiction, the encouragement to go against what is best and natural for your baby-I sure hope somewhere along their paths they can also find a good copy of Mothering magazine, too. Or an Elizabeth Pantley book, Dr. Sears. Something to help them see their babies for who they really are, and what they truly need.


Stacey said...

It said WHERE, not HOW. I think they meant, like, a crib.

Sharon said...

I may stand corrected, Stacey.

I didn't interpret it as literally.
When I read it, I read it as in the same sense as when someone says "where do you see yourself in this time..." type of thing.
I suppose, yes, they may have meant just the LOCATION of sleeping, after all.

It's still surprising to me, though, because it would've never worked for our 1st. With his reflux, he couldn't sleep flat until almost a year. (he actually slept well in his car seat for a while, which our ped agreed to).
It also seems like our new baby is having reflux issues, as well. (and giving me a complex!)

We actually would do a crib from the beginning w/ a sleep positioner. I am all for as few transitions as possible!
Hasn't worked in our favor completely, though.

Thanks for pointing out the more literal, other perspective.

Jennifer said...

Good post! And I'm thinking that "how" and "where" MUST be the same thing in this case--I loved what you had to say, as always and I agree 100%

Kim said...

Yes Yes YES!!! I am always so frustrated by all those main-stream magazines, books and other sources of parenting advice that mostly always goes against the natural needs of babies and children. The advice almost always seems to be in favor of the parents' needs...ways to make the parents' lives easier. It certainly isn't in a baby's best interest to sleep in a room alone down the hall, the only connection to his parents via an audio monitor. Ughh! I also feel sorry for all those first time moms who truly believe this advice coming from so-called experts. If only they knew the joy of their baby sleeping soundly next to them...without the underlying feeling of guilt that they may be doing something wrong. Again, I'm preaching to the choir! This was a great post!!

Stacey said...

When Ace was about 5 months old (2-ish months adjusted) I started on a bedtime routine. I fed him at 7, gave him a bath, rocked and snuggled him for a while, then put him in his crib. He started sleeping through the night shortly thereafter, and has been a pretty good sleeper ever since. I think there's a lot of sense in establishing a routine; I think it makes kids feel a lot more secure than doing whatever the day leads us to do.