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If you are a new parent, you may have already received some bad baby advice. If not… get ready… because it’s probably coming your way very soon!
For some reason, everyone feels entitled to give new and expectant parents lots of advice.
I think it’s because everyone is so very excited for you and sincerely wanting to help. Everyone means well… they really do!
However, not only can all that unsolicited advice be confusing and frustrating, but sometimes it’s completely BAD advice!
In this post, I’m going to help you to figure out what exactly is bad baby advice: What is out-dated, not evidence-based or in some cases, downright DANGEROUS to your baby!
Then, stay tuned for some tips on how to graciously accept and handle all that advice, whether good or bad.
Ready? Here we go!
Bad Baby Advice: The 10 Worst!
1. “Don’t hold your baby so much or you’ll spoil him!”
Okay, show of hands here… who has heard this one?
Ugh! Nothing could be further from the truth here, Mom and Dad.
Actually, science proves the exact opposite…. read my lips… “Holding your baby is NOT spoiling him!”
You’ll most likely hear this bad baby advice from someone of the older generation. (No offense to our greatest generation, but they didn’t have the studies and research that we have today about infant-brain development.)
When a baby is born, he is already used to being held and rocked by his mother’s body. He knows her and feels safe in her arms. This is the way it’s supposed to work.
Babies are created to be in close contact with their mothers, nursing, cuddling and snuggling.
Not only does this help baby feel safe, but it helps improve breastfeeding outcomes, mom’s mental health and mother-baby bonding.
The Transition from Womb to World
Please remember that it takes a while for a newborn to make the adjustment from womb to world…. and they need your help to make this transition.
In fact, holding and cuddling a newborn (especially skin-to-skin) is the BEST way to help him to transition from life in the womb to life outside that warm cozy environment that he once knew.
By the way, did you know that humans, like kangaroos and other “pouch animals,” are carrier mammals? That means that we are meant to carry our young and be physically attached to our babies!
Don’t be afraid to hold and even wear your baby as much as you want!
What about older babies?
What about older babies? Can you hold them too much? What if they’ll only be happy when you’re holding them? Well, that’s a question that you’ll need to decide for yourself and family.
If your baby only wants YOU, then I’d say that you are doing a GREAT job loving your precious baby and caring for his needs!
Remember, mama… YOU are the expert on YOUR baby.
If your baby needs you, then remember that you are his mama. Stop second-guessing yourself and don’t feel bad about holding him and snuggling him, if that’s what he needs!
I promise you that you will NEVER regret holding your baby while he’s young. Before long, he’ll be going off to college and you’ll be missing those baby snuggles. (sniff sniff)
So, if someone insists that you’re holding your baby too much, kindly set them straight… or… just smile patiently and thank them for their concern.
2. “You Should Let Your Baby Cry-it Out”
Okay, there is a lot of hot debate about this one, but for the purpose of this post, I am only talking about newborns or babies less than 6 months of age.
I am also not talking about a “colicky” baby here.
Sometimes, in the case of colic, it’s necessary to put your baby in a crib or safe place and take a short break. If you feel your frustration mounting, taking a break might be the best thing for you and your baby! This is not the same as crying-it-out.
Note – If you’ve never had a colicky or inconsolable baby, you won’t understand the need that these poor parents have to take occasional breaks from their crying babies!
But, in general, it’s NOT okay to leave a very young baby (less than 6 months) alone to “cry-it-out.”
Now, that’s not saying that you should never let you baby cry. Babies cry. That’s how they communicate. That’s what they do.
It’s unrealistic to think that your baby will never cry and it’s also unrealistic to think that you will always be able to comfort your crying baby immediately.
Sometimes, you need to go to the bathroom, take a shower, or care for older children. Sometimes… life happens!
Is it okay to let your infant cry or fuss for a few minutes?
Sure, but ignore those “experts” who tell you to let them cry-it-out or”self-soothe” until they fall asleep.
Why This is Bad Baby Advice…
Experts agree that babies don’t cry without a good reason. And even a “colicky” baby has a reason.
Oh… and by the way… babies don’t manipulate their parents either. You might hear this tale as well. Don’t believe it!
Babies cry when they are hungry, tired, lonely, in pain, afraid, cold, hot, over-whelmed, uncomfortable, overtired, overstimulated….
When babies cry, they need their mamas! It’s how they are wired. They don’t have the capacity to “self-soothe” or manipulate.
In fact, when a baby is left alone to “cry it out” or “self-soothe,” we are putting them at risk for developmental delays, stress disorders, or psychological issues. (source)
Most baby sleep experts also agree that it’s best to wait until about 6-8 months to begin sleep training your infant, and “cry-it-out” is usually connected with sleep-training.
3. “Your Baby Should be Sleeping Through the Night”
“Is your baby sleeping through the night yet?”
I hate that question but every parent gets it.
Please, just ignore it, though!
As a newborn caregiver, nothing sends me into an angry rant MORE than that question.
The truth is that if your baby is under six months of age, he probably won’t be sleeping through the night. And that’s totally okay!
Sure, we’ve all heard stories of those “unicorn babies” who sleep through the night at 3-weeks old.
Yes… it does happen…. but will that happen with your baby?
So, when you hear that question, how will you likely feel?
Well, if you’re like most new mothers, you’ll start to question yourself…
- What am I doing wrong?
- Is there something wrong with my baby?
- Is there something wrong with me?
- Maybe I should let her cry it out.
- Maybe I’m feeding her too much.
- Am I spoiling her?
- … maybe… maybe… maybe…
Stop listening to these lies and speak truth to yourself instead…
- She/he may need the extra calories/feedings.
- This may be a growth spurt.
- My baby needs me.
- My baby may be scared, cold, anxious, uncomfortable, etc.
- It’s totally normal for my baby to be waking at night still.
- My baby will be sleeping through the night when he’s developmentally ready.
Learn more about your baby’s sleep in this post: When do babies sleep through the night? (and other new baby sleep myths)
4. “You Should Put Your Baby on a Feeding Schedule” or “You’re Feeding Your (Breastfed) Baby Too Much!”
If you are breastfeeding, you don’t need to worry about a feeding schedule.
While it is true that you will need to feed your newborn every 2-3 hours during the day, he may want to eat more often!
This is usually the case during the evening hours when newborns like to cluster-feed.
Cluster-feeding is a very normal newborn behavior.
Unfortunately, it is often misunderstood by grandparents or other support people who are not familiar with breastfeeding babies.
Many people seem concerned when breastfeeding moms nurse sooner than every 3 hours…
They may tell you that you are feeding too often or too much. They may also tell you that you aren’t making enough milk since your baby wants to eat so much!
Don’t worry! Even if your baby does need more milk, her frequent nursing will signal your breasts to produce more milk during a growth spurt.
Allowing her to nurse as much as she wants will ensure that she gets the calories that she needs. This is the way God designed it to work and it’s totally normal!
While overfeeding may be a concern with bottle-feeding, it’s rarely true with exclusively breastfed babies.
Please talk to your baby’s doctor if you have concerns about your baby’s feedings or weight gain. If your baby is gaining weight at a good pace, then there is absolutely no cause for concern!
Bottle-feeding and Feeding Schedules
It’s easier to keep a feeding schedule for babies on formula since formula is generally slower to digest.
But, even formula-fed babies will adjust their feeding needs during growth spurts!
It’s also believed that bottle-fed babies (formula or expressed breast milk) take in larger volumes at each feeding simply because the flow is typically faster with bottles.
However, breast fed babies need to work harder at getting the milk and they often fall asleep at the breast after their breastfeeding “workout”.
Because of these reasons, breastfed babies may need to eat more often.
Don’t be afraid to educate your family and friends. Share this post, if it’s helpful!
Also, learn some great tips about how to survive long cluster-feeding sessions with your newborn in this post.
5. “You Should Give Your Baby a Bottle of Water”
Nope… Bad baby advice again!
Babies not only don’t need water, but it can actually be dangerous for them. Stick to breast milk or formula only, at least for the first 6 months.
Since a young baby doesn’t have fully functioning kidneys, her body isn’t prepared to excrete water.
Drinking water can also cause an imbalance of electrolytes and sodium in very young infants.
Not only that, but babies need the calories and nutrients that breast milk and formula provide. Filling their tummies with water, could interfere with their necessary feedings!
6. “You Should Give Your Baby a Little Alcohol to Help Him Sleep”
This horrible baby advice is not only more common than you’d think, but it’s also dangerous!
Please don’t do it!
A young baby is way more sensitive to substances such as medications and alcohol than an adult. Even a very small amount could produce a strong or lethal reaction. (source)
Instead, if you want to help your baby sleep, offer her breast milk.
Breast milk (during evening feedings) actually contains melatonin to help a baby fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
If you are offering your baby a bottle of pumped breast milk, choose milk that was pumped during the evening or overnight hours for best results!
7. “You Should Mix Rice Cereal into His Bottle to Fill His Tummy for Longer Sleep”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents should wait to introduce solid foods to their babies until around 6 months of age.
They do not recommend mixing solids in with their bottles, however!
That’s because mixing cereal into a baby’s bottle might fill his tummy, but prevent him from getting the nutrition from breast milk or formula that he really needs.
In addition, young babies less than six months are generally not ready to eat solid foods yet and starting them too soon is linked to problems like childhood obesity. (source)
Even after starting solids, it’s best to go slowly when introducing new foods. Keep in mind that babies should still get the majority of their nutrition from breast milk or formula during the first year of life.
Pushing them to eat solids too soon could deprive them of much-needed nutrients for proper brain growth and development.
8. “Keep Your Baby Awake During the Day So He’ll Sleep Better at Night”
Worst. baby. advice. ever!
Do NOT do this!
Keeping your baby awake will only sabotage her sleep by creating a very cranky, overtired, overstimulated baby who WON’T sleep!
Babies need lots of sleep… Much more than most parents realize.
In fact, depending on your baby’s age, he should only be awake 45-90 minutes during the day before taking his next nap. We call this time awake, “wake windows.”
When a baby is awake too long during the day, his body begins to dump adrenaline and cortisol into his system. These are actually “anti-sleep” hormones. They cause your baby to be overtired and interfere with sleep.
A baby who is overtired has trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. When he does nap, he wakes too soon and doesn’t sleep well at night either.
How do you prevent an overtired baby? By watching for sleep cues and keeping track of “wake windows.”
Learn more about how to prevent an overtired, cranky baby, sleep cues and wake windows in this post.
9. “If Your Baby Bites You When He’s Breastfeeding, Bite Him Back!”
Yup. More terrible baby advice…
Please don’t bite your baby!
10. “Your Baby is Getting Too Old to Breastfeed”
If you hear this one, just kindly mention that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding your child until 2 years of age.
That should shut up anyone who thinks they know what’s best for your sweet baby!
If you and your baby want to continue breastfeeding, then… “You go, girl!”
How to Handle All That Bad Baby Advice?
You’ll probably respond differently when receiving out-dated or bad advice from a total stranger versus your mother or mother-in-law.
When a stranger tells you to rub whiskey on your baby’s teething gums, just smile and thank them for their concern.
In the case of a family member or close friend, take the time to patiently explain that new research supports new ways of doing things. If all else fails… ask them to support YOUR parenting decisions even if they don’t agree.
That may not be easy, but they should get the message and hopefully give you some space to parent YOUR way.
Here’s a great little article that might help from Parents.com… Enjoy!
What About YOU? What Bad Baby Advice have You had to Endure?
Please share in the comments. Thank you!