Friday, February 22nd, 2013
I saw this Portlandia clip this morning and I had to chuckle. What if instead of the tons of paperwork and pamphlets they give you when you go home from the hospital with your baby, they just gave you one that said, “TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.” It might just make for a calmer, more confident Mama.
At some point during Henry’s first year, I wondered if it was okay for him to have a lovey in bed with him at night. We’d followed the “nothing in the crib except baby” rule very carefully, but we were sleep training and I thought that a small comfort item might help him. I asked my trusty parenting consultants (Twitter friends) what they thought and my friend Katherine responded that I should use my instincts. It turns out, my instinct at that time was that I didn’t feel safe putting a lovey in the crib with him just yet. Not sure why, but I didn’t. That was a really great piece of advice.
Shortly after Henry recovered from The Stomach Bug That Created All The Laundry, I finished reading SuperBaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Child a Head Start in the First 3 Years. It’s really a pretty good book and I think I gleaned some good information from it. But, one chapter really made me feel like a horrible parent.
During the few days of Henry’s stomach bug, he really wasn’t feeling like playing much. He’d push his cars on the floor for a bit, knock over a block tower or two, but mainly he wanted to be up in my lap. We spent lots of time on the couch thumbing through his board books. He hadn’t watched television at all up until this point in his life as I was really trying to hold out until he was two before letting him watch anything. But, he was so sick and I thought an episode of Sesame Street might brighten his day. I was right. He was a fan, so we watched maybe an hour or so over the few days that he wasn’t feeling well.
So, I’m reading this book and I get to the chapter on television and read that there should be basically zero screen time for children under three years of age. The author writes that studies have shown that kids who watch television hear fewer words than children who do not, have delays in speech, a decrease in attention span, are more likely to be obese, etc. Of course, I’m feeling guilty! Instead of comforting my child with a little Big Bird, I should have been comforting him with MY VOICE.
But, here’s the thing. He watched television while he was sitting on my lap. If someone came on the screen that he showed interest in, I told him who it was and what they were doing. I told him that Elmo was red, that Big Bird was yellow and that Mr. Snuffelupagus was my favorite when I was a little girl (Snuffy really deserves more screen time, by the way). When Henry was sick, my instincts told me that a bit of television would be okay. We rarely have the television on during the day. He didn’t get parked in front of it as an infant and we don’t use it as a babysitter.
I’m not sure what I’m getting at here, but I’m doing my best to raise a smart, thoughtful and happy little boy. I know what works for us and I know what doesn’t. I know that staying home with Henry is right for our family. Keeping him in our room until he was 6-months old was right for us. And, a little bit of Sesame Street here and there isn’t going to hurt.