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Darlena Cunha


There Is No 'Right' Way to Be a New Parent

Posted: 08/21/2013 5:00 pm

Advice For New Parents

As a first-time parent, I did a lot of research online. I looked at Kelly Mom, at Dr. Sears and at the World Health Organization. I joined parenting groups and forums, baby groups and pages. We have the Internet's boundless knowledge, facts and experience at our fingertips, we may as well use it, right?

In my years of internet research, I learned one core fact I think every parent should take into consideration: You can find an expert to back up any belief you have.

It's true. No matter how you choose to raise your child, you can find someone on the internet to tell you that you are doing it right. For every one person you find to tell you that, there will be 20 more to tell you that you are doing it wrong.

My solution?

You need to do what feels right for you and for your child. You cannot go by the book in parenting because there simply is no book. Or, rather, there are 80 billion books. As new parents, we often don't have the confidence to rely on ourselves and on our gut feeling, but with all this conflicting information, it's really all we have.

Here are a few examples of what I am talking about:

1) Babywearing

Many blogs and groups have effusive write-ups on the benefits of babywearing, many parents in your chosen internet forum advocate it, but, then again, there was that recall a while back.

People have been wearing babies for centuries. If you choose to do so, you are following in their footsteps, and they've created millions of people, so I'm sure you'll be fine. Alternately, people have been putting their babies down for centuries, and those babies turned out okay, too.

I never babywore. I had twins. Problem solved. I didn't even have to look into this one. (Although, I'm sure there are many advocates who would tell me I should have worn them both. Perhaps saddlebag style?)

2) Breastfeeding or formula feeding

Most news stories, experts and websites you'll see agree that breast is best, but your mother in law, your aunt, and the hospital in which you gave birth are pushing formula.

Again, babies have been fed both ways for many, many years. Those babies made it, and so will yours.

I breastfed for three months. My babies never latched and needed to take my milk from a bottle. I fought tooth and nail to continue, but the babies were less than 10 pounds at that three month mark, my breasts were making less milk, and I had to go back to work. I switched to formula. I'm here to tell you, I am still a good person, and my babies are thriving two-year-olds. It's okay, and it's nobody's business how you feed your child. Do what's best for you.

3) Cosleeping or Bedsharing

You can find multiple articles for and against cosleeping. Some physicians say it's dangerous and leads to SIDS or other problems. Others say that theory is rubbish, that cosleeping is good for baby and parents, that it strengthens bonds and leads to a better night's sleep for all involved. You need to do what's right for you.

We never shared a bed. My kids made it.

4) Crying it out.

Babywise says do it. Everyone else says don't. Again, I stick to my adage of doing what's right for you. In this particular instance, though, I must let my bias show, as I cannot imagine how letting a small baby cry for any long amount of time is good for anyone involved. But I'm no expert. That's what Google is there for.

And these are just a few. (Notice how I didn't touch vaccines? I am so pro-vaccination that it's another post entirely). There are so many questions that need to be answered. And once you make a decision, there are several important follow ups. So that if you decide that a pacifier is right for your family, you then have to research what type of pacifier, and when you're supposed to wean baby from that pacifier, and when you can and can't use that pacifier, and how often, and for what amount of time.

With all of this ready-made knowledge, we're essentially taking the intuition out of parenting. I'm not advocating shunning the internet. The information is there, we best use it. I'm simply saying, don't forget, in all the noise of the typeface coming through your computer screen, to listen to yourself, and, more importantly, to listen to your child.

Darlena Cunha blogs daily at parentwin.com and keeps up a thriving Facebook page, as well.

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    The new year brings with it new resolutions, particularly if you’re trying to shed the baby weight. But while Garmin is a fine name for a fancy runner’s wristwatch, you can do much better. Try a name that signifies new beginnings: For a girl, the Latin name Nova, or the Scandanavian name Dagny. For a boy, try Jeevan, an Indian name meaning "life"; or Ordell, a Latin name meaning “beginning”.

  • February Baby Names

    All thoughts turn to love, and there’s no shortage of names inspired by Valentine’s Day. Quick tip: if you hope to produce a future prime minister, you probably don't want to<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/12/13/unusual-baby-names_n_2295031.html#slide=1880716" target="_hplink"> name your daugher "Admire".</a> For girls, try Morna, an Irish word meaning "affection"; or Freya, who according to Norse mythology was the goddess of love and fertility. For boys, Carwyn is a name meaning "love" of Welsh origins; or Erasmus, a Greek name meaning "worthy of love".

  • March Baby Names

    St. Patrick’s Day is upon us, but remember that this is a child, not a pub crawl. Naming your St. Patty’s Day son Guinness, or daughter Bailey, puts a certain spin on the circumstances of their conception. Ireland is a bounty of baby names, with unique options like Cleona ("shapely") or Sorcha ("radiant") for girls, and Lorcan ("fierce") or Tierney ("lord") for boys.

  • April Baby Names

    Spring has sprung! Nature has long been a source of name inspiration, but one must not assume an Earthy moniker will keep a child forever grounded. Look at the Phoenix family alone: Joaquin used to go by “Leaf”, and became a media-troll-slash-failed-rapper; and River, well… we all know what happened there. Aim for less-obvious salute to the environment. Amaya (Arabic) means “night rain”, and the Greek Bryony (or Brioni) is a climbing plant. For a boy, the Hebrew name Tivon means "nature lover", and Faunus is the Roman god of nature.

  • May Baby Names

    Just because the meaning of "pick up a two-four" will soon mean diapers instead of beer, you can still celebrate the long weekend’s namesake with some regal inspiration. If you think Victoria is too mainstream a name for a girl, try something that simply means "royal": for a girl, the Hawaiian name Keilani, or the Greek name Basilia; or for boys, the English names Elroy or Kenrik.

  • June Baby News

    The Summer Solstice means plenty of brightness, and there’s no better inspiration for the newest ray of sunshine in your life. Unless you want a ‘90s Shawn Colvin hit stuck in your head for the next 18 years, consider options other than “Sunny”. For girls, there’s Chasca, the Inca goddess of the dawn; or Zelia, a Spanish name meaning “sunshine”. For boys, there’s Nikko, a Japanese name meaning “sunlight”. And Dayton, a unisex English name meaning “bright and sunny town”.

  • July Names

    July is all about Canada Day, and there’s plenty to celebrate about our country, besides the fact that your delivery isn’t costing you much under a universal health care system. Rather than honouring your home and native land with names of your favourite NHL players ("Sakic" is a little obvious), aim for the characteristics that make us great. For girls, Adiba is an Arabic name meaning "cultured and polite", and Safia means "clean and pure" in Swahili. For boys, Norris means "from the north", and Roden is a Gaelic name meaning "hearty and lively".

  • August Baby Names

    Even though a good night’s sleep is about to become a thing of the past for you, August is still the time when everyone tries to make the most of those last relaxing weekends at the cottage and soak in what’s left of summer. Trust the Hawaiians to come up with perfectly serene names: For girls, Alania means "like calm waters", and Luana means "relaxed one". For boys, the French surname Destan means "by the still waters", and can certainly work as a given name; and Noa, also French, means "restful".

  • September Baby Names

    If you’re going into labour around Labour Day, there’s nothing wrong with using the theme as inspiration (keeping in mind that "Jeeves" can conjure up a lifetime in the service industry). Unique names that mean hard worker: for a girl, Idalis (English) and Emelia (Latin); for a boy, Errikos (Greek), or Kazi (African).

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    At Halloween, all thoughts turn to mimicry. What’s more fun than trying to be someone else, especially a celebrity? But understand this: there should only be one Blue Ivy, one Apple, and one Pilot Inspektor (though an argument can certainly be made for zero Pilot Inspektors). Avoid the A-list copycats, and instead choose a baby name that’s a more subtle nod to the limelight: For girls, Khyati is an Indian name meaning "reputation" or "fame", while the American-invented name Darena means "great". For boys, the English name Hopkin is derived from Hob, meaning "famous"; and the Marathi name Aakhya means "fame".

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