Some of the greatest advice that I received after the birth of my first child was… Don’t over BABY your baby. I wish I could kiss the woman who gave me this little treasure. But alas, she was probably one of the cute little old ladies in the grocery store who stopped to take a peek at my new little one. Why would I take some crazy advice from a stranger at the store? Well, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
Before I became a Mother, I would see my friends with their babies. I would see how much work they were. I saw my friends sometime struggling day in and day out to juggle baby and all of their other responsibilities. They would become overwhelmed and exhausted; feeling like the only time they could get anything accomplished was when the baby was sleeping. They would work on short little snippets of rest in the valiant cause of caring for and entertaining baby every waking moment.
The more I would watch this routine, the more I realized that that just wasn’t going to work for me. However, I felt like that was just the way it had to be. That was the natural order of things. Babies and children need to be constantly cared for and entertained. That was until this sweet little woman said to me at the store, “make sure to not over baby your baby. They need to learn how to have down time. They need to learn how to entertain themselves.” And it just clicked.
My little one is not going to wither away the moment I step away to fill the dishwasher, or do a load of laundry. She will not resent me forever if I don’t rock her to sleep every single time. On the contrary, she is going to build a healthy sense of self. She is going to learn how to discover the world on her own terms sometimes. She is going to be healthy, and learn how to sooth herself to sleep rather than feeling like the only way that she can sleep is if I am rocking her. It’s good for babies to have a little down time and figure these things out on their own.
Now, please don’t misinterpret my message. I still spent hours upon hours playing with, teaching and snuggling with all of my little ones. I cherish every moment with my little ones. I love them so much I gave them a little space and taught them that it’s alright to discover the world a little bit on their own terms. After the first six or nine weeks, they learned how to go to bed without being rocked to sleep. And you know what, they are happy healthy children who love to learn and explore and have had healthy sleeping habits from the very beginning.
This is a two-fold gift. They’ve learned how to entertain and soothe themselves and I received the proper amount of rest. This then allowed me to be a much better mother when we were together and discovering life together, and it wasn’t the end of the world if I had to take care of a household chore or needed to help an older sibling with something. I feel from them very beginning they have developed a stronger sense of self and how to work in the world. I’m so grateful for that little tidbit of advice that a kind woman was so willing to share with me. I truly feel like it has made me a better mother.
Children’s health is at the top of every mother’s mind. What’s your favorite tip for raising a healthy baby? By replying, you will be entered to win an exclusive Million Moms Challenge Gift Pack, which includes an iPad2, a custom-made Million Moms Challenge pendant and a $50 donation in your name to Global Giving.
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Million Moms Challenge. The opinions and text are all mine. Contest runs November 14 to December 18, 2011. A random winner will be announced by December 20, 2011.