I truly believe a lot of mother’s and women struggle with this realization: Newborns did not come into this world to sleep. Why would they waste their existence by sleeping? So instead, they keep you up at awkward hours of the night and demand your attention and want to chill. Switching off the lights will not help you. When I shared my new reality with mothers, I was advised to give her solids to fill her stomach. I later learned that this is quite a popular notion amongst a lot of mothers. Apparently, newborns do not sleep well because they are hungry. I had a penny for every time someone said “give her a little bit of porridge”, I would be a stay-at-home mom with a healthy bank account (Yes, I am exaggerating)
The poor child was not even a month old when A LOT of moms and non-moms advised me to cook some porridge (motoho) and give her even a single spoon. The food advise came from every single direction possible. Friends, family, even my partner was convinced by some colleagues that porridge is a solution to our sleeping problems. I cannot even begin to describe how pressurized I felt to do something that did not feel right for your child.
Do not get me wrong. I am not here to judge women that feed their kids solids or give them porridge earlier than 4 months. If you have been following my journey then you know that I am a huge proponent of following your mommy instinct. My mommy instinct told me that my breastmilk was enough to fill Tshimo. If she was hungry, I could instantly identify the ‘feed me now’ signals. All I had to learn was establishing some healthy sleeping rules and helping to adjust to the ‘worldy’ pattern of sleep. Just think about it. This little human was used to living La Vida Loca. Sleep when I want to, and wake up when I feel like it.
I visited my aunt when we Tshimo was 2 months young, and the first night was very rough. Tshimo kept us up most of the night and my aunt, unfortunately, had work the next day. She came back from work the with Cream of Maize porridge for a 6-month-old. I immediately called my sister to help me get out of this very difficult situation. How do I tell an old woman that I don’t want to feed my baby porridge? My sister had the best laugh when I called her for her advise. I needed to know how to say “NO” to her without sounding disrespectful. Come to think about it, it was quite funny. Her advise: Give her (aunt) a difficult diagnosis and tell her that the baby isn’t allowed to eat porridge. I then told her that the baby has Gastroesophageal reflux. It worked 🙂 To this day, that Cream of Maize is still sitting in my cupboard. It’s part of my memorabilia.
Our parents do not mean any harm when they offer their advice or buy items that we do not require. They are just used to a different way of raising children. They raised us during a different time and the environment was not as it is today and they did not have access to resources that we can readily access i.e specialists, internet.
If you are going to be a mom too, this is a heads-up. You need to brace yourself for a few arguments with adults about when to start feeding your baby. I’ve even had to lie to my other aunt and claimed to be feeding the baby when she was still on nothing but breast milk, just to maintain the peace.
Again, the food struggle is very real, but with the right mindset and confidence in your ability, and wish to raise a happy healthy child, you can truly overcome this challenge.
Thank you for sharing this journey with me 🙂
Written by: Karabo Motsiri
Edited by: Thando Bella Khoza