Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Fear based parenting - refusing the pressure

A friend with a nearly 4-month old baby visited me today. We don't see each other much these days since I've moved away, but before she gave birth I offered her a few thoughts on baby parenting (mainly to trust her instincts rather than parenting books / other people's opinions, and follow the baby's lead) and she told me today how much she took those things to heart and how well it's served her. Both she and her baby are thriving and loving the bonding early months.

But, she also told me that there's already pressure on her - friends with babies the same age are sleep training them (leaving them to cry alone), raising their eyebrows at her feeding her baby to sleep... at not even 4 months old?? I was gobsmacked. She asked me, why is it bad to feed your baby to sleep?

My answer: I'm not sure, I still feed my 3yo to sleep and it's the one thing that makes her want to go to bed - without it I don't know how much fight she'd be putting up!

But of course I've had that thrown at me too. You can't keep feeding your baby to sleep, it's a bad habit!


The best answer I can come up with, from conversations with friends, is fear. Why do people let their babies cry until they can cry no more, and call it self soothing... why go through that awful time as a mother, when every fibre of your being screams at you to just GO TO YOUR BABY and you refuse... what can possibly trump the power of that instinct? Fear.

What are we so afraid of that we create issues where none exist? When a baby could peacefully feed to sleep in mama's arms - instead to spend hours and days and nights refusing its urgent need, until it learns to stop asking? Where does this fear come from?

We have to learn to refuse the fear. Refuse the pressure. I will not create issues where there is no problem right now, just because I fear some vague problem that may (or may not!) occur in the future. 

So if I feed baby to sleep, they may not be able to settle at night without me? Well here's a newsflash: I signed up to being a mum when I brought this baby into the world. Being there for my baby is my calling, my duty - why should it have to settle down without me? If there's an emergency and I can't be there, the baby will suffer a bit and then eventually manage; but why make baby go through that without the need?

So if I don't force my baby to sleep all alone, they will NEVER sleep alone? Newsflash: I know so many families whose children - school age children! - regularly come into the parents' bed at night... yet my 3yo sleeps through reliably every night, and has done since age 2. I  refused to make her associate falling asleep with distress - shouldn't it be a safe, calm, warm experience? Funny how many kids hate going to sleep and stall and stall. I wonder if there's a connection.

So if I don't send my kid to nursery (later: school) they'll become a loner with no social skills? Well newsflash: we're surrounded by people to interact with. People of all ages, not just those within a year of the same age who are still very much learning what is and isn't socially acceptable behaviour. My 3yo is polite, friendly, open and inclusive - not least, I would say, because she learns how to interact from a variety of people, not just from her equally immature peers.

I will not base my parenting decisions on fears of the future.

"For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love and sound judgement."
- 2 Tim. 1.7 HCSB


  1. Really interesting read!! And good for you to trust your instinct on what is naturally good for your children. I think the world has forgotten that being a mother is the greatest vocation or career move any woman could choose and it demands all of you not just enough to get baby settled so that you can go back to work! Thanks for sharing :)

  2. A good read. I have been getting quite a bit of pressure from well meaning people about when I'm going to stop breastfeeding and stop co sleeping with my 2 year old. You do start to doubt yourself and wonder if things will ever change, but we just need to stick to what we know is right for our children at the time and not worry about the opinions of others. It's very hard though!


Thanks so much for sharing!