When a woman has kids, or even when she announces that she’s expecting, she’ll suddenly realize that pretty much everyone she knows has morphed into a parenting expert— whether they have children of their own or not. Whether she asks for it or not (and chances are she will not), she’ll be inundated with advice on just about every aspect of raising a baby. These unwanted missives can be annoying, condescending, and sometimes downright wrong.
Everyone will have an opinion on how your kid should be fed, held, and put to sleep. They’ll also have some choice advice on how you manage your home and how you stack up to them as a parent. You can patiently explain why you’re doing things the way you are, but you still can’t win these arguments— and it’s a honestly a waste of your precious time and energy to even try. It can be hard to stop yourself from scoffing or letting your eyes roll back in your head when you’re being lectured by a busybody, but you’re probably better off just smiling, nodding, and disregarding.
Here are 15 pieces of advice every mom has heard a million times before, each less useful than the last.
15 Breast Is Best
If there’s a mom left somewhere that hasn’t heard “breast is best,” I’d have to assume that she lives under a rock. It’s by no means bad advice, of course. It’s just that it often comes with a boatload of judgment, and it’s also repeated ad nauseum. Seriously, how could a mom not realize that breast is best when it’s drilled into their head by the doctors and nurses at the hospital where they give birth, by their child’s pediatrician, and by every sanctimommy they’ve ever met. And let’s not forget it says it on the can of formula, too! I think it’s safe to assume that if a mom isn’t breastfeeding, she has valid reasons for her choice- which means she probably needs your support, not your unsolicited advice.
14 Just Use Formula
On the flip side of the “breast is best” crusaders are the breastfeeding naysayers. Breastfeeding is a huge commitment, one that comes with a ton of different stresses. It’s time consuming, physically and emotionally demanding, and sometimes even painful. On top of all that, some moms struggle to produce enough milk to keep up with their hungry baby. For those moms who are wearing themselves out trying to meet their breastfeeding goals, being glibly told that they should just use formula can be a huge slap in the face. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with formula feeding, of course. It’s simply that how and what you choose to feed your baby is up to you, and other people need to learn to keep their opinions on the topic to themselves.
13 Sleep When The Baby Sleeps
The people who love to spout this fairly useless advice seem to think it’s all that simple. Newborn babies spend like 75% of their day sleeping, and if you were catching some shut eye right alongside them, you’d never be sleep-deprived, right? Except that that logic doesn’t take into account the fact that babies need to be fed and changed and maybe rocked or cuddled to sleep, and sometimes those 16 hours a day they spend sleeping come in minute long increments. Plus, there’s the fact you might want to use those intervals of peace and quiet to do other important things, like eat, shower, or even just mindlessly scroll through Facebook to catch up on life outside of your baby bubble (just please don’t use this precious time to do something silly, like chores).
12 Some Day You’ll Miss This
Everyone knows that babies grow up way too fast. One day they’re a chubby little ball of snuggles, the next day they’re a grown up off to have babies of their own. It’s bittersweet to see your child grow up, and we know that we’ll miss the baby days when they’re gone. That being said, it’s totally annoying when people remind you that you’ll miss the baby and toddler years when your toddler has just done something completely obnoxious like thrown their dinner on the floor, smacked you, or God forbid, ripped off their diaper and left you a stinky surprise somewhere. In those moments, our babies can’t grow up fast enough. It’s time to admit that while we all love our babies to the moon and back, it’s okay to think they’re giant pains in the butt sometimes.
11 Remember, It’s Just A Phase
There’s no need to tell someone that it’s just a phase when their kid is in meltdown mode. They’re probably aware of the fact that their kid isn’t going to collapse into hysterics over being handed the wrong type of juice box or being forced to wear socks for their entire life, so being told this is just a temporary blip on the radar doesn’t make a difference to them. It doesn’t make dealing with the shrill screams and the judgmental looks from other parents when it happens in public any easier, and it certainly doesn’t make the pounding headache that their child’s behavior is giving them go away any faster. Instead of trying to force them to look on the bright side, just let them know how much it sucks and that you know they’re doing their best.
10 Just Wait
No two words in the English language drive me crazier than “just wait.” It has to be the most annoying thing a veteran parent can say to a new parent, because it manages to be both condescending and dismissive. When I’m complaining about how hard it is to get a baby to sleep through the night or how much it sucks when a toddler starts the Terrible Twos a few months too early, there’s really no need to remind me that I’m going to encounter something even more obnoxious down the road. Maybe your 10 year old or your teenager is keeping you up at night and giving you an ulcer, but that doesn’t mean you get to discount the troubles someone else is having with a toddler. Kids are hard at every stage, so parents should spend more time commiserating and less time competing.
9 Don’t Be So Anxious
No mom enjoys being anxious about every little thing concerning their child, but that doesn’t mean we can help it. It kicks in from the earliest days of pregnancy, and I can only assume that it doesn’t stop until we’re dead (and even then I may still be fretting over my children from the afterlife). We worry about how much our babies are eating, if they’re hitting their milestones on time, if they’re making friends, if they’re happy, if they’re healthy… The list could probably go on forever. In the rational part of her mind every mom knows that she can’t control everything and that many of her worries and anxieties are fairly useless— but we can’t just turn them off, so please don’t even bother telling us to try.
8 You’ll Spoil Them
Advice about not spoiling your child seems to be popular with older generations of parents. They seem to think you’ll spoil your kid if you hold them too much, if you play with them too much, if you rock them to sleep too much— in other words, they somehow equate loving and doting on your child to ruining them forever. I really don’t understand the logic behind this one. I’ve spent some of the best moments of my life cuddling my daughter and gently lulling her to sleep, and the only side effect I’ve ever seen is that she’s a super happy and confident child. I’m extremely confident that my hugs and snuggles have in absolutely no way spoiled my daughter— my trips to Target, however, are a different story.
7 The Dishes Can Wait
This seemingly well meaning advice is annoying because it’s just not always realistic. Sure, there are times when the dishes can wait and I can spend my time playing with my daughter or having family bonding time. And there are other times when the dishes absolutely cannot wait, unless I’m prepared to be buried underneath an avalanche of dirty cereal bowls and sippy cups. I am in no way a neat freak, and I don’t stress about having a few unwashed dishes in the sink or a throw pillow out of place in the living room. But if I waited to do the dishes until after my child stopped wanting to play or I stopped wanting to relax or I no longer needed sleep, I would be waiting literally forever. So I do the dishes.
6 That’s Not How I Did It
You know what I think to myself every time I hear a fellow parent say “That’s not the way I did it”? That I honestly don’t care. I’m sure that worked out great for them (or they wouldn’t be going around trying to win over converts to their way of thinking), but I’ve made my choices and I’m good with them. Just because I do something differently than you, doesn’t necessarily mean I think your way is wrong. It’s just not for me. I’m not judging you, so please do me the same courtesy. Let’s let our fellow parents be free to make their own decisions and find their own way through child-rearing without other people trying to butt-in. We’d all be a lot happier if could simply agree to that plan.
5 I Didn’t Do That And My Kid Turned Out Fine
Whether you identify as a crunchy mom or a silky mom or a scrunchy mom or none of the above, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re doing things a lot differently than moms that came before you. Moms today have more resources and knowledge than moms did even a decade ago, and we’re using it to our advantage— maybe you’re breastfeeding longer, starting solids later, or socializing your child earlier. In my experience, these modern choices can lead older moms to feel like we’re rejecting the things they did and dismissing their wisdom. I wish they wouldn’t feel so defensively about it, because it creates unnecessary division. In reality, both veteran moms and modern mom have so much to teach and share with each other and both sides can really benefit.
4 You’re Overfeeding Them
It’s ironic to me that people simultaneously seem to think that chubby babies, with their massive cheeks, multiple chins, and thunder thighs, are the most adorable thing ever, and also that their parents must be dangerously overfeeding them and putting their health in jeopardy. Babies simply come in all shapes and sizes— some come out of the womb big and stay that way for quite some time, chowing down on breast milk or formula like there’s no tomorrow. It’s normal and fine and to be honest, you should really shut up about it. Do you really think a parent would be better off letting their baby cry and go hungry in order to shave off a few pounds? That’s crazy talk. Unless you’re a doctor, there’s really no reason for you to be concerned about or even comment on someone else’s weight, especially when they’re a baby.
3 They Need To Eat More
Nothing drives me crazier than when someone tells me I need to feed my daughter more, as if I hadn’t already tried to convince her to eat any of three separate breakfasts I prepared for her. Some babies are just slimmer than others, and some babies have naturally smaller appetites. It makes me feel like I’m being accused of neglect when someone tells me I should feed her more. Fellow moms of picky eaters know that nothing makes us happier than when our kid finally chows down a decent-sized meal— I’m not exaggerating when I say that there are times when seeing my daughter dig in to dinner has literally brought tears to my eyes, so it’s no surprised that I give anyone who suggests I’m not feeding her enough a death stare.
2 Let Them Cry It Out
There are two schools of thought when it comes to letting your baby cry it out when bedtime rolls around: one, that you’re doing the whole family a favor if you train your little one to fall asleep, and two, that you’re ruining your child forever by abandoning them in their hour of need. Don’t bother looking into the research behind these two competing theories, because you’ll find conflicting research that backs up either argument. To me, that means every mom needs to do what’s best for her and her child. If the thought of letting your child cry it out fills you with dread, don’t feel pressured into doing it. You might get a little more sleep, but it won’t make much difference in your life if you’re feeling guilty about it.
1 Never Let Them Cry
On the other hand, if you are about to crack after months of sleep deprivation, don’t be guilted away from sleep training your baby to save your sanity by people who claim he or she will be traumatized. Your little one will most likely get the message and adjust fairly quickly, and you might even find that they’re like a whole new child after a good night’s sleep— happier, more energetic, and maybe even with an improved appetite. Rest assured that they won’t resent you in the morning for not being there until the moment they stopped fighting sleep and finally nodded off. If your ears can stand it and your body can’t take yet another sleepless night, don’t feel guilty about a few pre-bedtime tears. Everyone will be happier in the end.