Since the day I found out I was pregnant, I’ve had other parents offer advice about just about every facet of parenting. Sometimes I solicit this advice here or in person when I’m struggling with something, other times it’s given, whether requested or not.
And maybe it’s just me, but it seems that the unrequested advice is always either the most critical of me as a mother or most inappropriate in one way or another. To offer someone advice they didn’t ask for is essentially the same as saying what you’re doing is wrong, here’s what you should do instead. And yes, it’s usually done with good intentions and often the advice is even reasonable and good, but it seems to me that if something isn’t broken and if something is working for a family, that offering advice is creating a problem where it didn’t exist. And perhaps it’s because my in-laws have very rigid ideas on parenting, but I seem to be on the receiving end of a lot of this advice/criticism.
And now, nearly eight months in, these are the 10 pieces of parenting advice that I am woefully tired of hearing.
1. “Get rid of that pacifier before it’s too late!”
Look, I know that not everyone is a fan of the pacifier. And I know that it’s going to be a pain to ditch. But it would also be a disaster to get rid of it right now because Eli loves it. We limit it during the day (admittedly, except when sick), but it is part of our sleep strategy and it’s working. He’s not even 8 months old, so I’m not ready to be worried about orthodontia yet. Plus, both his parents needed braces for a long duration, so I’m thinking he’s probably genetically done for anyway.
2. “Never feed a baby to sleep, he’ll never learn how to put himself to sleep without it!”
I hear this one a lot from parents who do varying types of sleep training and there is the hidden implication that if you feed your child to sleep at night or for naps, that they will never learn to go to sleep on their own. I have fed Eli immediately before bed every single night of his life. Feedings before naps are hit or miss because he eats when he’s hungry and sleeps when he’s tired (or lately, on a predictable schedule!), but he is completely capable of putting himself to sleep if I lay him down awake. He can self soothe in the middle of the night when not hungry and naps for anywhere from 1 to 3 hours without difficulty. What I’m saying is, feeding him to sleep doesn’t seem to be a problem, so please stop telling me to stop doing it.
3. “Cut out the bedtime bottle, it’ll make potty training impossible.”
Not only should I not feed him to sleep, I shouldn’t feed him right before bed either. I’ll admit this one comes from from my mother-in-law and her rationale, very seriously, was that it will make potty training a nightmare. Potty training. My 7 month old. Um. I’m having trouble getting worried about anything that doesn’t take place for 2 more years. Plus, it’s one of the few bottles a day I can get Eli to reliably eat and his weight has recently become an issue.
4. “Stop pumping already — it’s not the same as breastfeeding and it’ll make you crazy!”
There are days where I think about this, but there has been a vocal minority who wanted me to quit from nearly day one. I think it came from a good place for most of them, they knew it was taking a lot of time and energy, but others felt it wasn’t the same as breastfeeding, so why bother. I had another tell me I’d never be able to get my supply to be adequate enough for my child, so why waste my time when I’d have to use formula anyway. I’ve almost hit the 8 month mark, and honestly, the insistence that I quit makes me want to go all the way to a year. Sometimes I’m driven by spite.
5. “Always change a wet diaper at night!”
This one seems to be relatively controversial. When Eli was little, I would usually change his diaper at least once at night, even if it wasn’t bothering him. I mean, if it seemed damp, it would get changed. But my child hates diaper changes. Hates them. And so changing his diaper at night always results in him waking up. So for the past several months, when he gets up to eat (just once), I don’t change him. He sleeps in an overnight diaper that rarely leaks, he doesn’t get a rash and most important, he doesn’t seem to care. Last night he slept from 8:30 to 8, ate at 4, and didn’t seem to care at all that his diaper was damp. I’m not going to wake him up more at night if he doesn’t need me to.
6. “Cut out the nighttime bottle or he’ll still be waking up at 5 years old to eat!”
I have been told this one multiple times already. It’s the, your child is old enough that he does not need to eat at night and if you keep doing this he’ll get up and want to eat until he’s 5 years old. Sigh. My thoughts on this are 2 fold. First, my child isn’t eating well during the day most days, so the nighttime bottle is still needed calories. Second, if getting up once at night for my baby isn’t bothering me, why the rush to stop it? We will push out the nighttime bottle when Eli’s daily caloric intake is high enough and we’re ready, not because of vague threats that he’ll never sleep through the night if we don’t do it right! now!
7. “Skip the purees, that’s not how babies learn to eat!”
I’m not hearing this one terribly often most of the time, but those who believe it are a vocal and strong willed bunch. I actually wanted to do some self feeding of solids in addition to purees, but Eli has rejected them with spectacular fervor. We tried tiny chunks of steamed apples last week and it resulted in gagging and vomiting up of his entire dinner. The same thing happened with a small chunk of carrot. He can handle roughly pureed purees, but aside from puffs, he wants nothing to do with finger feeding anything. I will admit that we skipped the cereals and started with fruits and veggies and I don’t regret it at all.
8. “Don’t encourage him to crawl, you’ll wish he was immobile later!”
I am very aware of how much more work the baby will be once he’s mobile. We have the living room gated to try to minimize that, but of course a baby who can move is more work than one who sits still. That said, I am excited for him to crawl. I love watching Eli master new tasks. I love seeing him learn new things and gain more independence. He’s so proud of himself and it’s just so adorable. And so, yes, I know that I might someday wish he was less mobile, but I’m both encouraging him to crawl and anxiously awaiting the day he starts moving forwards.
9. “Having another baby (too soon) will ruin Eli’s life!”
Insert gigantic eye roll here. We are not hurrying up to have a second baby right now, not in the least. We are enjoying the hell out of Eli’s infancy and don’t want to rush him out of that, but we do want more kids. We had ideas on the best spacing, but those, like most of our ideas about kids, are evolving. We will have more kids and I am relatively confident that they won’t ruin Eli’s life.
10. Never let your baby sleep more than 3 hours during the day or he’ll never sleep at night!”
I kind of waver on this one a bit. Eli rarely takes these kind of championship naps, but when he does, it’s usually because he’s tried to skip his morning nap and is exhausted. Now that he goes 5 to 6 hours without eating, it’s no big deal if a nap lasts more than 3 hours and I’m definitely in the never wake a sleeping baby camp. If he’s asleep, it’s because he needs to be. If we have to push back bedtime a little to deal with it, then so be it.
What parenting advice are you tired of hearing?