When it comes to having a baby in the Western world, there is a plethora of information available. Book stores and libraries have their own complete sections given over to everything from baby names to breastfeeding, from how to feed your baby to how to get it to sleep. However, so much of the advice varies and this is why there is so much information to choose from.
Choice can sometimes be a good thing. With babies, as with adults, they are all different and what will work for one baby may not work for another. The best idea is to find a book that will offer several different solutions for the one problem.
Take, for instance, the issue of sleeping. I have three children, all with the same two biological parents but they are living proof that different children need different methods of baby care. My eldest always liked to be swaddled tightly so that she felt secure and then she would happily sleep. My next child had to be free, right from the moment he was born, he couldn't bear the swaddling technique and his arms and legs were constantly on the move. My third baby simply didn't sleep and no amount of expert advice worked until he was good and ready.
There are many TV programmes dedicated to baby care and baby health and parenting advice. These often follow one track and that track is usually the latest trend. Over the years we have had the 'leave them to cry' technique, the 'check on them every five minutes but don't pick them up' technique and even the 'let baby dictate everything' technique.
Of course, child rearing is pretty much left to the parents choices and as long as the child never comes to any harm, you can agree or disagree with their methods, but it is still their decision. Not all parents relish these decisions, they recognise the huge responsibility of bringing another human into the world and the responsibility of shaping that human into a responsible adult.
However, the first few months of a baby's life are never going to be remembered by that baby and should be an enjoyable time for the parents, if tiring. This is the time when you can gaze into that precious face and know for the first time in your life how it feels to have unconditional love given and received.
People who already have children will offer you all the parenting advice you could wish for. Some of it will be constructive and you will forever thank them for it. Some of it will be downright annoying and it is up to you to filter out what you need and what you don't. Just remember that it is all given in good faith, even that from the mother in law that shaped the way baby's dad is today!
There is no right or wrong way to care for a baby or child. The love you feel for that baby will dictate many of the ways you look after it and your instincts will help enormously. You can listen to parenting advice from the experts through videos and books and you can even join parenting forums on the internet for advice or simply sharing experiences. These are always a good way of picking up tips that you may not have found in a conventional book but might just work to make your baby rearing that little bit easier.
At the end of the day, enjoy your baby and trust your own parenting skills and it will all fall into place without too much worry. A worrying parent creates an anxious child and then you are on one bumpy rollercoaster!
Parenting expert Catherine Harvey looks at the plethora of information given regarding baby care and how to trust your own instincts.