Decisions Decisions – The Challenge of Being a Parent

Decisions decisions - it's tough being a parent!
Decisions decisions – it’s tough being a parent!

You are entirely responsible for this baby and that involves a lot of decisions. Entirely on you. If it cries you have to fix it. If it is hurt you have to mend it. It’s all on you as a parent.

And so are all of the decisions that need to be made about EVERYTHING. That gets tough sometimes. A lot of the time it’s not actually the making of the decision that’s difficult, it’s the responsibility of making the decision. Yes you try your best but I think every parent is worried about getting a decision wrong.

I also think that the decisions vary so much between being a teenager versus a child versus a toddler/baby. As the decisions vary I think the impact varies, or certainly the timescale. When they’re a baby it’s about what you need to do to keep them alive. Literally keeping them alive could be dependant upon one decision you make. Conversely as a teenager I expect it’s about being more of a guide for them, a mentor almost, as well as a referee! I’m not there yet though, got that fun to come!

I only know of the decisions we have made in the last seven weeks, or are discussing in the next few months. I’ll tell you about some of them now so you can have a think yourself in advance if you’re expecting.


Formula decisions
Formula decisions

This part is predicated on the assumption that you are bottle feeding. As mentioned in my post here, we were unable to breast feed so moved straight on to a bottle.

We understand that most formula is pretty much the same. There are certain minimum requirements that manufacturers have to meet but then on top of that I believe they can have some variation. However for us we thought they’re all much-of-a-muchness so went with Mamia from Aldi.

All seemed to be going well, and N is gobbling it up like there’s no tomorrow! But he does seem to squirm a lot, especially after feeding (though that’s probably him filling his nappy!). He does seem to cry a lot, especially later in the day.

Is it his formula? Is it a stage he is going through? It is neither of these things and he just wants a cuddle? Maybe it’s something entirely different.

Who the heck knows! If you do know please come move in. We have a spare room! I’ll even turn the heating on even though we’re in Yorkshire.

We’ve considered moving on to a type of formula called Comfort Milk. There are a few of manufacturers of this including Aptamil and Cow & Gate. It’s thicker and with less lactose. We wondered if he would be better off on that if his is squirming and crying due to the formula type. However…

  1. We don’t know it’s his formula
  2. It could just be a phase
  3. The Comfort Milk would take weeks to have an impact anyway and he may have ‘grown out of’ this stage by then
  4. There is no evidence, according to the NHS that Comfort Milk works
  5. Changing his formula may have other implications on him

Making such a decision is extremely difficult. Or rather, making a decision to do nothing is actually very hard. Well, it’s the decision but it’s also the responsibility of making that decision. Nobody else is in a position to tell you what to do with your child. It’s all on you. As it is we are seeing it through on Mamia for now. Give him a few weeks and hopefully he will settle. Doing nothing when you think it’s for the best is tough!


It's hard to pick a nursery!
It’s hard to pick a nursery!

Wow, one of the hardest decisions you’ll have to make early on. It’s surprising quite how early on you have to make that decision too. One of the nurseries we were considering is booked up for the next 15 months. People were putting their child’s name down before it was even born. Don’t leave it too late I implore you!

Then however there is the process of choosing which one. Things we looked at include:

  • Security
  • Staff training and retention
  • Location
  • Examples of food served
  • Price
  • What it was like on a tour around
  • On the tour did the children seem happy
  • What’s their stance on occasionally being late due to work
  • Opening hours
  • What’s their attitude to discipline
  • What type of activities do they do with the children
  • Read their Ofsted report
  • Can they cater for children with allergies (none known yet but Clare has a shellfish allergy so you never know)

All of this is a lot to comprehend and consider. It’s also a lot to remember to ask about and remember whilst being shown around. Make a list of questions to ask and don’t be afraid to tell them you have a list of questions. Firstly their reaction will tell you a lot, secondly they will probably be used to it, and thirdly you need to know the answers!

Our approach is a typical analysts approach. Make a scoring system! We haven’t yet as we are still seeing nurseries but we will be making a list of criteria and ranking them. Now two things may happen I expect. Firstly we may just go with the highest ranking nursery. Alternatively we may be disappointed by the result and that will tell you a lot too. It’s a useful exercise, and perhaps that objectiveness will reduce the pressure on you as parents.


Which brand?

Which nappies?!?!?!?
Which nappies?!?!?!?

There are so many options out there it’s a minefield. Firstly whether to go reusable or disposable (disposable for us – never in doubt) and then if disposable what brand? You could go expensive or cheap. For us we looked at ones that had won awards. As a new parent trying theses things out you’ve no idea which is the best, hence checking what awards have been won.

The risk being if you get this wrong you’re doing a lot of cleaning up!

When to change nappy size?

The risk of going too early is the nappy will be too big. Too late and the current nappy may not be big enough to contain everything (!) and you could be making it very tight on your baby. Again, get this wrong too much and you will be dealing with the mess!!

Both sound fairly straightforward in many ways. However when you’re responsible for ensuring you get the right nappy and the right size, whilst being sleep deprived, can be difficult. Sleep deprivation has a lot to answer for!

Sleeping Arrangements

Wow, a hot potato this one. Firstly, we were advised to never co-sleep with a baby. This advice came from a number of NHS staff we saw during pregnancy. I’ve heard terrible stories of babies suffocating. Why take the risk is my thought but parenting is all about you making the decision as a parent, just make sure you’re fully informed. Here’s some guidance from the Lullaby Trust. Even if you’re sitting on the sofa and feeling tired, put the baby down. Again, I’ve heard bad stories about that too.

Once that’s decided though, you have to make arrangements for them to sleep in your room with you for the first six months. Six months is advised but I don’t think I know of many parents that have gone that long in reality. It’s all to do with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) of course, so you’ll make your own judgement when the time comes.

So, in your room for the first months will you use a Chicco Next-to-Me type cot that has sides that lower down? Or a Moses basket? Or a proper crib? Who will sleep next to the baby? What will the middle of the night routine be when the baby needs feeding? These are not necessarily easy decisions to make as it could have a big impact on your sleep above and beyond just having a baby in the room.

Once that’s decided, what will they sleep in? A blanket wrapped tightly around them under their arms? Maybe a swaddle blanket, or a velcro swaddle blanket (these are pretty good actually!)? Perhaps a GroBag? For us this decision evolves as N grows to take into account how much he moves and squirms really. Plus we got a sense he was frustrated at having his arms swaddled in the end.

Then what about a bedtime routine? What will that be? When will you start? Who will do what? Will it start at a set time or be flexible to start with and a set time later on? What time will that set time be? For us it was important to get him in a bedtime routine after about five weeks. Don’t worry, we are not expecting him to learn the routine any time soon. However as soon as he can possibly pick it up he will because we have already started. Plus, it helps us in a way to have a routine for him.

Then comes the time you put them down to sleep by themselves but still in your room. We are not there yet but I’m sure we will be terrified when we do! And then the decision around when to put them to sleep overnight in their own room! That transition will be a lot of fun, not!

In conclusion…

It’s tough being a parent, hard making those decisions. Those life or death decisions sometimes, especially early on in your child’s life. I’ve mentioned only a few here as there are so many you make, like which buggy, which car seat etc. I couldn’t list them all!

The thing is though, and hopefully this will put your mind at rest a bit, these decisions are reversible on the whole. Not every decisions is, and if they are reversible then it’s not always easy, but mostly you can ‘undo’. However, my piece of advice is to not just make a decision too quickly. To not change things based on one experience (unless something life endangering happened of course!). Sometimes the hardest decision is to do nothing.

Do you know anyone expecting? Perhaps sharing this with them will help them think about things in advance and understand what they need to think about, and also help them understand they’re not along in making tough decisions.

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