When I was pregnant with Atticus, I'll be the first to admit that I broke a few of the rules. I had the occasional glass of wine after the first trimester, I ate deli meat, and drank a cup of coffee each morning (after my morning-sickness-plagued stomach could handle it, of course). As you've probably guessed, I'm not one for paranoia. Not that I wasn't constantly worried about miscarriages, birth defects, and early labor; every first-time mother is. It's just that I felt if any of the aforementioned things were to happen to my precious little bundle, it wouldn't be because I indulged in a glass of champagne on my anniversary. It would be because genetics, bad luck, or other forces beyond my control were to blame.
Of course, when I had Atticus, everything changed. I remember coming home from the hospital with my pediatrician's gift of Your Baby's First Year glued to my left hand, while I held my nursing little man with the other. I read it over and over, obsessing over developmental progress, milestones, and the meaning behind every rash, cough, and hiccup. Slowly but surely, however, I've relaxed. Now that Atticus is almost 10 months old, I've abandoned the parenting manual and even lost it until I decided it was time to clean out the storage disaster under his crib. After thumbing through the "6-10 Months" chapter, I realized that I've been breaking a lot of rules. And you know what? I think he'll still turn out just fine. Here are a few of the "mistakes" I've made:
1. Never heat a bottle in the microwave.
I completely understand why this rule was established, but I'm capable of shaking and then testing the temperature of my kid's formula before giving it to him. Granted, we're not nursing anymore, and I've heard that the microwave can zap important nutrients from breastmilk, so don't follow my lead if the good stuff is in your bottles.
2. Never let your child fall asleep with a bottle.
Man, I really should have followed this rule, as experts argue that bottles before bed are bad for babies' teeth. My teeth are prone to cavities, so I can only assume that my son's teeth will be genetically predisposed to dental problems, too. There was a night, however, that the kid would NOT fall asleep. He was in an I'm-so-tired-I-refuse-to-sleep-and-instead-will-scream-my-bloody-head-off mood, and a bottle finally helped him fall asleep. Of course, now we've created a monster, as he rarely will fall asleep without a bottle. At some point we plan to end this viscous cycle, but we haven't figured out how yet. Any ideas?
3. No strawberries, milk products, peanuts, [insert scary food item here] before age 1.
Other than honey, which is a huge no-no for babies due to the risk for botulism, we really ignored the food allergy warnings once Atticus was an established eater. For one, strawberries were the first food he actually enjoyed eating. For another, I read the book Hungry Monkey, about a food critic's role in introducing new and adventurous foods to his young daughter, and committed to being open-minded based on the author's laid-back stance to food allergies. And guess what? The kid is fine. If you chose to follow my ignorance, just watch for signs of an allergic reaction and don't try too many new foods at once.
4. No TV before age 2.
I really thought I was going to stick to this one…I know I really, really wanted to. I understand the evidence out there that suggests early exposure to TV can lead to an increased risk for ADD/ADHD, but we're also big fans of books and nature and walking and music, so we figure we'll win the gamble anyway. Plus, if you and your husband have ever tried to simultaneously get dressed for a friend's wedding before the babysitter arrives and the kid needs to be entertained, Baby Einstein is your new BFF.
5. Don't take the baby out of the house until he's 2 months old
The reason behind this rule is to avoid any nasty illness or germs until munchkin has been vaccinated, but I felt like cabin fever was far more dangerous. I mean, when's the last time you knew anyone with Diptheria? If everyone gets vaccinated now, what's the risk of catching an Oregon Trail disease at Whole Foods? We weighed the risks and decided to ignore our pediatrician's strict rule of keeping baby home those first two months.
So now that you've been privy to all my poor parenting, what mistakes have you made? And can you live with them?