A note from Rach Smith's digital garden

A developer has a baby

Added: September 23, 2022

Tags: mothering

I read all the baby books when I was pregnant with my oldest child. These books tell you that if you do A, B and C things your baby will act in X, Y, and Z ways. They were all like: how to get your baby to sleep when you want, how to get your baby to cry less, how to make your baby a “good” baby.

This narrative appealed to me. I am a developer! An expert in inputs and outputs. I know how to debug and modify the parameters until I get the expected outcome. I was ready to tackle this baby-care thing.

Unfortunately, when the baby arrived, it didn’t work out the way I expected. He wasn’t following any of the books’ instructions! In desperate attempts to get him to nap longer than 30 minutes at a time, I would tweak the inputs. Wake windows, feeding times, bedclothes, temperature, room darkness. No matter the input, the output would be the same: way less sleep than what the books and online resources say they should be sleeping.

Eventually, I realised my baby wasn’t a computer program or a logic puzzle but a real human being with all the messy inconsistency and complexity that entails. The thought that some generic baby manual would be able to tell me how to control this sensitive, brilliant, fascinating live-wire of a child seems absurd in hindsight.


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