I wish someone had sat me down, as I got home from the hospital with my very new, very pink, and very reflux-y son: Look, girl. You won’t break your baby.
Your bundle of joy shouldn’t turn you into a bundle of terror. Everything has conspired to convince you that if you do just one thing wrong, you will break the baby, or at least end up paying thousands in therapy bills later in life. The hospital recommends charting poop diapers. The baby store sold you a special charm to tie to your bra - in case you forget which breast you fed on last. The umbilical stump looks like something from a horror movie, and swaddling seems like some impossible form of baby origami.
These things conspire to make you feel utterly useless. You feel amazed someone is trusting an actual human infant to your care. You are terrified. This is all normal. But seriously: you will not break the baby.
You will not know how to feed the baby. You’ll worry you’re feeding too much, or too little. You’ll worry you’re feeding baby the wrong thing. You’ll worry he has a bad latch, or you’re using the wrong bottle, or that a pacifier will ruin your breastfeeding relationship forever.
None of these things will break the baby. And your baby will survive, somehow, without special apps to chart his feeding schedule.
You will not know how to get your baby to sleep. You’ll worry his crib is dangerous, or he won’t sleep in it, or its feng shui is all wrong. You’ll worry you shouldn’t co-sleep, or you need a bassinet, or maybe one of those nifty nests that puts baby to sleep in bed between the parents. You’ll worry that he sleeps too much. That he sleeps too little. That he sleeps only during the day, or only in his swing, or only when the moon is both full and in the house of Venus.
None of these things will break the baby. Babies have coslept, crib-slept, and camped out in the dresser drawer. As a species, we have prevailed. You will not be the one to end this trend.
You will agonize about carriers and slings and strollers. You will think you need to buy all sorts of developmental doohickies without which baby will never get into preschool, let alone Princeton. You will worry about TV. You will worry about old ladies coughing halfway across the grocery store. You will worry about car seats, and college funds, and whether baby is too hot or too cold or too drafty.
None of these things will break the baby. He will survive the onslaught of the world at large.
Put the baby in a crib. Put the baby in your bed. Let that fussy baby nap in the swing and set your mind at ease. These things will not break the baby.
Take a shower while the baby sits in a bouncy seat. The baby will not break.
Put the baby in an Ergo, or a carrier, or a stroller or in your arms. None of these choices will destroy your baby’s chances at survival.
Your dog will lick the baby. It will be gross. But the baby won’t break. Well-meaning, kissing relatives, strangers invading your personal space, and the germs on the Target cart will not break the baby either.
Sure, listen to your mommy instincts - call the pediatrician if the fever gets high. Pick up the baby if he cries. But if he needs to wait two minutes while you finish dinner, he will not break.
Take a deep breath, preferably of yummy-smelling newborn baby head. Contemplate the tiny wonder you’ve brought home. And realize that he's a tough little sucker.
I promise: you won’t break the baby.
This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.