What The Baby Books Say

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CIMG3379Like many excited soon-to-be Mums, I read the baby books and daydreamed naively about how perfect life would be with our new bundle. Sure, we would be tired, but we’ve been tired before – it’s no big deal and it’s only for the first few weeks anyway – right? I would nap in the day, exercise, bake and of course, go out and about and offer baby plenty of play and stimulation – easy.

When my son came along though, we appeared to be working from different manuals, and looking after a baby really wasn’t quite what I expected, or had been led to believe.

Now I’m not saying the baby books were useless. If I ever wanted to feel anxious about the things he was yet to achieve by month two, the books were most informative.  When I needed to frighten myself silly about how dangerous our home was for our baby, I just read their handy five page list of Things to change immediately if you wish to avoid sudden peril.  And to give them their full due, they really were perfect for resting mugs of tea on during a four hour feeding session, you know, the ones the books tell you don’t really exist.

Here are some of my favourite juxtapositions between how the baby books and my son, AKA The Boss saw the rules of the game.

What the baby books say: A newborn will sleep for 16 hours per day.
How it actually is: A newborn will do whatever the blinking well it pleases; often surprising even itself by how little sleep it can survive on whilst driving its parents almost literally insane.

What the baby books say: You will soon become expertly quick at nappy changes, especially if you have a little boy!
How it actually is: You will get covered in wee. A lot.

What the baby books say: It is better not to use motion or feeding to get the baby to sleep.
How it actually is: A baby’s will is greater than your own, do what it demands or pay the price.

What the baby books say: Most babies will have settled into a manageable routine by about 8 weeks.
How it actually is: More like 8 years, if you’re lucky.

What the baby books say: Gently encourage your baby to self-settle by placing them in their crib awake but drowsy.
How it actually is: Upon doing this they will immediately transition from peacefully sleepy to screaming wakefulness and you will have to start the whole stressful process again, but this time with a cheesed off infant.

What the baby books say: Sleep when the baby sleeps.
How it actually is: Bite me.

What the baby books say: Your newborn will enjoy time by itself, taking in its surroundings and being entertained by the cot mobile or bouncer toys.
How it actually is: Your newborn will be completely velcro and not give a penny farthing about sensory alone time, thanks very much.

What the baby books say: Your baby requires feeding every 3-4 hours and will soon settle into a predictable milk routine.
How it actually is: Your baby will require feeding between every 45 minutes to 4.5 hours, and often continuously, for blocks of several hours, as they see fit. Although they stick their fingers up to any sort of predictable schedule, they can often be relied upon to demand a feed as soon as you are on the bus or driving a car and unavailable for instant milking.

What the baby books say: Milk stools are very inoffensive and no problem to deal with.
How it actually is: If inoffensive means, in it up to their necks, poo leaking onto your jeans and toxic liquid exploding everywhere mid-nappy change then I suppose you could say they are right.

What the baby books say: To avoid creating a crux with the breast or bottle, try alternates to comfort your baby if they cry between feeds.
How it actually is: If milk stops the crying, damn well give it. Anything to MAKE IT STOP.

What I have learnt however – all by myself – is that if anyone else demanded half as much from me, twice as nicely, on three times as much sleep, I wouldn’t want to – or be able to give it to them. But the soft snores, gorgeous giggles and huge coffees always seem to be enough to get me through and to keep me giving – and willingly (sort of).

Also published on Babycentre UK

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24 thoughts on “What The Baby Books Say

    • Thank you! Yes I bet you’re right. Sat there, typing away undisturbed with their hot drinks and having NO clue about the urine-covered reality. We should write our own!

    • Sounds weird to say I’m glad you got covered in wee a lot too, but am pleased to hear the books were full of BS for others as well!

      • Ok admittedly as I have girls, the wee thing was a little more rare! However, i got struck by many a exploding poo in the early days!

      • Oh yes, good old exploding poos! I weirdly looked back on them a little fondly once the weaning started in earnest. My thinking is all kinds of wrong!

      • Ha i know what you mean! I found an old milky vomit stain on my old feeding chair and had to hold back a tear…

  1. Funny post . Babies are like snowflakes… no two are the same! So how can you write a book about what they will or will not do? x

  2. Very funny and so very true. Love it. Babies will do what they want to and need to do and none of them have read the books anyway so don’t know what they are supposedly expected to do! Great post.

    • Thank you! Yes, in fairness they don’t even know what they’re meant to do… Still doubt mine would do it anyway, but that’s besides the point!

  3. I tried reading one baby book and gave up promptly, i would say your post is probably the most spot on thing I have read about babies! Especially the sleep when the baby sleeps part… I hated hearing that crap!

    • Yes, the sleep thing is such utter crap and very irritating to tired ears! I wish I hadn’t bothered reading the books – I don’t remember reading one single thing about how it actually is!

      • I would like to say it was quiet rebellion on my part that I did not read any baby rearing books, but honestly it was exhaustion and laziness.

  4. Very funny – and oh so true! I have to say that I started one baby help book when Grace was born and then threw it away after about 3 chapters! Thank you for linking to #PoCoLo

  5. so true , when i had my first baby i read baby books religiously and worried that my baby was not like they said in the books! by by third baby i never read a single book and know that all of what they say is nonsense and sleeping when baby sleeps is just the worse advice ever as i fall asleep for all of five minutes then wake up feeling like a zombie to s acreaming baby, much better to have a cuppa and spend ten miutes on social media ha xx #TheList

  6. Fabulous huni! We STILL put Baby down asleep, we are such bad parents. Thanks for linking up to #TheList x

    • NOT bad at all – we do whatever works! We still stay in the same room until S drops off, bring him in with us if he’s disturbed and drive him to sleep on the afternoons he won’t nap – the books would be horrified! 😉

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