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Is Information Overload Making Us Anxious Mums?

Is Information Overload Making us Anxious Mums?

Now I can’t remember it exactly, but it was something about how crawling stimulates the left and right sides of the brain so babies who do it will perform better in maths and English later on… and that’s why ‘tummy time’ is so important… blah… blah… blah.

There may be merit in what the woman running the baby class said but, if I consider it at face value, Harriet is probably doomed to a life of illiteracy and using a calculator for even the simplest sums. She’s always hated ‘tummy time’ and shows as much aptitude for crawling at almost nine months as her mum does for beating Mo Farah in the 5000 metres. Am I worried? No. I didn’t crawl and neither did her dad and we’re both doing very well (thank you very much) in English and maths/science-based careers respectively – though don’t ask me to work out the bill after a meal, leave that to her dad!

As new parents we’re bombarded every day with information on baby development and how you must do X and avoid doing Y. This can easily send us into a spin in our vulnerable sleep-deprived states.

Reams of research is simplified for a non-informed audience potentially losing some of its context and original insight.

Just last week there were warnings about baby obesity and how, if bottle fed, we’re likely to be feeding them too much from birth. This flies in the face of the Health Visitors’ advice to me that babies will stop when they’re full. Have you ever tried to get a baby to drink or eat when they don’t want to or stopped when they’re still hungry? They don’t deal in niceties I’m telling you!

(As an aside, the research suggests that a staggering three quarters of babies are overweight. This gets me thinking that perhaps it’s the baseline that’s wrong, rather than the babies and parents… but what do I know???)

There’s no worse place than the internet for information overload. As I mentioned in my last blog post, Google is something every mum turns to with the most random of questions. In the past week I’ve sought advice on how to dress Harriet to suit the tropical night time temperatures, found new recipes to save her from my boring fail safes and discovered a teething timeline when desperately seeking reassurance that the end is in sight (it’s not!) However, web searches can confuse as much as clarify. Ask it something that’s not so black and white such as ‘how many naps does my baby need?’  and that’s where you end up in a never-ending spiral of differing advice and opinion that can leave you feeling more anxious than when you started.

This information tidal wave is perhaps a contributory factor in new research that suggests that new mums, who were children of the 90s, suffer greater levels of anxiety and depression in pregnancy than their mums did. My mum says that it was ‘easier in her day’; she wasn’t overloaded with information and instinct was given more opportunity.

I see the ideal as some happy medium. It’s about being open to being informed, perhaps getting a second opinion, and,  when you’ve taken that step back, letting what you hear and read guide you rather than dictate.

As a first-time mum I find that there’s still that pull to do everything ‘by the book’ as I’ve got no previous experience to draw upon. However, as Harriet gets older I’m getting a little more confident in finding my own way through the baby maze and doing what works for her, me and our family.

Follow more of Liz at @mummymusings1 on twitter or her fabulous blog here:

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