If its not people like me writing books on fatherhood it’s a constant stream of studies and surveys either tweaking what we already do, or completely debunking it and calling for a return to the old days and old ways.
Take something as seemingly straightforward and certainly fundamental as putting your baby to bed. In the very recent past swaddling, despite being good enough for the infant Jesus in his manger, has gone from all the rage to verging on outrageously irresponsible.
Similarly whereas babies of my vintage were often put in our cots on our tummies, the advice now is absolutely to avoid that at all costs, with links having been found to the cause of cot death.
Weaning? Start weaning at four months was the call, four months, definitely four months. Ah, no, sorry, six months, start weaning at six months and not a moment before.
Of course no one sets out to bamboozle new parents, but such is the pace of things these days the hue of perceived wisdom changes almost daily – and that’s to say nothing of the cultural differences to which we are all now exposed thanks to the smaller planet we inhabit.
Last week for instance pulitzer prize winning scientist Jared Diamond, who has spent 50 years living and working with ancient New Guinea peoples suggested that we would all be better off if we carried our children facing outwards rather than inwards.
The theory goes that if children, even from a very early age, can see more of the world around them they they will grow up to be more confident and self assured. All of which makes sense and is made even more interesting in terms of a father’s role when you take into account further research which suggests that men are much more likely to carry their young children facing outwards than their partners are.
Mobile phones, plucked and feathered chickens, even an escalator I saw not long ago all come with instructions these days (stand on to go up/down) – but alas babies do not – although it feels like its only a matter of time before they begin to come out with a beautifully designed graphically led user guide attached to the umbilical chord.
So perhaps we need all this advice to help us avert parental disaster? There’s always lots to learn of course, but on the odd occasion it feels like we should give ourselves a wee break; our total colonisation of the planet would suggest that despite our many other shortcomings as a species, we are pretty good at this procreation malarky.