At the time of writing this, we have a 6-week-old! The world’s most perfect 6-week-old who sleeps through the night and smiles on demand. I’ve told everyone who asks how everything is going that she’s our best baby. Our 5-year-old woke up what felt like every hour for the first year of his life. Our 3-year-old was better at sleep, but we still had our struggles.
It’s funny. When a baby is born, we tend to talk about them kind of like they are machine-like. Or robots. Or something mechanical that if we do things a certain way, we will get the results that we want. Feed them every three hours so they don’t get too hungry. Pay attention to wake windows so they don’t get too tired. Swaddle them so they don’t flail around while sleeping. Count their diaper deposits to make sure everything is in working order. Basically, do x to get y. We think there’s a formula to make babies more… un-baby-like. Of course, we have to feed our babies! We definitely don’t want them to be too tired, and we CERTAINLY want them to succeed at sleeping.
I’m by no means an expert mom. Although, while being pregnant with my third, everyone said “oh you’ll be fine, you’re an expert now!” Something about that third baby that everyone thinks you know what you’re doing. And while I certainly have experience, I still found myself forgetting how small and fragile a newborn is. So I have experience, but I’m not an expert; and in my experienced opinion, there isn’t a formula to have a “perfect baby”. Every baby is different. This baby sleeps in the same crib, lives in the same house, obviously has the same parents as her siblings and yet, is completely different.. And truly… Praise God for that – and not just because she sleeps like an all star.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139: 14). God creates us as unique individuals and in His image and likeness. We acknowledge that fact as people grow older and become unique in their personalities, but it starts at conception. Babies are all so unique. Using a formula to get a “perfect baby” is impossible. Frankly, all babies are perfect – even if they are missing fingers or toes or are born with major health problems… and even if they don’t sleep through the night until they’re one.
These days, there are so many baby products and services with the basic intention of making parents’ lives easier. Sure, the in-your-face intention is to help the baby, but really they help parents. Maybe it’s a product meant to help the baby sleep, therefore helping parents sleep. Maybe it’s a toy to distract the baby, therefore parents don’t have to entertain them themselves. All of these things are great, and I’m certainly not saying they’re bad, but they do create this idea of being able to do x to get y.
Parents are the original “baby product”. Our parents, grandparents, great grandparents and so on didn’t have any of the products available today. What I know is that babies sometimes need to be fed sooner than every three hours. Sometimes they need to be held in the middle of the night. Sometimes they don’t need a toy, but instead they need face-to-face entertainment. Sometimes we have to tend to them instead of tending to our to-do-list. Sometimes they just simply need US. There’s room for formulas and doing x to get y, but x doesn’t always mean you’re guaranteed y. Babies will be babies at the end of the day… and they are perfect regardless.
At the end of the day, we know our baby and their needs best. Being a good parent of a newborn is simply knowing when to throw all of the products and formulas out the window, and expecting your truly perfect baby to have moments that are “imperfect”. Our 6-week-old may be the “best baby” today, but tonight… I may take back everything I said. That’s the beauty of babies, we can’t predict or force a single thing.