Raise your hand if you’ve ever gotten terrible parenting advice!
Wait, all of you who have kids? Ha, yes. Of course all of us have. It’s like a rite of passage for new parents.
But the good thing is, with some perspective and guidance, you can help separate the good from the bad — or the good from the ridiculous — so that you can start to form your own judgment, boundaries, and parenting style. Really, so you can trust your gut and parent with confidence. Because hey, isn’t that what it’s all about? Learning from parenting experts so you can eventually become one yourself?
So we thought we’d share some of the worst parenting advice we ever got, just to help you feel not quite so alone here. Or as we always say, sometimes we laugh so we don’t cry.
The worst parenting advice we actually got:
Don’t do these 10 things!
1. Sleep when the baby sleeps.
Hahahh! Ha! Hahahaha! Oh wait…they’re serious. We understand that sleep-deprived new parents really should get in nap time when they can, but if it weren’t for babies napping, when would we get to chat with friends we miss, share new baby photos with friends and family, catch up on Netflix, and oh…yeah. Showering. Showering is good.
Or hey, take one of the short courses from ParentEducate.com? That works too.
2. If you’re taking maternity leave, leave a week before your due date to prepare.
Oof, this one is tough because there will come a point, if you work, that you are just done. On the other hand, you’ll really wish you had more time at the end of your leave, when the baby is actually here. We suggest you wait as long as possible to start that maternity leave clock — besides, the baby may come late and then you may have two whole extra weeks of just sitting around being stressed. Ask us how we know.
(And while we’re at it, let’s advocate for more paid parental leave time so we don’t have to make these choices.)
3. Stay home with your baby every second you can. Those early days are precious!
While yes, of course we want to spend lots of bonding time with our newborns, it shouldn’t be at the expense of your own mental health. We shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about our own needs beyond parenting; it’s perfectly fine — even ideal — to take a walk around the block alone, go to the gym, see a friend, grab a dinner with your partner (if you are lucky enough to have a grandparent or other trusted caregiver) or even get away for the night at some point.
Pro tip: The baby won’t remember it. But you will, and you’ll get back feeling refreshed and ready to dive right in again.
Besides, it’s good for you to clear your head and think about things besides diapers. (Speaking of which… if you do see a friend, try not to talk about diapers the entire time.)
4. Babyproof your house before the baby comes
You know what newborn babies are going to get into when they come home? NOTHING. They are newborns! They mostly just lie there!
You’ve heard of child-led weaning? We believe in child-led baby proofing. When you have a child old enough to start exploring those under-sink cabinets, outlets, or oven knobs, that’s when you’ll need to make everything safe. You can learn even more from the ParentEducate.com course on child safety at home.
The one suggestion we will make is that you consider a round coffee table if you have a square or rectangular one. Beats using those ugly corner-protector covers from the overpriced baby-proofing supply companies.
5. Buy a wipes warmer
No. Do not buy the wipes warmer. Have you ever seen us recommend a wipes warmer on this site in 15 years? No. Have our children grown up perfectly happy and healthy without their posteriors gently dabbed at a perfect 86-degrees Fahrenheit? Yes.
When you see advice like “wipes must be warmed to the perfect temperature or the cold may irritate your baby’s delicate skin,” that person is generally selling something. And that something is a wipes warmer.
Save your money. You’ll need it for college.
6. If you pick your baby up too much you’ll spoil them
More nonsense! Children who are cuddled have been proven to be healthier, happier, and form positive attachments. You don’t want to necessarily be physically attached to your baby 24/7, but go ahead and pick them up all you want. And hey, let your mother-in-law, your cousins, or friends pick them up too! Provided they wash their hands first.
7. If you don’t breastfeed… [insert scary thing here]
Yes, we’re going there. As moms who have raised children who were breastfed, bottle-fed, and a combo of both, we can assure you that what’s most important is that your baby is nourished, healthy, and growing — and that you’re feeding them in a way that works best for you and your family.
If for some reason you can’t breastfeed, for any reason at all, the worst part about it is the guilt that may be imposed on you. The baby will be totally fine. Or as our friend Stacie reminded us, you know what’s best for a baby? Being fed.
8. Give your baby a drop of bourbon to help them sleep.
If you’re lucky enough to have loving, supportive parents and grandparents in your life, it’s a true blessing. Unfortunately, there’s still some old school bad parenting advice that may makes the rounds from older parents, like boozing up the bottle so your baby can sleep.
Babies will sleep because that’s what babies do. If they’re not sleeping, call your pediatrician, not a liquor delivery service.
9. Create a nap routine and stick with it no matter what.
While babies do tend to do well with routines, sometimes life gets in the way. That’s okay! We hereby relieve you of the pressure! If there’s a birthday party that’s in the middle of nap time, go and have fun; your child will recover, promise. Flexibility is a terrific parenting skill and this is a good way to practice it.
10. The best time to space siblings apart is…
Let’s just stop right there. There is no best time to space siblings apart. That’s not a thing.
And hey, if your child doesn’t have siblings, that’s okay too. Shesh, people. Parents have spent millennia having one child, ten children, spacing them out minutes apart (well, for twins and multiples) or even decades apart. Things work out. That’s why humanity continues to exist.