When I had just had my first born, my neighbour, a kindly mother of four paid a visited. After the pleasantries and of course the expected gory details of the delivery, she commented about how much my baby cries at night because we were immediate neighbours separated by a fence. Being a new mother, I confided to her my frustrations about the baby’s crankiness. She said my baby had colic. Relieved by this information, I asked for a solution. “Whenever I have a child I give them a solution of light mushroom soup, salt and water before their first feeding. That takes care of everything. But since it is too late for that, give yours shot of Bell beer,” she advised.
I desperately considered it but still had the presence of mind to ask my sister about it. “Why would you consider giving a baby something that is labelled as dangerous for adult consumption?” My sister asked sounding disappointed.
Parents especially new ones are bombarded with so much unsolicited and sometimes useful advice as some share their experiences.
Dirty banana finger
Rosaline Merah was told to feed her son on a banana finger she picked by the roadside to cure his bedwetting problem. “First of all, there is no way I would pick things on the road and eat them and secondly, I could not see any correlation between roadside matooke and bedwetting,” Merah explains. She says she politely thanked the person and never brought up the topic with them again to avoid more outlandish advice.
Feeding while lying down
Nancy Valerie Imali, on the other hand was cautioned against breastfeeding her son while lying down. “They said that the milk would go to his ears resulting in a series of ear infections. I laughed the advice off and persisted. He is now three years old and has yet to suffer an ear infection. But even if it happens I know it will have nothing to do with breastfeeding while lying down,” the mother of three states.
Mildred Akiteng recalls an encounter with a quack doctor. “I had seen this man at office selling some type of water he claimed would cure all illnesses. At that time my daughter seemed to have an attention span problem so I casually mentioned it to him. Without missing a beat, he told me to turn her upside down placing one thumb at the centre of her foot and the other one at the centre of her head,” Akiteng recalls. She clarified that it was a seven-year-old and he promised, “to come do it for me at a fee.” Laughing at the absurdity of it all Akiteng says she always hid from the “doctor” whenever he went to their office.
“I was visiting a friend’s house with two other friends and I noticed our host was looking tired. I asked her about it. She revealed that she had just done laundry for her husband and her seven-year-old twin daughters. I don’t know how this other friend jumped into the conversation but she started telling her to spank and deny the girls food until they learn to wash the clothes. There and then, I saw in my friend a girl who had been punished severely for minor offences,” Hannah Nyangweso shares. But what was more memorable for Nyangweso was the mother’s response. “Oh well, no thank you, my girls have ears on their face next to their brains, I need to tell them and their brains will do the rest,” the mum answered.
How do people come up with this stuff? And how much of this advice is one supposed to take anyway? When it comes to everything, almost everyone has an opinion. “First time parents should read as much as with all ;literature online and in print, go to elders they trust and ask around for help rather than listen and subscribe to the tales of doom,” says Anne Kinyira. Happy parenting.