British celebrity nanny Claire Verity: a Babble.com interview.Sarah Hepola
Verity’s approach is strict and old-fashioned, but it’s not without controversy – she’s been compared to Cruella De Ville and has angered many a blogger. Babble talked to Verity on a recent visit to the States about the age-old problems of sleeping and feeding, and the difference between American and British “mums.” – Sarah Hepola
What is the major mistake new mothers make?
A baby thrives on routine, from day one. If you’re wanting a baby who sleeps well and feeds well, what you need is a good routine. That is what I do throughout the U.K., help parents create a routine.
What do you get asked about the most?
Sleeping. “How do I get my baby to sleep through the night?” And it’s basically all about how the baby is feeding. If they’re feeding well, they’ll sleep well.
Do you notice a difference between American parents and English ones?
In America, especially, parents are overcautious. They’re slightly nervous about a newborn and lack confidence. The U.K. parents are more go-with-the-flow. The Americans are slightly more nervous about what they should and shouldn’t do — whether it be sleeping or breast feeding, there’s a huge amount of pressure on you to get it right. At the end of the day, it’s really not important if you do get it right. So what if you can’t breastfeed? Is it really that important? What’s important is that your baby is fed, not what your neighbor three doors down thinks about whether you breastfeed or don’t breastfeed. I think American moms worry too much about what other people think.
But it also seems like there’s so much advice, much of it contradictory. I wonder if there’s just too much information.
That’s what I do. I simplify things. There’s so many books, there’s so much advice from various people, and sometimes a new mom really doesn’t know which way to turn. It’s all about finding one book. Don’t buy all the books. If you buy all the books and all the magazines, they end up gathering dust on your table. Because you don’t need them. You haven’t the energy to read them. I feels sorry for the mums out here, I really do. Exclusive breastfeeding until six months? For heaven’s sake! What if you have a big, ten-pound baby?
But there’s a shame involved if you aren’t able to do something –
What’s the shame about? What’s more important: how you feel or taking care of your baby? If you don’t feed that baby, you’re starving it. And it is controversial, but it’s absolutely true. People are very nervous about when to start weaning. And so they do it for six months, but they are literally counting down the days. Meanwhile, that baby’s been starving for two months.
You’ve worked with celebrities. What are the particular pressures of that job?
It’s not as though there’s a difference between the concerns of a celebrity family and a regular family as far as raising a baby, but perhaps a celebrity family like the Jaggers has to be far more cautious. They could be targeted. They might have a kidnapping situation. But I have noticed something about America. A baby is the most precious possession you will ever have in your life. But some American families will take on a nanny, and she hasn’t been background checked, she hasn’t been police checked. If I said to somebody, “Can I borrow your Bentley and go for a spin?” I don’t think I’d get very far. But some families will hand over their baby to just about anyone.