Moms aren't strangers to unsolicited advice. Apparently, the moment you become a parent your forehead is stamped with a sign that says, “Please Tell Me How To Raise My Baby.” Well-intentioned family and friends will want to tell you the “best way” to feed, burp, bathe your baby, and whatever else they can come up with. Even pushy strangers will try to comment on how you should “do this and not that,” especially when your little one is crying. You know what, though? There’s just some advice about stopping my baby from crying I ignored. In fact, I am proud to report that I have zero regrets.
To be honest, my son was a pretty well-behaved baby. He rarely ever had colic, was only constipated maybe once or twice, and slept well through the night up until he was almost 1 year old, and even then it wasn’t so bad. He was not overly fussy and was quick to be soothed or self-soothe. Even now, as a toddler, his occasional tantrums are usually quick to pass (which is nothing short of a miracle, honestly).
I'd like to think his calm demeanor is the direct result of my constant attempts to show him from the very beginning of his life that I, his dad, and/or his grandparents were always going to be there for him when he needed. Regardless, I do recall people trying to explain just what I should do to stop my baby from crying (jokingly and seriously), and I’m glad I didn’t give in to any of their ideas.
The “Cry It Out” Method
Look, I realize that some folks feel this method works best for their family and their baby (especially if your baby literally only cries for a few minutes and then is quick to self-soothe). And believe me, when my son started refusing to sleep in his crib, I tried it. Except I couldn’t stand to hear my son cry for more than a couple of minutes. It just didn’t feel right to me, and it made me incredibly sad for him.
Instead, my partner and I chose to co-sleep for a while. Now our toddler is perfectly happy going right to his own bedroom and his own bed and sleeping through the night (only getting up occasionally for a diaper change, sans crying). After reading some studies that suggest prolonged crying might cause further dependence later in life, I’m totally cool with having ignored that advice.
Not Letting Them In Our Bed
Alright, I won’t lie. I did slightly regret the moment I ever allowed my son to co-sleep with us, mostly because I didn’t realize it would last for a full year. Then again, it was honestly one of the best years ever. I will never have him be a snuggly 2 year old again, and I cherish those memories.
Some people joke about spanking, while others are perfectly serious. I am completely and 100 percent against corporal punishment, because I don’t see how hitting someone (even “gently”) can have a positive outcome. If someone was hitting me whenever I reached into the cookie jar, I might stop reaching in, sure. I will also start having a whole slew of other issues, plus resentment for whoever is hitting me. So yeah, no. I ignore everyone who ever tells me I can spank anything out of a kid. Nope.
Giving Them Exactly What They Wanted Even If It Wasn't Good For Them
Of course, sometimes my son might cry because he wanted something he was not allowed and/or should not have. I would sometimes have folks tell me, “Ah, just give it to him,” especially if it was a toy. But I never wanted him to believe he could just cry to get everything he wanted. So no, I ignored that and, as a result, my kid is pretty damn awesome about understanding what he can and cannot have.
Don’t Leave The Baby
I used to feel a ridiculous amount of guilt any time I wanted to leave the house (my mom, love her so much, tends to believe moms should always be home with their kids). I want my son to know that it’s OK for me to go out once in awhile, though. So while yes, it was tough to leave him home with dad or grandparents while I went to a birthday party or happy hour, I did it. And yes, he cried a little, but then he was fine. Now he rarely ever cries when I leave him. It's awesome.
Not Talk To Him
This seems so weird to me in regards to babies. Similar to cry it out (except this isn’t just about sleep training), I was sometimes told to simply ignore my child.
Why would I ignore someone who is crying and needs some form of help? Again, to me, it feels pretty cruel.
Take Away His Thumb
My son sucks his thumb. I know it’s not the best habit in the world, but it certainly isn’t the worst. So many folks have told me to let him cry, even though sucking his thumb is his form of self-soothing. Some went so far as to say to put hot sauce on it. Hell no. He will give up the thumb when he’s ready, and I’ll help him with some occupational therapy techniques, and not with seriously twisted methods.
Keep Trying To Breastfeed
This is a fun one. Someone tried to tell me I should keep breastfeeding to help soothe my son. Look, I would have prolonged breastfeeding but my body barely produced any milk. I’m talking less than an ounce at a time. It was driving me mad, so I stopped. Best decision I ever made, and while my kid only breastfed for a few months, his preschool teacher is already recommending him for gifted programs. So don’t talk to me about how only breast is best. The only "right" way to feed your kid, is to simply feed them.
Give Him Cold Medicine
I know this is a common joke (and perhaps even an old wives’ tale). Cold medication or a tiny sip of whiskey or whatever to get your baby to sleep has long been "suggested.: But I would never, ever dare put my son at any risk — which is exactly what this would do.
So yeah, parents. Don’t always listen to the advice out there. You know what’s best for you and yours.