When Fear Holds Our Babies Back

Solid Starts founder Jenny Best and her firstborn Charlie at 10 days old

Five years ago today I went into labor with this little guy. And 5 minutes ago today I got the call that his covid test was negative. I was so worn by time I got the call I just collapsed and cried. I am so tired of worrying.

Now that I have mothered 3 babies, I see clearly how some of them just have a harder time. Charlie is one of those kids. Born barely breathing, he’s had a rough go from the start.

By the time Charlie was 9 months old we’d been to the ER 7 times. At first it was for breathing issues. I vividly remember RUNNING him to the hospital in the rain one day. I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t trust that a taxi in rush hour would get us there fast enough so my mama bear instinct kicked in and I just RAN, in the rain, clutching him to my chest. He was 3 months old. 

Charlie Best in the NICU at birth, with a breathing apparatus

As I earned the notches on my belt as an asthma mom, we discovered Charlie had life-threatening allergies to a number of foods. The first time I had to stab him in the thigh with the EpiPen a 911 operator guided me through the motions on speaker phone, shouting over Charlie’s crying and screaming. I’ve now had to do that three times.

The fears we have as moms are often realized. They are valid. You are not crazy for worrying your baby might choke or have an allergic reaction. And you are not irrational for watching a sick baby sleep at night. 

And yet, it is these very fears that often hold our babies back. For me, I became the mom that was going to protect Charlie from the slightest discomfort. If life wasn’t going to be easy on him, I was going to make it easier. This manifested in a well-intentioned but controlling style of parenting and it made its way into food, too. We survived on a rotation of 6 of his favorite foods, I stopped introducing anything new, and the moment Charlie refused to eat, I sprung into action to “help”.  

And you know what? Charlie arrived at preschool below the 1st percentile in weight and was only kid who couldn’t drink from a straw up. Or eat a raw apple. Or put on his own shoes. Or pull up a zipper. Or go potty.

Solid Starts exists because of Charlie. It’s about helping you let go so your baby can do what they are developmentally ready to do. It might take 3x as long, make a huge mess, and feel unnatural, but the reality is that these babes—they fly when we get out of the way.

–Jenny Best, founder, Solid Starts

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