There are few things that can make you cringe with annoyance quite like your mother-in-law imparting some much unwarranted baby wisdom. Does she mean well? Sure, maybe. But you can't help wondering if her little tidbits of advice and "When I was pregnant. . ." stories are also to tell you everything you've been doing wrong. And no, that isn't because of the post-baby hormones flooding your system and making you cry during cereal commercials.
Maybe our mother-in-laws believe that they have some special right to give any and all unsolicited advice and comments since they've already been through the "new parent" stage and are seasoned vets at this whole parenting thing. But while we can all agree that having an experienced mom's help is sometimes very welcome, a constant hovering mother-in-law does not make the adjustment any easier. In fact, sometimes, it makes it down right hard to get used to a new routine involving your new baby and new battle station in the living room, cluttered with swings, play mats, changing pads, diapers, creams - you get it. Toss in (figuratively, please!) an overzealous new grandma / mother-in-law and you've got stimulus overload.
Some of us are cursed with mother-in-laws from Hell, brought here to torment and degrade us as some life goal, no doubt. Others, though, are gifted with mother-in-laws who are ever helpful, but too generous with their advice and stories. They may mean well, but all we see is a blurred outline of them as we stare just past them, waiting for them to stop talking.
There is a super fine line between helpful new grandma and overbearing jerk of a mother-in-law, and it's hard to keep steady on that tightrope. And as sweet as your mother-in-law may seem, you've got to admit that you've heard at least one of these during your first year as a new parent.
8 "Oh honey, don't worry, he's fine."
Okay, we get it. We worry too much, we jump up too fast when he seems wobbly on his tiny, unsteady feet. But we definitely don't need the woman insisting that our little one is fine. Or, as she really means, that we should just leave him to his own devices. First off, no, that's not how parenting works when you have a curious, mobile baby. And secondly, who is the mother-in-law to give such commands to anyone? Let alone the mother of the child in question.
Sometimes, this new grandma has a difficult time deciphering her exact place in all of this. She isn't the crucial parent by any means, but she reigns higher on the pedestal than a lot of other people in your baby's life. Give her a break at first, as she finds her place in all of this newness. But if you get a lot of these "He's fine" claims, feel free to snap at the woman.
7 "I always put blankets on my boys, isn't she cold?"
Yes, and what were the statistics for SIDS the year your boys were infants? Because, as we are all told time and again, the only semblance of a blanket that our babies need is a good swaddle. Not blankets draped over them in their bassinets or cribs, and certainly not those heavy crocheted afghans. No dear mother-in-law, they do not need the blanket that you covered them in without any parent's permission, and no she isn't cold.
Decorating her crib with flowery, bright blankets may look cute and snuggly, but at this stage, she isn't concerned with anything of the sort and having all of that extra stuff could only do her more harm than good. Trust us, we've had children within the past decade.
6 "It's okay that you haven't lost the extra weight yet."
Oh, is it? Why, thank you so much for the permission to recuperate after having a human being ripped from my body. Or, at least that's probably what you want to say in reply. When you have a mother-in-law who just has no filter whatsoever, you'll undoubtedly hear these off-hand digs at your weight or your figure pretty much forever. But after you have your first child (and second and third, for that matter), she'll get even more generous with those comments you've come to love so much.
The important thing to remember is that, regardless of the amount of weight you've gained while growing that cuddly little baby in your belly, you can take your own time getting back to your pre-baby weight or not, if that suits you. As long as you're healthy and refrain from setting unrealistic or unhealthy goals for yourself, then who are you possibly hurting?
If you have an open and honest relationship with your mother-in-law, tell her how these comments make you feel.
It'd easy for others looking in to be so careless with their judgements and "Advice" as to what they would do themselves, but to be the one actually in the thick of it, your opinion is the only one that counts.
In the first couple of months after returning home with that little one, it takes time to really feel like yourself again, both physically and mentally, and for some, it happens quicker than others. For you, allow it to take as long as it needs to so that you can feel good, not that old biddy of a mother-in-law.
5 "I had mine potty trained by months."
This is one you'll probably hear before, after and during your potty training time with your toddler. As in, your mother-in-law must have been a perfect mother to get her babies potty trained so quickly and why haven't you? At least, that's clearly how it feels at times. As though you needed more negativity when you're already surely stressing out about miniature potties and disposable underwear and accidents galore.
Your first response is to probably give your dear old mother-in-law some four-letter words to consider, but since you'll probably hearing this claim for awhile, it really is best to tune her out. All children are different and progress differently, as paces that suit them individually. If your kid is talking before they're potty trained, you are doing just fine. We don't know what sorcery she used to train her kids before they were even two years old, but for most, it just isn't that easy.
If she isn't willing to support you and help out, tell her how you feel about her comments.
While you're probably already worrying about the whole potty training adventure (or, misadventures), the last thing you need is a reminder that other parents have gotten the job done before you.
4 "Are you sure that's the name you want for him? Really?"
If you're lucky, you'll get a mother-in-law who is open-minded and excited about the mere prospect of a grandchild, regardless of the name they're given. But if you've got a busybody of a mother-in-law, then you're in for several months of eye rolls and head shakes and disapproving looks as you seek out the unique name that best suits your baby.
Maybe she's upset that you opted out of using her great-grandfather's name for inspiration, or that she hasn't even heard of the name before, but once again, this is nothing that concerns her. Choosing a name for your baby is a huge deal for both you and your partner. It is one thing that will stick with them forever, and if you choose not to go, quite literally, "by the books" and choose a common name that she expected you to use for your child, then so be it.
The only people who need to approve of the name chosen for your baby, are you and your husband.
Stand your ground and emphasize the beauty and uniqueness of the name that will match the beauty and individuality of your child. But, if all else fails, you've still got those four-letter words queued up.
3 "Breast feeding is just so much healthier, don't you want the baby to be healthy?"
The long-standing debate of breastfeeding vs. formula feeding is never ending, and chances are, you'll get to hear things like this from pretty much everyone, from your best friend to your own mother. But for some women, breastfeeding is not a choice. And for others, it simply isn't something they are mentally comfortable with.
If the mother is awkward and uncomfortable the entire time she's breastfeeding, what good will that be for her baby? And if you've tried and tried to get him to latch and he just won't, there is no shame in giving in and opting for the formula.
If she won't accept the way you choose to feed your baby, then limit her contact during feeding times.
Your mother-in-law doesn't understand any of this. She is conditioned to believe that the way she did things as a new mother are the only way. And if they worked well for her, then great, right? But what she needs to understand is that you are your own person and this pregnancy isn't hers.
2 "Come to Mama - er, I mean Grandma."
Did you hear that? It was the sound of hundreds of new mothers grinding their teeth, all at once. Because the first time your mother-in-law says this to your baby, you will need to dig your nails into the palms of your hands to keep from reaching out, snatching your baby away, and leaving the woman forever. And who can blame you? You've worked hard to be a good, gentle, caring mother, worked hard for that title itself. The one that no one else in your baby's life is privy to.
We get that it is obviously a slip when mother-in-laws say these sorts of things, but when they repeatedly happen, and in front of you, it's hard not to let such a thing feel like a blow to the chest. Will he come to think of her as a mother, too? What if he calls her Mama? But these types of worries are totally normal, as is wanting to keep your sweet-smelling, warm and chunky baby all to yourself.
Hearing this slip once is okay, but repeatedly, not okay.
Try giving her the benefit of the doubt when she slips up the first few times, but if it becomes a regular occurrence, consider delving deeper into the issue. Your baby only has room in his vocabulary for one or two parents, not that hovering mother-in-law.
1 "I gave him some strawberries… I hope that's o.k."
No, it's definitely not o.k. that you gave my eight-month-old some strawberries that could very well cause an allergic reaction both inside and outside his body. But since you told me after the fact, my opinion really doesn't matter, does it? Does that sound about right? Mother-in-laws have this inane tendency to take liberties with letting your kid try new foods.
To their credit, there were a lot less warnings and safety precautions when they had children themselves, but there were also probably a lot more accidents and allergic reactions that baffled people.
There is a reason restrictions are put on things like strawberries or peanut butter. While she may just be excited for her grandchild to try something new, it's not her place to put different sorts of food in front of him without asking you first. What if, after the fact, you had said that it wasn't okay for her to give your little one whatever recent food to try? What then?
She may just be an over-zealous first time grandparent.
Like we said, there is a very thin line for mother-in-laws to adhere to when interacting with both you and your new baby. It's an interesting dynamic, as she should be there for the little one, but also refrain from acting as the mother herself.
We won't claim that it's the easiest thing in the world, but if you can stop yourself from hurling your body at her to scratch her eyes out, then surely she can choke back some of that word vomit.