Before my son was born, I had plans about how to take care of him and raise him.
Few of them stood up to reality.
I’ve read some ardent arguments written by serious zealots who insist that
children must sleep in the parents’ bed until the age of five. They state this
as a matter of irrefutable theology, though from what I could tell, their main
point was that families in Jesus’ day typically had one bed for the parents
and small children while older children slept on the floor. Since I don’t walk
down dusty roads in sandals and speak Aramaic, I didn’t see why I should follow
that particular custom either. Whenever people fervently insist on a particular
religious practice that has no biblical
I unconsciously tend to do exactly the opposite. While Tater was still gestating,
I silently decided he would never sleep in our bed for more than a couple of
hours, and then only if he were recovering from a nightmare or something.
So far, our baby has not slept a full night out of our bed. Even in the hospital,
he spent at least half of every night in bed with his mama. There’s no deep
reason for this—we just hate the thought of him waking up and feeling alone.
We tried to put him in the crib on his first night at home. I couldn’t stand
not being able to monitor his breathing, so I kept getting up and checking
him, which usually woke him. It’s just easier having him next to me. It makes
feeding easier too. Eventually (maybe when he’s six months old or so), I’ll
calm down about his breathing
and he’ll understand that just because he can’t
put him in the crib to sleep.
Before the birth, we also decided not to give him any formula. Breast milk
is what God intended babies to eat, and no artificial concoction has come close
to duplicating it. Trouble is, it took him a while to figure out how to get
milk from a breast. He lost a pound in his first two days of life. From what
I understand, that’s not unusual, but it’s also a little much.We had to break
down and give him a bottle, which made the process of learning to breastfeed
even more difficult. A lactation consultant told us that the key factor for
success in breastfeeding is the mother’s determination, and my wife epitomizes
determination, so Tater soon learned how to avail himself of the good stuff.
His appetite outstripped the natural milk production, however, so we still
give him a bottle or two per day. (Our bottles have slow-flow nipples, which
supposedly makes the back-and-forth less confusing for the baby.) I actually
like the fact that I get to feed him sometimes. It’s a good bonding experience
Another thing we planned never to do was give our baby a pacifier. We had
heard that early pacifier use can hinder dental development. Plus, it looks
kind of silly and our baby needs to look cool. It turns out that the sucking
motion is very calming for a baby. Since all he had to suck on was a breast
and a bottle, he ended up eating more than his stomach could hold and so spat
up a lot. Not to mention that all the feedings were making my wife horribly
sore. We found a soft, odd-shaped pacifier that claimed to be dentally sound
is clean, if he’s fussy and tired, all he needs is the pacifier to relax him
a little so he can sleep. We figure it’s better to give him a dentally sound
pacifier than to have him start sucking his thumb.We can eventually discontinue
the pacifier; a thumb is more difficult to take away.
So another thing my baby has (re)taught me is that research and intentions
often don’t stand up to reality.
On his one-month birthday, I sat my son up on the couch and he stayed sitting,
perfectly content. Yesterday, he rolled from his belly to his back on a flat
surface all by himself. We donated his cord-blood in the hospital for
research in treating genetic diseases, but now I’m worried that they’re going
to use the umbilical cord stem cells to clone super-babies.