IT DOESN’T take much to get me started on anecdotes about when The Offspring were babies.
Just put me in a room with a newborn infant and switch me on.
The memories come flooding back – the sleepless nights, the weaning, the smell of their little heads after a Johnson’s bubble bath, the difficulties of buttoning up complicated Babygroes, the bumped heads, the advice from elderly relatives ...
That last one now seems to have a certain relevance to my own situation. I have become an elderly relative and I’m having to choke back advice that I know may not be either welcome or needed.
Last week I found myself in the home of a delightful young couple and their even more delightful new baby.
I also found myself reminiscing about everything from feeding on demand and the wonder of tiny fingernails to watching babies sleep and the toddler years. And I realised that even if I wanted to hand out advice, much of it would be out of date and based on experiences that have now gone through the filter of time.
What’s more, every baby is an individual with its own needs, likes and dislikes. There is no definitive rule book. Throw away your Dr Spock.
Fortunately, most parents have good instincts and, in the end, my only piece of advice was that they should follow them.
I think I ignored more advice than I took when my own children were small because I realised early on that I had to do what I felt was right – and that didn’t include putting my crying babies to sleep in their prams at the bottom of the garden (neighbourly advice) or giving a six-week-old a bottle of milk spiked with baby rice (a gem from my husband’s aunt).
And when I look at them now I know I wouldn’t have done it any differently.