In a bit over a week my son will be four months old. To say the last fourth months have been a whirlwind is an understatement.
It’s been the best, most fulfilling and possibly most challenging four months I’ve ever had. From the indescribable feeling you get when he smiles first thing in the morning, to the sheer helplessness when he’s lost his bundle in the process of learning to sleep, it’s certainly filled with highs and trials.
But as parents would likely agree with me, it really is a wonderful thing to bring a child into the world and then have the responsibility of trying to help them learn, grow and find their way into the world at large.
We’ve got quite a way to go yet, but so far, after fourth months, while there’s challenges the good stuff comfortably outweighs it all.
And looking back over the pregnancy and post-birth I must say the healthcare system here in the UK, while it cops a fair whack, it’s pretty good on the balance of things. There’s resources and support leading into the big day and then there’s a degree of support after it all — which I think is more just to make sure the child is in a safe environment more than anything.
Leading into the birth we joined a group of other expectant families. Four months after our little (big) fella entered the world, we still socialise with these other families. And probably will as long as we’re all local to each other.
What’s interesting, though, is that we all were talking today and agreed there are a few key things that no one tells you about. It’s like they left these things off the instruction manual about parenthood.
These are things that your own parents often neglect to tell you. And if you’ve got friends with kids, they don’t tell you either. It’s like they’ve already erased these things from their minds… [openx slug=inpost]
The key things no one tells you
The first thing you get no warning about is the sheer heartbreak you feel when you hear your child cry. Yep, it’s very clear to mewhy Special Forces training like the Navy SEALS and SAS use sounds of babies crying in their exhaustion testing of their potential recruits.
It’s a sound you have to adapt to and learn about. It is a primordial code that we all have to learn from scratch because different cries mean different things, and you just have to figure that out for yourselves.
The other thing no one tells you about is you effectively fly completely blind from day dot. You have to help your baby learn to do stuff. One of the hardest things is helping them to learn to sleep.
There’s literally a thousand different opinions and books and research and frankly a lot of crap out there online that tells you to do this, tells you to do that, tells you about all the ways you can do damage to your kid.
They’re all wrong.
You can’t apply any of it to your kid. You just have to figure out what works best for you, your family, your situation, your child. And no one is going to help you do it.
Like when your kid wakes up from apparently being asleep and then goes apoplectic. What do you do? Go and pick them up and soothe them? Well that breeds clingy kids apparently. Let them cry it out? Well apparently you’ll make them afraid to sleep if you do that. Are they too hot? Well then SIDS is an elevated risk. Too cold? Well they’ll wake up uncomfortable and not learn to sleep properly.
Have the room dark, but then don’t have it too dark. Don’t play white noise it’ll be a crutch, but then reassuring sounds can help them stay calm. Make sure they’re fed, clean, and comfy. Have a mattress that’s firm, but not too firm, and definitely not too soft. Put them to sleep in their own cot, but not too soon, because maybe SIDS, but not too late or they’ll get separation anxiety.
I tell you what, the internet and abundant information is incredible and has helped shape the world into what it is today. But then again sometimes you’re bombarded with so much that you simply get overrun with noise.
And that’s why we decided to shut it down. There’s one way to learn how to parent. Trial and error. Lots of error, but when you get it right and it works, it’s like winning Olympic gold.
Of course you always make sure your kid is safe and you do what you can to provide the right environment for them. But geez, you just gotta wing it sometimes.
Babies are big business
I can see why there’s so much information to consume though. Babies are big business. We’re talking about a market that will have an annual run rate of around US$81 billion in 2020.
And when you get all these different kinds of advice on what to do, what not to do, how to prevent SIDS, how to grow a healthy happy child, there are all the products in the world for you to buy.
That’s the final thing they don’t tell you about — all the stuff you’re going to buy just trying to figure out how to parent. Furniture, play mats, baby gyms, bottles, sterilisers, formula…so much formula, nappies…so many nappies, clothes, safety equipment, monitors, travel systems, car seats, toys, it’s a long and expensive list.
The companies that make it, sell it and distribute it all are companies that are worth running the ruler over. After all, people will always continue to have kids. They’ll always be trying to figure out how to parent and be buying up a lot of baby care products and baby care services.
Companies like Proctor & Gamble Co [NYSE:PG], Johnson & Johnson [NYSE:JNJ] and Kimberly-Clark Corporation [NYSE:KMB]have a corner on the baby care products market. Pampers, Huggies, Pullups, Aveno, baby.com — they’re all brands from these consumer product giants.
Then there are other baby and child focused toy companies like Mattel Inc [NYSE:MAT] and Hasbro Inc [NYSE:HAS].
There are also a wide range of private companies and new start-up companies brining new baby tech to market every year. In fact at CES®, the world’s largest consumer electronics expo, each year there’s a whole section solely dedicated to ‘baby tech’.
Babies are big business, and there’s big money flowing in and around the industry. God knows I’ve already contributed a bunch to it…and we’re only four months in!