The pristine copies of baby books I bought brand new from Waterstones when I was pregnant with Dory, and second hand off Amazon when pregnant with Pearl, have moved from their room (desperately flicked through at 3am) to my bedside table (resolutely studied before bed in an effort to Work On Their Sleeping and Routine) to propping the window open (they’re Victorian sash windows – they don’t stay up) to the top shelf of our towering bookshelves (I don’t play favourite with my precious books.. but I’m not proud of these). I’m not sure what answers I ever expected to find in their pages. Sleep? You won’t get much until you crack and start sleep training – happens late, if ever, with the first child, and pretty promptly with the second. Eat? Give them milk until they won’t take any more, then when they’re ready for food plonk some of what you’ve got on their highchair tray and let them get on with it. I recommend making a coffee and relaxing here; these are the Golden Months post newborn and pre crawling, although it might not feel so luxurious at the time. And what else is there – play? Whatever you’ve got in your pocket. Keys and wallets go down well with the under ones (and I imagine the over twelves would be pretty pleased with these too).
But really though, once they’ve hit six months, there’s only one thing you need. There’s only one thing I turn to after a grouchy wake-up, or on a long tube ride, or when I want her to stay in the highchair for two more minutes so I can send an email. Really, if I were to write a baby book, it would go like this: Grumpy child? Give them a banana. Overtired child? Give them a banana. Child hysterical as you won’t let them throw themselves down the stairs? Distract them with a banana. Both Dory and Pearl’s first word is Nana. When I bring one out, Pearl’s eyes widen with joy and I get to experience pure, unadulterated bliss as reflected in her face. Watching her cram one whole into her mouth with relish makes me sad I will probably never get that much happiness from anything.. or ever feel that un self-conscious (probably not a bad thing, actually).
*Just a note, this parenting tip doesn’t extend too far past the baby years. Dory can decide she doesn’t like bananas anymore in the time it takes from opening one to bringing it to her mouth.