There are a lot of things you shouldn’t say to new moms. Things like “Have you lost that baby weight yet?” or “My cousin’s baby slept through the night at 3 weeks!” Unsolicited, passive aggressive advice is not welcome either. Things like, “I think sleeping with your baby is crazy, but that’s just me…” or “Doesn’t formula cause AIDS?”
Not cool. Not cool at all.
Of course there are times to give advice, times when moms need a little help or a gentle nudge in the right direction. Mostly it’s a matter of timing, only offering your two cents when your two cents is needed. If you are having trouble knowing when this time is, listen for the following words: “I need your advice.” It’s that simple.
Here are the top ten best pieces of parenting advice I’ve ever received, all given to me in a kind and gentle manner. All with perfect timing and the wisdom of moms who care.
Thank you, moms. You know who you are.
1) Never say never.
What I heard —> Never say you won’t do something. Life is full of surprises.
Here are some things I said I’d never do: Sleep with my child (check), feed my child formula (check), give my newborn a pacifier (check), buy baby food (check).
Save yourself the embarrassment.
2) Praise them when they poop.
What I heard —> Praise your baby from newborn to toddler every time they poop and it will make potty training much easier.
Can you believe it? I thought it was weird too, but so far we’ve obliged with great gusto. Every time Waylon makes a twosie, we sound the trumpets and act like he’s brought us the holy grail.
3) Treat them how you’d like to be treated.
What I heard —> The golden rule isn’t just for adults.
It’s hard to treat a child with respect who is ignoring all your demands and throwing your toothbrush in the toilet. Really, really hard. But when I heard this common mantra applied to parenthood, it helped shift my perspective into a more positive light. In our darkest hours I try to think: What if I was shorter than everyone else in my house, constantly tripping, unable to speak, and not allowed in the bathroom? How would I feel?
4) Stroke the cheek to fall asleep.
What I heard —> When you’re rocking your baby to sleep, stroke their cheek lightly to help their eyes close.
Simple and practical parenting tips are my jam.
5) Don’t Get Braggy. Things Will Change.
What I heard —> Babies habits change quickly, don’t get used to any stage.
The first time Waylon slept through the night. I was so excited, so proud, so FULL OF MYSELF that I immediately texted all my friends and family and posted on facebook that lo and behold, my child had slept through the night!
He hasn’t done it since.
6) It will get better.
What I heard —> I know it’s hard now, but it will absolutely get better.
There is no other piece of advice that is more true and more repeated in the world of parenting. Newborn screaming? It will get better. Post-partum pooping? It will get better! Baby teething? It will get better.
7) Acknowledge feelings.
What I heard —> You don’t have to pick up your baby every time he cries, you don’t have to give your toddler a cookie every time he asks for one, but you can acknowledge how they feel.
On constant repeat at our house:
“You’re tired! You want to be picked up!”
“You are sad because you wanted to put your hands in my cup!”
“You are frustrated because I’m not playing with you.”
8) You are the mom.
Self doubt is a part of being a parent, but it’s true what they say–mama knows best. Trust your gut.
9) Cuddle more.
What I heard —> Babies crave close contact, some more than others.
I will never forget this day: I was sitting on a big, open porch with a lot of women, holding my colicky 3 month old, and complaining. I said, in my most negative of voices, “He cries all day! He always wants to be picked up! This baby is ridiculous!”
And then she, a very wise and gentle mother, said in her most gentle of voices, “Maybe he just wants to be close to you. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
10) Children are not a problem to be solved.
What I heard —> Children are not a problem to be solved but a person to be enjoyed.
Parents are problem solvers, so it’s hard when your perfect baby comes with a list of problems that need to be solved (sleeping, eating, playing nicely, attention span). Every day I struggle with remembering that I’ve had 27 years to develop and he’s only had one. Realistic expectations: may you bless this house.
What’s the best parenting advice you’ve ever received? I’m all ears.
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