Earlier this week I wrote about some of the things I will likely do differently with our next hypothetical future baby, so it only seemed right to balance out those with the things we will do the same. I think parenting is all about learning and getting through that first year was all about adapting. And while yes, there are things I’ll do differently, I also think we did a lot right with him.
Everyone’s parenting style is going to be different, but these 9 things worked for us. And the result is (so far) a happy, healthy, well adjusted baby (almost toddler…wah). And if any of that was more than just luck, hopefully these 9 things will help us make sure the next one is every bit as wonderful.
1 of 10
Parenting has been an adventure, click through for 9 things we'll do the same next time...
Get an epidural if I feel like I need it 2 of 10
I didn't plan one with Eli's birth, in fact, I planned not to. And then I got stuck in a plastic chair in the waiting room in active labor for 2 hours and all those coping mechanisms failed. I do not regret my epidural one bit. I think it was exactly what I needed to have the energy to push for an hour and get Eli out safely. In subsequently labors, if the pain gets unmanageable, I won't hesitate to ask for help. The most important thing to me is that we're all healthy and if an epidural can safely facilitate that, then I'm all for it.
Listen to baby’s needs more than what’s "right" 3 of 10
Prior to becoming a parent, I think I internally judged parents who listened to their kids more than conventional wisdom. To me, it looked like spineless parenting...and then I became a parent. I don't give in to Eli's wants most of the time, but I do listen to what he needs. He's young enough that wants and needs are sometimes subtly different, but it's still a critical distinction. The biggest example of this for us was the crib. Eli was telling me, over and over, that the crib was not right for him. And for a long time, I pushed back, insisting it was what he needed. When I finally listened to my child instead of to parenting "experts" who didn't know him or us, I realized that the crib wasn't what he needed. And within 2 weeks of transitioning to the floor bed, he was sleeping through the night, consistently, for the first time. I don't know what our future babies will need, but I will listen and trust their cues more than "experts" on the subject.
Cut the swaddle early 4 of 10
Eli was never a major swaddler and it was something that I'm actually kind of grateful for. He could break out of almost all of them (and we didn't know about the velcro options!) and slept just fine without them, pretty much from day one. And so at around 6 weeks, we just stopped bothering all together. I can't begin to guess whether future babies will be the same, but I will make an effort to stop swaddling on the early side, because I've witnessed and heard many stories about the difficulty of cutting the swaddle when babies are older and have no desire to endure that struggle if it's not necessary.
Minimize crying, especially at night 5 of 10
This is another thing that is surprisingly on my list. I was pro-cry it out before I was a mother, at least in certain circumstances. But after going through it with Eli, I know that it just doesn't feel right to me. It's one thing to deal with fussing at bedtime or naptime, it's another to do 2 hours of it, which we did exactly once, and which I regret even now. This is not to say that I think CIO is wrong or that parents who use it are wrong, it's just not something I want to do with my kids. I know plenty of well adjusted kids who did cry it out, but in my heart I know it's not for us. (This picture is actually Eli do some seriously dramatic crying because I wouldn't give him more Motrin. It was short lived. But still very sad.)
Room in for 6 months 6 of 10
This one is an AAP recommendation (when the AAP says co-sleep, they mean room share) and one that we followed. It was convenient and reassuring to me, and it worked well for Eli. Once he transitioned to an earlier bedtime we were able to enjoy some time downstairs until bed, and never had an issue waking him. And the transition to his own room at 6 months was relatively seamless and we've never looked back. To me, rooming in for 6 months gave us the closeness we needed as long as we needed it, and it made good developmental sense to make the switch at 6 months.
Let them sleep where they will 7 of 10
I'm not even referring to the floor bed here (mostly). The first few weeks and months of parenting were hard on me because I constantly questioned the long term consequences of my decisions, especially related to sleep. Eli napped best on me. He slept best on me. And for about a month, he slept on me at night (on the couch) and for naps. And it worked for us. We gradually got him to sleep in a rock n play at night, but naps continued to work best on me until 3 months, and I let it happen. And then we moved to the swing. And for the next 3 months, he slept in the swing. It maybe was a little unconventional, but for those first few months, letting the baby sleep where they will is something I'll do again with one exception- not in our bed. For us, it's a safety issue- we're very heavy sleepers who move a lot at night and don't want to take the risk. So we will let our future kids sleep wherever the sleep best, as long as it's not in our bed.
Breastfeed (if possible) 8 of 10
This is a big one for me, almost more as a point of redemption than anything. I want to successfully breastfeed a baby. Eli had breast milk, but only from a bottle. With my future kids, much like with Eli, I'll do whatever it takes, to try to make us successful. And maybe be even a little more stubborn.
Extended rear facing 9 of 10
Though I can't say we've done it yet since Eli is still well under the weight requirements to turn forward facing, we plan to keep him rear facing for as long as possible. And we will do the same with future babies. There's a plethora of evidence that shows that this is significantly safer and for me, it's something I don't even have to pause to think about. (This picture is a very long story. Suffice it to say, he didn't ride in the car with all those things on him.)
Love, unconditionally 10 of 10
This one will be easy. It was the easiest part of Eli's first year and I hope it is the same for any and all future babies. The first year is tough, but love is easy and I think it's the most important thing I could ever do in baby's first year.
What things did you do with your first child that you will/did do again with the next one(s)?
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