Unsolicited parenting advice is EVERYWHERE. I feel like there is no getting away from it. Everyone seems to have something to say about how you are parenting your child. It’s so easy to say ‘just tell them to mind their own business but it’s so hard when these people are close friends or family.
One of the worst things about human nature is the need to give unsolicited advice. Not just in parenting, but in many aspects of life.
Sometimes you just want to vent and moan a bit. But there’s nothing worse with having a moan to someone about something and they try to give unsolicited advice to fix your problem. When you are not in the right mindset, advice isn’t what is needed – just a listening ear.
Most of the time, people just want to have their feelings validated and someone to say ‘yeah, that does sound really crap, sorry you have to deal with that’. The unsolicited advice sounds more like positive toxicity most of the time, rather than just listening to someone and allowing them to feel.
I’m sure you’ve been there when you are complaining to a friend about something and they come back with ‘have you tried THIS’ or ‘how about THAT’ and you end up feeling you are just defending your right to be upset, or defending why all these things won’t work and then feel even worse!
Anyway, I don’t want to get too much into toxic positivity in this post, so let’s get back on track.
Unsolicited parenting advice starts from the moment you find out you are pregnant. As soon as you start talking to people about your pregnancy, your parenting choices, items you want to buy – you will get an influx of unwanted advice.
Why do I hate unsolicited advice?
Because unsolicited advice feels like (and sometimes is) criticism. It feels like you are doing something wrong. It makes you feel like you are making bad parenting choices and you have no idea what you are doing.
The unwanted advice can come across as patronising and it can take away the excitement about what you are talking about. When you’re telling someone about the cute new outfit you bought for your baby and hit with ‘oh, don’t bother with outfits for babies they won’t wear them’ then you just feel a bit naive and stupid!
So here’s some of the unsolicited parenting advice I received during my pregnancy and having my baby that really made me want to punch people in the face.
Unsolicited advice during pregnancy.
1. Ginger for morning sickness.
Every time I mentioned feeling sick – everyone kept telling me to eat ginger. EAT GINGER. Try ginger. Hey, have you tried ginger? You should eat some ginger biscuits. What about ginger tea?
Like I hadn’t sent the majority of my first trimester Googling ‘how to get rid of morning sickness’.
I was basically an expert on all morning sickness cures at this point. When I first found out I was pregnant, I felt a bit sick so went to Tesco and bought some ginger beer, ginger tea, ginger biscuits, crystallised ginger to suck on and I ordered some ginger lozenges.
A week into my morning sickness, I had eaten that much ginger that I started to associate it with feeling sick and it made me feel worse. Now, 6 months postpartum, just the smell of ginger makes me want to throw up.
So yes, I have tried ginger for morning sickness. And no, it did not work.
2. You are buying too many baby clothes.
My partner went to Tesco and I asked him to pick some baby clothes out. I was still isolating because I was ‘at risk’ for being pregnant according to Boris. I thought it would be nice for him to pick some things for the baby as I was having to go to all my appointments and scans alone due to Covid restrictions. I wanted him to feel involved!
He picked a dungaree set and a 2 pack of baby grows. I put them on my Instagram stories because I thought it was cute!
I got about 5 DMs telling me I was buying too many clothes. I had put pictures of two other outfits up. So this was 5 outfits altogether and people were saying I bought too many clothes for my baby!
When in fact, I hardly bought anything as my friend gave me loads of stuff from her two sons. We only bought a few bits that we really liked! The rest were given to us.
We then passed all our baby clothes onto our friends who have just had a baby boy so they’ve all had plenty of use!
But people seem to have a bee in their bonnet about how many clothes you buy. When you have a baby, it’s exciting and you want to get cute things for your baby! It’s fine to buy a few outfits for your babe if that’s what you want to do!
I started buying things in bigger sizes. I knew when he was first born, he would just be in vests and sleepsuits.
It really doesn’t hurt to just say something nice, rather than be negative about it. Especially from people, you don’t know that well.
3. Ordering the pram.
My niece got her pram second hand, it was in great condition and really clean. We got the Nuna Mixx bundle (this is the next up version to what we got!) from Mama’s and Papas which is a great travel system, but expensive. So I was telling my other friend how I was hoping to keep it in good condition and sell after.
He laughed and said ‘you won’t keep it in good condition, he’ll be eating and drinking in there and it will get dirty.
We’re 6 months in and it’s in great condition! I don’t see any reason for him to eat in the pram, he’s really not bothered about anything other than looking around and doesn’t even bother playing with pram toys! We’ve stopped using the carrycot part now and it’s in great condition still. We’ll stop using the car seat soon and the rest of the pram still has lots of use but is fine, apart from the wheels are a bit dirty!
4. Getting sleep.
In my third trimester, I was exhausted. I struggled to sleep during most of my pregnancy. In the first trimester, I felt sick all of the time which disrupted my sleep. In the third trimester, I had aches and pains in my legs when I laid down. I was constantly tossing and turning which is so difficult with a baby bump! I also had acid reflux which got worse when I laid down and Leo would kick me all night!
When I complained about how I was tired, I would be met with things like ‘get your sleep in now, you won’t get any when the baby is here’.
Right. I couldn’t even sleep if I wanted to. Plus I knew I wouldn’t sleep when the baby got here because I am not an idiot. I don’t need constant reminders about how much more tired I am going to bed.
People are always so quick to remind you how hard it is having a baby.
5. Get him on a bottle 4 times a day.
I’m quite passionate about breastfeeding. I’m so glad I have a successful and positive breastfeeding story because I know it is not as easy for some people. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the negative comments and advice about breastfeeding!
You hear a lot about women getting criticised for giving their babies formula, but I felt after breastfeeding for a few weeks some people expected me to move to formula. I started to feel like I was the odd one out for still breastfeeding.
I was told by someone that I needed to get him on a bottle at 8 am, 12 pm, 4 pm, 8 pm and then he could sleep through. Erm, no.
I breastfeed on demand. The amount I feed him varies depending on many things. Some days he feeds more than others. I guess it’s like with adults, sometimes we fancy a snack or are hungrier other days!
6. Going for walks will make your milk supply drop.
Apparently, I was supposed to stay in bed as if I walked about too much, my milk supply would reduce. Haha.
I have no idea where this idea came from but I guess mums are just expected to stay in bed all day to be milked.
7. You don’t have enough milk to feed your baby.
This was quite upsetting, but thankfully I am clued up on breastfeeding and I know that when my body doesn’t produce enough milk, my baby will cluster feed so I produce more. I also know that my breasts are always milking milk. They don’t empty.
A lot of people confuse cluster feeding or a baby not sleeping well with not having enough milk to satisfy them. It’s actually really rare for this to happen.
Food & Weaning
8. Put some baby rice in his bottle to make him sleep!
Number one – he doesn’t have a bottle. Number two, baby rice has no nutritional value. Number 3 – it’s not recommended and can be a choking hazard when babies aren’t ready to wean!
9. Give him food to fill him up so he will sleep.
Again, no. Baby’s digestive systems are not mature enough to handle food until they are 6 months old. It’s thought that weaning early is why so many people have digestive problems and food intolerances. It’s also a choking risk when they don’t have the core strength to sit up properly!
But people seemed obsessed with my baby eating.
They also seem to think that my milk isn’t enough and he needs solids so he will sleep.
I mean, just the general obsession people have with my child sleeping habits is so frustrating. It’s like the first thing people ask – the dreaded question ‘how is he sleeping?’ and it makes me want to get in the bin.
Because my baby is a really poor sleeper. And I’ve done a lot of research into this and know it’s normal for babies to wake regularly for food, it’s also normal for them to need comfort to fall asleep and be close to their caregiver. It’s actually good for them to wake often as it reduces the risk of SIDs.
But we live in a society when a baby is only deemed as ‘a good baby’ if they sleep through the night and in their own bed. If we let them sleep with us to comfort them, we are giving in to their evil and manipulative ways. Rather than seeing our tiny baby as being unable to soothe themselves to sleep and needing a warm and loving cuddle.
10. Just let him cry!
This si the worst unsolicited parenting advice I’ve gotten, and the advice I’ve gotten the most! I HATE the cry it out method. Thankfully, most parents don’t do it now. But previous generations did and it’s still common advice given to younger generations.
Studies have shown that leaving a baby to cry causes stress in both the mum and baby. When they cry themselves to sleep, they withdraw and give up on the hope that you are coming back. It can also cause babies to be unable to deal with stress later in life and struggle with relationships. Being responsive to your babies cries and tending to their needs makes them feel secure and helps them to develop better relationships when older.
It’s completely normal for them to seek comfort from someone they love in the middle of the night!
So no, I am not letting my baby cry. The sound of him crying makes me want to die anyway, so I will comfort him as much as he needs and I won’t be made to feel bad of ‘soft’ for doing so. It makes me so sad to think of him crying for me and then giving up on the hope that I am coming back. I need to go and hug him right now!
Yes, it is, hard having a baby that is a poor sleeper, but it’s only temporary.
11. You need to get him in his own cot.
Another obsession is the obsession of getting him to sleep in his own room. NHS guidelines are that they should sleep in the same room as you for at least 6 months to reduce to risk of SIDS.
Some people think that’s even crazy! But thanks, he will move to his cot when we are both ready. It’s not going to be forever and I actually love waking up to his beautiful face and smile – he gives the best smiles a morning when he sees me for the first time. I get sad that this stage of his life will soon be over.
12. He needs to stop napping on you.
My baby contact naps 90% of the time. I would love it if he would sleep in his cot so I can get stuff done. But he won’t. I’ve tried putting him his cot loads and never succeeded. I sometimes manage to get him on the sofa, but maybe once or twice a week?
I’ve just had to accept he needs to sleep on me. How evil and manipulative of him to want a hug from his mum? He clearly is the devil, right?
Again, this is only temporary. Every so often I will try it, but then he wakes up and can’t get back to sleep then gets overtired. It’s just not always worth it. Once a day I try to get him to sleep in his cot and he wakes up as soon as try to get out of the nursing chair. So that’s fun!
For now, I’m just enjoying the time cuddling him and watching him sleep.
What does Twitter say about unsolicited parenting advice?
I asked Twitter what unsolicited parenting advice they received, as I know I’m not on my own! Here’s what they said:
– Don’t breastfeed past 12 months so we can take the baby and help out.
– Don’t let him sleep in your bed, he’ll never sleep on his own otherwise
– Mix rusks into his feeds to fill his belly –
– If he’s having trouble sleeping give him some Calpol before, bed I could go on!
Probably a personal preference but people constantly told me my partner should massage me during labour. ‘It will make you feel better. It will take the pain away’ they said… No, it didn’t. If anything, it was a bit weird.
I bought a new bag from Zara, a small-ish, cross body and was told that it was a silly purchase once I have a changing bag to carry too I’ve always had it separate. You don’t just have to give up bags because you have a child
To pop a cotton Bud up Fred’s arse to relieve constipation
Hiding behind my counter throwing up in a bag and being told to try ginger biscuits – medication isn’t working and I’ve tried every ginger product going but thanks
“You don’t even know how much worse it will be!” Like WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT
At the moment for me it’s: “Sleep all you can now, you won’t get much when the baby arrives.” Like one, I know I’m going to be tired. Two, the laws of human biology mean you can’t STORE UP SLEEP LIKE A BANK, ACTUALLY.
“The housework can wait”… Wait for what? No one else was going to do it. I kind of get what they were saying, but if I didn’t keep on top of it then I’d have had nothing to cook with or eat off and baby would quickly run out of clothes!
As you can see, I’m not the only one to suffer from unsolicited parenting advice!
The advice I give to new parents.
Now I am a mum, I’ve been so careful not to advise others who are pregnant or new mums. I’ve got a few friends that are pregnant or have just had a baby. Rather than give them advice without asking, I always just let them know they can ask me anything! I don’t jump down their throats with the advice they’ve not asked for.
For example, if my friend showed me a cute outfit or mentioned buying clothes, I’d just say something like ‘he’s going to be so cute in that outfit! Let me know if you want me to show you some items that we used a lot!’. Rather than ‘don’t buy this, don’t buy that’. It comes from a place of helpfulness rather than patronising them.
Sometimes new parents need to figure some things out on their own and that’s okay. Plus, not everyone is the same. We all have different preferences and different needs. There might be something I thought was a waste of money, but others love! We’ve bought some things that we haven’t used, but I know other’s have.
One baby might go to sleep quickly to white noise, where others need feeding to sleep – they’re all different.
It’s important to remember that just because you have kids that have survived, doesn’t mean you are a parenting God and know everything. It’s also important to remember that the guidelines change so fast as we learn more and more about babies and development! A lot of the things my mum used to do are absolutely not okay now!
Have you ever been given unsolicited parenting advice?
Also, this post was 3000 words so thank you to anyone that’s actually read it all!
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