I have a love/hate relationship with parenting books. I love them because when I pick one up I am hopeful it will hold the solution to whatever problem I am facing at the moment that seems so overwhelming. And I despise them because they have a way of making you feel like a failure when the advice doesn’t work. (Also, who has time to read an entire book. I wound up skimming most of the book, and read in depth the sections that I really needed. I think all parenting books need to come with pamphlets, with the main points of the whole book in bullet-point sections.)
I’ve consulted with the professionals in the book on a couple different issues: Sleep, introducing solids, getting the girls to sleep all night, and how to manage misbehaviors. Oh yeah, and how to get them to sleep through the night.
The book says: Put your child down from day1 sleepy, but awake. That way, they can learn to soothe themselves to sleep.
My experience: Hahahahahaha!! Our transfers to the crib would go something like this: YES! Baby is almost asleep. Shhh….tiptoe to the crib. Put her down. No, don’t open your eyes. Oh, please don’t scrunch your face like that, because that scrunchy face is followed by a cry. No, don’t scream. Please don’t scream. You’re going to wake up your sister!! Okay, okay. Baby wins.
Wouldn’t it be nice if baby’s sleep came natural? But when we put our newborn down, they didn’t go to sleep. They cry. And you can’t let a newborn “cry-it-out.” It’s just plain cruel.
Reality: When the babies started crying, and it was 2 AM I just held that baby or let them comfort nurse to let them sleep, which in turn meant that I could get at least a few minutes of sleep.
The book says: Feed the baby on a schedule, and have naps at set times.
Our experience: This worked after awhile. I finally got the girls on the same schedule when the girls were five months old. Katherine liked to sleep for 2-3 hours at a time. Layla? No more than 90 minutes.
Reality: The babies were the bosses for awhile and ran the show.
The book says: Introduce solids at six months. Start with rice cereal mixed with formula or breast milk. Then move on to pureed vegetables. Just keep trying every day at the same time.
Our experience: Our girls didn’t like anything until about fourteen months, unless it was a cracker. Or cheese! Katherine just simply refused to open her mouth for the spoon, and would occasionally eat finger foods. Layla was the opposite. She had trouble chewing finger foods, and sometimes she would let us feed her with the spoon. Other days, it would have been easier to try and spoon feed an alligator.
Reality: The girls ate solids when they were ready.
The book says: Don’t introduce bottles too early or it can create “nipple-confusion.”
My experience: My girls used bottles for awhile, then because of painful latching while they were nursing I decided to stop bottle feeding for awhile. Wrong choice. They decided they didn’t want bottles after that.
Reality: For the sake of sanity, bottles would have been nice to be able to offer.
Some people swear by certain parenting books. And to them, I say “Congratulations! Great! Fantastic! I’m happy for you!” But for the others who scratch their head after all the tips in the parenting books fail, I understand. And in the end, regardless of if the books work or don’t, we as parents typically find what works for our children and for our own families. We modify, adapt and make something work. Of course, maybe if I actually read the whole book instead of reading only the first half and then skimming the second half, maybe I would have a higher success rate!