Another issue I have with the how-to books is the way many of them simply made me feel inadequate. They warned of the dangers of indulging my child, and lead me to believe that if I didn’t teach my child to sleep he’d end up sprouting another head or grow up to become a spoiled brat. One book refers to “accidental parenting,” where parents think they’re doing the right thing but they’re really making life difficult for themselves. It’s tough enough being a parent as it is without being told by an “expert” that you’re doing it all wrong! Once I realised my baby was never going to fit the mould these books described I put them away and followed my instincts.
One book I do rely on is Robin Barker’s Baby Love. Robin is an Australian mothercraft guru and her book is the bible for many new parents. It is so popular that several bookstores were out of stock when I was trying to buy it (Aussie girls, I found it at Big W for $10 less than it was anywhere else!). I could’ve bought the Americanised version in Hong Kong but I didn’t want to be reading terms like Mommy, pacifier and diaper every time we had an issue! Without dictating a regime or criticising parental errors Robin clearly and concisely explains many aspects of a baby’s first year; the problems you might encounter and ways to fix them. 24 hours after bringing our brand new baby boy home from the hospital he was screaming the house down and leaving pink stains in his nappy. “What does Robin say?” I cried anxiously, and sure enough she had an answer, which was later confirmed by our doctor. My milk hadn’t come through and the poor little guy was dehydrated. Robin was my constant companion in those early days while I struggled to build up my supply and mix breastfeeding with formula. We’ve referred to her for everything from teething and nappy rash to weaning and crawling. She has only let me down once and I feel disloyal for admitting it, but no relationship is ever without its faults. Robin believes that teething causes no discomfort and that all the “signs”, like ear pulling, mouthing, and diarrhoea, that people associate with teething, are just old wives tales. My son would beg to differ. His bottom teeth have been threatening to appear for weeks now and one is just coming through as we speak. He has been cranky and clearly in pain, putting everything in his mouth and yes, he has diarrhoea. I hope it’s just coincidence, mainly because I don’t want him to go through all this for every single tooth, but I’d really like for Robin to be right. My instincts also tell me that he is not well, and I’d much rather be proven right and know I can rely on those instead of some book.