In the early days of parenting, we're faced with dozens of decisions
to make. From what and when to feed our babies to how to get them to sleep,
each choice can feel immense and mountainous. It feels like if we make the wrong
decision, there will be dire consequences that affect the mental and physical
health of our children forever.
As a slightly more seasoned parent, I can look back and see
that most of the choices that felt so monumental at the time really weren't.
Here are five parenting decisions that you probably won't sweat later on, even
if they feel like a big deal right now.
On my son's second night home,
after hours of nursing and trying to get him to sleep, my husband asked the
innocent sounding question, "Why don't we try a pacifier?" I nearly gasped. A
pacifier? Hadn't my husband heard about the dreaded nipple confusion in our
Despite my wariness, I caved on the binky battle
a few nights later. Our son half-heartedly soothed himself with the pacifier,
until a few months later when he refused it for good. I didn't know it when my
husband first presented the provocative pacifier, but our son was such a
devoted nursling that I don't think he would've had nipple confusion even if
he'd been hanging out at the Playboy mansion.
2. My baby will only sleep in the swing—will she be addicted to motion-sleeping forever?
When my son was little,
almost all of his naps were spent in the sweet caress of his lamby swing. On a few
desperate evenings, I even put him in it all night. Though the swing got us
some much-needed rest, I still fretted. I imagined him heading off to college,
searching for a dorm room spacious enough to fit the giant, motorized swing that
he required for sleep. As it turns out, babies are hyper-adaptable. If your
little one only sleeps in the swing right now, it's not the end of the world. She'll
adjust to her crib or bed eventually—I promise.
3. What should baby's first food be?
As I learned the hard way, no matter what your child's first food is, he'll probably refuse to eat it entirely in six to 12 months.
until our son was exactly 6 months old before I baked and hand-pureed his
first food: organic sweet potato. It wasn't an easy decision—what if the sweet
potato was too sugary, sending him down the path of childhood obesity? As I
learned the hard way, no matter what your child's first food is, he'll probably
refuse to eat it entirely in six to 12 months.
4. He's teething; what should we give him?
first bout with teething set me into a frenzy of Googling and crowdsourcing.
Whether you go for the homeopathic tablets and amber teething necklace to
soothe his achy gums naturally, or you head straight to the baby Tylenol, it will
be OK. Teething sucks, but just remember your kid will one day be smiling at you in your rearview
mirror. Until then, do whatever you need to get through it.
5. I'm ready to wean, but I don't want to
traumatize my kid!
For months, I sweated over the idea of weaning. I knew I was
ready to have my body back after two years of breastfeeding, but my son was so
accustomed to both the comfort and nutrition of it. Would weaning break his
little spirit? Would it damage our connection? I researched, brainstormed with
been-there-done-that moms, and I worried.
After gradually weaning him down to one nursing
session per day, I stopped altogether. My son protested at first, but after a few
days, he stopped asking. Now, five years later, he doesn't remember ever
breastfeeding. Even my own memories are hazy. It's emotional, and it may or may
not go smoothly, but making the decision to wean won't break your baby or
During the anxious first years of parenting, each decision
feels massive. After all, you're raising a human being! But most of these
choices we make in the early months of parenting become inconsequential down
the road. As parents, we will undoubtedly make mistakes—but they probably won't
be these ones.