Finding your own parenting style can seem like a daunting task in the beginning. One friend recommends one book, while another friend recommends a contradicting book. They both swear they’re the best thing since sliced bread… who do you believe?
You may know exactly the type of parent you want to be, or you may be completely clueless on what will work best for you… more likely you’re somewhere in between. That’s where I was when Zoë was born.
By now, you’ve probably heard most of today’s main parenting style buzzwords:
- Attachment Parenting
- Baby Wise
- Ferber Method
- Free-Range Parenting
- Helicopter Parenting
- Slow Parenting
I’m going to be honest… I’ve never read a single parenting book. I’ve read plenty online since Zoë was born, but I have never cracked a single book that was recommended to me (even though I bought a few of them). Instead, I prefer to practice what I call, “Parenting by Intuition.”
It’s not a parenting style. It’s not a parenting method. Parenting by Intuition simply means listening to your child’s needs and responding to them in a loving and sensitive way. You have to really be close to your child to be able to read their signals and be attuned to them. It definitely takes time, flexibility and effort to get to that point, but for me, it’s well worth it.
Some people may say I practice Attachment Parenting, and if you want to put a commonly accepted label on it, that’s probably the closest method to how I parent. But I don’t follow the Attachment Parenting Method to the tee…
I base my style of parenting on what works for my child rather than a set of guidelines. Below I’ll lay out a few things that have worked well for Zoë. We’ll see if this same formula works for Kaylee, or if she demands her own… either way, how I parent her will depend upon her needs.
I never thought I would be a co-sleeper. I planned to have Zoë sleep in a cradle next to our bed for the first few months, then she would move into her crib and that’s where she would sleep. Turns out that she rarely slept in her cradle, and slept in her crib even less.
Now at 21 months, she still sleeps with us most of the time. It’s what works for her, and for us. She just doesn’t sleep as well on her own and we don’t see anything wrong with that. But, I’ve talked about my feelings on co-sleeping before.
I learned very early on that babywearing would become a daily part of my life. Zoë loved to be held close (probably since she was used to being in close quarters in the womb since she weighed in at 10 lbs 1 oz at birth). The only thing that kept her calm and happy was to be close to me all of the time.
It was overwhelming at first, but my Moby Wrap quickly became my savior. For the first eight weeks or so, I really didn’t get out of the house much. It was really getting to me. I knew for my sanity that I needed to get out more. That’s when I really got into babywearing.
Once I did, I was able to go anywhere, anytime and I knew things would be fine as long as I had my Moby. She’d sleep or spend her awake time happily there. I could visit friends, run errands or just get outside to get some sunshine and she was happy. It was great.
I was determined to exclusively breastfeed, which I was told meant avoiding nipple confusion. I was determined not to let Zoë have a bottle or pacifier for the first month, at least. That went right out the window…
She was born with a strong need to suck. I joked that she was my little Hoover. So, we let her have a pacifier at the hospital. Did that contribute to my supply problems? Who knows? It could have been many things, including the pitocin and epidural that I had… but giving her a pacifier made her happy, which made me happy and more relaxed.
She had her first bottle the night we brought her home from the hospital. She was having difficulty latching and I needed a mental break from that challenge so that I wouldn’t give up breastfeeding. So, within her first three days of life, she had a pacifier and a bottle. And not once did she ever have nipple confusion. She always preferred Mommy and we made it to 13 months breastfeeding (when I got pregnant).
That’s not to say that some babies don’t get nipple confusion. It just wasn’t an issue for us. So, I’m glad that I listened to my intuition to determine what was going to work for us.
There are a lot of other things that have gone into developing my parenting style… these are just a few highlights. I’ll touch on many more in future posts.
Overall, I think using our Intuition to parent our daughter has helped us form a very strong family bond. We plan to raise Kaylee exactly the same as we have raised Zoë – by listening to her needs and doing what works for her, not what some book says we should do.