12 Media Depictions Of Raising A Newborn That Are Totally Wrong

Ad failed to load

I love TV and movies. Always have and, I assume, always will. As a parent, TV is one of the few hobbies from my pre-parent life I can still regularly indulge in (after bedtime, because kids and HBO dramas are not a good combination). Movies, well, I don't get to see them when they come out, but I usually get around to it. But now that I am a parent I see media differently, especially sit-coms and comedies, which are often family-centered. Because media depictions of raising a newborn are totally wrong. Like, so, so laughably wrong.

And I get it! I'm not asking for a whole bunch of changes because parenthood, for the most part, is not glamorous and revolves around a lot of monotony and routine. And even the stuff that parents find wildly exciting or fun is probably neither exciting nor fun to anyone who does not also have a child directly involved. Like, I regularly watch video of my children (now 3 and 6) as newborns, but I don't plan to pitch it to some Hollywood big wig, like "This is amazing! People are going to love it! About a minute in they sneeze and it's hysterical."

So, yeah, it makes sense that newborn/infant life isn't accurately depicted in film. Still, it is funny to observe, as someone who's been there, how very many ways the big wigs in Hollywood have managed to screw it up.

Ad failed to load

That "Newborn" Is Actually 6 Months Old...


While infants as young as 15 days old are legally permitted to work in California (and younger in some other states) most babies you see on screen are several months old. Now, anyone who has had an infant knows what a huge difference even one month makes when it comes to babies. So it's funny for an experienced parent to watch their favorite characters "give birth" to a 15 pound 3-month-old "newborn."

Fun fact: to achieve that "fresh from the womb" look, babies are often covered in jelly. But not strawberry or raspberry jellies, since those fruits are more often allergens. I wonder whose job it is to slather jelly on an infant?

... Or A Doll


God bless you, American Sniper doll baby, and Bradley Cooper, for holding it.

Fun fact: there's a real market for robot babies for TV and movies and this is at once delightful and terrifying.

Babies Disappear After They're Born


You might see the character pushing a baby carriage or holding blankets that you assume has a baby in it. But more often than not, even that's rare. That baby was a plot device to give the female character who birthed them some kind of drama for a season. (Because, as we all know, motherhood is the only real character development a female character can have.) Once that moment has passed the non-dramatic, non-TV/film friendly aspects of having a child are unceremoniously swept under a rug and trotted out only when it's entertaining or convenient.

Ad failed to load

The Parents' Social Life Doesn't Change


Like, at all. This boggles my damn mind. Everyone is still hanging out with their friends all the damn time. Or spending entire days on some wacky, inane hijinks. Or picking up and going on a special-two episode trip to Europe or something. It's, perhaps, the most unrealistic aspect of them all. Because everything else you can sort of hand-wave or retcon but this is just... like, really? Who is with your damn child?! Is no one so much as going to mention them?!

The Parents' Home Is Never Baby Friendly


All the preciously placed tchotckes are still right at baby level where they've always been. There are no gates, no swings, no Rock n' Plays, and no high chairs. And I know that infants don't necessarily use all those things right away, but the vast majority of parents I know have them ready to go because infants grow up fast and will be using them in, like, 12 seconds. And, I'm sorry, but even with a 2-week-old newborn that white couch is already stained with at least three different body fluids... and it's only going to get worse from here on out. Unless you're raising a TV/movie newborn, of course, in which case it's going to stick around for another four seasons/the rest of the film.

Mom's Body Is Completely Unchanged An Episode After Giving Birth


Some shows have been a little bit better about this over the past few years. Mad Men, for example, showed Betty Draper rocking a postpartum tummy for a few episodes after Baby Gene was born in Season 3. But most shows and movies pop back in after a birth episode with mom looking as trim as ever (because, let's face it: pretty much all women in media are "trim" unless their chubbiness or fatness is a defining character trait or plot point).

Look, are there some women who lose all the weight they gained quickly after giving birth? For sure, but it's called luck and genetics. They are not the norm!

Ad failed to load

There's Only One Episode Dedicated To Lack Of Sleep (If Any)


When addressed for the duration of a single episode, lack of sleep is funny. Because "LOL! The parent characters can't get anything done because they're so tired! And dad character has a big presentation at work tomorrow! This oughta be good! LOL!" But this isn't funny when it becomes a way of life.

Don't believe me? See how much your child-free friends are interested in hearing about your sleeplessness over and over again. That's not on them, though, because it's just not especially interesting and there's nothing they can do about it. So I get why it's not incorporated into sitcoms, but it's still not especially realistic.

Everything Is Still Clean


Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha *sharp inhale* Hahahahahahahahahahaha!

The People Who Help The Parents Are Never Around


Unless the show or movie is about the non-related caregiver (The Nanny, Who's the Boss, Charles in Charge), non-related caregivers are almost never depicted in media. They, like the babies themselves, are usually off-screen and unmentioned. But any parent who utilizes childcare services will tell you that life very often revolves around them. The daycare closes at 6:00 p.m., people! You've got to be there at that time. Or you're texting your nanny all the time because just because you're at work doesn't mean you aren't also parenting. From pay to prestige, caregivers often get the short end of the stick, and media isn't doing them any favors, either.

Ad failed to load

Nothing Revolves Around Feedings Or Poop


Feedings are every one two three hours for a newborn, which limits pretty much everything else you can do. And for every feeding there's at least one diaper. If you're my son it's about three diapers for every feeding and at least two of them are going to be blow-outs.

The Baby Is In Grade School Within A Season


Working with very young children is limiting as far as a production schedule goes — labor laws dictate that babies under 6 months old are only allowed on set for two hours a day, and they can only actually "work" for 20 minutes. They're also unpredictable AF, because you can't just tell a 3-month-old child, "Hey, quit crying. We only have 15 minutes to get this shot." So it makes sense to age them up as quickly as possible.

Remember how Lily from Modern Family was a toddler and then she was a sassy grade-schooler when they came back the next season? It legitimately made me chuckle.

The Baby Remains An Immobile & Compliant Blob For Two Seasons

Photo courtesy of Jamie Kenney

This is, perhaps, the cruelest thing TV shows do to us. Because if an infant doesn't magically transform into a sassy third grader in a season, they linger in easily portable, non-verbal, adorable, squishy baby mode forever. (If the show is a cartoon this is even more pronounced. Guys, Maggie Simpson has been 1 since 1987.) This is not how it actually goes. In fact, the picture above happened way faster than I ever could have imagined. They don't stay little for all that long. Once again, TV lied to me.

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s Bullsh*t

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

I’m Registered At Babies “R” Us, & I'm Freaking The Hell Out

Hi. My name is Abi, and I’m registered at Babies “R” Us — and I’m freaking out. This may sound silly, but after being a die-hard Toys “R” Us kid, I was so excited to register at their baby store once my husband and I finally got our big fat positive …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

Women Who Miscarry Early Deserve To Grieve — Here's How Hospitals Should Be Helping

When I lost my baby back in 2013, it was because of a very early miscarriage. Because of the little amount of time I spent being pregnant, it was though my child had never really existed, which made the next few years hard — I felt like they had been…
By Risa Kerslake

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

Millennial Women Are Getting Married Later Than Gen X, & The Reasons Why Are Pretty Badass

The battle of the generations seems to come up when it comes to every lifestyle or career choice people make. Women, especially, are an important demographic when it comes to analysts looking at the lifestyle choices we make or the expected milestone…
By Josie Rhodes Cook

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

I'm Pregnant & I Refuse To Read Any Parenting Books

I didn't read any parenting books when I was expecting my daughter, and I refuse to read any parenting books as I await my second child now. I'm the first to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to raising my daughter. A good d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

7 Reasons Why March Babies Are Total Badasses

From the moment you become pregnant, you begin to wonder what your little one will be like. Will they look like you, your partner, or your Great Aunt Edna? Will they be the quiet, thoughtful type or arrive on this planet raring to go? It's fun to ima…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

12 Overnight Face Masks To Use To Wake Up Feeling Pampered AF

Spring is right around the corner, and as far as I'm concerned, the sunshine and warm breezes can't come soon enough. But now that we're about to say goodbye to winter, it's a good time to take stock of your facial skincare routine. You know, in the …
By Katie Malczyk

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger

Here's How Early An Ultrasound Can Actually Determine Your Baby's Sex

From the moment you see those two lines on a pregnancy test, there are a few markers along the way that stand out as especially exciting. Amongst them are hearing your baby's heartbeat and feeling that first, sweet little kick. And if you are finding…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

9 Easy Kid Foods To Turn Green, Just In Time For St. Patrick's Day

The best part about having kids is that you get your own personal crew to celebrate the holidays with, in all your color coordinating and matching glory. And with St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, you are obviously working on turning everyth…
By Mishal Ali Zafar