Being a new mom can be overwhelming. Unloading the dishwasher, making a basic dinner, showering, adult conversations, and sleep are all disjointed. You feel like someone is latching onto your body at all times. And as such, your relationships change. You’re more distant. On top of it all, you’re left in a body that doesn’t look familiar. It feels like every orifice of your body is leaking. At the forefront of all of this craziness is the desire to do your best and not mess up this most important role. It is because of all of these feelings that I found the advice for new moms I received to be totally anxiety inducing.
“Don’t spoil the baby” was the one that likely got under my skin the most. Nevertheless, “the sleep while the baby is sleeping” one made me feel like I wasn’t doing things right either. And then, there was the advice about sleep training. I swear I had relative strangers visibly concerned that my four-month-old wasn’t sleeping through the night every night. And, it happened a lot.
It’s crazy to think of now. Absolutely CRAZY. After two kids and a third pregnancy (almost) under my belt, I have a much better bullshit radar. I should add, I don’t cuss on my blog readily. But this advice was total crap, unsolicited, and unneeded. Sure, I know that now, but how can a new mom navigate through this uselessness?
What should you listen to and what should you ignore?
Because I know so many of my close friends have been the recipients of these classic and misguided pieces of advice for new moms, I wanted to write something that got straight to the point. I asked other moms for the best and worst advice they heard as new moms. Below I’ve highlighted the main ones. I hope you find it helpful!
Advice for New Moms – What we would all be better off without
Okay, I will admit there are nuggets of good advice amidst some of the unsolicited advice out there. And, I’m sure once enough people read this post, some will agree with one or two of the tips below. In general, however, here are some pieces of advice for new moms that we could do without.
Sleep when the baby is sleeping.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a light switch. I can’t just rest at the drop of a hat. And, I’m not sure if you noticed, but young babies sleep really unpredictably and for unusual durations. I have slept when my toddlers have slept. but if I did this every single time they did nap, nothing would get done around the house. And, I would never have a linear thought.
Put cereal in the baby’s bottle to keep them fuller longer.
Thank you, Aaronica, mom of two and author at The Crunchy Mommy, for reminding me of this. Pretty well every source imaginable say this is a bad idea because babies shouldn’t have solids until 4-6 months of age. It’s a choking hazard. Babies should be spoon fed and fed upright… The list goes on and on. Also, as Bettina, mom of one, points out, babies don’t just nurse for nourishment. They also do so for closeness and comfort.
My child never did ___ / always did ___. Or, with my kids, I always/ never did___.
If you want a warning signal for impending unsolicited advice, these phrases are exactly that. There is a reason the expression, “Comparison is the thief of joy” is so popular. The statements above are comparisons and make the recipient of the advice feel small and defensive.
Don’t spoil the baby. You’re holding him/ her too much.
If you happen to hear this ill-informed misguided piece of advice, you may want to ask the giver to do a little google search. There is no article based in scientific method that suggests this is possible.
Best Advice for New Moms
Now, I have to frame this by saying, every single piece of advice should be approached with an element of flexibility. Even if you feel it resonates with you, if your course of action changes, be forgiving of yourself. Also, only adopt an idea or approach if it really resonates with you. Don’t take advice just simply because it’s what you feel you should be doing.
Have a sense of humour, or at least be loving to yourself, in the face of your parenting fails.
We all have them. All of us. But they feel especially consequential when you’re a new mom. It’s easy to feel like each action defines your success in this new role. But this isn’t remotely true. For example, my mom, wanting to disinfect baby toys, put them in boiling water only to have some of them melt. This is totally a laughable moment. Also, many of us have had a baby roll off a couch, bed, or change table. It seems unforgivable at the time. However the more parents you encounter, the more you realize that this is not a rare occurrence.
Start off the way you intend to carry on.
Of course, parenting evolves over time. Babies grow. And your approach will adjust accordingly. This piece of advice, I read in the Baby Whisper and it really resonated with me. While it doesn’t apply to all facets of parenting, it is meant to be considered when getting your baby to sleep. For example, Kristen Miller, mom of two and author of Mommy in Sports, was told to rock her babies if they wouldn’t sleep. Though this can work in the short term, 8 lb. babies eventually grow a lot. Consider rocking a baby when they’re 18lbs. or 28lbs. when they’re going to sleep at bedtime and then when they wake up at night… It is much easier to avoid using these techniques at the onset.
No one knows their baby better than you.
This is something I had to teach myself. Jules, mom of three and author of One Ruud Mom, discloses it was the most valuable piece of advice she heard early on. In kind, listening to your instincts is crucial to remember. If someone makes a suggestion to you that doesn’t sit well, let your gut be your guide. Vanessa, mom of three, even suggests saying, “Thanks, I’ve got this,” to shut it down.
Understand parents who parent differently than you are doing their best too.
As a new mom, I remember being out with my newborn daughter and seeing what seemed to be a new mom with her own new baby. When I saw her, I immediately wondered why another mom had chosen to bottle feed her baby. Quickly, a memory came flooding back to me. Only two years prior, I had worked with a girl in her twenties who had had a double mastectomy due to breast cancer. I felt so guilty for my momentary judgment.
Since then, I have caught myself judging people for electing to co-sleep and then ended up co-sleeping myself, have been judged for waiting until the doctor said it was okay to feed my child solids, putting my 25lb. child forward-facing in a car seat, and everything in between. The moral of the story is, we are all trying to do our best and need to assume that of others if we’d like the same respect ourselves.
Whether it’s good or bad, it isn’t forever.
The best piece of parenting wisdom I was ever given was from one of my regional managers. He said, no matter if it’s incredibly good or incredibly tiring, understand everything is fleeting. Relish in the good and hold onto it while you can. Motor through the hard times knowing there is an end in sight. No matter what, there will be a day your baby no longer nurses, does sleep through the night, doesn’t fit into your arms, stops hitting for good, and needs you way less.
What would you add to my list? Please weigh in below or check out what others had to say.