Have you received unwanted comments about your baby or parenting? You’re not alone! Here are some ways to respond to unwanted advice and comments.
Dealing with Unwanted Comments about Your Baby
You decide to bring your newborn with you to the grocery store for the first time. You are so excited to take your new baby out of the house. After all, haven’t you been cooped up inside for a few days or weeks, trying to figure out how this little creature works and to keep your newborn safe from germs?
When you get to the store, you put the baby in your carrier or wrap, make sure the baby is comfy, and away you go. An older woman, sensing a newborn in the air, stops you so that she can gaze upon your cherub’s little face. Suddenly she backs away and exclaims,
“I don’t think the baby can breathe! I can’t imagine that thing is comfortable. When I had my baby…”
When you have a baby, you need to be prepared for all sorts of unsolicited advice. People love to share what they think of your baby or situation. Much of it is well meaning, but much of it tends to be just…well…annoying.
Bottom line about all of this, before you even continue to read: you know what’s best for your child. Do what you feel is best, despite what others might say, and trust me, they’re going to say a lot.You know what's best for your child. Do what you feel is best, despite what others might say, and trust me, they're going to say a lot.
This is a list of common things you’ll hear from people when you have a baby, and some information to throw back their way. (You probably already know what some of them are without looking! Share your own in the comments below!)
When You Have a Baby, You Might Hear:
You hold her too much. Put her down. Actually, babies learn so much in your arms (or in your favorite baby carrier). Language, tummy time, and social skills are just some of the things baby gets to experience and practice. (Yes, a baby can get tummy time while being held! It still takes skill to hold up a head and look around.) Your baby might just actually learn more and feel more secure than a baby that might be left in a seat or in a crib all day since your baby would potentially be more stimulated being in your presence.
And you know what? If you put the baby down, chances are the baby will feel comforted enough from being in your arms for awhile to just be content being alone and play or snooze. Babies do need alone time like we do, so they’ll appreciate that alone time more when you can’t hold them.
Unless someone is with you 24 hours a day 7 days a week, they’ll have no idea how much you hold your baby. And, hey, even if you do hold or carry baby all day, that’s your choice and it won’t hurt baby one bit.
This right here is my daily life, made easier thanks to babywearing. I can get laundry done, let baby girl take a nap, and get all the baby cuddles I can before she isn’t a baby anymore. #lastbaby #myliferightnow #babywearing #wearallthebabies #keepcalmcarryon #laundryday #staylittleforever #sahmlife
That baby spends too much time in the swing/bouncer/play yard. Again, unless someone is with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, they really have no clue how much time baby spends away from you. Like I said above, babies do need alone time, so there’s that, plus you need some time to yourself to get things done or just take a break. It’s totally okay for baby to spend time away from you. It’s all about a healthy balance. It’s also called “naptime”.
I think he’s hungry again. Are you feeding him enough? Try giving him some ABC. Baby starts gnawing on his fist or starts to get fussy, or maybe baby doesn’t always sleep through the night. One automatic assumption of a baby’s discomfort is that you are withholding nutrition from the baby, even though that’s far from the case.
As a breastfeeding mom, I have heard often of how I should add certain foods to my baby’s diet to help her feel full because maybe she didn’t sleep though the night a few times (she was teething, had a few rough nights, and got back on schedule).
Here’s the thing: babies put things in their mouths all the time. That’s one of the ways they learn. Babies are not hardwired to sleep through the night. Babies cry often, because that is their only way to communicate about everything (sleepiness, boredom, discomfort, full diapers, over-stimulation, etc) .
Unless your doctor is afraid that your baby is not gaining sufficient weight, chances are very good that feeding the baby more food or different food isn’t going to change things. Yes, babies will start eating more as they grow, but it doesn’t mean they are always hungry.
It’s hot today. Why don’t you give the baby some water? Can babies get hot and thirsty? Yes, but that does not mean you should give any baby under 6 months of age anything extra to drink other than breast milk or formula. When babies under 6 months of age drink water on top of what they already are drinking, two things can happen: they can feel full, preventing them from eating, or they could get water intoxication (too much water can cause an imbalance in electrolytes). Breast milk and properly made formula is all of the hydration a baby needs.
Once a baby reaches 6 months, it’s okay to give the baby small sips of water to practice drinking from a cup, but it’s not necessary. A baby can start drinking as much water as they want once they are over a year old.
“I gave my babies sugar water. It was the thing to do, and they turned out fine!” Yeah, we know that things were different back then, but that doesn’t mean that because most babies survived that other babies weren’t made sick from getting too much water or water with sugar.
My babies did X, Y, and Z at this age. Yours should too. Um, sorry, but nope. Not all babies reach milestones at the same time. That is even true for siblings! Sibling A might start crawling at 6 months, but Sibling B doesn’t start crawling until 8 months.
Babies will reach milestones at their own pace. Some might even skip milestones and move on to the next one. Don’t feel bad if your baby doesn’t do things the same as someone else’s baby. However, if you feel that baby is not reaching the appropriate milestones, be sure to contact your pediatrician for guidance.
My oldest didn’t start really walking until 15 months, but he was talking in sentences by 1 year old. My second didn’t talk in full, understandable sentences until she was over two, but she started walking right after her 1st birthday. My third lil’ guy never crawled. He scooted and then started walking right before his first birthday. Poor kid couldn’t get a word in with two older siblings who talked for him, but now at the age of three he talks very well.
My fourth didn’t crawl around right away, but started scooting like her older brother. I suspected, based on how well she balanced on her feet and liked to stand, that she may have walked before her first birthday too.
Don’t ever let someone make you feel bad because your baby didn’t reach the same milestones as theirs. Focus on what your baby already does and gush about that.
Tip: It’s okay to gush.
My baby girl is growing up too fast. 8 months old already! She spends her days babbling, army crawling (backwards, but it’s a start), sitting up tall, pulling herself up to stand (yikes!), working on her pincher grasp, teething (3 teeth), and giggling at her older siblings. If only time could stand still! #8monthsold #lastbaby #dontgrowup
She looks so uncomfortable on her back. Put her on her belly. It used to be that people put their babies to bed any way that seemed the most comfortable. Then, doctors decided that it was safer that babies be positioned on their sides, using blankets or other props. Finally, doctors decided it was the safest to have babies sleep on their backs.
Why is back best? While there is no actual cut in stone reason, doctors believe that having babies sleep on their backs helps to prevent SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). A Google search will explain how belly sleeping is connected to SIDS, but that’s enough for me to know that back is best if it might prevent my baby from dying.
Please note: nothing should be used to position a healthy baby during sleep (preemies may have different needs, as recommended by a doctor). Nothing should be in the crib or bassinet with baby. Keep out all blankets, pillows, and toys until the baby is over the age of 1. To keep baby warm, use a sleep sack or swaddle.
Baby shouldn’t be in bed with you! Baby should be in a crib in his own room. Co-sleeping is a preference. If done safely, it is perfectly okay! Sure, there are plenty of people who should not co-sleep, but just because they don’t doesn’t mean that you can’t.
Having a baby near you at night might be safer and more convenient than having a baby in another room, especially during the first few months. When baby is near you, whether in your bed or in a bassinet in your room, you’re more likely to respond to cues that would alert you to any problems the baby might have or to hunger or even a dirty diaper. It’s even a time saver as you could feed baby or change a diaper without leaving your room. Think: more sleep for both of you!
And if you prefer to have baby in another room, that’s your preference and totally okay! Have a video monitor nearby so you can keep an eye on baby or listen in as he or she sleeps.
This is one of those ‘use what works for you’ kid of situations. Either way is acceptable, but don’t expect everyone to follow your footsteps.
If he’s not sleeping, try some Benadryl. Nope nopity nope. Babies should not be given Benadryl (diphenhydramine) or other similar medicines just to sleep. In fact, Benadryl isn’t even recommended for kids under the age of 2 unless prescribed by your doctor. Benadryl, used mostly to combat allergies by blocking histamines, can make a person drowsy. It can also cause vomiting, rapid heart rate, and stomach upset.
The biggest issue with giving babies Benadryl is overdosing. Since it is not recommended for babies under 2, there are no dosing recommendations on bottles or boxes, so parents may eyeball it. Babies have died because of Benadryl overdosing, just because someone wanted them to go to sleep.
There are other, safer, methods to help babies sleep. I suggest reading about infant sleep to see what is normal for a baby. I also suggest speaking with your pediatrician.
She’s spoiled. You pick her right up when she cries! There’s no such thing as spoiling a baby, especially a newborn. Until about 6 months of age, if you pick up your baby and comfort him or her, the baby will not be spoiled. You will just be responding to your newborn’s basic needs and letting him or her know that you are there to take care of them. A baby whose basic needs are met tend to be more content.
Once a baby reaches 6 months or older and understands a bit more about manipulation (such as ‘if I drop this then Mom or Dad will pick it back up’ or ‘if I pull on this earring, then Mommy yells’), then there’s reason not to react to every single whimper or demand, but you still get to decide when to pick up your baby.
Make a lot of noise when he’s sleeping so he’s gets used to sleeping through loud noises. Yeah, this one doesn’t always work. While it may work while a baby is an infant, it might not work when the baby grows and is more susceptible to waking from loud noises. Infants sleep deeper than older babies. Older babies are more aware of their surroundings and are curious to know what’s going on, so when they hear a loud noise they may wake up and try to find out where the noise is coming from. Chances are, when they are awakened from sleep too early, they may be cranky.
No one wants to have a cranky baby on their hands.
What to Do If Someone Makes Unwanted Comments
You know what’s best for your baby, even though you may not feel it yet. Be confident in your parenting skill and style, especially if you have found ways to make your life easier and your baby healthy and happy.
If someone makes a comment to you, here’s what you can do:
- Smile and nod. Some people just like to hear the sound of their own voice and will often give out unwanted advice. If you know such a person, just smile and nod, continuing to do whatever works for you.
- Answer with something simple, like “I’m glad that worked for your baby, but this is what works for mine.” This way, you’re not offending them, yet you’re not backing down either.
- Answer with supporting evidence. I gave you some evidence above, but you may have evidence of your own. Share it with the person, who may or may not be caught up on current safety practices or research. You might get the standard, “Well it worked for my baby and he/she didn’t die”, so feel free to follow up with the fact that things change and what worked back then no longer applies.
- Ignore. This is handy for those people who just won’t back down. If you can, just walk away. If not, then change the subject.
- Tell them when enough is enough. This is useful when you might hear the same thing from the same person who you cannot avoid, like a family member or co-worker. Let the person know that no matter what they say, you are not going to change your mind because you are doing what is best for your baby and you will not listen to one more word about it. Sure, they might act like they feel hurt for a while, but it’s not okay for them to continue to harass you about what you prefer. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not so much that it dominates every single conversation.
Tell me! What has someone said to you when you had a baby? How did you handle it?
Feel free to share your experiences below!