As a parent, you will hear millions upon millions of suggestions from other parents about the best way to raise your child. You will hear plenty of ‘Well I did it and mine turned out okay’. You’ll also probably get told ‘Mummy knows best’.
I won’t speak for anyone else, but when I decided I wanted to have children, I never aimed for okay. I have always had a target to give my children so much better than just okay.
Also, newsflash, pushing a baby out of your vagina, or even having them taken out via the sunroof, it does not and will not give you a PHD in parenting, or science, in fact, it gives you no form of formal qualifications whatsoever.
So if you want to go against billions of pounds of scientific research into children’s health and development, for the notion of Mummy knows best, then you go for it. But don’t pass on your uneducated and ill-informed decisions to a new first time Mum who isn’t sure what she’s doing. Do not play health roulette with someone else’s child. Note I say uneducated, those who have made an educated and informed choice not to follow these guidelines, I have no issue with.
Do your own research. The internet is a fantastic thing these days. I have learned so much by just looking at the NHS, World Health Organisation, KellyMom and several other qualified and respected websites. Because if I told you that smoking causes cancer, you’d believe me, because science says so, even though 50 years ago it was considered healthy. But if I tried to tell you anything related to parenting, I guarantee you wouldn’t listen, because ‘you’re okay’ or ‘your parents did it, and you’re fine’ or even ‘they change the guidelines every five minutes’. If you have researched your decision hard enough to go against the standard guidelines, then follow your heart and decisions, because the amount of research you have made into it can justify your choices, not that anyone should have to, but should it arise that you should.
Guidelines are there to help you do what’s best for your child, from a scientific and child development point of view. No they don’t fit every child exactly, but why, just why would you risk it? I risked it with Thomas. And now my poor baby suffers with asthma, a less commonly known risk factor of formula feeding your baby. Would he have asthma if he was breastfed for longer than he was? Who knows. But I took the risk, that was my decision and there is nothing I can do about it now.
But do you know what I did do? I researched. And I am now more educated on these terms. And because I know better than I did previously, I am not making these mistakes again with Ivy. That doesn’t make up for anything, I just know that although one of my children has an increased risk of developing health problems, I am doing my absolute best that the other does not.
I’m not even going to bother telling you what my decisions are to raise my children now. Because it doesn’t matter what I do. It matters what you do. So pick up a parenting book, join a support group, or get on the internet and research your little butt off. Because I guarantee Dr Amy Brown, a professor of Child Public Health at Swansea University, knows just a little bit more about how we can support new mothers better through pregnancy and during the early years, than Margaret down the road with her three middle aged sons who all turned out ‘okay’.