Slate’s Mom and Dad are Fighting podcast is one of my favorites. They recently had a Mommy Wars lightning round segment in which they quickly declared their opinions about the main controversies in modern parenting (it starts about 20 minutes in). The episode inspired me to do the same.
I tend toward wishy washy pacifism when it comes to most things, including the Mommy Wars. Everything I have to say comes with the giant caveat that I think pretty much any of these choices are OK. For the most part, people should do what they want. That being said, don’t starve your kid if he or she can’t breastfeed, don’t sleep with your kid if you are drunk or high, and VACCINES ARE NOT OPTIONAL.
Anyway, here is my stance on the main Mommy Wars controversies:
Cry it out or don’t? I would have a really hard time letting our baby cry for an extended period of time, but if she still has trouble going to sleep between 6 and 12 months and nothing else works, I will definitely do it. Our baby is currently almost 4 months and we sometimes let her fuss or cry for 5-10 minutes before she goes to sleep, but no longer. No one wants to let their babies cry, but some babies are bad sleepers that have a really hard time learning to self soothe.
Home birth or hospital? Hospital all the way. I would be terrified of giving birth without a good medical facility in the event anything went wrong. We were lucky to have a wonderful birth experience at our local hospital.
Epidural or “natural” birth? I flirted with the idea of not getting an epidural, then got one when I started throwing up and shaking uncontrollably. And then it was the best thing EVER. I was glad I waited so I could labor a bit without it and walk around, but I was also SUPER glad I got it when I did.
Bottle or breast? I figured I would try breastfeeding and had a lot of trouble at first but ended up loving it. That said, I did have to supplement with formula for a little while and I never really got pumping to work for me.
Drinking while breastfeeding or no? From what I’ve read, moderate drinking is OK as long as you wait for the alcohol to leave your system before your baby eats. And some beers have ingredients that can help your milk supply! But I have abstained mostly because I am SO TIRED. It doesn’t really bother me and I miss cheese way more.
Drinking while pregnant or no? Many sources now seem to say that a small amount is OK. Again, I chose not to.
Crib or co-sleep? I have no desire to co-sleep, but have on more than a few occasions when I could not get her to sleep any other way or was to tired to put her back in her bed after nursing. (Side note: if anyone had told me before she was born that I would be so tired I could fall asleep with a baby attached to my boob – I would have died laughing. And then it happened many nights). Co-sleeping can be great when your baby is still eating a lot at night, assuming you do it safely. Now that my daughter A. is eating less often, I sure sleep better when she’s in her crib.
Stroller or carrier? I have a BabyBjorn and often wear my baby around the house for 15-30 minutes…but much longer than that and my back starts to hurt. And she’s only 14 pounds! I do want to try an Ergo carrier at some point – I see a lot of people using them with bigger babies. But I’m mainly a stroller gal. I especially love my travel system which lets me go from car to stroller without having to unstrap her or wake her up if she actually falls asleep (which she never does but obviously would the one time I left the stroller at home)
Cloth or disposable diapers? I love cloth!
Homemade baby food or jarred? I will probably purchase some baby food when it’s convenient, but making baby food seems so easy I’m not sure why I wouldn’t do it most of the time. My plan is to just steam and puree a little of whatever veggie I’m making for dinner until she’s old enough to pick up food – and then just feed her what we’re eating.
Refined sugar or no? I plan to avoid refined sugar until she is a year old, then I think it’s OK in moderation with an emphasis on the moderation.
Sugar cereal or no? When we were growing up, sugar cereal was a special treat or it was mixed with other cereal – like plain and honey nut Cheerios. I think this is a good plan. Some cereal is more than half sugar, which is horrifying.
Montessori or something else? I like the idea of a Montessori, Waldorf, or forest preschool, but will probably send our kids to boring old regular preschool due to cost and convenience. And after preschool it will be public school all the way unless we suddenly win the lottery!
Gender neutral toys or princesses and trucks? I try to buy a lot of gender neutral stuff because I enjoy it and it will save money if we later have a boy. And I’m not wild about princess culture. But I have a weakness for anything cute and that includes plenty of pink.
Strict napping schedule or no? I think trying to schedule a newborn will almost always fail and (if breastfeeding) it’s important to do demand feedings for 1-2 months until your supply is well established. But I also think it’s good for babies to be on a schedule by around 6 months. We were able to establish a consistent 7:30 bedtime for A. around 4 months, which lead to a huge improvement in nighttime sleep. She is just now settling into more of a nap schedule, although some days still totally throw her off.
Stay at home or work? I think either is 100% OK, although I wouldn’t be comfortable raising kids if both my husband had high-powered jobs that involved lots of travel or 80-hour work weeks. We’re fortunate that we are both able to enjoy a good work-life balance. I’m a work at home mom with a less than full time job so I think I get the best of both worlds. I wish everyone could choose to stay home or work, but sadly most people make this decision out of economic necessity.
Readers, what side to you take in the Mommy wars?