Before becoming a parent, I never gave a thought to my parenting style. I figured I would just go with the flow – maybe I’d do things my sister did, or my mum did or my sister-in-law did, or my friends did. Maybe I would let my husband take the lead (but maybe not!)
Turns out my parenting style is completely different to what I expected, even though I had no idea what my parenting style was meant to be!
I always knew I was going to breastfeed – it’s something I was determined to succeed at, and I’m fortunate that I’ve had a fantastic experience so far (if you haven’t already, have a read here).
But there are a lot of things I do that I never expected. I use cloth nappies and love them!! After a bit of trial and error, we mostly use Little Lambs One Size nappies for day, and Little Lamb Bamboo nappies with Bombproof wraps for night time (although Alfie has just grown out of his night time nappies so I need to purchase some bigger ones!). We also have some pocket nappies from CC Nappies and Natural Baby Accessories. They are such cute prints and a really reasonable price as well. When I tell people we use cloth, I get a lot of turned up noses and questions about poop! Yes the poo does go in my washing machine, no it doesn’t matter as it’s liquid poo anyway – no different to washing clothes that have been involved in a poonami (which, FYI, don’t happen with cloth nappies, a MAJOR bonus!). No, they’re not like the old fashioned terry nappies that your mum or nan probably used. Yes, they are SUPER cute! And they save us money. We don’t use them full time, as Craig isn’t as much of a fan, so we do use disposables as well. But that’s ok, using cloth doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation.
Before having our baby, we’d heard soooo much bed-sharing and how bad it was. We were told numerous stories about so-and-so who let their baby in their bed, and they’re still there at 18 (jokes, but that’s how ridiculous some of the stories were). We were warned against it, and before having a baby, we agreed. Then we produced a boob monster who wanted to feed every hour, and I had an unexpected caesarean which meant I struggled getting out of bed. So I learnt to feed lying down and we shared our bed with Alfie for the first 8 weeks. He had a moses basket in our room, and quite often he’d start off in there and then after the first night feed he’d stay in our bed, then would go back in his basket at around 5am. He then grew out of his moses basket at 8 weeks, around about the same time he started sleeping longer and got more fidgety in bed. At that point we put him in his cot in his nursery. He slept 10-4 until he was 16 weeks, then he hit a sleep regression and had been having 2 or 3 (or one one occassion, 9!!!) night feeds. But I feed him in his room, and he goes back in his cot. So co-sleeping hasn’t had any detrimental effect on us – we did it for as long as we needed to, and stopped when we needed to.
Another thing I love doing but hadn’t even considered is babywearing. I had a lot of online friends who were in to using slings and carriers but it wasn’t something I’d ever thought about. I knew a couple of people who had used carriers and always complained how uncomfortable they were or that their baby hated them. Now I know this is probably because they weren’t ergonomic carriers, so probably weren’t that comfortable as they don’t put baby in the correct position.
My first sling was a Close Caboo and I love it! It was a stretchy wrap but is pre-tied so easy to put on and adjust. I used this until Alfie was 5 months, by which point he got a bit too heavy and it was uncomfortable.
The carrier I use now is a Connecta. I LOVE it. Honestly is such a good carrier, it’s comfortable, Alfie loves it and it’s so convenient. I can wear it for hours at a time, even though Alfie is a heavy baby (22lbs at 8 months). I do get a lot of people asking me questions about babywearing as well – usually does it hurt my back (no) and does he forward face (no). I’m by no means a babywearing expert but I’ve done my research and visited my local sling library to try out different options and have found what works for me and Alfie! The only problem with the Connecta is choosing a design as they are all so beautiful!!
We have decided to take the route of Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) rather than traditional purees. We waited until the recommended 6 months before we gave Alfie any food, and then we went straight in with “normal” food. His first tastes was curry and rice, but his first meal was scrambled egg and ham! I love BLW as Alfie just eats whatever we eat – he’ll have toast, porridge or cereal for breakfast with a yoghurt or fruit, and then for lunch he might have a sandwich or soup or lamb koftas or tortilla pizza or scrambled egg! Dinner could be spag bol (my fav!) or curry or sausage casserole or tuna and corgette fritta or even a roast chicken dinner. I love BLW as it’s so easy, I don’t have to think about what to give him, as he just eats what I eat. It’s made Craig and I eat more healthy as well as I’m conscious of not giving him too much salt, sugar or bad fats. The downside is the mess, but you get used to it (and I’ve stocked up on messy mats from the Poundland, they’re a lifesaver!!!)
The most surprising thing about my parenting style? We don’t have a routine (shock, horror!) From birth we have pretty much followed Alfie’s lead – he eats when he wants, he sleeps when he wants, and I’m not bothered one bit! I was always a believer that a routine would be the best thing for us but every time I try and implement one, it doesn’t last long and Alfie never follows it anyway. We have a sort of routine – we get up, Alfie breastfeeds, has his breakfast, naps, has a bit of playtime, has another nap in the morning, lunch, then naps again at some point in the afternoon. Then his night time routine is dinner at 5.30, playtime with Daddy, bath at 7, then boob and bed. This is a very loose routine, the times change, sometimes he has a bath, sometimes he too tired, sometimes he sleeps late in the morning so lunch is later which pushes everything back. I just fit everything around Alfie – but he also fits in with us. If we need to go out but it’s nap time, he naps in the car/pram/sling. He can quite happily miss a nap and it doesn’t bother him – he’ll usually just nap for longer when he does then sleep (although, it doesn’t affect him night time wakings!!). So I now don’t believe a routine is key – certainly not at this age anyway. I’m sure my view will change when I go back to work, and we HAVE to be in a routine. But for now, we just go with the flow (sorry mum!)
I would like to think I’m a lot more laid back as a parent than I thought I would be. I don’t know if Alfie is a chilled baby which makes me more chilled, or I’m chilled which makes him chilled! I know that if I’m stressed or panicking about something, then he definitely picks up on it. He doesn’t cry very much, only when he wants something. He doesn’t sleep through and still feeds every 3 hours at night, but that’s fine and I’ve learnt to cope with the night feeds. He doesn’t have a dummy because we’ve never felt like he’s needed one so we haven’t given him one. When he cries, it’s always for a reason and once we’ve discovered what that is (hungry, tired, wet bum, just wants a cuddle) and sorted him out, he stops!
Some people might look at me and think I follow gentle parenting, or attachment parenting or that I’m a “crunchy mum”. I’m sure most people just think I’m a bit of a hippy. In truth – I just parent in the way that works for me (I’m not a fan of labels!) This will probably change and adapt as Alfie gets older and as our circumstances change. I don’t judge how other people parent, so would hope that other people wouldn’t judge me. We are all just parents at the end of the day – we do what we need to, to get through the day.
*I have put some links in to the companies I have mentioned – I have not been asked to do this, I am just recommending what we use and what works for us. Feel free to have a look if you want to!*