Parenting myth: spoiling a baby

Imp 2 was born at home. We had a list of things we needed to buy and organise. Honestly, if that list had been your only clue, I’m not sure if your mind had jumped to home birth or murder. We needed plastic foil and large rubbish sacks and a whole manner of suspicious things. And because I had this romantic idea that I would use the entire house to labour (and meanwhile, ha ha, husband would cook chicken soup for after the birth), I thought it was a good idea to fill up the gymnastic ball. Being a huge pregnant ball myself, my friendly sister did the honours and pumped up the ball.

Alas, the birth only lasted two hours, which was great for me, but not so much for my cool labouring at home plans or for the unused birthing ball.

The imp is ten weeks now and the ball annoys me every time I walk past it. It’s ugly, it’s always in the way, and it’s a magnet for cat hair. I keep suggesting we deflate it and husband keeps saying he likes bouncing on it with the kids. And all of this was just a long introduction to what I actually wanted to say: parenting myths are so hard to dispel!

There’s a lot of parenting myths people in my life believe in that I have tried to bust. Be it that baby wearing is bad for a baby’s posture or that not giving a baby a dummy will inevitably lead to thumb sucking. I keep thinking ‘duh, it’s so obvious’ but then, oh, then husband puts one of the imps in a sling and starts bouncing on the ball and I can just about stop myself from yelling: “Careful, you’ll get them used to that.”

You see, when I was about four or five months pregnant with imp 1, husband read an article on some Israeli news website that said, amongst other things, that you should never bounce on a gymnastics ball to get your kids to sleep, or they would get accustomed to it and you’d have to do it forever. Now I know that this is part of the wider myth that you can spoil your baby and I know that it’s bullshit. And yet I can’t stop this thought from entering my mind every single time husband bounces one or both of the imps on the gymnastics ball. I do not remember a single other thing about the article, yet that part I cannot forget. What the hell?

I know, now, that there is no such thing as spoiling a baby. Many people, often older, do believe that too much carrying or cuddling or breastfeeding or accompanying a kid to sleep or whatnot will spoil a kid. I don’t think I ever really belonged to that camp, but I don’t think I was as categorically convinced of the impossibility of spoiling babies before I had the imps either. There are a lot of things about my parenting style that I did not foresee, at least not consciously.

When imp 1 was born, husband and I still believed in myths like the self-soothing baby or the baby that naturally sleeps through the night or, birthing ball in point, the baby that gets used to a crutch and then can never do without again. And even though I now believe that all of these myths are crap, I can’t seem to fully shake them either. Having admitted this to myself, maybe I will manage to be more patient the next time someone tells me that imp 2 should learn he can’t always be picked up when he cries or imp 1 should understand that she is too old to be breastfed.

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