When my first daughter was born — nearly 15 years ago — I remember a level of anxiety that I carried with me wherever I was and whatever I was doing.
Was I doing things right? Would my decisions as a parent serve her well? Would she grow up to be a well-adjusted person, at ease and self-confident?
Being in the mental health field, these things were of primary importance to me. I would often ask myselff: Was I stimulating her enough? Was I providing her with an optimal amount of external stimuli? Was I stimulating her too much, interfering with her ability to soothe herself?
The answers from developmental and parenting experts were contradictory and confusing. They ranged from advice, such as never to put your baby in a crib (the equivalent of being “put behind bars”), to the need to teach your baby to self-soothe by several months of age. (Otherwise she will have difficulty developing a sense of independence and self-reliance.)
I was, as many new mothers are, vulnerable to the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” that were expressed all around me, both from experts and from other new mothers.
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