Keeping the peace

It’s interesting to see how childcare has changed over the years. Especially when it comes to pacifying babies. I was sitting in the doctor’s surgery the other day, waiting with E to have her injections. They were running a little behind time and she was a bit grisly, eventually getting a touch upset so I stood up and rocked her for a while to calm her. Once she’d fallen asleep on my shoulder (only to be woken by an injection – how horrid) an old lady in the waiting room looked over and said “You’re the first mother in years I’ve seen manage to calm a baby without sticking a dummy in its mouth! Well done!” I smiled at her but it reminded me of how much some people, other women it seems, do hate dummies and the modern mother’s reliance on them.

I should state here – we do own a couple of dummies. I am not against them. We didn’t get any to start with because all the advice said dummies may interfere with the baby’s ability to breastfeed. But E looked like she was a “sucky” baby, fists always in her mouth, finger sucking and all sorts so I bought a couple. The first time we put one in her mouth she sucked on it for a few seconds, then looked outraged, spat it out as if to say “There’s no milk coming out of this! What the hell are you trying to pull?” Each time we’ve tried it the same result. So they’re in the cupboard now.

This last week, though, she’s started to suck her thumb. I think it looks rather sweet and I think S is rather smitten with it too. When I mentioned this to my mum, she was reminded of her troubles with her mother in law, my nan, who had very fixed ideas about what babies should and shouldn’t do. Definitely no thumb sucking “in case it puts their teeth out of shape.” She also thought that babies shouldn’t be allowed to yawn in case they got lockjaw and if we did yawn, then she clamped our mouths shut much to my mother’s annoyance. She was a great one for old wives’ tales, my nan.

S’s parents are interested in everything to do with E. My mum looks after my nephew several times a week and is therefore au fait with modern baby stuff but for them, it’s been  nearly 40 years since they had anything to do with this stuff. The last time we visited I had to explain everything – how the steriliser worked, the features on the monitor, the play gym and they came into the bathroom to watch her in the bath chair we use before she goes to bed. It’s a strange reversal to find myself more clued up about babies than others since usually it’s the other way around. My mother in law asked about something E was doing “Do all babies do that?” and I had to reply “I don’t know, I don’t know much about babies.” “Me neither,” she said and we laughed. Quite a relief. I know several people who spend time complaining about their in laws interfering – not in my case. They seem to have done a good job on S and his sister so it’s pretty comforting in a way – clueless parenting can yield great results! Fingers crossed.

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