Kingsley doesn’t cry much. He is what you call a ‘happy baby’ and I have put a lot of thought into why. Why he doesn’t cry and what I do as a mum; what Erroll does as a dad and how our home life lends itself to a calm, stress-free life for our infant.
In the West, it is understood that babies cry…and that such crying must be dealt with (usually harshly) or ignored or ‘controlled’ (whatever that means). In the Hartley household, it is quite the opposite. We hold that babies mustn’t cry. If they do, something is horribly wrong and action must be taken to rectify it immediately.
It all made sense quite organically when I delivered and had the benefit of receiving the support and advice of excellent, pro-breastfeeding midwives. As it happened, our baby did cry a fair amount. Yet for these women it was simple – breastfeed him! It was their answer to every single whimper.
There were times when it was a wet nappy, or the fact that he wanted more cuddles, or that trapped air made him uncomfortable, but mainly Kingsley just wanted to be at the breast. It mattered not that he had just finished a feed. The more boob, the more settled he became. I was already wearing our baby most of the time and sharing a bed with him, so offering the breast was a natural extension to what we were doing.
King fed a lot (still does) – far more than I had ever read about anywhere and at least six times as much as some of the strict feeding schedules I had heard about. By five months of age, when many mothers start to introduce solids Kingsley returned to newborn style hourly breastfeeding, especially during the night (something I have learned is labeled ‘reverse cycling’).
My instinct told me to hold off on introducing solids till 6 months of age. And I prepared for the ravenous breastfeeding that would ensue – waking every two hours with my son. Yes, I just keep feeding him, even if I had just fed him. Some days I did not manage to pull a brush through my hair (who cares? Kingsley things I am beautiful!) And I ate and drank like a horse, such was my appetite.
To this day people comment, ‘Kingsley is such an easy baby – though he does feed a lot.’ Isn’t it the truth!!
Here is what I have learned:
- Offer the breast every single moment King is upset – even if I have just fed him.
- Co-sleep. I feed King before he is fully awake, which allows him to go back to sleep.
- Drink lots of water.
- I made feeding the priority (especially during growth spurts).
- Read my baby, not books. Breastfeeding is not linear – it goes up and down.
- King needs milk and nourishment, wants comfort and closeness.
- Spend weeks indoors just baby and me. As the song goes, “Getting to know you; getting to know all about you…”