My Baby-Led Parenting // by Dear Mummy Bear

Note from Naomi: Todays post is a guest post from the beautiful Claire from Dear Mummy Bear. Living at home with her partner of five years and 6 month old son, this 24 year old mummy blogger has written wonderful post on her experience of ignoring everyone else’s advice and letting her baby lead her parenting. Claire has been blogging for a couple of years, but has recently refocused her style to write about being a mum. If you like what she has written here, then you will love her blog. Check it out here.

Everybody loves parenting advice… Or do they?

As soon as we found out I was expecting, we were greeted by a tirade of parenting ‘advice’ (if that’s what you could call it). We received ‘guidance’ from family, friends and even random strangers… because obviously when you’re sitting in a café sporting what appears to be a huge basketball attached to your tummy, EVERYONE has to comment or give ‘advice’.

People would always stop me and ask, “What are you having?” or, “When are you due?”. This was always followed by, “Well, you want to get into a routine straight away. It’ll make your life so much easier and you can still have time for yourself!”. Sometimes they even made it personal, like, “My daughter weaned her baby at 12 weeks with porridge. Don’t use the apple one though, her little one didn’t like that flavour.” Even when casually browsing the shops with a family member, we couldn’t have a little nosey down the baby aisles, without someone commenting on what would age is good to start giving my baby ‘x’, ‘y’ or ‘z’.

Any discussions we had with people, from what brands of nappy, wipes or food to use, or which routines to stick to, became a little tiresome. Sometimes they were even stressful. All these people approaching me, and their ‘helpful’ comments instantly set my anxiety into hyper speed. I would be tossing and turning at night, thinking about what someone had said that day. The rest of the time was spent Googling ingredients, and alternative methods to aspects of parenting.

Some things, I decided on before baby bear was born.

I was determined to breastfeed and baby wear. My mother-in-law bought us the Snuzpod² which immediately meant co-sleeping and bed-sharing was an option for us. Other things, I just knew we would have to play by ear. Yeah – I could stock up on nappies and skincare products – but what if my baby’s skin doesn’t agree? That’s a lot of wasted money.

Six months on, still breastfeeding strong!

Six months on, still breastfeeding strong!

Baby Bear Arrives… and the discovery begins!

In the first few weeks, I spent ages trying to figure out his cues.

Was he tired? When was the best time to bath him? Do I only offer feeds at 3 hourly intervals (as advised by the hospital)? What do I do when he clearly wants feeding again, but has not long ago had a feed?

All of this was before we had even reached the stage of weaning!

I tried a couple of different routines with Logan. I started with bath at 8.30pm followed by feed and bed. It didn’t work. Usually, he wanted feeding and would go straight to sleep totally missing his bath. Sometimes he would go to sleep before this time and that would be him out for the count for a few hours (until his next feed). As that way didn’t work, I tried bath in the daytime and bedtime at 9pm. This too he would fight. I expected this to really stress me out and my anxiety just reach through the roof, but we ended up preferring this way!

I’m also told by people around me, “When Logan is older, he’ll probably be crawling into your bed every morning!” When I tell them that he gets into bed with me in the night already, they are a little shocked. Of course after this revelation, the phrase, “You’re making a rod for your own back” usually appears. My friend recently told me it might make it difficult when trying to get him to go in his cot, because he’s so used to sleeping with me now.

Honestly though? It just suits us down to a tee.

Logan becomes restless in the night. I know falling asleep sat up while feeding a baby can be dangerous, so we do it laying down. With some extra snuggles, he feeds and we both fall asleep together. He also seems to sleep better this way, so when we wake in the morning, I know we’ve had a good sleep. Which is a good thing, as anyone who knows me will know how grumpy I can be when tired. Ha!

There is nothing wrong with falling asleep this way!

There is nothing wrong with falling asleep this way!

Fast forward to this week, when we began weaning.

Oh such a fun and messy time, I’ll tell you.

I knew before he was born that we were going to wait until 6 months – unless advised otherwise by a health professional of course. After doing some research, and reading the NHS and WHO guidelines, we decided this was definitely the safest and most favourable option. We also decided to go with baby led weaning. This means no purees or shop bought jars and pouches. It is simple, whole food, one baby and a whole lotta mess!

You can’t be upset about the mess when they look this cute!

You can’t be upset about the mess when they look this cute!

Of course our decisions continue to be questioned by others around us. Questions range from, “Why baby led weaning?” to, “What’s the difference?”. Of course my auntie piped up with, “I can’t get my head around it. I thought they had to have puree first”.

NO, NO, NO! We are going to do it our way. That’s Alex, Logan and my way of course.

When it comes to advice, I’ve joined a few Facebook groups and pages as well as having asked other mummies I’ve met (and of course health visitors!). Mainly I just want to know exactly what I was doing. Turns out, there’s no EXACT way of weaning. Just following baby’s lead. A lot of people have told me to, “Just go with the flow”. Obviously there is always the same advice – limit salt, and sugar intake; as well as not to give him honey or whole nuts. The general consensus though it that we should do it whatever way suited us.

As of yet, we’re yet to create a ‘routine’, if you like, for breakfast, lunch and tea. We’re actually still introducing breakfast! But, so far so good! Some of his favourite foods so far are: tuna; wraps; and crumpets.

I’ve simply decided though that, ‘baby led’ is best for us.

I find it leads to us all being happier, and enjoying things a bit more (because we’re not hungry, tired or grumpy of course!)

I guess you could say I kind of ignored everyone’s advice, and have done things my own way. I guess I’m just learning as I go along. But isn’t that what parenting is? We make mistakes. We do things others might disagree with. However, we love our children. We personally find that being baby led in every way is the best way for us as first time parents. I’m enjoying it that much – especially the night time snuggles and feeds – that I know I will definitely adopt this approach with any future children I may have.

Do (or will) you have strict routines, following parenting approaches by the book? Or do (or will) you also take a laid back approach and let baby lead you?

However you choose to parent, the most important thing is that your child is happy. Logan certainly is!

However you choose to parent, the most important thing is that your child is happy. Logan certainly is!