I’ve read and heard a plethora of stories from first-time parents regarding how they treat their precious “L.O.” (Little One, a nickname my husband has forbidden because of the over-use of the acronym). Most of these parents spout judgment in the direction of anyone who isn’t boiling bottles and pacifiers, fully sterilizing toys, rubbing sanitizer on their hands and making everyone who walks into their house do the same each and every time their “L.O.” is picked up, etc.
I don’t do any of those things. Not one. As a matter of fact, the running joke in our house is that we treat our first child more like she’s a second or third.
This is what I do (and don’t do):
I use a bottle warmer. If the bottle comes out too warm, I run it under cool water.
I do breastfeed, but I supplement with formula because I can’t always keep up with the pixie’s eating habits. No, I’m not driving to the hospital to pick up donor breastmilk to make up for what I lack. No, I’m not sorry.
I don’t boil bottles or pacifiers. I put them in the dishwasher and if they look like they’re still dirty, I wash them again.
I will wipe down new toys with a disinfecting wipe, but after that, Pixie can pretty much slobber all over whatever she wants. Play pads get washed when they’re considered “gross.”
I don’t sanitize my hands every single time I handle my child. I don’t make her grandparents sanitize their hands, and if a friend visits, I don’t make them sanitize either. I don’t hang out with filthy people, and I trust that they’ll wash their hands if they think they need to. They haven’t let me down yet.
I follow the schedule that Pixie exhibits. I don’t hold her to a strictly timed day or force her into what I think (or read) that her schedule should be. We play when she wants to play. When she’s tired, she sleeps.
I vaccinate. As a matter of fact, she’s sleeping off her two-month shots as I write this. (Granted, this is not an example of treating one’s first child like their second or third, but I felt the need to piss off any anti-vaxxers who might potentially read this. Anti-vaxxers, you’re all wrong.)
I let her hang out with other babies who spend time in day care, even though she doesn’t.
With my doctor’s go-ahead (nay, his suggestion), I don’t let the pixie go more than three hours at a time without feeding during the day. At night, I leave her alone and let her sleep. If she wakes up and wants to eat, I feed her.
I give formula for the bedtime feeding. It weighs a little heavier in her tummy and helps her sleep a little longer at night, which means Mom and Dad can sleep. Which means Mom and Dad can maintain their few shreds of sanity. Which also means no crazed, sleep-deprived, murder-suicides for this family.
If I need to eat, I will absolutely let the pixie cry. Put your own oxygen mask on first, right? If I starve to death, so will she. I will also let her cry if there’s something that must be done, such as a shower (my hygiene is questionable on a good day) or dishes (there’s usually a medium to mountainous pile in the sink).
I do not, under any circumstances call her Little One (or, god forbid, L.O.) I slipped once, and my husband almost had a heart attack when he heard me.
I joke that I can understand why people shake babies, I tell her at least three times a week that she’s lucky she’s so cute or I’d have thrown her out already, and when she does something gross (such as an apocalyptic diaper, a fountain of barf, or farts that smell like they were made by a 72-year-old man who ate nothing but onions all his life), I tell her she’s gross. She’s two months old; she has no idea what I’m saying.
I spend lots of time cuddling and loving on her. There’s no such thing, after all, as spoiling a baby.
I play and dance with her and talk/sing/read to her—not on a schedule, but whenever she wants.
I tell her all the time how much I love her and how beautiful she is.
We go on daily walks (Colorado weather permitting). She loves them.
Now, maybe to some these things make me a terrible mom. Or maybe, just maybe, you’re the terrible one for judging me on them. My girl is healthy (so sayeth her well-respected pediatrician), happy and loved; just because we’re allowing her immune system to develop doesn’t mean we’re injecting her with West Nile virus or dipping her into vats of cooties. I’m learning, not just from what I’m reading but from my own experience, that there is really no one right way to care for my baby. As long as her doctor is happy with her development, and as long as we’re comfortable with our chosen methods and—above all—the pixie is happy and loved (and alive), then I think we’re doing A-okay.