“So, have you given any thought to what kind of parent you’d like to be?” I choke on my coffee. “Sorry, what?” “Well”, says the veteran parent “do you want to be a nurturer or a disciplinarian? Basically, are you a Gina F or a Baby Whisperer?”
Ah shite, I’m feeling like a failure as a parent again. You have no idea how often this happens. I don’t know anything about buggies except I don’t want a Bugaboo (no offence Bugaboo owners – the simple fact is I can’t afford it), I am still wrestling with whether I am going to go the boob route or head straight to bottle feeding and as for parenting – well I hadn’t given this any thought at all… I stupidly thought I would just know when I met my kid.
So, I duly went and bought the books and this is what I learned: the books, from Gina to Whisperer and everything in between basically tell you that your baby is a wild animal who will be GLAD when you put manners on him or her. Gina Ford is the most militant of all the baby experts and reckons that you’re MAD if you don’t have your baby on a minute-by-minute schedule from the day you take him home from the hospital.An example of one of her daily schedules is:
6.30am Wake your baby (right, I am NEVER waking my baby up. Ever)
6.35am Change nappy
6.45am Feed baby
7.15am Wind baby
7.30am Put baby to sleep
7.35am Eat your porridge
7.45am Take a wee and squeeze in a shower if you think it’s safe
This goes on and on and on in fifteen minute fragments throughout the day. It includes time for you and your fella to have a spot of dinner and a bit of a catch-up and even factors in things like doing the hoovering and fluffing the cushions. So, I have a bit of ocd at the best of times, and I have to confess that when I first came across this Gina F, I thought she was a bloody GENIUS. As my baby has grown in my tummy, however, I have become more and more aware that this little fella has a very strong personality, and wild animal or not – if he’s not going to let Mamma sleep through the seventh, eighth or ninth month of the pregnancy, he’s not going to sleep, cute as a button, when I decide take a leisurely shower.
So, on to the other end of the spectrum: The Baby Whisperer. I liked this chick from the word go – she’s all about getting to know your child and tailoring a taming ritual to suit them. She still asserts that they are wild animals, and that you need to show babies who is boss from day one, but in a more… gentle way. Her premise is based on the EASY principle (noice). Eat, Activity, Sleep, You. So basically, once you remember to feed your kid, bounce him up or down on your knee for a while before putting him to sleep, you should have plenty of time for an afternoon face mask. In theory.
When I did all my parenting research I went to TOWN. I was telling everyone about what I was planning to do – “I’m going to create a hybrid of Gina and the Whisperer – it’s the ONLY way.” WhatEVER. Can I let you into a secret? My baby is very nearly here and I’m so mushy about meeting him that I have no intention of putting manners on him when he’s one day old. I’m going to let him sleep when he likes for the first week because I reckon being born must be a pretty traumatic experience – I mean, if my fanny is dreading it, how is he feeling about it? Then, I’m going to take his lead, and try and get him to sleep at night. A bit anyway. My friend EC says the best thing to do is make night time boring for the baby. Don’t turn on the light when he wakes, feed him, change him, and put him back. I like this, it makes sense to me.
The most important thing the fella and I have realised is that our baby is NOT a wild animal… he’s a BABY. And we’re going to treat him like one. Just don’t tell Gina Ford.