In the nineteen months since, I've realised that actually I am very lucky. As my friends (and my sister!) have had their own babies around me, I've realised just how lucky I am, and have always been, with my little bundle. You should probably never ask me for advice, because the only advice I can give is based on experience - and is therefore not likely to be helpful! Here's why:
- If your baby is constipated, my advice is likely to be "meh, just leave it; it'll be fine in the end." S has never been a prolific poo-er. She was exclusively breastfed until almost 6 months, and during that time she usually only did a poo once a week. She once went 18 days without a poo. I kept checking with health visitors and GPs (and Facebook, of course) as to whether my child was normal, and the resounding response was - if she's not in discomfort with it, it's fine.
- If your problem is that your changing bag is just too big and heavy and it's such a mission to go out anywhere... my advice is likely to be "ahh, just leave everything home and take yourself and baby out for a bit!" Because S was breastfed and didn't poo much, and I live very close to the city centre, I've never had to worry about taking masses of supplies out with me. If I needed anything from town, I always just shoved her in the sling and made a quick dash for the shops. Also, the fact she wore cloth nappies meant that any poorly-timed poos were well contained; her first proper poonami was a couple of months ago. My sister has not been so lucky with her son; when she comes out of the house she has to bring at least two changes of clothes. He poos after (usually during, actually) every feed, and it usually wrecks every piece of clothing he's wearing.
- If your baby is crying, my advice will probably be "just give him a cuddle." S has never been a great wailer. She cried when she was hungry and that was about it. Yep, she never even cried when her nappy was wet. Still doesn't. She's just getting to the stage where she'll pretend to cry if she thinks it'll get her something she wants, but on the whole, she doesn't scream unless there's a big problem. On those rare nights where she's not settled, I've always just put her in a sling and rocked her to sleep. When she was very small and I couldn't get her to settle after a night feed, I'd just lay her on my chest and we'd sleep like that.
- If your baby doesn't settle to sleep at night, I'm a great advocate of feeding to sleep, and co-sleeping. From a very young age, I fed S to sleep and she shared my bed. Once she started nursery, the only time she was breastfeeding was at nap time or bed time. I was still feeding her to sleep when she was 17 months old. Everyone told me I was mad to be relying on feeding to get her to sleep, and that I should move her out of my bed soon or I'd never have it to myself again. Well, balls to you all. She stopped breastfeeding one week when she had a bad cold and couldn't breathe through her nose, and has never asked for it since (much to my dismay). She started sleeping in the cot one night when I was too tired to stay awake and watch her, and now she sleeps there every night. She started sleeping through the night at 13 months, though I was still waking every few hours to check she was breathing. No fights. No controlled crying. No begging. No pleading. No pain. No fuss.
- If you can't get your toddler to let you clean her teeth, I'm likely to just say "well, leave it a few days and try again." I had terrible trouble trying to get S to clean her teeth. Proper screaming with the mouth clamped shut business. Eventually I just gave up trying. One evening I couldn't be doing with the fight before bed time, so I just gave her a cuddle instead. The next couple of nights I forgot... and then one evening she was in the shower and made a grab for her tooth brush on the side. I figured it was worth a shot, so I put some toothpaste on the brush, and we went for it. And so began our evening ritual of cleaning S's teeth with absolutely no fuss or bother. At all. Nothing.
- If your toddler has trouble settling at night, I'm likely to suggest you just stick a dvd on and leave em to it. We get by on a combination of Despicable Me and Peppa Pig. I am fairly sure this makes me the worst mother in the world. At the very least, it rules me well and truly out of the running for mum of the year. But we're happy; it works for us. I put a dvd on; S lays down in her cot with her books and her Tigger, and she goes to sleep. For anyone who wants to tell me "oooh, you want to get her out of that habit before it's too late..." - see my point above about the cosleeping and breastfeeding. And then knob off.
I'd like to take credit for these lazy parenting tips, and to say that S is such a dream because of my amazing parenting skills - but I'd be lying through my teeth. I'm just a bit lazy and cut as many corners as I can legitimately get away with. I have been blessed with possibly the easiest child in the world. She's so easy, she makes me look like I have a clue what I'm doing.
So yeah, don't ask me for advice; I don't have much experience of challenging parenting!