It’s the women behind us in line at the post office. It’s the neighbor, the coworker, or the mother-in-law.
It’s someone in the baby group, or a random stranger at the grocery store.
All around us, there are others eager to, well, connect with us! They ask about our little ones, make comments, and put in their two-cents.
I’ve learned that, in my opinion, anyway, that is sort of a beautiful thing.
As we have babies, raise families, and navigate this thing called life, what a comfort to know that there are so many others around just trying to figure it all out as they go, too.
New parenthood can be such an exciting time. I know well, as I’ve had two babies in the last handful of years. I’m living this stuff constantly in my daily life, and when I’m not living it, I’m sitting here writing about it.
I think onlookers and acquaintances want to share part of that excitement, too, and so they’re eager to talk about the subjects at hand: pregnancy, parenting, and babies.
Surely you’ll have others to add, too, as you read, but for starters and for fun, here are 20 unwanted pieces of advice, like, every new mom gets no matter what.
20 Scheduled Snoozing
I remember sort of laughing at this one with my older brother.
“Sleep when they sleep!” say people who have already been parents for a long time.
It’s just one of those things I’d already heard over and over again by the time I was pregnant for the first time a few years ago now.
I, however, usually take a little bit of time to unwind and then eventually drift off even when I do get a chance to lie down in bed.
Plus, I can’t imagine how a new mom could manage to actually go in bed herself as soon as her newborn was sleeping…
It’s a nice thought, though!
19 Just Breathe
It’s the stuff of classic grandma and mom folklore: “Let them air out!”
And hey, to avoid diaper rash, it really can be just the thing.
Have you heard this little piece of mom advice time and time again, too, as I have?
This can be a bit tricky, though, when you’ve got a newborn who gets easily chilled. A few seconds on the changer during a diaper change – with a clean diaper already in place under that unpredictable bottom – was about what I could manage as far as airing them out at that age.
Once they were doing some scootching around and crawling prep on the floor, I did my best with blankets and towels laid out underneath them.
It’s once they’re toddlers and can actually be running around in the yard nakey for a little while that it makes the most practical sense, to me.
18 Hold Off On The Sibs
The cute thing about this one is that someone other than you or your partner has decided they know best how you should plan your own family.
Lovely, right? (Not.)
I’ve heard all sorts of opinions about the “right” length of time to wait before getting pregnant again.
Some people seem to think they have your own life / work situation all figured out to the degree that they know what will work and what won’t.
I’ve even heard people claim health reasons for waiting longer between babies.
I asked my own OB, and he said the only reason to wait would be for the sake of my own sanity (jokingly). It’s true that raising two toddlers at once isn’t easy work!
17 ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts!’
Oh, man, like, I totally get why everyone seems to say this to new parents, but still…
I mean, of course, I’m trying my best to enjoy it while it lasts.
This time is really so fleeting, and it can be really, really hard to feel like I’m actually enjoying every second of being a mother to two adorable little ones, amid all the hard work and real life concerns of, well, “adulting” at the same time…
I do try, because trying is, I suppose, all that I can really do…
At least each stage seems to be cute and enjoyable in a whole new way, so there’s always more to look forward to and enjoy then.
16 In The Blink Of An Eye
Yeah, it’s true. It seems like yesterday, to type that cliched phrase, that I was newly pregnant with my first baby, that I was first holing my very own newborn in my lovin’ arms…
My husband and I both have total tripping-out moments at least once every few days, where we just look at our two little ones and wonder how in the world we’ve already gotten to this stage…
I get why seasoned parents seem to love to say, in my experience, “It all goes by SO fast.”
It does. I could cry a little just thinking about it…
15 Tackling Training
I’ve observed that parents seem to have certain ideas about what they’re comfortable with as far as getting their own babies to sleep, and that they tend to sort of stick to these ideas or just revert right back to them even after saying they want to try something else.
There are your diehard sleep-trainers, who start early and often trying to encourage their little ones to learn to fall asleep on their own. (Yo.)
Some are co-sleepers, despite the official recommendations (AAP.org recommends room-sharing for infants but not co-sleeping on the same surface).
The point is, though, every parent I’ve met seems to have some opinion or even cautionary tale to share about what is best and what is not when it comes to sleep training and baby sleep habits in general.
14 Time For The Self
I mean, shoot, I’d agree with this one, in theory…
“Make time for yourself!”
You don’t want to completely give up who you are and time spent doing the things YOU enjoy just because you’ve recently become a mom. That’s for sure.
But, boy, oh boy, do I know how difficult – even impossible sometimes – this can be to actually do.
I am with my two very young kids from the minute they wake up in the morning to the moment they are tucked safely in their beds at night. (I love it! It is what I have chosen, and I simply could not have it any other way.)
I fit in work some way, somehow, from home, as well. Gotta make life work somehow, right?
“Me time” means 10 minutes in the shower, or, quite honestly, shutting myself up in a separate room once my husband’s home so I can write.
13 Here To Help!
This one is the most real and potentially frustrating to me of all the things I’ve mentioned here today – those cliché phrases parents get so used to hearing that they probably don’t even really listen to them anymore as they roll off the tongues of strangers, friends, and relatives, alike.
How nice, really, that others tell you, as a new parent, “I’m here to help!” or “Let me help, any time!”
Maybe it’s just me, but I always had a really hard time actually taking advantage of any of these offers to help out with the young kiddos.
First of all, only now that my little ones are getting deep into toddlerhood has the whole nursing thing slowed down enough that I could reasonably be apart from them for any real amount of time.
Then there’s also the fact that I have to work when they are napping, and that I have to keep our usual routine and have them here at home to nap in their beds to avoid throwing off our entire day.
It’s just rough, is all I’m saying, to actually figure out how to make practical use of others’ help.
12 Germ Patrol
Some have gone on and on to me about how often kids will get sick as soon as they are in daycare or preschool.
The other day, a mom claimed vehemently to me that no, no, no, it wasn’t the preschoolers and babies who had all the germs, it was the elementary school-aged kids.
Some tell you to avoid these groups, particularly during “flu season,” and some say to throw ’em into the mix early and often and let them “build up their immunity!”
In the end, I guess it sort of is what it is, right? We can really only control so much the groups our kids are around. They have to be out in the world living, and although we can make a habit of washing hands, really what more can you do?
11 Tune In
You’ve gotta love the massive list of shows and movies many parents to babies and toddlers are able to list out to recommend for tiny eyes to watch.
Like, how much time are these babies spending watching TV?
The point here is, in my own life, I’ve noticed that many modern parents really are quick to say it’s A-OK to throw a movie on (on loop) in the family car, use TV as a way to keep tiny kids occupied while at home, or toss an iPhone in their direction when they just won’t be quiet.
If you’ve got many people around you who seem to think it’s a great idea to let the littles watch, why not first check in with the pediatrician?
You can also see Today.com or AAP.org for more on the AAP recommendations for screen time.
10 Stop All Screen Time
Then there’s the other end of the spectrum – parent and grandparents who take a firm (and vocal) stance when it comes to disallowing TV entirely.
Honestly, I went more toward this route myself, very extremely limiting any exposure to TV, movies, and screens in general for my babies and young kids.
But then, also, there is the real world, a world in which there are screens all around us.
At friends and relatives’ houses, the TV goes on regularly.
Kids are often given phones or iPads to hold, and all little ones present then often gather around, I’ve observed.
Again, everyone has a different opinion / ideal about what is “right” (which sometimes of course also differs from what they then actually allow).
9 Motorized Motion
I love thinking back to these tidbits you always here when you’re pregnant or during the newborn times.
And what a wild time it is…
Have you ever had anyone tell you to try just driving your baby around in the car if you just can’t get them to sleep?
I mean, for some, it works…
The problem, in my eyes, aren’t you then sort of encouraging a little one to depend even more on motion / some outside soothing intervention to be able to ever fall asleep?
Plus, a tired parent driving and driving and driving… not exactly ideal?
8 Coffee Talk
So, like, dozens of stories about old wives’ tales regarding breastfeeding come up with a quick googling, many of them mentioning whether it is okay or not to drink coffee or consume caffeine in general while breastfeeding.
Have you had a grandmother or neighbor or complete stranger offer an opinion on the matter of coffee-drinking, after seeing you sipping from a hot-beverage cup?
“Many experts say that a moderate amount of caffeine (no more than 300 milligrams per day, or the amount in about 16 ounces of brewed coffee) is fine for nursing moms and should cause no changes in most babies' behavior,” says BabyCenter.com.
7 Irish Brew Benefits
Do you ever hear some piece of advice that seems to be so obviously outdated that you have to laugh?
After hearing this one out and about in the world, I could barely believe that it was still circulating through mom groups around town when I had my first baby a few years back.
“Drinking Guinness will help you to make more breastmilk,” the offerer of advice may claim.
This surely leaves moms to wonder, is it true that having a beer can help you to make milk?
“Yes, but it's not because of the alcohol. In fact, the alcohol works against you,” says BabyCenter.com.
“Nursing moms are often advised by family and friends to relax and have a beer to help stimulate milk production. And it's true that a polysaccharide in the barley used to make beer seems to stimulate prolactin, which helps moms make more milk,” the site continues. “Alcohol, on the other hand, can inhibit milk production.”
6 Say Yes Or No To Bevs
I’ve had other new moms almost argue with me when I explained that I was (personally) choosing not to have a glass of wine because I was still exclusively breastfeeding so often, then launching into almost defensive speeches about why they were choosing to consume.
And then I’ve heard (admittedly less often) from others who felt it wasn’t okay to drink while breastfeeding at all.
“We know the risks associated with drinking during pregnancy, but the rules around drinking and breastfeeding are a bit hazy,” says TodaysParent.com.
CDC.gov offers up some basic guidelines and info, if you’re actually curious.
I found that talking to my own doctor was a good way to go whenever I had any such questions.
5 Magic Cookies
I’ve seen many a new mom talk excitedly about where to find this or that “lactation cookie.”
It often involves driving out to the most posh and expensive organic foods grocery store on a quest for some treat that will supposedly somehow cause a new mom’s body to produce more milk.
Ya know what? I’ve never tried the things, and I’ve never really been interested.
Like, the more time a baby spends at the breast, the more milk that will be produced, right?
However, I also know that this is a touchy subject and that some moms come to feel that they are not producing adequate milk for their little ones, and sometimes have to make the (sometimes very tough) decision to use some amount of formula, as well.
So I’m not judging, I’m just saying I’ve found it entertaining that people so excitedly share about a cookie they believe to be the key to making more milk.
4 DIY Dinner
In my experience, if parents made their own baby food purees, they tend to think it’s pretty great and feel like everyone should do the same.
Others, however, bust out the jarred stuff unabashedly.
And sometimes, it’s a combo of the two.
What I think is kind of funny about the whole thing is that it’s not really even very long that babies eat these mushy foods, right?
In my own experience, as soon as kids have the capability to gum or chew “real people” food, that’s what they want to do.
So whatever strong opinions people have, they probably won’t even be relevant for long, right?
3 All Those Teething Tricks
I totally get why so many parents have something to say about how to take care of teething, as soon as they see that a baby is working on getting some new pearly whites.
In my experience, it depends on the baby as far as how the little one will react and cope with the experience.
I’ve had one baby who behaved fairly normally and would just start gnawing on her little hand to self-soothe during those teething times, as well as one whose sleep was clearly interrupted, who was obviously much less of a happy camper than usual.
Yep, I’ve been told to freeze washcloths, buy this or that gel or contraption, and hastily bought teethers and toys I’ve seen in stores myself…
It can be tempting to hope there’s something out there to help your tiny tot feel better!
2 Gender Preference
Although I certainly have happened across all of these pieces of advice (often from well-meaning onlookers and acquaintances), this is the one I encounter, to this day, ALL the time.
“You’re so lucky to have [fill this in with whichever genders of children you have with you at the time]!”
Some people even like to proclaim that they bet you were wishing for this or that. They’ll ask if you’re going to try again for whichever gender you don’t have in your brood yet, or which you have fewer of.
I don’t think anyone has ever meant any offense, merely to try to share a bit in the inner thoughts and hopes you might be going through as a parent.
Still, so funny that people have so many opinions about the “best” combo for families, involving whichever number of boys and girls.
1 As Time Goes By
Ya know what? There are times someone’s made a comment to me about how it only gets easier as you go (seeing that I have two very young kids on my hands), and it’s really actually helped me to pause, look forward, and breathe a little easier.
It’s just like when someone takes the time to tell you, hey, you know what? You’re doing a good job, and you’ll get through this.
But what’s funny, too, is, like, am I making it look hard right now? LOL.
“You’ve sure got your hands full!” is another one I heard every time I left the house when my first was a toddler and my second was an infant.
A variation I got the other day, which I honestly really enjoyed, was, “So what do you do in your spare time?” from a winking grandfather in the grocery store.
The answer? I write.
References: This one mom’s experience, CDC.gov, BabyCenter.com