The Human condition: Never lie your baby on his front, on his back - or on his side...

... and never listen to half the advice that assaults new mothers, says Sheila Hayman
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Indy Lifestyle Online
DRINK COFFEE while you're pregnant, says the latest - rather sketchy - research, and you may be increasing your baby's risk of cot death. There are, it emerges, so many potentially lethal dangers in the life of any baby that it is extraordinary so many apparently feeble, weak-willed and undeserving specimens survive into adulthood. Some are so obvious you will spot them for yourself - danger of having her taste permanently warped by a surfeit of bears and balloons in the visual environment, danger of being thrown against the wall after one too many 3am games of Kick the Tit. Others need to be spelled out to the unwary...

Do not put your baby to sleep on her back, for fear of choking. Do not put her to sleep on her front, for fear of suffocating. Do not put her to sleep on her side, as she will inevitably roll over either on to her front or her back. And if you must, do not on any account allow your baby to sleep always on the same side. She will grow up with a face horribly and asymmetrically squashed, and never get invited anywhere.

Do not swap your baby from one breast to the other until the first one is finished. This is because breast milk, like school food, is divided into courses - thin, watery consomme milk to start with, robust meat- and-potatoes milk to follow, and rich, sickly pudding milk last of all. Babies who fail to eat their greens will never get any pudding and won't thrive. What is not clear - apart from the tragic irony that the only age at which you are actually encouraged to eat pudding is one where you won't even know how lucky you are - is what happens to the uneaten pudding milk. Does it just lurk inside the breast, waiting to be eaten later, in which case presumably baby simply gets her next meal in reverse order? Does it dissipate into the mother's body, giving her the calories without the fun? Or does it get incorporated into the next lot of thin soup and turn it into Vichyssoise? If it is stored, does mother's body somehow reverse its normal process and devise a way of chilling it so it doesn't spoil?

Do not drink aerated mineral water before breastfeeding your baby. In addition to the toxic minerals, its bubbles can mysteriously survive the onslaught of your own digestive processes and the passage through your blood, to generate horrible flatulence in the unfortunate baby.

Do not eat strawberries or oranges, which are too acid and will make him miserable. Do not eat cherries, which will give him the runs, unless you have already fed him formula, in which case eat as many cherries as you can stuff down, and squirt some cherry juice directly into the poor mite with a syringe, if you can do so unobserved. Do not eat cabbage, brussels sprouts, beans, peas or corn, or anything else that might normally make you flatulent, because it will make him ten times more so.

Do not eat fried food, anything fatty, anything sugary, anything spicy, or any garlic or onions, just in case. Do not drink alcohol, in case you lose your judgement and roll on to the baby in your sleep or leave her behind at the supermarket. Do not drink coffee or tea, in case the concentration of caffeine causes the baby to bite through your nipple or try to run before he can walk. (This one might be worth it, just to see what that would look like). If you find this list of proscriptions excessive, console yourself that you can still eat boiled fish and unsweetened bran flakes. I think. No, bran is probably too coarse and scratchy for babies, even when converted into milk.

Do not expose your baby's skin to the rays of the sun, which will instantly cause melanoma. Do not keep him out of the sun, because he needs the vitamin D. Take him into the sun, but cover him first with (organic), baby-specific (ie three times the price) sun cream. Do not on any account put any cream on to your baby's skin. How could you even dream of such a thing, you unnatural parent, you! Do not allow your baby to feed lying down, as her stomach needs to be lower than her head in order to digest her food. Do teach your baby to feed lying down as soon as possible, otherwise (as you are sleeping with the baby in your bed and allowing her to feed whenever the mood strikes her) you will never get any sleep yourself.

Never part from your baby, day or night, as this will cause intolerable separation anxiety and feelings of rejection and betrayal, resulting in low self-esteem and failure ever to hold down any job - not that there are going to be any jobs by the time he grows up. Give your baby his own space, specifically his own sleeping space. Finally, do not on any account sleep with your baby in the bed. You will be Storing Up Terrible Trouble for yourself when your 16-year-old son insists on taking you out on all his dates.