HELP! MY BABY WON’T WALK
“The obstacles of new parenthood can feel impossible to navigate. As a new mother, I was exhausted; nobody told me that I would have to carry my baby everywhere. I was emotionally drained, while being bombarded with conflicting advice from just about everyone I knew.
Then I hired a Baby Walk Consultant. Apparently, babies can walk from as early as eight weeks, making life so much easier for parents. Yes, you can train your baby to walk – the key is consistency.
As soon as your baby shows signs of being able to stretch her legs, she is ready to walk. It won’t take long – three days seems to be the magic number. Your baby may cry (sometimes for hours) but that is totally normal and all part of the process.
The key is to be consistent. Resist the urge and do NOT respond to your baby’s cries. Just stand your baby on her legs, shut the door and leave her for twelve hours. In the beginning, this may be heart-breaking as your baby will ‘protest’ and may even vomit; rest assured this is completely normal.
Remember that your baby is trying to manipulate you. After all, they prefer to be carried, but babies can and should walk from eight weeks of age. The key to independent walking is that they need to teach themselves – it’s called ‘self-walking’.
If you fail to be consistent your baby might not walk until she is 18 months old! Imagine how exhausted you will feel after carrying your baby around for all that time! You might feel that eight weeks is too early for babies to learn to walk, but that is simply not true. “Certified and Qualified” Baby Walk Consultants guarantee that babies can walk from as little as eight weeks.
Because, as we all know – a baby that walks at eight weeks and does not rely on their parents to be carried everywhere is a GOOD BABY.”
A mother recently sent this tongue-in-cheek passage to me, asking if I would post it anonymously. Why anonymously?
Because the notion that babies can and should sleep through the night independently has become so normalized in western culture, that those who dare to question its validity are stereotyped as soft, inept and unwilling to do what needs to be done.
There is no denying that night time parenting pushes us to our limits. Modern society has fragmented the community that was designed to share the load and act as a safety net when new parents need it most. Most families require both parents to earn an income and in many western countries, especially the US, maternity leave is abysmally inadequate.
But, that doesn’t condone systematically dismissing normal infant behavior and labelling it as a “problem” that needs to be “fixed”. As this mother suggests, it is as ridiculous and futile as expecting newborns to learn to walk; as dangerous as misdiagnosing health as disease. If we are to truly solve the issues surrounding parental exhaustion, we need to accurately identify the problem before we can have any hope of solving it, no matter how unconventional the solution may seem.
If we condemn infants for completely normal behavior we disconnect ourselves not only from our babies but from our instincts.
Mothers begin believing that ‘experts’ know what her baby needs more than she does; she begins reading the clock rather than her baby’s cues and her confidence in her maternal abilities wanes. Because, as inconvenient as it may be, it is NORMAL for babies to wake every few hours, nurse and fall asleep at the breast for six, twelve, twenty-four months or longer.
Motherhood is inescapably exhausting but western habits and cultural ideals surrounding infant sleep are making it infinitely more difficult than it needs to be.
Desperate parents are understandably tempted by tough tactics but it doesn’t need to be this way.
Countercultural mothers who lie in the dark, night after night, nourishing, comforting and connecting with their babies deserve to be supported, not chastised. Yet, our misguided society tells us that if we hold our babies, we’re preventing independence. That if we soothe their souls, we’re spoiling them. That if we nurse them to sleep, we’re creating ‘bad’ sleep associations.
Thankfully, as natural parents, we know better than that. Our tender experiences of sharing sleep with our babies trumps the most elaborate and ingrained of mainstream scare tactics. Our maternal instincts override artificially created cultural ideals. And we simply don’t buy the misinformation sleep trainers are selling.
So, we ignore convention and nurse our babies to sleep anyway.
We welcome our children into our beds, sometimes for years longer than we ever imagined. We rock and sing and cuddle our children to sleep in the wee small hours of the morning. We push ourselves to find gratitude in the difficult moments of parenthood, for there is untold beauty and opportunity for personal growth in this unifying and necessary human struggle. We share our hopes, dreams and fears in Facebook groups, seeking refuge in the compassion of online friends who offer us the sense of belonging we crave, but can’t find in our day to day lives.
And sometimes we turn to sarcasm and humor to shed light on the commonly accepted views that babies are capable of more than they truly are. Sometimes a change in perspective is all we need to question an accepted practice. So, I thank my sister in the night, who I hope I will meet one day, for her words that inspired reflection and for challenging us to view our babies needs through a different lens.
“Make your choices based on LOVE not FEAR.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross