They Said What? 20 Best and Worst Pieces of Advice for New Parents
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If you are expecting or have kids, you’ve probably received lots of advice. Some days, it seems that being a parent gives an apparent green light to everyone around you to start giving advice, whether it’s solicited or not.
Fortunately, there are a ton of great parenting hacks that can make life easier with little ones. This is particularly true for new parents who have their worlds totally rocked by their newest additions and new life.
Of course, the problem is that there’s a lot of terrible advice out there, too. Some of them are quite laughable, but others can be dangerous if a new parent takes them to heart.
The Worst Parenting Advice for New Parents: Top 10
The team at Scary Mommy took a poll in the early 2020s, and the top three cringe-worthy results were the following:
1. You Can Spoil Your Newborn Too Much
There’s an old sentiment that you must be strict with your newborn to ensure they know the parents are in charge. The idea is that holding your baby too much could somehow spoil them or make them clingy in the future. Or that crying baby is just being manipulative. This couldn’t be farther from the truth!
Many experts agree that babies need cuddles and comfort to thrive and grow into secure (aka not clingy), confident little human beings. Any new mom can agree that it feels physically impossible not to respond to their new baby’s needs, so don’t even try! Love on that little baby and enjoy the precious (and tiring) newborn stage while you can.
2. Sleep When the Baby Sleeps
This terrible piece of advice has been getting much criticism on social media. While the sentiment often comes from a place of concern for sleep-deprived parents, it just isn’t practical.
For one, a new mom might have other children to care for. Even if they don’t, they still need time to take a shower, eat something decent and maybe even have time for self-care. In reality, you might only have time to get a few things done when the baby is sleeping.
With this all in mind, if you can get a few hours of extra sleep with your baby by asking for help or letting go of some of your daily expectations in the first few weeks, your tired body will thank you.
Related: What is a Baby Sleep Regression?
3. Babies Need to Avoid Being Cold at All Costs
It’s the middle of a summer heat wave, yet you might still be getting advice from your grandma or aunt to bundle up your baby. Indeed, babies can’t regulate their body temperature as well as adults, but that means they can easily get overheated.
It’s perfectly fine for a baby to kick off the blanket and just wear a diaper or even go naked in warm weather. In cooler weather, the general advice is to add one extra layer (but no more) of clothing compared to what you’re wearing.
Ultimately, watch your baby’s cues for signs of distress, overheating, or getting cold. Then, make adjustments as needed. Also, it’s actually NOT recommended to let baby sleep in too many layers or a hat.
Additional bad advice that new parents often get includes:
4. Feed Your Baby on a Strict Schedule
As a new mom with a baby struggling to breastfeed, I got this terrible advice. The pediatric nurse and lactation consultant informed me newborns don’t need to eat any more than every two hours.
I struggled with this advice and almost gave up breastfeeding because it seemed my daughter was always hungry (which I now know is totally normal). Thank goodness, I decided to follow my gut and chat with my mom (a seasoned mama of 5 babies) to help me realize that I should simply follow my baby’s cues.
Once I started following my baby’s lead, she started sleeping better and gaining weight- and I felt much more relaxed as a tired new mom.
Related: Breastfeeding Tips: A Full Guide
5. Breastfeeding Will Come Naturally
Breastfeeding is natural but is definitely not easy for most moms. Like any brand-new activity, it takes practice, patience, and a lot of dedication.
There are a lot of other terrible breastfeeding recommendations that can lead to a lot of mom guilt and stress, such as:
- You’re a terrible mom if you can’t breastfeed
- You must exclusively breastfeed
- You must breastfeed for a certain length of time (more than one year is excessive, less than two years is failing, etc.)
While there are certain ideals, each mom can only do her best. If you want to breastfeed, don’t be afraid to ask for all the support you can get. Try to feed your baby when they’re hungry, and see where the chips fall from there.
Related: 10 Breastfeeding Myths and Facts
6. Let Baby Cry It Out
While some experts recommend the cry-it-out method for sleep training, most agree that sleep training a brand-new baby is a terrible idea. Plus, the cry-it-out method for older babies has also been linked to increased stress hormones, which can have long-term effects on a baby’s sleep habits and self-esteem.
This bad advice can be devastating for some babies and parents. The truth is every baby is different with their own personality and will require different techniques to help the baby fall asleep. It’s important to pay attention to your baby’s cues and respond accordingly. Some babies may need more comfort, while others can self-soothe a bit easier.
7. Put Rice Cereal in Your Baby’s Bottle at Night
You might remember some people telling you to put rice cereal in baby’s milk at night to help them sleep longer at night. In reality, this is bad advice because it can cause constipation, obesity, and other health issues in the long term.
Plus, it’s not really necessary, either. Babies can sleep through the night on their own when (and if) they are ready. If your baby is having trouble sleeping at night, ensure they are set up for success with a soothing bedtime routine and a quiet, dark sleep environment.
Related: Baby Sleep Tools
8. Enjoy Every Moment
You’ll often hear people talk about how wonderful being a parent is and how it’s essential to “enjoy every moment” with your baby.
The truth is, parenting can be hard work, and there are often moments when all you want to do is hide in the bathroom for a few minutes of peace! It’s OK not always to enjoy every moment but rather strive to appreciate the moments of chaos, calm, and joy as they come.
As a parent, you can have bad days and moments of frustration. Take a break when you need it, ask for help, and remember that parenthood is an ever-evolving journey. With knowledge, patience, and self-care, you can enjoy most of the parenthood.
Related: 16 Practical Tips for Being a Good Mom
9. Your Baby is Too…
Everyone has their opinions about what a baby should be.
- Your baby is too fat
- Your baby is too skinny
- Your baby is too fussy
- Your baby is too calm
- Your baby is too clingy
- Your baby isn’t sleeping enough
The truth is all babies are different and will develop in their own unique way. Don’t let anyone else’s opinion make you worry about your baby’s development or influence how you choose to care for your child.
10. Your Baby Shouldn’t Go There
Parents and non-parents alike also have opinions about where your baby can go. Whether flying on a plane, going to a restaurant, shopping at a store, or attending a gathering, you’ll often hear people telling you your baby shouldn’t go there because they’re “disruptive.”
To these people, I always want to remind them that we were all babies once and had moms that needed to get out of the house just as much as the next person.
The truth is, it’s up to you whether or not to bring your baby out. If you feel comfortable and think it will be a good (or necessary) experience for both of you, don’t let anyone else stop you!
I remember getting so stressed about taking my newborn baby to the store, worried she might cry and disrupt others. While I still prefer a cry-free outing as much as any other parent, I’ve also realized that I can’t control everything and can’t stress myself out over it. Instead, I deal with any issues as they come up.
10 Best Advice for New Parents
Now, let’s review some of the best advice I’ve found online and heard from friends and family.
1. Adjust Your Life Expectations
You’ve heard the adage that having a baby will rock your world. It can get a bit annoying, but it’s true. Having a baby will turn your life upside down, but it’s can feel impossible to prepare (because you don’t know what you don’t know).
To combat this, experts recommend the following:
- Expect stress
- Remember that babies cry (they’re adjusting to a whole new world and sometimes need to vent)
- Get used to a slower pace of life; trying too much with a newborn in tow can lead to quick burnout.
2. Be Kind to Yourself
As a new mom or dad, your schedule will be chaotic, and you’ll often feel exhausted. Remember that self-care is essential if you want to have the energy to take care of your baby.
Take time for yourself, get enough rest when you can, talk to other parents about their experiences, and don’t forget to ask for help. Ultimately, avoid the comparison game and believe in yourself as you navigate being a parent.
3. Be Your Own Advocate
As a parent, you know your baby (and yourself) better than anyone else. You should trust your gut and not be shy about speaking up if you think something’s wrong with your or the baby’s health or care.
If you need anything for your baby — from advice to extra resources — do research, ask questions, and speak up.
4. Support Each Other
Moms and their partners need support during the newborn stage and beyond. Remember that your relationship will evolve with your partner as you adjust to a new family member. Both of you should seek support from friends, family, and local moms or parenting groups.
Ultimately, take care of each other and try your best to be patient during this beautiful yet trying time. Also, remember that your partner will interact with your baby differently than you. This can feel frustrating at first but is actually a good thing- as it’s been found that babies benefit from different types of loving interactions.
If you have a partner, remember that relationship and that person are evolving, too. Join a parent group, take care of each other
5. Be Present
While it’s hard to enjoy every moment when you’re exhausted and adjusting, your presence is all baby needs to thrive. As new parents, it’s the perfect time to start showing your baby what real life is all about, with all the emotions of everyday life.
As you adapt to new routines, try not to get too overwhelmed by all that comes with having a baby. Take your time, embrace those fleeting moments of joy and precious moments, and appreciate the little things when you can.
6. Be Flexible
Having a newborn can be unpredictable, so expect the unexpected. You’ll face many surprises, from random crying sessions to sudden diaper changes during those first few months.
Adapting and going with the flow is key to survival as a new parent with a young child. Be flexible, and don’t be too hard on yourself when things don’t work out as expected.
7. Keep Your Sense of Humor!
This one was the hardest for me as a mom (and still is). Life can feel so serious when you’re caring for a newborn, and you may feel like smiling or laughing is a luxury.
But try to maintain your sense of humor, and don’t take everything so seriously. When things get tough, remind yourself that there will be more moments of joy down the line- if you can stay positive despite all the chaos. Try to learn to laugh at yourself and giggle with your baby.
8. Just Breathe
When days get overwhelming, or you’re stuck in a never-ending cycle of diaper changes and feedings, it’s time to take a deep breath.
Breathing can help bring instant relief and keep you grounded during those first few months. Taking a few moments to focus on your breathing can help clear your head and manage stress.
9. Ditch the Mom Guilt
In any matter of baby care, there are many opinions about the best way to raise your baby. There is never a shortage of ideas, from how to feed them (breastfeeding, formula, pumping, schedules, etc.) to how to get them to sleep (nursing to sleep, rocking to sleep, etc.).
Ultimately, decide what works best for you and forget the rest. No need to feel guilty that you’re not following others’ rules.
10. Feel Free to Ignore Any and All Advice
As a new parent, you’ll be surrounded by well-meaning advice (some conflicting) from family and friends. While some of it is helpful, don’t feel you must follow every bit- or any of it. It’s up to you to decide what’s best.
Trust Your Own Instincts and Follow Your Baby’s Cues
The common message here is simple. Always follow your instincts, no matter what advice you get as new or first-time parents. Every baby is different, and every mom’s journey is unique. Plus, many parts of parenthood are just a phase. Do what works best for you and your own children, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or talk to your doctor about any concerns when needed.
What bad advice have you heard as a parent?