Baby assvice. ALWAYS do this. NEVER do that.
March 3, 2012 3:10 PM   Subscribe

What parenting advice/gospel did you choose NOT to follow? Why? Are you pleased with your choice?

Just today I read on Baby WebMD that I should avoid taking my infant outside between 10 AM and 4 PM so that she doesn't get any direct sunlight. Really?! And I'm not supposed to nap with her on me anywhere, ever. Really?! I've been reading lots of other - often conflicting - advice about parenting.

So I'm wondering, MeFi Parents Who Have Come Before Me, is there parenting gospel that you chose to ignore? Why? Were you happy with your choice?
posted by semacd to Human Relations (38 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
We ignored virtually all of it, except for not letting our son sleep on his stomach when he was an infant.
posted by Ardiril at 3:13 PM on March 3, 2012 [13 favorites]

We co-slept, let her use my boobies as a pacifier and took her out for a walk a lot between 10am and 4 pm.

I ignored all advice, unless I felt like I was seriously injuring my children.

Do what feels right for you guys and ignore the rest.
posted by Sweetmag at 3:22 PM on March 3, 2012 [11 favorites]

Oh and we also ignored the Don't Hold Them To Much advice. I don't believe you can hold a baby to much.
posted by Sweetmag at 3:23 PM on March 3, 2012 [28 favorites]

Please do vaccinate on the standard pediatric schedule.

We also avoided the tummy sleeping during infancy.

Other than that, every child is a unique person, and a lot of parenting is just following baby's cues. So roll with what works for you, and screw the internet. I was cautioned against holding too much, and thought "screw that, some day this baby is going to be a little boy too busy to let me hold him, I am going to cuddle while I can." I don't regret that for a moment.

Having a baby sleep on you is one of the sweetest, and most fleeting joys of parenting a newborn. I would not give that up for anything.
posted by ambrosia at 3:26 PM on March 3, 2012 [11 favorites]

We're definitely ignoring any "let him cry it out" bedtime advice.
posted by daisystomper at 3:29 PM on March 3, 2012 [13 favorites]

Babies and young children don't need daily baths, and they don't need their clothes washed with Dreft.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:31 PM on March 3, 2012 [23 favorites]

I think we used the crib 6 times.

My little guy's favorite place to sleep was face down on top of me. I never rolled over and he never fell off the bed.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:32 PM on March 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I didn't have much of a milk supply, so out of necessity had to ignore the "breast is best" stuff. My kids got mostly Costco formula and they are perfect and healthy and thriving in every way.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:33 PM on March 3, 2012 [7 favorites]

The few times we did seek advice, the circumstances were so unique that nothing fit anyway.
posted by Ardiril at 3:34 PM on March 3, 2012

We put our babies on their backs... until they got old enough to roll over on their own. Then we still put them down on their backs, but we did NOT flip them back over 50 times at night and we did NOT buy any device to make them stay put on their backs. When I bothered to think about it, worried a little bit. But I didn't think about it much. Since they survived, I am happy I didn't drive myself insane checking to make sure they stayed on their backs every single minute they were asleep.

I also let my babies fall asleep nursing, and then gently put them in the crib. The tendency is for babies to fall asleep when nursing - and I took advantage of that. Seriously, who WAKES the baby up to put them in the crib? What exhausted parent does that? I'm happy with that choice.
posted by molasses at 3:35 PM on March 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ignore most of it and do what comes natural.
posted by k8t at 3:39 PM on March 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh god, there is so much. Just do what seems reasonable. Do research if you're not sure (and if all your reliable sources say the same thing, do what they say. If the reliable sources disagree, do whatever seems best to you).

For us specifically: we gave birth outside of a hospital, we coslept, we made choices on a case-by-case basis on vaccines (he still hasn't had Hep B or Polio, and though he has had everything else by now, we did them one-by-one which took longer / took more doctors visits), we're still nursing at 15 months... I think those are all the big ones.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:53 PM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I should add: having a pediatrician who is aligned with your parenting philosophy makes this stuff SO much easier. If you can talk things through with someone who actually reads the research for a living, and who understands some of this stuff better than you do, and who can support your decisions (or tell you why they don't) it really helps. You are always free to ignore that advice too (our pediatrician has been on the same page as us mostly, but did advise us that 4 months was a good time to transition from our bed to a crib, which we felt wouldn't be a good idea for our particular kid and it wasn't a big deal to either of us to not take that advice).

And, FWIW, our pediatrician told us five minutes a day of sun exposure helped with the Vitamin D. Preferably as close to noon as possible.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:02 PM on March 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I co-slept and nursed lying down with my second and I got 1000 times more sleep than I did with the first (nursed in the Special Nursing Chair with Special Nursing Pillow).

Or maybe a 1,000,000 times.

And he's a happy, healthy little guy.
posted by pantarei70 at 4:21 PM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

We didn't use a dummy or pacifier on our kids - we think they started vocalising earlier.
The babies slept in our bed every so often.
We're not precious about the language we use around the kids, we don't make a habit of swearing around them but if we do it's no big deal, it's legitimate language and they lean when it's appropriate or not.
Only when they were very young did we feed them, we let them fend for themselves at the table and they started using cutlery properly very early. Our 20 month old happily uses a spoon to feed herself.
posted by mattoxic at 4:29 PM on March 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

my nephew wouldn't sleep unless he was on his stomach. his parents let him sleep on his stomach.
posted by sabh at 4:49 PM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

My parents were shocked when they caught me counting to 5 instead of 3 at my child. 3 is not a magical number in discipline, it's just the most common one.
posted by Ys at 4:54 PM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

The nurse at the hospital tried to force a pacifier on my screaming newborn. In my hormone-new-mom-exhausted rage, I almost hit her. Managed to restrain myself, but got my point across. NEVER had a pacifier but mom. Might be different if you're bottle feeding; it's too easy to get food quickly that way & you might overfeed.

Didn't feed on a "schedule." Baby let me know when he was hungry, and I nursed him until he told me he was done (by spitting out the nipple or falling asleep).

"Oh, you're holding him too much." SO glad I didn't listen to that one! My kid turned out to have been born on the autism spectrum. Holding him helped him learn to live in the world.

"Let him cry it out". There's a reason baby's crying. Figure it out.
posted by theplotchickens at 4:56 PM on March 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

FWIW, my philosophy was that if the doctor or authority could not explain how the human race survived for millions of years without their sage advice, I took it with a large grain of salt. As a counter-example, I don't believe the human race put concentrated poisons in pretty containers until recently, or had a way to avoid epidemics until recently, so there the advice is valuable and heeded. Or, as "the young rope-rider" pointed out above, people didn't usually sleep in complicated spring loaded steel frame contraptions.
posted by forthright at 5:11 PM on March 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

Reading this and thinking back, I ignored nearly everything. I pissed my mother off a lot in the process but she doesn't sweat our differing styles as my kid is seriously the best behaved and most thoughtful child I've ever encountered. I know that sentence can sound like utter bullshit but really, I mean it.

Son slept on his belly despite my doctor scolding me. Honestly, he wouldn't sleep any other way. That boy slept on my chest until he was too big and as someone else said, it was one of the most glorious things I remember about him being a baby. I never took him to church which is a giant sin in my tiny town but he's the most moral human I know anyway. I let him watch grown-up movies (now that he's a little older) and even though he loves him some Ricky Bobby, he's not going around and quoting it at school because I raised him to know better. And seriously, my kid takes a bath nightly (he's 7 now) but I rarely wash his hair. This one in particular bugs my family to death but they don't notice unless I point it out. His doctor says it won't permanently damage his psyche and I tell you what, he's got some damn pretty, shiny hair. I say, if it was good enough for the pioneers, it's good enough for us, yo.

Really though, I read a metric shit ton of books when I was pregnant because I was scared to death and convinced I was going to crap all over this poor tiny human with my poor parenting skills back then and yet, he's okay. Do what works for you and do what you feel in your heart is right. If you're a good parent and you genuinely love your child, you'll always have their best interests at heart and you can't go wrong there. While there are boundaries in this house my son knows that he is absolutely my world and because he is loved and because I care about who he grows up to be, it shows. I'd ignore all those un-asked-for advice givers and sidewalk chatterers blathering on about you having a baby out in daylight hours and just do what feels right for you.
posted by youandiandaflame at 5:17 PM on March 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

I ignored any extremist parenting advice from all methods and took a little from column A and a little from column B. The clue is when someone tries to make you feel guilty about not following their advice, then you stop listening to them and change the subject. Find your own way.

For example, breast is best, but formula is not evil. Co-sleeping was awesome, but should be done safely, not casually. Once co-sleeping didn't work for me any more, we switched to crib sleeping. We used pacifiers, the world didn't end and my kid speaks better than average. We used disposables because cloth diapers didn't suit us. The list goes on. I'm glad I ignored parenting advice from our parents and did what felt right for us. I avoided lots of topics with our pediatrician and treated him purely as a medical doctor, not a parenting expert.

Napping with my kids was and still is a joy. I co-slept (safely) and ignored the anti-co-sleeping paranoia. I loved holding my babies as much as they wanted, and ignored all the old farts who told me I was spoiling them.
posted by Joh at 5:37 PM on March 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

You get so much contradictory advice, ignoring about 50% of everything is inescapable. Honestly? I ignored the inconvenient stuff. I focused on safety - babyproofing, getting vaccinated on schedule, never leave a baby alone in the bath, cut up hot dogs lengthwise. Apparently choking on hot dogs happens more often than you might think. But if there wasn't a risk of choking, electrocution, poisoning, polio, or suffocation, then I pretty much did whatever minimized crying (mine and theirs).
posted by selfmedicating at 5:39 PM on March 3, 2012 [11 favorites]

Oh, I must add this -- everybody thinks about what kind of person they are turning their kid into -- but remember, your kids turn you into a certain kind of parent. So if you have a child who is super sensitive to itchy bunchy clothing, you will become the kind of parent who scours Target for clothes without horrible bunchy seams. And someone will tell you that your kid wouldn't be so fussy if you weren't so accommodating. And they will be wrong. They have a child who could sleep in a burlap sack and they don't know what they are talking about.
posted by selfmedicating at 5:46 PM on March 3, 2012 [43 favorites]

The only advice we followed:

1) put him on his back to sleep until he can roll over; and
2) do what is best for all of you.
posted by Leezie at 6:07 PM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ignored advice:

* Get rid of all cats - they suck the life out of infants.
* You must do the Santa thing. If you don't, your child will grow up mal-adjusted and will hate you.
* Put them in public school and don't homeschool them, otherwise they won't know how to interact with other people.

I am sure there are others, but these are the most egregious I can think of.
posted by brownrd at 6:26 PM on March 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

I raised four healthy happy kids in the era when everyone put kids to sleep on their stomach. Never knew anyone with a SIDS baby. That said, I think it's probably good advice to let them sleep on their backs, but for heaven's sake, anytime the babe's awake put them on their stomach so they can develop their necks, back, arm and leg muscles! I see more slow crawlers and kids that can't roll over nowadays.

It's easier for them to go from tummy to back, and once they figure out they can do that, they really have a reason to roll from back to tummy. Whereas, they seem to be like little turtles on their back and it takes them forever to roll over. All those mini-pushups really help their upper body strength!

For what it's worth, all my kids were sitting up by themselves by four months, and rocking on hands and knees by six. Oddly enough, none of them walked early, but dang they sure could get around crawling way before other infants their age.

Do what works for your babe and yourselves. The kidlet will let you know.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:47 PM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you have a baby, you're probably well aware of this, but opinions about how to handle a baby are like assholes: Everyone's got one and they are mostly full of shit. Also, everyone's got one, and they love it, and find it super useful and wouldn't want to live without it, but you've already got one, too, no doubt, and they can't see why you wouldn't want theirs and would find it kinda gross and icky.

The only advice I have given new or upcoming parents that I've hung out with since we've had the baby is: Be kind to yourself. You're gonna have a lot on your plate so just be kind and forgiving and generous to yourself.

I have a small tsunami of advice and tips and stuff, but I don't want to be one of those raving new parents to people who are pregnant and scare them shitless, and I think, "well, I figured out my shambolic and oft-times contradictory opinions myself, why deprive them of the joy?"

Ignore whatever, follow whatever. Vaccinate your kid and don't beat it, and it'll probably be okay.
posted by smoke at 7:56 PM on March 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

Kiddo has teeth, eats a wide variety of food and can very clearly articulate "I would like some boobie please mummy" so we ignored a LOT of advice on weaning.

She is still in our room. Her room will not be a nursery, or a playroom. Just like our room, it's for sleeping. Which ignores a lot of advice about setting up a kid's room.

We swear, and she has dropped the f-bomb and we just roll. It's a word to use only with mummy and daddy.

She eats everything, except the stuff she's allergic to. Curry? Here's a bowl for you sweetheart. Unadulterated. Too hot? I feel the same, have some milk. Noodles? Here are some chopsticks. We don't do baby food and never did anything more intensive than some frozen sweet potato, hommous or pumpkin for lazy lunches for her. And that only lasted a month until she mastered bread. We didn't do baby yogurt, baby custard, baby anything. But she's had gummi and chocolate and other non-foods like that; for us it's about the adulteration of food, not the content. Gummi is what it is, but baby yogurt is an abomination unto yogurt.

We rarely do TV and it's split between 'kid' and adult. Kids being our pre-existing collection of Pixar/Dreamworks and adult being non-violent stuff like Big Bang Theory etc. Boardwalk Empire waits until sleepytime. We don't curtail all of our choices to keep the airwaves sanitised (so she likes real NIN over the lullabye glockenspiel versions sold to kids).

But yeah, be kind to yourself. I'm in therapy because I'm not and it sucks because instead of little bits of kindness done randomly, I'm at a nuclear point where no amount of little nice things will bring back my equilibrium. Don't get to this point because it is expensive and miserable.

We used cloth and disposables, and she toilet trained before 18 months.

She never took to dummies or used bottles past 8 weeks, never watched TV til she was 18 months, but she was still slow to speak. But went from 20 or so words and signs at 18 months to over 250 at 2 and using two and three word sentences.

She isn't in daycare. Not even for a break for my stay at home dad partner. Not even for part time work. She's been in the care of three other people on five other occasions and that's it. My partner and I still maintain a strong relatiionship and have sex! Not impossible, but the advice-mongers act like it is. Parenting with another person needs to be a partnership - you both need to be all in. No dictatorships, no easy going 'yes' people, no you decide and do it. Both in, for the child's sake.
posted by geek anachronism at 8:03 PM on March 3, 2012 [7 favorites]

We've let our daughter climb into bed with us whenever she wants. We didn't limit TV time before two. We helped our daughter when she was crying at night instead of letting her cry insessantly. And at six, she is incredibly well adjusted and reads at a level far above her age level. We've focus primarily on helping her become a good person rather than trying to manipulate environmental details, as if they have some sort of magical effect on her. That is, we've focused on helping her communicate honestly while expressing her feelings, helping her to be respectful of authority while also being able to express her opinion, and to evaluate things critically. We find that things are working themselves out pretty well.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:24 PM on March 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

We avoid language like "making good choices" and "learning responsibility". People, including kids, feel like they have really good reasons for doing what they do. "making good choices" usually means "do what I say" or "do what's expected of you" so we just try to be honest about that, instead of building an internal infrastructure of shame.
posted by vitabellosi at 3:33 AM on March 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

Let me put it this way, the only advice I probably DIDN'T ignore about parenting was, "You will find what works best for your family."
posted by zizzle at 4:12 AM on March 4, 2012

Advice I got that I ignored that I wish I had not ignored: use glass bottles instead of plastic.

I had to formula feed because of low milk supply, and it was just on the bleeding edge of the BPA thing.

Advice I ignored:

+ Cry it out
+ We coslept, and I still cosleep with my five year old (in his bed!)
+ Start baby food at 4 mos. We waited until he expressed an interest in our food, then fed him that (baby led weaning). We did serve him some baby foods, but not many.
+ Other than gates at the bottom of the stairs and at the entry to the kitchen we never really "babyproofed". No toilet locks, no cabinet locks. I did move the bleach to a higher shelf in the bathroom.
+ We took our son camping for a week when he was a month old, against a TON of advice that we were going to kill him. He loved it, and so did we.
+ We bought almost no baby crap. We did have a crib (that converted to the full size bed he now sleeps in), a co-sleeper, car seats, a high-chair, and a baby-bjorn bouncing seat thing (non battery powered). We did not have a special changing table, a special tub, a stroller (until we went to Vegas for a wedding when he was 9 months old and needed one for our sanity - we left it in Vegas), anything plastic with toys for baby to sit in, or special plates or forks or spoons (we did use sippy cups).

I agree with the advice above that most baby advice is designed to sell you something. (Often a book, sometimes a toy or a special use object.) I do make it a very firm rule not to work hard not to judge other parents unless they are actually hurting their child (ie: I should call child services).
posted by anastasiav at 7:50 AM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

When my wife went back to work 4 months after our son was born, I became a full time stay at home dad. Didn't read a single parenting book, blog, website, or anything like that. I think I called my mom (former nurse) about minor health questions twice.
Otherwise, just did whatever seemed right and kept us happy and safe.
6 years later, we've got a happy, healthy, smart 6 year old boy still hanging around. Guess we did OK.
posted by ducktape at 8:03 AM on March 4, 2012

The only advice that will ever count: love your kid with all the honesty and courage you can muster.
posted by madred at 9:11 AM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I got a lot of very bad parenting advice. There is good advice, and you have to decide who to listen to. I listened to Penelope Leach, Parent Effectiveness training, Miss Manners, the Mothers/Fathers Almanac, and others I can't remember right now. There are different ways of parenting, ,and the more people you listen to, the more conflicting advice you'll get. It's frustrating. When you find an expert with good credentials, and they make sense to you, pay attention to that expert, and be critical of experts whose advice really strikes you as wrong.
posted by theora55 at 12:11 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

90% of stuff that you're supposed to buy is pointless.
posted by k8t at 1:13 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

When dealing with behavior, don't overtalk.
I used to reason with my kids, etc, etc, all kinds of verbal judo.
Now, with my grandkids, I let them complain or tirade and just stay close, but don't try to talk them out of anything.
Sometimes it helps to say, "What would you like me to do?" Takes the focus off the problem and on to a solution. Sometimes.
Anyway, my advice is: talk less.
posted by Kazimirovna at 1:21 PM on March 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

- anyone militant about "sleep training" (ferber or otherwise)
- anyone who told me that ignoring advice about sleep training was a mistake
- my grandma, who told me that i held Baby Oh Really too much
- anyone who told me that being attentive to her cries was spoiling her

my kid does things when she's ready. i think that's really been the most important thing for me to learn about her. every kid is different, & this was probably the best advice i got (from my cousin, who has 4 kids under 8 right now).
posted by oh really at 6:03 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

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