The movie “Bringing up Baby” (1938), starred Carry Grant
and Katherine Hepburn. In this fabulously funny antic romp Baby is
a leopard. Nowadays movies and television address child-rearing in
part because of the so-called baby boom. Though by now those babies
are adults in their forties. Usually popular media present child rearing
as light comedy. However, when faced with rearing one's own baby it
is not a laughing matter. Pediatricians and child psychologists give
firm advice and tell you how to deal with it; woe to the parent who
listens to them. My son was born during the so-called "Schedule" era.
This was followed later by its reverse, the so-called "On Demand" or "Permissive" approach.
Because mothers are fearful handling their first baby they follow physicians’ recommendations.
One example I encountered was the following: when a baby cries pick
it up and find out why it is upset; perhaps it is wailing because of
a dirty diaper or a pin pricking its flesh. If neither is the case
then put the baby down. Do not spoil it, because baby will stop crying
sooner or later. But the doctor did not know that my child seemed to
cry indefinitely. Do not rock the baby carriage, the physician said.
I was never told the rationale for this admonition. Feed only on schedule.
I followed these orders religiously and had a baby on my hands who
screamed lustily long before his feeding time. He also would rock his
carriage as soon as he found out how, and was in constant danger of
tipping it over. He would stop screaming when I cuddled him in my arms
cuddling but as soon as I put him down he began to wail again. Why
did I not rely on my motherly instincts? Animals have them and know
how to follow their offspring's demands and to teach them when to rely
on their own learned behavior. I imagine that humans have the same
instincts, but let them be overruled by “good" advice. Fortunately
one is more relaxed with a second child, and baby and family can enjoy
I cannot quite forgive those professionals who, with “their good
advice,” prevented me from enjoying my first-born as much as I
could have. I should have listened to my mother.