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How much should we carry our babies?

(128 Posts)
Joe Fri 29-Jun-01 21:47:04

I have just come across this discussion and still find it hard to understand how we can carry your babies around for 9 months but when they are born we are expected to put them to one side when ever possible. I have always carried my son around either in my arms or sling and still do (anybody got any recommendations for back packs). He has slept with us from birth (at first sleeping on my chest at night and most of the day) and eventually in our bed. He has developed into a happy, content and confident little chap. At 9 months he is just starting to go into his own cot (a decision I made led by his behaviour) and is happy to sleep in there during the day and most of the night. I have loved the closeness we have shared. He is growing up and I am determined to enjoy every moment.

Lizzer Sat 30-Jun-01 19:44:27

That's nice to hear Joe, my baby was never content to lie on floor / in baby bouncer or car seat and so I (or my Mum) carried her around pretty much constantly in the early months which she loved (especially when hoovering I recall!). I was often jealous of my friend's baby who would quite happily sit for hours hitting rattles around and being contented. It struck me then how different their personalities were, and still are 18 months later. It's a shame, however, that it is often looked on as a 'good' thing to have a baby who is not bothered by being placed away from their parents or carers and a 'bad' thing if baby wants constant handling. It should be looked on as a nice thing that baby wants too be close to you and I hope that with my second baby (what?!) I can have the same mindset as you and not be swayed with remarks such as "Oh, is she a very clingy baby, then? that's a pity" As now, like you say Joe, at 18 months she is as bold as brass and happy to be left (as anyone who has read my post about my weekend away knows already:))

Joe Sat 30-Jun-01 20:27:21

Lizzer - It sounded like you had a lovely time. I havnt yet left my son, only with my hubby for the odd hour, other than that he is with me 24 hours a day, I even found a part time job that he could come with me. We have had comments, the main one being 'youre making a rod for your own back' our reply is, our backs. We will be exactly the same with our next baby, that is the kind of mum and dad we are. I feel my son needs me to be there for him, I think breastfeeding possibly makes a difference (I dont know if you breastfed).

I watch Monkey Business on Sunday evenings when I can. One episode recently showed a monkey with her baby and she was trying to help her to walk. On her second step she fell over and her mum was there instantly to pick her up and comfort her, she was classed as a very loving and good mum. If we do this we get remarks of you will make them soft. We will always be there for our son how we want to be there and there will always be cuddles when ever he wants one.

Lizzer Sun 01-Jul-01 13:32:38

Hi Joe, I got the comment of 'making a rod for your own back' from my health visitor!! I was saying how baby wasn't sleeping too good at the moment (she was about 6 months old) and so I was keeping her in bed with me all of the time, whereas she used to do the first half of the night in her cot and come in with me from about 3am - and I got that response, weird! I think that breast feeding must make a difference as you are baby's only source of food and they must associate your smell with all things nice! I'm sure it made a difference to me, especially as she fed so frequently in the first few months - I read all the jargon of "you'll probably find your newborn will feed every 2 hours or so" -try every 15 minutes! As I've said on other threads I'm sad that I've stopped feeding now and next time (I go on about this 'next time' as if it's imminent - it's not!) I'd like to feed longer than 12 months (-if possible, I know they're all different) but I'm sure it's made a difference to the way she thinks of me. For example she will quite happily be comforted by my Mum, Dad or Nana now and it used to just be me she'd come to. I know this is inevitable with time but it seemed to correspond with the time I gave up feeding which took a while to get used to, and made me feel a bit more distant from her.
By the way did you see Child of our Time last week? There were experiments showing babies who were not happy to be left alone by their Mums and those who were. It showed that the ones who cried immediately (sp?) loved their Mums very much and those who weren't bothered had some problems, which made me think the whole thing has been worth it!!
Oh, and I although I did enjoy my weekend very much and I'm pleased it went well, you should have seen me repeating my mantra over again in the car on the way there... (deep breath) "she loves me, I'm her Mummy, she'll be fine. She loves me, I'm her......"!!!! :)

Eulalia Sun 01-Jul-01 15:46:37

Lizzer - I was going to mention the Child of our Time TV programme. I find it rather sad that people think that babies who need you are 'clingy' or 'lacking in independence'. I mean how can a baby be independent anyway! I am glad that this programme may help to dispel some of these myths and show that babies really need their mother/parents for the first 2 years and that actually giving them lots of attention and close contact will make them into happier and therefore more independent people.

BTW you may have seen from other posts that I am still b/feeding for nearly 2 years now and my son is quite happy to be with other people and in general seems to have a well balanced nature. No signs of the terrible 2's yet either! (touch wood)

Winnie Sun 01-Jul-01 20:33:52

Eulalia, I breastfed my little girl (now 11) until she was 2.5 and she didn't seem to go through the terrible twos! I have no idea if it was linked and to be honest I've never really thought about it until I read your post. However, keep us posted...

As to clingy children... my mother made my life hell with regards to my little girl being carried, her sleeping with me or being strapped on to me in a sling. My mother nicknamed my daughter Velcro! My daughter has always been an incredibly 'independent' little girl and in fact always seems wise for her years, we are very close but she is not at all 'clingy' with me and is always willing to try something new, stay over night with friends etc., I truly believe that it is very easy for others to have opinions of how one should raise ones children but who knows that child best?

My mother now laughingly reminds my daughter of being called Velcro because her baby brother (8months) is always on my hip when I answer the door Does she think I should leave him to his own devices whilst I answer the door?!and she now refers to him as Velcro too and all because he likes cuddles and is incredibly loving!

Having said that my mother and I have had a very volatile relationship over the years and we certainly have never kissed, cuddled or held hands. She reminds me that I was so much trouble and in an incubator for many months as a newborn baby and I think we never learnt to be tactile. Maybe it was the time (late 60's) but I don't think so... the odd thng was I grew up thinking I wasn't tactile and found it very difficult to be so with others but through my daughters birth almost overnight I lost this inablity to be tactile and discovered the magic of touch thanks to my daughter!

sorry, I rather digressed! The point of this rant is simple: babies can not be loved too much!

Copper Mon 02-Jul-01 11:48:58

I thiink the cultural messages that we should make babies as independent as possible as quickly as possible are just plain wrong - and quite a lot to do with pressure to buy the latest nursery, to deny maternal feelings, etc. Mothers aren't rated except as consumers or 'working mothers'. This is why mumsnet is so comforting: we all know how important parenthood is!

Eulalia Tue 03-Jul-01 17:46:31

Winnie - that is the message that you will find from a lot of the literature on b/feeding toddlers that it can really help through the difficult time round about age 2.

Glad to hear that you have developed such a loving relationship with your kids despite your upbringing. I do think that the 60s represented freedom for women and sometimes kids did suffer for it.

Lizzer Tue 03-Jul-01 21:16:27

Eulalia, I'm really intrigued by your point about b/feeding toddlers. I was thinking about my sister who was b/fed til nearly 3 and never had tantrums as a toddler ever, versus me who was fed for 9 months and a nightmare child by all accounts......! Also, my little girl (full on tantrums, public places a speciality) who I stopped feeding at a year and my friend's little one who is also 18 months but still being fed and is never stroppy! ARGH - what have I done!! But seriously is it a well documented fact?
Winnie -RE being tactile: it never fails to astound me all the things having a baby can change in your life and the way you think, but that has to be one of the nicest things I ever read...

Emmam Wed 04-Jul-01 08:10:33

So your b/f children never get frustrated, never get cross, throw their toys around, scream, hit, bite, refuse to go for a bath, won't leave the park?

I class all the above as tantrums. If your kids never get even mildly frustrated then lucky you.

Sorry, but I do get p***** off when people claim their b/f children are perfect little angels just because they were clamped to a nipple for 4 years.

I've re-read this board several times, and written down comments only to delete them again, but I do feel quite cross.

I bottle fed my son, I went back to work when he was 11 weeks old, I didn't carry him around all the time and he never shares our bed. He is a lively kid, he is social and curious and he also throws monumental tantrums. But I consider him to be a completely normal two year old. He knows what he wants, gets mad when he can't have it/do it or communicate his needs - I really can't see how b/f would have helped him with this.

Any way, sorry, made my point, had a rant, feel better.

Croppy Wed 04-Jul-01 08:43:50

I don't think anybody is claiming that their breastfed children are perfect just that there is some evidence to suggest that children who are breastfed for an extended period of time may have a tendency to be more calm than might otherwise be the case.

Winnie Wed 04-Jul-01 08:49:36

Emmam,I am sorry that you feel so cross about this thread. I personally, and I don't think others were implying that people shouldn't bottle feed their children. Equally I don't think the implication is that the 'terrible two's' are anything but 'normal'. I simply found Eulalia's comment an interesting one because I'd never come across it before... and my daughter never had tantrums in the sense of screamed, thrown herself or her toys around nor hit or bit other children. Yes she has got cross and frustrated... and yes, lucky me... I think that was the point. No blame, no 'aren't I great', simply lucky me... I am glad, and grateful that my daughter didn't go through this... I frankly have no idea if it is connected (and undoubtedly someone will come on and give evidence of a child breast fed who had every manner of temper tantrum). Surely as parents we do what we think is best for our own children and ourselves and no one should need to feel defensive about that?

Bells1 Wed 04-Jul-01 08:53:17

I have enjoyed this thread because the views expressed on it are so rarely expressed in everyday life. I have kept the fact that our 2 year old regularly shares our bed as a guilty secret. This reflects the fact that my colleagues and friends universally decry such behaviour as anything from "mad" to "indulgent" to the old favourite "a rod for your own back". Similarly the breastfeeding issue. I was at a BBQ last weekend when separately, three women commented to me on the fact that another friend was still breastfeeding her child at 18 months. This was accompanied by anything from rolling eyes to outright claims of how "pathetic" it was. It's totally beyond me why it seems to bother people so much!. I gave up breastfeeding my son at 14 months and regret it.

I don't think Eulalia is making any claims to perfection as such for children who are breast fed for extended periods of time as such - just an observation on an apparent benefit which seems to apply to her child. I also think it needs to be put into the context of the frequent condemnation of extended breastfeeding.

Lizzer Wed 04-Jul-01 10:02:51

Emmam, I echo what Bells1 and Winnie have said. I'm sure this has been said before but no-one gets stick for walking round with a two yr old with a bottle in it's mouth so it's crazy to suggest that breastfeeding is any different. The main difference being that (obviously) the child needs their mother for milk so remains close to her and that is not a bad thing, and, as Bells1 pointed out, people do say that it is. You may slate Eulalia for bringing this up, that's fine it's your opinion, but for people who are still or have breastfed their children it's an interesting point. For example if there was evidence of bottle-feeding helping something I'm sure you would be interested in that...? It seems to me that some people who bottle feed think that b/feeders go on and on about it like it's something to be proud of. Well the news is - it is, I'm very proud to have fed my daughter for 12 months of her life and regret giving up so soon, so I don't feel I should have to not say I am. That said I couldn't care less how other people feed their babies so I wish people who bottle fed would get over thinking that all b/feeders go round acting smug and 'holier than thou' - not true...
My rant over now, sorry, too much coffee first thing and bad night's sleep....

Marina Wed 04-Jul-01 10:28:24

Hear, hear, Lizzer, Bells and Winnie. Thanks for putting these points so eloquently. People who do co-sleep and still breastfeed toddlers come in for such a lot of scorn and condescension (I know, we do both in our house and the criticism starts with my parents and carries right on through my NCT friends and beyond into parenting magazines and books).
So naturally those of us who feel comfortable about this style of parenting, but uncomfortable with other people's unsolicited comments, are going to keep our eyes open for reassurance that what we are doing is right for us and our children.
My son is two. He still has a night-time feed and he still ends up with us in bed. Like emmam, I went back to work when he was pretty young and I chose this style of parenting partly because I felt it was right for him and us and partly because I enjoy the close contact, which I badly miss at work.
We're all different, I know other mums who chose not to b/f or gave up earlier, and when their child has a tantrum, or mine does, I don't assume it is down to how they like their morning milk served.
I do feel that my son is calmer than he might otherwise be because of the physical closeness we all enjoy at nights. We are both quite anxious people and are keen to minimise that trait in our son by making him feel extra secure and loved. That is NOT the same as saying that anyone who does different to us is a less good parent.

Emmam Wed 04-Jul-01 11:33:13

I can be very opinionated as to what I believe is 'right and wrong' or 'normal'. And I am guilty of being smug and holier than thou when it comes to certain things. I DO hate to see toddlers with bottles when I think they are old enough to be drinking out of cups, just like I hate to see babies with a bottle propped up so the parent doesn't have to put his/her fag out to feed the child. I hate to see people smacking their kids in Tescos. Gina Ford's strict routines annoy me. And I get wound up by b/f issues. But that's me - it all adds to lively discussions.

I'd hate to think I'd upset or offended anyone and I do appreciate other peoples views and if they make a good case then I am happy to change my opinion.

You all make good cases, I'm not convinced about b/f or co-sleeping yet, but I'm prepared at least to keep an open mind.

Tigermoth Wed 04-Jul-01 12:49:54

I do have some sympathy with you Emmam. As the mother of two boys whom everyone has as times found a handful, if I sense a parent of a 'calmer' child feels this is mostly down to some method of parenting that they employ - it is like a red rag to a bull. I really feel like saying 'here let's swap and see it you can do any better with these two' ...and one day I might!

However, reading through these messages I get the impression that everyone here is discussing the b/f and carrying baby ideas, not saying one or the other is right for all. As Marina says I'm sure when you're in the middle of a tantrum it has nothing much to do with how a toddler likes his milk served. In my experience, take away a forbidden toy and they cry. Offer milk ( breast or bottle) and they keep crying. Offer them the forbidden toy and they stop, as if by magic.

But in the long term, I suppose we're saying that b/f and sleeping together can have a general calming effect.

How I see it, you have an instinctive bond with your child. You just know what makes them happy and contented. (Well I like to think I do, regarding my own anyway). For some children that means sleeping with you at night and having breast feeds into toddlerdom. I think the issue is whether you choose to follow your intuitive feelings, saying boo to others, for the sake of your child. If your child feels you are in tune with them, it's a fair chance it's going to make them happier and calmer overall.

I can't hold up either of my sons as perfect models, but I have really tried hard to follow what I see as their feeding and sleeping wishes.

Both were breastfed. Older son till he was at least 10 months. I was mostly at home with him for the first 14 months, and then I was never away from him for a full week when I returned to work. He was an attention-demanding, turbo-charged little tike as a toddler.

Younger son was only breast fed for the first 6 months (happy to take bottles then). He has been with a child minder full time since. He has had to share me with a brother. Overall he has had far less cuddles and attention from me than son number 1.

Yet so far, my youngest, though not without his tantruming moments, is noticeably more self-contained and calm. He seems very sunny and contented for much of the time. Emmam, skip this bit please....He loves walking around sucking a bottle of milk (not continually, just the odd 5 minutes here and then during the day). I know it isn't brilliant for his teeth but it really makes him happy and calms him down. I'm beginning to feel the need to 'apologise' for this in public, but I won't stop till I feel he's ready. Right now, just like those who b/f toddlers, it's what I feel he wants.

As for sleeping, both of mine, older son especially, when a baby and young toddler, seem to see our bed as a soft play area. Coming into our bed wakes them up. Sometimes they want the reassurance of a cuddle after a bad dream, but my oldest actually used to emit a sight of relief when he was lifted back into his cot. I would have loved to have had him with me all night as a baby, but he just didn't seem to want it. Interestingly, my oldest get more keen on sleeping with us the older he got.

Joe Wed 04-Jul-01 13:20:43

I am slighty amazed that this has got a bit heated. Why do we have to take offence to other peoples chosen parenting. I personally dont care what anybody else does and dont care what they think of the way I am with my son. I know my son and feel I comfort him etc to his needs. He is extremely happy and very rarely cries. Is this down to the way he is and will always be because this is going to be his nature or will he go through the frustrating twos because he wants to do so much more than he can. I am extremely laid back with him, both of us are, maybe this rubs off.

I breastfeed and find that some people who bottlefeed do think we harp on about the good of it. Why?? Maybe the feeling of missing out on something that can be very special and you can calm a child instantly when breastfeeding. I will continue to breastfeed until my son is around a 12 months, maybe a bit longer. This is right for me and my son is showing signs of weaning himself. I plan to have another child soon and would like me back for a while ready to feed the next one. And I'm sure my son will always occassionally be sharing our bed.

We all do things our way for our child. I like to hear other peoples experiences, there is always a time we could do with the suggestion of something we perhaps havnt tried. Emmam you dont say if you have breastfeed at any time.

Hilda Wed 04-Jul-01 14:32:58

I have to say I'm rather with emmam - though I don't wish to add fat to the fire - anything ( within reason) that works is fine by me.

If you carried baby all the time how did you manage to make tea, cut bread, eat lunch, wash up etc?? Or am I about to find out that you have to learn when they start crawling? Any tips?

Emmam Wed 04-Jul-01 15:18:03

Hi Joe - I prefer to think the discussion has got a bit lively, rather than heated!

With regards to b/f - no, I've never done it. I felt completely repelled about it from the very start - in fact, probably even slightly phobic if I think about it! I daresay there'll be a few opinions about that!

Mima Wed 04-Jul-01 20:16:19

Emmam - I am with you on this one. My son who will be three in August was never breastfed, I had absolutely no inclination whatsoever to do so and I am not saying he is perfect but he slept through the night from 9 weeks in his own cot and has been there ever since. He has had no illnesses apart from the odd cough and cold and so far we have not hit the "terrible twos". He is a fantastic little child, shares his toys, has no food fads, is always happy and singing, loves to be hugged and kissed and does the same back in return. I am due in December and I will not be breastfeeding either and I certainly hope he/she turns out like our first. I think it is up to the individual how they choose to feed their baby but I hate to have it forced upon me. At my recent booking in appointment at the hospital the doctor spent an hour telling me about "the benefits" of breastfeeding she refused to listen to my point of view, she told me I had made a mistake first time round and should make sure I do it this time. I told her I had made my decision and I was not going to do it, she said "we'll see, we'll discuss it nearer the time!".

Lizzer Wed 04-Jul-01 20:48:04

Mima, you went back to the original point there and summed it up perfectly. I'm sorry, but why is having a baby who sleeps through the night at 9 weeks in his own cot something to be applauded for? I find that sort of opinion from a lot of people - surely it's just a strange phenomenon that happens occasionally to some people...? Is it supposed to be a 'look I've had a baby and my life has hardly changed' approach, if so it just ain't for me. It seemed such a weird concept to get my head round when people were saying "and is she sleeping through yet? Oh, mine did from x weeks..." I am not for making things more difficult for myself, but I just would miss the closeness and bonding that I shared with her in those early weeks, I really would. There's enough time for sleeping...like the rest of their lives, the first year passes in a blink of an eye.

Not wanting to start up the feeding issue again but does anyone think that because they are two completely different ways of feeding, that you get different things from them? Correct me if I'm wrong but surely bottles are just a means of nourishment - can you bond with them just the same e.g. middle of the night feeds next to you in bed, or do you find different ways to do it? Please don't think I'm getting on the b/feeding soapbox I'm honestly just curious for your opinions - I only know one friend who's bottle fed and we have such different parenting ideas in other ways that it's difficult to talk openly about such things. Like I've said on other threads it is something that I never considered and knew that I would breastfeed on discovering the test was positive!

(sorry, Mima that looks like I'm directing all this at you - I'm not, just highlighting the point you made)

Bloss Wed 04-Jul-01 21:24:41

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Bloss Wed 04-Jul-01 21:27:02

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Kmg Thu 05-Jul-01 01:47:37

Don't you think sometimes we get completely hung up on what we are doing for our children, how we are doing it, and what effect it is having on them? I think many of the attitudes expressed on this board, are more likely to make people feel tense, stressed, and worried about bringing up their children "correctly". I read Furedi's book recently, and found it a breath of fresh air - 'just go with the flow and don't worry so much'.

Personally I am a huge believer in nature rather than nurture. I have two sons who have been brought up very similarly, but are extremely different in character, personality, tantrums etc. I simply cannot believe that these sort of things have anything to do with breastfeeding or carrying around, or anything else.

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