Advice for the Modern Mom
Did all of you see the new medical information about how too many moms these days are feeding their infants solid food too soon? I was going to blog about it yesterday, but it was all over the Google News page, so I assumed everyone had read it. If somehow you missed it, the CDC says that 40 percent of moms they surveyed admitted to feeding their babies solid foods before they were 4 months old. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until the baby is at least 4 months old. In the New York Times, Dr. T J Gold, a pediatrician, said, “At 2, 3 months, they can’t even hold their heads up well, and they can’t sit.” That makes it difficult, even dangerous, to try to feed infants solid food. According to the CDC, feeding infants solid foods before 4 months can lead to diabetes, obesity, eczema and celiac disease, in addition to depriving them of essential nutrients found in breast milk. The most recent recommendation from pediatricians, besides pushing the benefits of breast-feeding over formula, is to wait until the baby is 6 months old before introducing solid foods.
Which brings me to my point. While I’m not a parenting expert, in my 18 years as editor of this publication, I’ve learned a lot. I was flattered to be asked to share some of the things I’ve learned, both as the mom of three children who are now adults, and as a professional, with some moms at iMom Morning in Owasso week before last. iMom Morning is a moms group organized by Chick-fil-A at Owasso Market. I also took some pictures while I was there, which are the ones you see here.
At the top of my list of advice was this: Know something about infant and child development. Case in point – if these moms who were feeding their infants too early had known more about how infants develop, they would probably not have given them solid foods. Sure, you can get all kinds of advice from friends, parents, aunts, uncles, sisters, but good, solid research-based developmental (physical and emotional/social) can’t be beat. Professionally, I try to make sure TulsaKids delivers that every month to our readers. Personally, I found it extremely helpful to know that, for example, my 9-month-old wasn’t trying to drive me crazy by dropping Cheerios off the high chair, or flipping switches on and off. He was learning about the world and how it works.
Alongside development, I would include understanding temperament and personality. Those of you with more than one child will understand what I mean. If you have a child with a reserved temperament who is very resistant to change, he or she is probably not going to join in immediately at the playgroup. If you understand this, you will save yourself a lot of that “what’s wrong with my kid?” worry and guide your child according to his or her temperament, which brings me to the next thing:
Accept and love the child you have. Too often, we’re busy comparing ourselves and our children to everyone else or worse, to some unrealistic standard we’ve set, or perhaps that our product-oriented society has set. I’m not saying don’t have expectations, but those expectations should be to expect the best from the person that your child is. Believe me, your child will know when your love has strings attached to it. Our society tends to focus on the end product – the “success” – without looking at the process it took to get there. “Enjoy the process” might be a good way to look at not only being a parent, but as something to teach your children as well.
Treat your child with the same respect you would a friend, neighbor or co-worker. That Golden Rule thing is a good reminder of how to treat children. Your children don’t need friends as parents; they need parents. Parents aren’t afraid to say no. Parents aren’t afraid to let a child fail. Parents aren’t afraid to have a backbone. But we can do all of that without being mean, disrespectful and nasty. Remember, your children are learning how to treat people by the way you treat them and others. A sense of humor goes a long way, too.
Let your child fail. Failure leads to self-discovery. Think about your own childhood and your teenage years. I’ve often found, especially with older kids and teens, that if you wait, they will typically solve their problems themselves. If you’re always rescuing and doing things for your kids, they’ll get the message that you think they can’t do anything on their own, that you don’t trust them to be competent people. When you treat them as competent people, they’ll step up, and when they can’t, they’ll come to you for advice.
Finally, don’t be hard on yourself. I’ve made many, many mistakes. Fortunately, I think my kids overcame my inadequacies. We all do the best we can, and it usually works out ok. I love being with my three adult children. They’re fabulous people – interesting, funny, well read. I just spent four days with them in Texas and I miss them already. I hope they feel the same way. Thanks, iMoms, for allowing me to look back and cull out the great things about being a parent.