I spent months worrying I was doing everything wrong with my first baby.
I would spend far too long huddled over my smartphone as I searched on Google for answers to every teeny niggle I experienced.
The trouble is there is so much information available at the swipe of your finger these days that it can be so easy to get overwhelmed with it all.
We’re met with endless chat forums, the sleep strategy websites, and the scientific studies that are constantly contradicting the last one we read.
The thing is we spend so much time fretting about whether we are getting it right, we miss the point that there is no right way to get through the first year with a baby.
If you’re doing everything with a level-head, the best intentions and, obviously, common sense then you can’t go far wrong.
My Google obsession
Just to give you a glimpse into my neurotic mind during that first year with my now-toddler, here’s some of the topics and questions I Googled:
Baby waking every two hours.
Baby will only nap in my arms.
Red, raised rash on baby tummy.
Baby will only feed to sleep.
Baby crying immediately after feeding.
Symptoms of baby reflux.
How to treat silent reflux?
Is cry it out damaging to babies?
How much solids should six-month-old be eating?
When should babies sit upright unaided?
Routine for baby at x months.
Using a dummy, pros and cons.
Dummy and speech problems.
This is just a flavour of the many, many things I put into Google during that first year.
The funny thing is, I quickly noticed that Google autocomplete filled out most of my questions before I managed to finish typing them. And with so many results popping up for every one of these questions, it’s clear there are loads of other parents who have had at least one neurotic moment.
And after all that worry, what happened to my baby? She was and is fine. She’s a happy, healthy, great sleeper who doesn’t use a dummy anymore.
I’ve only noticed this constant search for the “right” answer fading away with my second child.
What finally did it for me was when I stumbled across a forum at 3am when I was looking for advice on getting my baby to sleep for more than an hour a time.
A mum had been given a prescription for something by her doctor, I forget what it was, and wanted to know about other’s experiences. A member of the forum chipped in saying the medication was awful and the mum shouldn’t use it.
I was horrified. The wording was extremely strong and pushy. To tell someone else, who has had advice from their GP, not to give prescribed medication when you have no medical training and no knowledge of the situation apart from 250 words on an Internet forum shocked me.
Finally I got it. No one is an expert at you. Even the ones who put expert in their job title.
You call the shots
No one is an expert on your life, your baby and what’s best for you.
There are a million solutions to the questions and problems I put into Google. There are tons of books on baby sleep.
You can ask for advice, seek medical help and look for alternative views, but at the end of the day how you solve problems and move forward with raising your baby is your choice.
And you will make the right choice for you.
If there was a perfect, tried and tested, sleep through the night guaranteed method to parenting, we would all be using it. But we all do it differently.
Some people have strict routines.
Some people start solids earlier than six months.
Some people ban all TV.
Some people rely on a dummy for nap and bedtime.
Some people use controlled crying to solve sleep issues.
Some people bottle feed.
So next time you turn to Google in desperation and despair, try to remember that you’re looking for advice, not the right answer.
Try to have confidence in yourself. Parenting is tough, but you will survive that first year.