Friday, February 5, 2010

Experts of Nothing

In an age when there's so much information readily available to us, it amazes me how much people don't want to say about babies. Scratch that. There are millions of articles available on the internet, but all they really ever say is, "Every baby is different."

It's frustrating for a new mom who knows very little about raising babies. I'll think to myself, "I wonder if Oliver feeds too frequently," because he's three months old and feeds every 1.5 to 2.5 hours. I often think he's probably not supposed to feed an hour and a half after his last feeding, but I'm not sure. I look online, and the first dozen articles I open say, "Every baby is different; feed him when he wants."

That's great, but I'm still wondering if my baby's appetite is normal. Surely, someone should be willing to say something like, not wanting to eat for 8 hours during the day is abnormal. Or, perhaps, wanting to eat every 45 minutes is abnormal. But, no, I can't even find that in any article. For all I know, some babies do eat every 45 minutes, and perhaps that is normal. Or maybe it's abnormal, and some poor mom out there has raw nipples for feeding her baby on demand.

Somewhere along the line, I finally decided his feeding schedule must be normal. Then, I went to Babies R Us last weekend to by some more bottles for storing breast milk. The only bottles that come with the size 3 nipples he uses are 11 ounce bottles! Eleven ounces?! Oliver drinks 3-4 ounces. Does he not drink enough for each feeding? Should he be drinking more, less frequently? How does a breast hold 11 ounces of milk? I look online. How much should breastfed babies drink? The experts say, "Every baby is different!" There are absolutely no normal or abnormal ranges listed anywhere that I can find. None. Apparently, your baby can drink a gallon of milk or maybe just sip half an ounce, and that's just fine with the experts.

I swear, baby "experts" really frustrate me. No one wants to commit, to say what's normal.

Baby books are pretty much useless. Every book I opened said you can't spoil your baby for his first three months of life. That seemed reasonable. I picked him up whenever he cried, fed him whenever he wanted to be fed, never left him alone for more than a minute (perhaps to grab the laundry to bring it upstairs to fold while he played on his mat). Now Oliver's three months old, and I wonder, do I need to be careful of spoiling him? Should I try to soothe him in other ways before picking him up? Should I try to get him to soothe himself? Well, guess what? The experts say, every baby is different. Some might be ready to calm themselves, but others might still need your help. I still don't know what I need to do to prevent spoiling him. I'm sure most people who read this will say, "Don't worry about spoiling your baby." Well, then those useless experts out there should say a mother can't spoil her baby for his first six months, or year, or whatever it might be. And then, perhaps, they can tell you what to do to not spoil your kid.

Now that Oliver's starting to get closer to rolling over, I've been worried about him being swaddled at night. However, he won't sleep unswaddled. I wondered what's a good age to stop swaddling, and what I read was that every baby is different, and when they're ready, they'll sleep unswaddled. I read I should try to put him down unswaddled every week or so, and at some point, he'll just let me. It could be at two months, it could be at three months, it could be at four or six months or a year.

What the hell? What is the point of having baby experts if they're not going to tell you anything? Why am I wasting my time reading books and articles, only to learn after finishing them that there are no answers to my questions? Do people really need to write entire books just to say that?

To any new mom out there, I'd like you to know the following. My baby is three months old. He drinks 3-4 ounces of milk every 1.5 to 2.5 hours during the day. In the morning and in the evening, he seems to want to drink more frequently than the middle of the day. At night, he'll often go 5 hours with no feedings. He seems healthy. I'm willing to guess his schedule is normal. He drank from size 2 nipples when he was less than a month old, even though the box said the nipples were for 3 month old babies. Maybe it's normal for a baby to like a heavier flow, but I don't know since there's no information available to say what is normal or abnormal. He stopped drinking from a bottle for a while, but when he started again, he'd only take size 3 nipples. Again, maybe that's abnormal, but he seems OK.

Maybe now I'm the expert. I think even just that little bit of information would have been helpful to me as a new mom. So, there. I'm sitting here, typing to tell you, 3-4 ounces of milk is normal for a three month old baby. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think any of those baby experts would ever say so.

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