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The Single Best Piece of Baby Advice I Ever Received

By Meredith Carroll |

Baby girl

Daughter No. 1, a few years ago

My older daughter, now 3, was just a few weeks old when my husband and I took her to a cocktail party at a colleague’s home. She was dressed charmingly and wrapped tight as we carried her in the car seat to the front door.

Her cuteness was immediately apparent as we crossed the threshold — everyone oooohed and aaaahed sufficiently over her. We smiled modestly but beamed inside, thrilled to show off our exquisite creation.

The hostess greeted us warmly and peeked down at our slumbering daughter.

“She’s just beautiful. Congratulations,” she said.

“Would you like to hold her?” I asked, figuring she deserved a spot at the front of the line.

And that’s what she gave me the single best piece of baby advice I have ever received.

Don’t make happy happier,” she said.

“Huh?” we said.

“She’s sleeping and doing just fine in her car seat. Don’t take her out and wake her up on my account,” she said and then walked away to tend to her other guests.

My husband and I looked at each other in silence for a few moments.

And it stuck. Don’t wake a sleeping baby to show her off. To feed her. To move her somewhere else where you think she might be more comfortable. Where she might have more fun. Where the sun will be less in her eyes.

If a baby is sleeping, content or otherwise engaged, or if she’s not crying or fussing — leave her (or him) alone.

Don’t poke the bear. Don’t make happy happier. You’ll be glad you did (or didn’t, as the case may be).

What’s the best piece of baby advice you ever received?

Image: Meredith Carroll

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About Meredith Carroll

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Meredith Carroll

Meredith C. Carroll is an award-winning columnist and writer based in Aspen, Colorado. She can be found regularly on the Op-Ed page of The Denver Post. From 2005-2012 her other column, "Meredith Pro Tem" ran in several newspapers, as well as occasionally on The Huffington Post since 2009. Read more about her (or don’t, whatever) at her website. Read bio and latest posts → Read Meredith's latest posts →

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13 thoughts on “The Single Best Piece of Baby Advice I Ever Received

  1. MadelinePetersen says:

    Fantastic advice!

  2. Anne says:

    Don’t feel like you need to entertain/enhance/enrich every moment of your child’s life. Let them learn how to play on their own.

  3. Rachel says:

    The best piece of advice I ever got was “trust your instincts.” There is SO MUCH information out there directed at new parents that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and constantly wonder if you’re doing it “right.” I see so many women second-guessing their instincts and doubting themselves because of it. You have instincts, LISTEN TO THEM, and take everything else with a grain of salt.

  4. Meredith Carroll says:

    @Madeline — Thanks!
    @Anne & @Rachel — Good ones!

  5. Heather says:

    The best piece of advice I’ve gotten was from my pediatrician when I asked if I should worry about how small my baby is (at 5 months she’s still in 3 months size clothes – and her pants are too big in the waist). She told me “as long as she’s happy, energetic, and growing steadily she’s fine.” It was so reassuring to hear as we were looking at the growth charts and I was seeing that, once again, she doesn’t even make it into the percentiles for height/weight for her age!

  6. Jillian Nicol says:

    This is fantastic advice, except for the carseat bit. You actually shouldn’t ever leave infants sleeping in their carseats. There have been many deaths over the years b/c the baby can’t breathe properly in those things. Other than that, yes, this is fantastic advice! I follow it all the time. I’ll even leave supper on the stove and take a few minutes to check my email or sit and read if my baby is playing quietly by herself. :)

  7. Josh says:

    Best piece of baby advice I ever got was from Jack Black (yes, the actor) and in Parade (yes, the magazine): “Don’t give a happy kid ice cream.” Pretty much the same as the author’s story.

  8. Maria says:

    oh heather! thats so nice! my baby is a teeny weeny too and her “doctors” literally harassed me about her size, called her insurance company hollering about a “growth problem” AND insinuated that i starved her! it was horrible. my little girl IS strong (very strong), energetic and growing steadily.
    i didnt get any advice, i was alone w/my pregnancy but i DO agree with Rachel’s “trust your instincts” advice. WORKS EVERY TIME! =D

  9. Talia says:

    My best advice is similar to Heather’s, given to me by my son’s pediatrician: you’re doing a better job than you think you are. There are so many days were I am SURE I am failing as a parent. I have to tell myself that as long as he’s eating, sleeping, and growing, he’ll be alright. Sometimes it’s about the mom’s sanity!

  10. Georgina says:

    “Eat when the baby eats, sleep when the baby sleeps, do housework when the baby does housework.”

  11. Meredith Carroll says:

    @Georgina — Ha! Love it!

  12. rebekah says:

    If you don’t have kids don’t tell me how to rise mine.

  13. Samira says:

    dogs bark babies cry its ok to let them as long as you’ve exhasted every possibility of hunger, tiredness, pain, wet diaper or anything else that could be wrong if the neighbor down the street can let his dog bark all hours of the night you can let the baby cry for a few minutes till they tire themselves out and go to sleep… as for tiny babies mine was huge but my cousin had a similar experience as yours Maria she had CPS (child Protective Services) called on her by her pediatrician no less saying that she wasn’t feeding him properly because he wasn’t gaining weight but he was growing just fine and was a strong healthy kid

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