Advice – urgh! Why oh why does everyone and their auntie reckon they can dish out unsolicited advice to new mums and dads? The impact of throw-away comments, regardless of how well meaning the intention was, can be huge. New parents exhaust themselves trying to get it right, panicking over whether they should do this or that, and loosing much-needed sleep worrying about the mythical ‘rod for their back’.
As a mum of three I’ve received alot of advice – ALOT! The great thing about doing the mum thing for a third time is that you realise that it’s all nonsense – all of it! I’ve honestly tried everything (actually that’s a lie – I never got one of those amber teething thingies but I reckon that’s the only thing!). I’ve done bottle, breast and combo feeding; I’ve co-slept and I’ve not; I’ve baby-led weaned, pureed and packet bought my baby food; I’ve baby-worn and I’ve pram pushed; I’ve tried to implement a routine, then given up….! The point I am trying to make is this – every baby is different and every parent is different (even if it’s the same human being becoming a parent for a second, third or fourth time). And because of this, only you and your baby know what to do – not Doris in Scotmid scalding you for picking the baby out the pram as you peruse the cereal (prosecco!)
So here are some of my favourite advice classics…
- “You’ll spoil that baby!” Yep, we’ve all heard that one. There are still some old dears out there that reckon babies can receive too much love. Seriously?! One day this baby is going to be 16 and awkwardly shrugging off any physical contact from their mummy so do you know what, I am going to spoil my baby with as many cuddles as I possibly can!
- “Leave the baby to cry it out so they can learn to self soothe.” This make me so sad. Did you know that when they found those Romanian orphans in the 1990s, not one baby or child cried? Commentators at the time remarked on the silence of the orphanages. This was not because the babies had learnt to ‘self-soothe’, it’s because they had learnt that no one was coming to see them. Babies will self soothe but only if they feel loved and secure. Studies have found that babies who were left to cry for long periods of time grew up to exhibit higher levels of aggression than their peers.
- “Babies should sleep through the night by age 6 months.” Ahhh the sleep obsession of the random stranger. Babies, children and adults wake in the night for a whole variety of reasons – sometimes even I wake up feeling a bit thirsty, worried, frightened….
- “You’ll never get baby out of your bed” Think of your friend with a 9 year old, 14 year old, 22 year old….do they still sleep in their parents’ bed? Remember to follow the UNICEF guidelines for safe co-sleeping https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/news-and-research/baby-friendly-research/infant-health-research/infant-health-research-bed-sharing-infant-sleep-and-sids/
- “You shouldn’t keep picking that baby up” usually followed by a reference to the aforementioned ‘rod for your back’. It takes babies a long to time to realise they are separate from you so it’s no wonder it takes them a while to get used to being on their own. And just think about all those extra little cuddles you’ll get – the housework can wait!
There is a little bit of a theme here isn’t there – it’s all about responding to your baby’s needs! Baby massage is all about that really – reading your baby and responding accordingly with eye contact, listening ears and nurturing touch. That’s all I’m qualified to give you advice on after all! I never offer advice beyond this. Ask me questions in class, ask me my opinion – but if the answer isn’t baby massage then you won’t be getting a response from me. And even if the answer is baby massage related, my answer would still come with the caveat that you know best. You know your baby and you know what they need. So the next time someone “offers” their advice, nod and smile politely, then ignore. It might have worked for them, it might have been the fashionable advice when they were new parents, but you know best.
You’re doing a great job!
**Always follow the guidelines from your Health Visitor and other health professionals. If you are struggling and need help, then please do contact your HV or GP **