Everyone’s got something to say when you have a baby (and even before you have a baby). Neighbors who barely nodded at me in the elevator suddenly inundated me with "pearls of wisdom" to ensure my newborn would be living her best life. I guess there is just something about a new mom’s haggard appearance that screams, "Please give me all of your unsolicited advice." Thankfully, I learned pretty quickly that I didn't have to take it all as gospel, as there are a few pieces of new mom advice I'm so glad I ignored. While I'm sure those neighbors (and friends and family members) had the best intentions, there is no one-size-fits-all way to parent.
Of course, that isn't to say that every single piece of advice thrown my way wasn't at all helpful. Most of it, usually from people I trusted like my mom and close mom friends whose parenting styles I admired, was nothing short of life-saving, probably because it came from people who knew me. Their experiences were unique, sure, but in trying to help me ease into motherhood they at least had the good sense to filter out anything that didn’t apply to my personality or my unique situation.
When I ventured outside my inner circle for advice, however, I was less successful in finding suggestions that proved to be beneficial. I disagreed with everyone who recommended I wash the kid’s clothes with special baby detergent; to me, it smelled like a junior high school girls’ locker room. As much as I wanted to wear my baby, I couldn’t stand the sweatiness. So, in the end and after consulting baby books and online forums and other people, I realized that I had scooped up a lot of advice that sounded great in theory, but proved horrible in practice. With that in mind, here are a few pieces of new mom advice that I’m so glad I ignored. Remember, the best thing you can do for yourself, as a new mom, is find out what works for you and forget the rest.
"Sleep When The Baby Sleeps"
Maybe this works for some moms, but both my newborns were frequent, brief nappers. By the time my eyes would have closed, they’d be up. Then I was not only tired and cranky but also annoyed that I frittered away the time working so hard to attain sleep, which never came. For a Type-A mother like me, using their brief daytime nap periods to shower, separate laundry, and maybe just enjoy a moment of nobody needing anything from me was much more my speed. I was tired, but at least I felt productive.
"You Should Cook And Freeze Meals In Advance"
Our apartment freezer is tiny. A bunch of hoarded, frozen meals would amount to a couple of casseroles, at best. Instead, my amazing neighbors organized a meal train for me. Twice a week over the course of six weeks after my second baby was born, friends and friends of friends I didn’t even know would drop off a meal. Not only did this take the pressure off my partner and I to figure out dinner in those first hectic months of our newborn’s life, but it brought us closer to our community and introduced me to some very special people. I continue to pay it back, and forward, by participating in neighborhood meal trains for other families dealing with a major change in their lives.
"There's No Need To Buy Newborn-Size Clothing"
It’s true, those newborn onesies will fit your baby for all of about a minute, so I didn’t register for any and my newborns came home swimming in the 0-3 month sized onesies. I regret not getting a few of those tiny outfits. It was a missed photo opportunity for my little chickens, and I wouldn't have minded keeping a few newborn articles of clothing as keepsakes.
"You Need To Give Your Baby A Pacifier"
Look, you do what you have to do: give the baby a pacifier if that’s what he or she wants. My kids, however, never wanted one, so I just didn’t see the sense of introducing something to them that I’d eventually need to wrestle out of their mouths. Occasionally, I wanted them to want one. I was basically a human pacifier, nursing each of my kids for over two years. Ultimately, though, it was one less thing I needed to worry about them dropping.
"If You're Engorged, Put A Bag Of Frozen Peas In Your Bra"
Yes, this technique offered some relief to my engorged breasts, for about a minute. Then it was just a heavy, soggy weight soaking my shirt. My best bet to relieve the pain was to just have my baby latch on, even if it meant doing so every hour and a half for the first couple of weeks.
"Use A NightLight"
My husband and I like it dark when we sleep. We have black-out shades and run the fan year-round as white noise. It seemed insane to me to introduce the idea of lightness if I knew we were a household that promoted pitch blackness. My kids, luckily, were not afraid of the dark. Perhaps that had something to do with us not providing a lighter option.
"Don't Bathe The Baby Too Much"
My babies loved their baths. For us it had more to do with a bedtime ritual than actually scrubbing down the kid. (No bath could ever improve upon that baby scent anyway.) Still, my children took to the water immediately; it relaxed them, soothed them, and helped me peace out with them no matter how rough our day might have been. Not every baby is like that, and there are lots of other bedtime routines to try, but we found what worked for us and that included some tub time.
"You Need To Let Your Baby Self-Wean"
If I had let my children wean themselves, I might still be nursing them at ages five and seven (not that there is anything wrong with that). When they reached two years or so, I was ready to have my body back from them. I needed them to start relating to me in a different way, not just as a human pacifier.
While it was difficult to give up that special moment when we connected and just took a beat, I loved the new ways we began connecting after I decided to wean them. We started having more conversations and they were just as excited about eating “grown-up” food as any other baby. I did what was right for me, and ultimately for them, and nobody’s advice would have been the perfect fit. I had to fumble and find my own path.