You get a lot of advice when you’re about to become a parent, or when you’ve just become a parent. Most of it is well-intentioned, but it’s largely useless. Sometimes it’s contradictory – so one person says “you MUST do this!” while someone else says “you MUST NOT do this!”; sometimes it’s based on half-remembered newspaper scare stories or long-discredited parenting theories; sometimes it’s based on rose-tinted nostalgia; and sometimes it’s from someone who’s just really, really thick and passionately believes in whatever New Age shite is kicking around.
Even when the advice is good, it’s still pointless. If you’re about to become a parent, you just know that everything’s going to be great and that you’ll automatically become The Best Parent The World Has Ever Seen – so you ignore it. And if you’ve just become a parent, it’s a bloody miracle you can remember your own name. You’re barely capable of making a sandwich, let alone absorbing parenting advice.
There is the odd exception, though. Shortly before Baby Bigmouth turned up, a colleague of Mrs Bigmouth told her that The Baby Whisperer book had changed his life. And he seemed to be telling the truth. While parenthood isn’t easy, he’d changed from an absolute wreck of a man into something approaching a human being. The difference, he said, was The Baby Whisperer.
We bought the book. In fact, we bought two – Secrets of The Baby Whisperer, and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. Unfortunately we bought them just before becoming parents, so while we did read them the advice went into our brains and immediately fell out of our ears. We were going to be the best parents ever! We didn’t need no parenting books! And then, when we were parents on pretty much sod-all sleep, we read them again. But we were too tired to follow a sentence, let alone a chapter.
Eventually, though, we did manage to read the books and to put some of the advice into practice.
And it changed our lives.
You know me. I’m a cynical sod. But my tongue isn’t in my cheek here. By following the ideas in the books we went from utterly clueless, desperately tired parents to utterly clueless, desperately tired parents who know how best to deal with an extremely spirited baby. We get a reasonable night’s sleep. We know how to avoid over-stimulation and interrupted sleep. We know how to ensure Baby Bigmouth gets enough food during the day to ensure she doesn’t wake up hungry in the wee small hours. And most importantly of all, we’re enjoying being parents.
Babies, we’re all told, don’t come with instruction manuals. But the Baby Whisperer books are the next best thing.