GUEST BLOG: To Google or not to Google?

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This week we’re handing the blog over to Faye Bartle, author of popular parenting blog Babydrool and mum to ‘X-Man’. Here she gives us the lowdown on dealing with the perils of being a cyber parent.

The rise of digital parenting

In the spirit of the New Year, I decided to spring clean my computer to free up some space. After I was done deleting old files I thought I’d have a snoop around my Google search history and, as I read the long list of crazy baby-related conundrums I’d typed into my browser over the past 10 months I felt hot with embarrassment.

From “Help, baby, green poop” to “Gunk in belly button, three month old”, surveying my search history brought back all those memories of being a nervous new mum, not knowing what’s normal and the desperate quest for information.

Of course, when I have a hunch something’s really not right, my immediate port of call is X-Man’s pediatrician, but I know I’m not alone in mining the Internet for general tips. Ashton Kutcher recently joked that when it comes to taking care of his newborn daughter Wyatt, he and fiancée Mila Kunis learned everything they know about parenting via Google. If it’s good enough for Mila…

When I asked around, I realised all my friends were at it too. “I looked up whether it was normal for spit up to come out of the nose,” admitted Dina.

“When Jules was eight weeks old with the sniffles, I Googled how to blow a newborn’s nose,” said Sally.

With so much information available online, the rise of Google parenting is nothing new. As expats with families in other time zones, however, it’s increasingly easy for us to turn to the Internet for answers. Just remember to take what you find with a pinch of salt.

When I manically Googled what X-Man’s green poop was all about, for instance, my browser spat back a host of articles – some were medically sound while others scared me silly. Wading through the drivel was exhausting and I quickly became frustrated. It took me a while to figure out that, with pretty much every question I posed, it was the local angle I really needed.

From where to get breast milk storage bags that don’t cost the earth to booking a taxi with a car seat and advice on what hospital to take your rash-covered baby to in an emergency, experienced Dubai mums became my target market.

With this in mind, I dialed down my Googling obsession and created a WhatsApp group of trusted Dubai-based mum friends who I felt I could call on for anything. Their knowledge base is truly astounding and the value they provide on a daily basis almost warrants upgrading to the iPhone 6.

I’ve also turned to Facebook groups for ready source of top tips. While some of the conversations can be entertaining to say the least, these groups can be a lifeline when you have a pressing question, need to get your hands on a secondhand highchair or generally need a pep talk. The best bit? Someone always replies as, ultimately, we’re all in the same boat. Even if you’re an encyclopedia of knowledge when it comes to bringing up baby and are beyond seeking advice from total strangers, being part of a community of mums who are only too pleased to offer support is a unique benefit of being an expat and, as a new mum, that’s where the Internet really comes into its own.

Baby Drool founder Faye is a Dubai-based journalist and mum to baby Xander James, born February 2014. As well as authoring three books on health and fitness, she has contributed to leading publications around the world including Condé Nast Traveller (UK), Harper’s Bazaar Interiors, Grazia, Top Santé, Healthy and Boots Health & Beauty. Like her blog on Facebook at Facebook.com/babydrool

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