Every baby is different and every mom is different, but that doesn’t stop well-meaning busybodies from offering unsolicited parenting advice.
Yep, just when you thought you were getting the hang of keeping a tiny creature alive, along comes a family member or stranger who can’t resist sharing a nugget of wisdom. Does it matter that the advice is 30 years old? Does it matter that it’s been debunked by current pediatric practice? Does it matter that it’s entirely irrelevant for your family? Or just plain rude? Nope. These self-appointed experts won’t let anything get in the way of ruining your day by making you feel inadequate.
So what are some of the most aggravating admonitions people like to share? I informally polled my fellow mom friends to find out. The following phrases will probably sound awfully familiar.
“Your baby is too cold/hot.”
No matter if it’s 90 degrees outside and your baby is sweating, there are people who insist you swaddle your child in five layers of blankets. Or ones who insist that your snug-as-a-bug bundled-up baby simply must be too hot. Hey, folks, guess what? Moms typically know at what temperature their babies are happiest.
“Your baby needs a nap.”
Sure, fussy babies are often sleepy, but it’s not the only reason infants cry. I often got this advice right after my baby had just woken up! “They tell me this, but then they continue to interact with my kid,” one mom laughed.
“Your baby is bored.”
You know, based on just a glance, what entertains my child? You must be a mind reader! Do tell.
“Isn’t it a little early for daycare?”
Newsflash: Some moms send their babies to daycare weeks after they were born because they have no choice. Other moms—gasp—just want to return to work. Plenty of studies have proven the benefits of high-quality daycare, so unless you’re volunteering to babysit, please retire this odious line of concern-trolling.
“You should breastfeed longer/stop breastfeeding.”
Moms are made to feel guilty when they can’t or don’t want to breastfeed, and they’re made to feel guilty when they breastfeed “too long”—or not long enough. There’s apparently some magic length of time to breastfeed, but it’s entirely subjective. “It’s infuriating that it’s looked down upon if you don’t breastfeed, but then again if you don’t wean at some random point (which of course differs from one opinion to the next),” said one mom.
“Should your baby eat that?”
“We’ve gotten a lot of unsolicited comments about how we chose to do solids,” said one mom. “We did modified baby-led weaning on the recommendation of our pediatrician as it fit our lifestyle and her interest in food. You cannot imagine the amount of comments we get when we’re out to eat or with family. ‘Are you sure she won’t choke? Where are the purees? Why don’t you order her grilled cheese?’”
“It’s too early to have your baby out in public.”
Every parent is different when it comes to how comfortable they are with taking their little one out of the house, but some parents don’t have a choice—they have a job to get back to or an older sibling to take to school. And some moms just want to stretch their legs! “I was told that I was out with my kids too soon after birth,” one mom told me. “Like what should I be doing in the house all day? This mama just wanted to be out and about.”
“Sleep when the baby sleeps.”
I have yet to run across a single mom who found this age-old “advice” helpful. That’s because most moms have 20 other tasks to accomplish while the baby sleeps: Washing bottles. Folding laundry. Taking a shower. Not to mention, newborns tend to sleep in 45-minute chunks. Good luck taking a restorative snooze in that timeframe.
“Enjoy every moment.”
Anyone who says this has clearly forgotten what it’s like to be a sleep-deprived new mom leaking bodily fluids left and right. Sure, there are tender moments we’ll never forget. There are also moments we’ve gladly put in a mental dumpster fire, never to revisit again.
We live in an era when people think a Google search makes them a bonafide M.D., and that means moms get boatloads of “suggestions” on everything from vaccines to essential oils. Guess what? Not your kid, not your call. “I get a lot of comments about what is medically best for my child,” said the mom of a micro-preemie. “Mind you, he has eight specialists, so I think we’re good on medical advice.”