Last month, we asked four Vancouver moms their opinions on the bored vs. busy debate. This month, we’re turning our attention to newborns. Should we cuddle them or leave them to cry? Also up for discussion: breast or bottle, and where to find community during those early days as a new mom.
Haley Campbell, founder of Beluga Baby, mom of one (16 months)
Sophia Cheng, founder of Sophia Cheng PR, mom of two (3 and due in October)
Codi Lynn, founder of creativewifeandjoyfulworker.com, mom of three (7, 2 and 1 month)
Kristine Nyborg, photographer, mom of three (3, 2 and 2)
Should we cuddle babies or leave them to cry?
Codi: When babies are upset it is never just for one reason, they could be hungry, tired, need a diaper change or a number of other things. With that being said, I also don’t think that there is a one right answer to being cuddled or left to let them cry. Depending on the situation I think the parent knows what is generally best. Since I recently just had a newborn myself, the hospital goes through many precautions before going home and one of them is purple crying, where baby sometimes can just cry and cry for no reason, in this case they suggested putting baby down.
Kristine: As a mother of twins, I couldn’t cuddle both at the same time; and I found they settled easier than their older brother because they learned to self-soothe. I don’t think it is an either or question, all my kids have been different and needed different help to settle down.
Sophia: For our family, we didn’t usually let our son cry for more than five to 10 minutes or so. We found there was always a reason why he was crying as a newborn. Usually it was because he was hungry, tired or had a wet diaper. There is only so much time you will get to cuddle a new baby!
Haley: All babies, but especially infants, need their caregivers to answer their cries. The world is brand new for them, and cuddling or wearing your baby will help them build confidence. As your baby gets older, there may be instances (such as sleep training) where short periods of crying are necessary. But overall, when your baby cries, you answer.
Breastfeed or bottle? When should you stop?
Codi: I don’t feel that there is a right or wrong answer for this one either, so long as baby is getting fed the amount that it requires, I think every parent is doing an amazing job. There are so many stresses around parenting (especially first timers) that I don’t think that breastfeeding should be another. Some people love it and some don’t.
Kristine: I feel there is a stigma attached to bottle-feeding, when there shouldn’t be. It can make new mothers feel terrible. I felt like such a failure when I couldn’t feed my kid, but formula is great and they didn’t have to starve just because my boobs didn’t work. I stopped when they ate enough food on their own, just after they turned one.
Sophia: I definitely believe in the benefits of breastfeeding and did it exclusively for almost a year. However, I also pumped too so my husband could bottle-feed my son. This came in handy when I had to go out for long periods of time or during the night if I needed a break. It was also a great way for my husband to bond with him. In terms of when you should stop, there really is no set answer. For myself, I was already working and the year or so time frame worked well. But, if you are able to continue longer, that’s wonderful.
Haley: I can’t speak for all moms, but I loved breastfeeding…after about the six month mark. It’s demanding, exhausting, physically draining and often painful. But eventually it becomes a wonderful way for mom and baby to reconnect and find calm. You should only stop when you and baby are both ready.
Where do you find community as a new mom?
Codi: I have found that as a mom it isn’t always easy to talk about the different pains and body adjustments that you are going through, but being open about them is so, so important. The more open I was about what I was going through, the bigger community I made through my already awesome friends, church and even social media; including Instagram and Facebook groups.
Kristine: I found my village in my neighbourhood playground. When we moved here, I started talking to other mothers with children the same age as mine; and this has made all the difference in the world. Just having the support of someone who is going through the same thing as you makes motherhood so much easier. They just get it.
Sophia: There are so many amazing groups on Facebook for new moms to join. I found this very helpful in the beginning because all these moms and dads answer any questions you may have at all times of the day. I also asked my friends about special mommy groups. Visiting circle time at the library or something like Strong Start helps you meet new parents as well.
Haley: I found community with other moms who were also entrepreneurs. There is an incredible unofficial lady boss collective in Vancouver full of compassionate, hard-working moms who lift each other up and chill each other out when necessary. Running a business and raising tiny humans is hard, but they make it easier.