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Baby’s first meal? (Wendi Kelly Photo)

You just had your baby. She’s 3 days old and you’re heading home from the hospital. When you get home, feed your baby sushi as soon as possible. And then for the next meal, probably falafel. Because of course you want her to get used to eating a variety of foods right away! If all you do is nurse her or give her bottles, how will she learn to like different things? Obviously, a newborn who only drinks milk is going to go off to college only wanting breastmilk/formula, and can you imagine how people will talk about her?? You don’t want her to think that she gets to choose what she’ll eat, or she’ll just want milk all the time. And of course she’ll get SPOILED! So obviously, the only solution is to start from day one giving her sushi and other international foods. Because you know how you have that one friend whose kid only eats chicken nuggets and corn chips? THAT is the parent you don’t want to be, so you should direct ALL of your efforts into not becoming her. While you’re doing all of this, start teaching your baby how to tie her shoes, because if she doesn’t learn that right away, she never will.

… Doesn’t that sound like the dumbest advice in the world? It is. 

Now, let’s replace “feed her sushi” with “put her down”. I can’t tell you how many parents I see coming home with the (very well-meaning) advice from family and friends to “not let the baby get used to being held all the time”. “If you hold her all the time you’ll never be able to put her down!” and my personal favorite, “You’ll SPOIL HER!”

Why would some things you do when she’s a newborn affect her the rest of her life, but others won’t? Why is it completely normal and accepted that your baby will learn to eat solid food, tie her shoes, use the potty, read, drive, and roller skate all in good time, but can’t possibly develop into wanting some independence?

I have been around A LOT of babies, and I have seen many develop into young adults. And I have never, in all of my years of experience, seen a child leave for college wanting to sleep in his parents’ bed, or a 6 year old who would rather be carried around by her mother than run and play with her friends.  In fact, by 2 or 3 months, babies usually want to spend some time kicking around on the floor, and by 8 months you’re lucky if you can get them to be still and nurse for 5 minutes! Now, she needs your body close to her.

You don’t need to teach your newborn to be put down. We can talk about getting him into a good sleep routine and being comfortable on his own in a few weeks. He just spent 9 months in the warm, dark, cozy womb, floating around. It’s an adjustment just to be breathing air, never mind having his diaper changed, clothes put on, strapped into a car seat. He needs the comfort of being held by his mama, daddy, and friends – and let’s be honest – you love it too! You WILL be able to put him down, sooner than you think – and you’ll miss these days of a mushy, sleepy newborn against your chest.

Tips for supporting your newborn’s needs:

~Wear her in a carrier. The Moby Wrap or Baby K’tan are my favorite for the first 3 months of wearing – they’re so close and snuggly and secure. Plus, you can go for a walk or get some stuff done around the house (once you’ve recovered from the delivery, of course)

~Do LOTS of skin-to-skin holding, even if you’re not breastfeeding. Take your shirt and bra off, and strip him down to a diaper. This will help both of you recover physically, and help him regulate his breathing and temperature. Plus, it’s sooo cozy.

~Accept help! If you want to get some rest between feedings, have Daddy/partner or a loving family member (or your postpartum doula!) hold her for a while. Take shifts with your partner at night so you can each get some rest – it does no one any good (especially the baby!) if all of you are up all night long and crabby the next day. Or, have your doula come for an overnight shift – I find even 2x a week is super helpful to families, and is totally breastfeeding-compatible.

“The days are long, but the years are short.” ~Gretchen Rubin

You WILL miss this. Don’t waste a single one of these precious moments worrying about spoiling your baby with too much love and cuddles, no matter what your mother-in-law says 😉

*Don’t feed your baby sushi. That was a dramatization to make a point.

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