Every generation has its unique way of raising children. For example, my parents think most of the safety precautions I take for and around my children are silly. The "you turned out just fine" argument is a staple in their household. Sure, sometimes it's tedious to keep up with every new safety standard and trend. It seems as through there's a new safety guideline released every day and that can be frustrating, not to mention nerve-wracking, for new parents. That doesn't mean the shocking things my parents insist are safe for my baby are suggestions I take seriously, though. To even negotiate them seems ludicrous to even the most chill parent (in my opinion, at least).
As soon as my daughter was born, everything in the world suddenly became a threat, a hazard, or a danger. I was scared of every driver on the road when we took her home from the hospital. When we got home, my mind started racing: our glass coffee table was a tragedy waiting to happen, a bottle full of ibuprofen just sat there on the table waiting to be inhaled by a baby, loose change in a drawer was now a choking hazard. My partner and I had to make a lot of changes, we had to make sure we did everything right in order to keep our baby safe.
My parents, on the other hand, are old-school immigrants. They are the type of people who wave their hands dismissively and say things like, "That's ridiculous, car seats didn't even exist when you were a baby and you're still alive." I'm not blaming them for anything; they grew up in a different time and in a different country. Still, their stubborn insistence on the fact that the things they did when I was a baby are still completely safe to do is slightly mind-boggling. My family is very close and grandparents play an instrumental part in the upbringing of children, but when they swore that the following things were safe for babies, I had to have a long discussion with them about boundaries.
Giving Your Baby Solids Immediately Postpartum
My mom fed me cereal pretty much immediately when she was postpartum. Well, maybe not right away, but no one waited 4-6 months to start solids. I was eating mashed turkey meatballs by the time I was a few months old. Also, my mom added carrot juice to my bottle when I was just 1 month old because that is what pediatricians recommended back then.
Letting Your Baby Around Secondhand Smoke
My parents have been smokers since before they were my parents and my brother and I grew up in a stereotypical smokers' home. My parents would smoke in the car during family road trips and their windows would be up because it was either too hot or too cold outside. I mean, the car had an ashtray inside, so why open the windows?
When I asked my parents not to smoke prior to coming to see the baby, their eyes nearly popped out of their heads, "It's not like I'm blowing smoke into the baby's face, Dina," they'd say. Yeah, they still don't get the concept of secondhand smoke.
Driving Your Baby Around Without Car Seats
To be fair, my parents didn't even know what a car seat was until I had my children. The Soviet Union didn't have car seats when we were kids. My mom brought both me and my brother home in her arms as my dad drove. I do think, however, that my parents understand the necessity of a car seat for a newborn, but the fact that my 8-year-old daughter still rides around in a booster is baffling to them.
Letting Your Baby Watch TV
My mom keeps on saying, "I watched cartoons all the time when I was a kid and I am an educated intellectual." While she is correct, and she is definitely educated, she is incorrect in her comparison. First, my mom probably had one channel with a total of three cartoons to choose from. She didn't have Netflix at her fingertips and the editing in those cartoons wasn't responsible for a complete lack of attention in children. Second, she wasn't watching cartoons as a newborn. She was probably in elementary school by the time she could even watch cartoons on a regular basis, or even at all.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children don't watch television until they are at least 2 years old, but my parents don't seem to see the harm in a little bit of television.
Giving Your Baby Kid Vitamins
My dad once told me that he gave my infant son some vitamins he used to take as a baby and that my son loved it. He told me this with pride, as if it were some incredible accomplishment. I nearly lost my sh*t. He didn't understand why it wasn't OK to give an infant some random vitamin just because he took it as a baby. Explaining to him that even cocaine was also considered appropriate for babies in the 1800's didn't really do the trick, either. Ugh.
Giving Your Baby Water
Back in the day, parents used to give their kids water in addition to breast milk and/or formula. However, these days water is not necessary, and too much water may actually be harmful to a newborn. My parents, however, kept nagging me to give my baby water when we were out on a hot summer day.