Every parent out there has been met with some kind of advice – whether it was unsolicited or not, you never really know what to do with parenting advice until you are in the thick of it. It is then that you will look back and either say, “that was an awesome piece of advice my sister in law gave me!” or, “that piece of advice my co-worker gave me was not so awesome.” I have found that a lot of the not awesome advice we have gotten revolves around sleeping patterns and feeding your child. I mean I understand, they both can be some of the most stressful topics when it comes to a growing baby! So it makes sense that literally everybody that has had a child has some kind of opinion on what every other parent needs to do to achieve x,y, and z. I found that advice that was extremely specific was pretty hit or miss because it depends on whether it aligned with our parenting views or not. I also found that the broader pieces of advice we received were the most helpful because I could adapt it to my life at that moment. Now, without further ado, here are my 5 best and not so great pieces of advice I have gotten since becoming a parent. Enjoy!
Not So Great Advice
Sleep when the baby sleeps.
I understand that every single person who gave us this advice, really meant well. But it is was and is by far the most useless piece of advice we have ever gotten. Sleeping when the baby slept was, in an ideal world, the perfect way to catch up on some VERY much needed sleep. But in reality, there was no possible way for both of us to sleep when Savannah slept. First off, for the first month of her life she literally refused to sleep anywhere but our arms and sleeping with a sleeping baby in your arms is met with a resounding no in this household. Second, when she was sleeping in one of our arms, it was time for the other one to clean the house, make food for us, shower, do laundry, run to the store, do the dishes – the list of things that could be done during that down time is literally limitless. Did we take turns taking naps? YES. But Trevor only got 2 weeks of paternity leave so when he went back to work, sleeping from 7:00am-4:30pm wasn’t really an option for me. So, hearing how in order for me to be “good parent” I needed to sleep when she slept, felt not only unfair but also untrue.
Can’t get your baby to sleep? Just put her in the car seat and drive around until she falls asleep.
My husband heard this more than I did and let me tell you, it drove him NUTS. We just had our prenatal class the month before she arrived and the pediatrician on staff specifically told us to not leave our babies in the car seat for too long – like you would do when you drive around town trying to get them to fall asleep – so you can understand why we were confused by so many people telling us about this approach. It didn’t help that there was also a story circulating how a baby in a neighboring state had died at a day care after being left in the car seat for too long because she was sleeping, and they didn’t want to wake her up. I mean we would have to take her out of the seat once we got home anyways and she would most likely wake up – so what was the point of that? A baby’s neck is so fragile in those beginning weeks, we wanted to find a safe and effective way to get her to sleep that we could use time and time again – that was risk free!
You need to go on a date night right after having the baby to keep the spark in your relationship
I never understood why people really emphasized that Trev and I go on a date night right after we had Savannah. Having her was something we had hoped and prayed for for over a year at that point so when she arrived, all we wanted to do was cuddle her and get to know her. I didn’t want people to babysit so we could go on a date night, I wanted people to come over to help make dinner or do the laundry or Vacuum so I could cuddle with my fussy, clingy, beautiful newborn baby. After having quite a few people mention this to us in the first month, I remember looking at Trev and asking him if he agreed. He looked just as confused as I felt and we both talked for a long time about how we didn’t want to do anything without her just yet, we wanted to basically take her with us everywhere! Not because we didn’t trust people to be with her, but because we just wanted to hang out with her!
“My baby would only sleep in the bouncer/swing so its ok to let them sleep there – all of my friends did that too.”
Literally any and all advice saying its ok to let your baby sleep on any toy that has big, stitched in signs saying “DO NOT let your baby sleep here” is the worst kind of advice you can give to a new parent. Look, I understand that you did it, and your cousins did it, and their friends did it, but the warning labels are there for a reason, right??? They had to put those obnoxious labels on every baby toy because so many people believed that their child wouldn’t be the one that would die while sleeping in that bouncer – but they were. I admit, I am a stickler for following the rules, it’s something my husband has always teased me about and I’m sure this one is going to garner some major eye rolls, but if something is telling me to NOT let your baby sleep in here because she could die, I think its kind of arrogant to think you will be the one that beats the very odds, no matter the consequences.
Anything that sounds skeptical followed by the phrase, “I did that with all of my children, and they turned out ok”
Maybe it’s just me but whenever I hear the phrase “I did blank with all of my children and they turned out ok,” I just automatically think to myself, “did they though..?” Just because someone has children does NOT mean they know what they are talking about or should be giving out any kind of advice. Just because your co-worker would leave her children to cry it out in their room, alone, overnight with no monitors or anything, and just check on them in the morning hoping for the best, does not mean you should try that out for yourself. When people hear you are going to have a newborn, they love to bring up all of the ridiculous, and somewhat horrifying, parenting skills they’ve acquired over the years. Take them with a grain of salt and just filter through the scary nonsense with what might actually work for you and your family!
Get outside at least once a day
This advice was so so simple, but it really did make a big difference. I was really scared to drive with Savannah when she was first born, not to mention it was wintertime, so there would be days where I wouldn’t go outside. One day I had a friend visit and she told me that the best piece of advice she ever got when she had her 2 little ones was to walk outside at least once a day – even if it’s just to the mailbox. So, even now most days it is just a walk to the mail box, and others just sitting outside in our back yard, but I’ve been doing it ever since she told me that and it’s helped all of us – just take 5 minutes to decompress, feel the wind on our face, smell the rain/flowers/grass/all of the above, and look around. It’s the smallest of acts, but it is so worthwhile.
Listen to those close to you but listen to your gut more. You know your baby better than anybody else, remember that.
There are so many wise voices out there and so many people you can learn from. But there really is nothing like a mama’s (and papa’s) intuition when it comes to their baby. You are the one who is with them 24/7, you hear every cry, clean every diaper, and dry every tear. You may not know what each cry means, but you are learning at a much faster rate what your baby needs more than anybody else. That means so so much. When we had to switch up my diet for Savannah, I just knew that’s what needed to happen even when others weren’t so sure. I knew this because A) my friend experienced the same thing with her daughter and she had told me her symptoms ( she just happens to also be someone I trust ) and B) I knew that Savannah was at her worst right after a feeding and that she always looked like she was in physical pain from something entering her body. When my pediatrician said to just keep an eye on it, I decided when I was leaving the appointment that I knew it was some kind of intolerance, so I’m going to do whatever I need to do to make it ok. Turned out I was right! We worked with her pediatrician after first eliminating Dairy, followed by soy and eggs, and we were finally able to find something that relieved her from all of her symptoms. I can’t help but wonder how long it would have taken for us to get to this point if I had not listened to my gut.
Its ok and it’s a good thing to want to Educate yourself.
Talk to medical professionals, ask questions, most importantly, advocate for yourself and for your baby. I’m not saying become a pediatrician or doctor through the internet and Web MD – far from it! But asking questions on symptoms and signs for common illnesses or things you can do at home as far as remedies go, is an empowering thing. Your pediatrician should first and foremost be the deciding factor on all things medical, but knowing what to look for and what you can deal with at home versus what needs to be checked out by a professional can help you feel like you can and will keep this tiny human alive on your own. There is an endless amount of information out there on babies and what’s going on with them during this time, so you aren’t going to catch everything. I mean, I didn’t even know what diaper rash actually looked like until weeks after Savannah was born! I had my friend come over one night and I just pointed to her sweet baby tush and asked, “is that diaper rash?” and she was just like, “yup!” I felt terrible at that point because I honestly felt like her butt looked like that ALL the time! But I learned and now I just watch out for it. We all have our blind spots when it comes to our kiddos, that’s why asking professionals, even just someone you trust, questions are an invaluable tool that we should all utilize! I also really like to use apps! I started using an app called The Bump when I was pregnant where I could read article after article to help me prepare for giving birth and life with a newborn. After you have your baby, the app keeps giving you age appropriate articles to read and help you out! They aren’t extremely long and detailed, but they give you the basic information you need to get by.
Following your baby and her cues is important and healthy
whether this is for creating a sleeping schedule or nursing schedule, letting Savannah guide me has helped us both create a schedule that works for our whole family. This piece of advice doesn’t work for everyone, and that’s ok. I personally still have trouble understanding how exactly creating the schedule works, so what I’ve done is just letting Savannah nurse and sleep when she wants during the day and finding some kind of pattern through that. For example, I noticed she likes to wake up between 7:30am-8:30am, then feed, then hang out for a bit, then feed again between 9:30am-10:30am, and fall asleep immediately after. Her schedule kind of continues like that the rest of the day until we actively keep her awake no later than 6:30pm so we can try to put her to bed at 8:00pm. Now I’m just reading that feedings during the day can impact feedings during the night, so that is something I plan on asking my mama friends about – but I don’t expect myself or Trev to know any of this right away. I feel like I do have a pretty good grip on what her natural cues are though and that makes me hopeful that when we do create a more concrete schedule for her, it’ll be an easier transition than creating one that works only for me and Trev but not necessarily for Savannah.
“there is a lot of info out there but take all of that with a grain of salt. Your baby is one of a kind and all of the advice won’t matter when it comes to her. You just trust your heart that you know what to do. Stick with that.”
My friend, Rhiannon, told me this literally right before I had Savannah and it really is the perfect piece of advice for me at that moment, in this moment, and for the future when I’m really struggling to find confidence in my mothering skills. I hope it gives you all the same calmness it does for me. It can be seen as a reminder that we are all just doing our very best, and that is all our baby asks of us <3