- “Why are you giving the baby only breastmilk and no formula?”
- “Why is the baby sleeping so much?”
- “Why is the baby pooping so much?”
- “Why is the baby not wearing enough layers, maybe he’s cold? Add layers.”
- “Why is the baby wearing so many layers, he’s probably hot! Remove layers
This is just the tip of the iceberg. What is it about brand new parents that makes people all around give constant and non-stop advice? Is there something written on our faces that says,” oh, go right ahead? I don’t know what I would do if I don’t hear a million unsolicited advices a day?”
Luckily, both my family as well as my husband’s family fully understands and respects that we are the parents, and that we make decisions, and if we need help, we’ll ask. But I do get the random advice from a lot of other people though including my house-help!
I have even heard extreme cases of how a mom is not allowed to bathe her own child, because grandma thinks she doesn’t know how to; and I have heard stories of how a mom is pushed to use formula because in their opinion, baby is not gaining enough weight. From the clothes they wear, to the number of times a baby poops, new moms and dads have to go through a minefield of advice.
I have even heard how some moms feel so insecure about making decisions simply cuz everything they want to do is met with skepticism and doubt. If a woman can carry a baby for nine months, then I am pretty certain she can take decisions in the best interest of the baby.
I fail to see how anyone can think that heaping this unwanted advice of new parents can help; if anything, it is only going to scare them more, and frustrate them more. And whoever it may be, grandparents, aunts, or family friends, there is just no one who will want better for the baby than the parents.
Here is how I think you can tackle it without annoying anyone (err…ruffling as few feathers as possible):
OUR BABY, OUR RULES
- Set the rules early on. Even before the baby is born. Speak to your parents or in laws and let them know that you want them to involved but also point out that you are the parents, and as such you deserve the freedom and right to make all decisions.
For us, it was important that us as mom and dad attended to the baby when the baby was distressed, and the grandparents could play with him only when he was in a good mood.
- Explain to them that you need to be given the space to make mistakes and learn from it, just like they would have done back in the day
- Remind them that they have had the chance to bring up children and now it is yours.
- Most importantly, ensure that both sets of grandparents have the exact same rules and access to the baby, that way either spouse isn’t feeling like it is unfair.
BE WELL INFORMED YOURSELF
- Be Confident: When you armed with knowledge, it becomes easier to handle random advice. Being confident also means that you are not driven into insecurity or self-doubt.
- Cite Research: A lot of the times the advice is based on their own parenting styles, and as such could even be outdated. In such cases, simply explain that research has stated such and such.
For example: I was told to swaddle my baby tightly, by keeping his legs straight, but since I knew better, I could easily counter it saying new research has said that swaddling tightly cause hip dysplasia.
- Another area where too much advice is given is food habits. Back in the day, children were even given sugar water and that was the norm. Now we know better. So, respond citing the renowned organizations, whose sole purpose is to research into the health and well-being of people such as the World Health Organization or the American Academy of Pediatrics or NHS. By doing so, you are letting the advisor know that the said topic is on your mind too, and that you have done your research.
- By explaining why you are making the xyz decision, you also educate them and hopefully they will then be able to give better advice to whoever comes next.
- This is one of the least confrontational and pacifying ways to counter random advices. Say, “that’s a good point, but I checked with the doctor, and doctor suggested that we do such and such or not do such and such.” I know for a fact that this worked brilliantly for a mommy friend of mine and gave her relief from aunts who were trying to impose their decisions on the new mom.
- Sometimes, the easiest way is just to let it in through one ear, nod, and let it out through the other. But this only helps if the advisor is not someone who is around you the whole time. But if say, you have your mom or in laws living with you, it might get a lot more difficult to deal with this.
- Another non-confrontational way to do this to have a standard response. “ah, okay, I’ll think about it.” Better yet, make them feel better by saying, “I will come back to you on more advice on that when we get to that stage!” or if you really want to score brownie points “That is some pretty good advice. What would we have done without you!” (ha!)
That said, sometimes the advice can be useful, and it is extremely important that you VET YOUR SOURCES. If it is a new parents who has children just a little bit older than yours, or someone who works with children on a regular basis, there might be something to what they are saying.
Hang in there mama! and know that you are simply awesome!
Or show them this video: