Photo by: jeanine&preston

Mama Peer Pressure and What's Best for You and Baby

Photo by: jeanine&preston

When I was pregnant, it seemed like everyone and their mama had an opinion about every topic you can think of on how to care for a baby. I told myself I would listen to fellow moms’ advice carefully and learn from their experience. Easier said than done! If I followed the “average” new mom’s timeline, I would have already stopped breastfeeding at or around 6-12 months, swaddled my baby until he was 3 months old, fed him solids at six months and table food at 12 months, and already have moved from our 580 square foot condo to a single family home by the time my baby started cruising furniture. I would have purchased a mini-van and signed up my baby for the elite day care in our neighborhood (which costs more per month than our mortgage or my student loan from getting a doctorate degree!) I did none of the above and am very happy my husband and I stuck with our decisions to ignore the peer pressure and instead do what’s best for our baby and our family.

A lot of pressure is put on new moms to follow other moms’ advice. To this I say, listen with a grain of salt, but do what is best for YOUR child and YOUR family. When Michael was born in February of 2010, he was around two weeks early. Our condo was not baby-ready and I didn’t have time or energy to read beyond the “what to expect in labor” chapter of the three pregnancy books on my bookshelf. The first three months went by in a blur, with sleep deprivation and breastfeeding taking its toll on me along with post-partum depression. Baby Michael refused to sleep flat on his back. He would wake up 10 minutes after I rocked and fed him to sleep, and this cycle would go EVERY TWO HOURS all night long. In desperation I took to placing him in the inclined Fisher Price Newborn Rock ‘N Play Sleeper overnight in
stead of the bassinet – something most moms have never even heard of. What a lifesaver! Baby slept three hours straight for the first night, and continued to 4-5 hours per stretch until he outgrew the rocker at seven months. I now give the sleeper as a present to friends who are new moms although it’s not normally on their baby registry or even something they’ve seen before; they usually thank me for giving them a few more hours of sleep a night!

My baby also had difficulty adjusting to the texture of solid foods. He would gag and spit out Cheerios at age 8 months whereas his peers were happily chewing on them without a problem. Our pediatrician recommended “no more Gerber baby jars” at twelve months but this turned out to be a problem for my little one; he had trouble swallowing chunky food. So my mother-in-law started pureeing organic veggies, fruits, and meat for baby so he can transition to table food more easily. My baby has never been too interested in mealtimes; we had to constantly chase him around with a spoon or feed him while he played. This went against “doctor’s suggestions” but we did what we had to do to get him to eat. He now eats better without gagging and I am glad we didn’t race to feed him table food when he wasn’t ready.

Most of my friends who were moms also urged me to find a house to move into for the baby’s sake, e.g. you need more room for the baby to walk around in and for all his stuff. My husband and I debated and searched for a new house but weren’t in love with any of the houses that we had seen. So we decided to stay put for a while, rearrange the condo, upgrade to a “big boy crib” to replace the Graco Travel Lite Crib (Baby still sleeps in it comfortably), and made the living room baby-friendly with soft foam puzzle mats we saw at the neighborhood daycare. I did research on the best baby gear for small apartments (everything had to be lightweight, portable, foldable, multi-function and affordable) and only purchased what would comfortably fit into our condo. We still use his Graco Infant Car Seat Frame Stroller to this day.

When my 1996 Honda Civic finally gave up and died, we didn’t buy a mini van to replace it. The mini van would have been out of our price range and the gas mileage would not have been practical for the 200+ miles/week commute I normally drive. So we did our research and purchased a 2009 Honda Fit hatchback with folding rear seats and awesome miles-per-gallon capability (35 city/40 hwy). It’s been one of our best purchases so far since we had our baby.

When to start weaning has always been a touchy topic for moms. I never imagined I would still be breastfeeding at 16 months but my little one shows no signs of wanting to stop. I still pump twice at work even though coworkers and colleagues may show surprise or disapproval; I ignore this because I know what is best for myself and my baby. Although he is eating more solids and transitioning into table foods, we both cherish our bonding time and he is always more calm and happy after a feeding, and sleeps really well after. I am blessed that my little one has yet to have a serious illness beyond a cold virus or fever from teething; I truly believe that breastfeeding has made him more healthy and less susceptible to getting sick.

If you’re a new mommy and are used to other moms pressuring you to do what THEY did for their children, remember that YOU know your baby best. Make decisions based on what is best for you and your family, and if some well-meaning relative, friend, or stranger gives you unsolicited advice, smile, thank them, and go along your merry way. Your baby will thank you for it.

Sarah Manongdo-Joya is an optometrist, author, online entrepreneur, eBay business owner, Plum District Consultant, and mom to 16-month old baby Michael. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son. Her website is

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