As we approach my baby girl's 6-month birthday, I've been reflecting on the things I've learned over the past six months.
Becoming a parent, there is definitely a very steep learning curve. You are forced to jump right in and must quickly learn the practical skills: changing diapers, feeding baby, calming baby, changing their clothes, unclogging a stuffy nose, checking their temperature, etc... You also quickly learn to do things one-handed and much faster than you used to because you have to squeeze all of your chores into your baby's quick 30-minute nap each afternoon. If you weren't already a pro at multitasking, you must quickly learn to juggle twenty tasks at once. (If you can learn to blow dry your hair on the toilet while painting your toenails and talking on the phone to your mother-in-law, then you can stop reading here!) But, I think the biggest thing I've learned in the past 6 months is how to trust my own instincts.
It's only natural when raising a baby to seek out other people's opinions. You figure, why not benefit from the experience and wisdom of others from the "village," so to speak? Opinions on every topic are so easy to come by and are thrown at you left and right from so many sources: your friends and family, the internet, magazines, other parents you trust, books, blogs, etc... So many of those opinions are so convincing and yet for every topic, you can find a million different opinions, many of which are contradictory. Many of the opinions are also quite extreme.
Opinions are definitely useful and it's helpful to do your own research, but when it comes down to making parenting decisions for your baby, the most important thing is to trust your own instincts. Even if five of your closest friends are mothers, whose parenting style you trust and seek to emulate, tell you the same thing about sleep training or starting solids or how to discipline your toddler, if what they tell you doesn't sit well, or makes you feel uneasy, it's so important to go with your instinct and do what feels right to you. Unless there's some legitimate medical concern (in which case, you should consult your pediatrician), chances are most of the decisions you make will not significantly harm your baby, and there's no reason you can't change your mind down the road. As long as you trust your instinct, chances are things will be okay!
Was it hard for you to learn to trust your own instincts?