The Worst Advice I Was Given as a New Mother

When you're a new mother, people start giving you advice. Some of it is so bad. Now baby number 2 is due, I'm reflecting on the worst advice I was given.

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This funny thing happens when you’re pregnant for the first time… everyone you come into contact with takes this as a cue to give you advice. And what’s better is that you don’t even have to ask for it (that was sarcasm by the way). Now I’m about to have baby #2, I’ve realised the advice isn’t only limited to those who are pregnant for the first time!

Now, don’t get me wrong, some advice is great – like someone told me to take a pair of socks with me to hospital when I had my son because it’s always cool at night. That’s great advice. But the great advice was often overshadowed by the not so great advice.

So, while I think back to what it was like a few years ago when I was getting so much ‘help’ I thought I’d share with you some of the worst advice I was given as a new mother, some of it’s quite funny too.

1 – It’s okay, you’ll be able to sleep when the baby sleeps.

LIE!!! Now, I’ll gladly be proven wrong by anyone on this one – so please let me know if you were one of those mysterious women I hear about who was able to sleep when their baby slept, but to date, I’m yet to hear from anyone that this is possible!

If you’re lucky enough to have a baby that sleeps for more than 10 minutes in one go then you’ll most likely be found using this time to attempt some form of self cleaning, washing the absolute mountain of clothes that are forming and making some pass at cleaning what once resembled your kitchen. That’s if you can move past staring into space because of the sheer sleep deprivation.

2 – You only need a handful of outfits for the baby, 5 onesies at most.

Clearly, these people never had a baby with reflux. We were lucky if we only went through 5 outfits a day!! If this is your first child then buy whatever you want – you won’t be able to justify doing it again. If you want to dress your newborn up then go for it! It’s adorable. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.

3 – Don’t nurse your baby to sleep. He will never learn to go to sleep on his own.

I’m a little ashamed at how long I believed this for… that being said, I never stopped nursing my son to sleep – I loved it. From around 18 months onwards, he would put himself to sleep. Clearly I ruined him. And now I miss the days when he was small enough to fall asleep in my arms. Do whatever you have to do mama. 

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4 – Don’t pick your baby up when they cry, you’ll cuddle them too much and spoil them.

It is impossible to cuddle your baby too much. Seriously. And spoil them?? Really?? They are babies. They need to be held close, they need to be cuddled and they need to be shown love. This is one of the worst pieces of advice that really gets under my skin. It is so instinctual to pick our babies up when they cry and there’s a reason for it – because that is what we are supposed to do!

5 – You have to stop breastfeeding as soon as they ask for it.

This makes absolutely no sense to me. We try so hard to work out what our children are trying to communicate to us, then when they can tell us that they want to drink our milk, we stop giving it to them?? What message is that reinforcing? And that’s before I even go on a rant about those who say you have to stop breastfeeding your child at 6 months, or one year. The World Health Organisation recommends feeding until 2 years of age and beyond, so if it’s working for you, keep going! 

6 – Don’t pick your child up when he wakes at night – let him cry it out, it’s good for his lungs.

This is not a debate about whether crying it out works or not, but even those who are fans of the actual cry it out method know that a child who is screaming for hours on end is not a good thing. ALL children are different, you cannot possibly categorise them all into one category of what will and what will not work.

My son did not calm himself down once he was upset, he would ramp up more and more and then throw up. This had only ever happened once and you can bet I felt like the worst mum in the world. I know the difference between my son whinging and waking from a dream and him waking upset and I will never, ever let him cry it out. 

7 – When your nursing baby bites you, bite them back.

Are you kidding me? You just told me to bite my child…. My child who is only biting me because they are still learning how to use their mouth properly… my child who can’t even talk, my child who still depends completely on me. You want me to bite them? When someone said this to me I laughed, thinking they were joking. They weren’t. I walked away.

And this is just the advice I received as a new mother, it’s not even including all the crazy advice I’ve heard my friends tell me they were given or the advice I’ve been given with baby number 2! 

I’d love to hear what the worst advice is you’ve received as a parent. It can be anything, not just relating to being a new mother.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Krystal, the worst advice I was ever given (and by a pharmacist and maternal health nurse no less) was to keep breast my 3 month old son when he was clearly hungry for more milk than I had to give. All because at this stage my supply had yet to adjust to his increased demands. I had been feeding every 2 hours for 5 days, we were both exhausted and my son did nothing but scream. To make matters worse, the pharmacist refused to sell me formula. It was from this point that I vowed I would do what worked for us, not what was “best practice”

  2. I’ve never heard of the bite them back thing. I have done this with hair pulling which proved effective for all pulling. One and done. That said, I don’t think I’ve ever given as advice.

    And I done the opposite of everything else on this list.

  3. You are a good mama! I had some of the same bad advice, just followed my instincts and 35 years later my son is a confidant well-adjusted productive citizen. All babies are different; follow your heart and things will work out.

  4. I am actually one of those rare mothers who used to sleep when my baby (now toddler) slept! At first it was because my little girl would only sleep with me beside her, then being so tired I would fall asleep too. Then over time as she grew older and slept independently, I would use one of her naps to do housework and the other to nap as well. As she didn’t sleep well at night and my lovely husband is admittedly useless at night time, I probably napped most days until she was around 6 or 7 months.

    I also didn’t follow the advice about leaving my baby to cry, I just couldn’t do it. My little girl also loved being in the sling, and practically lived in it the first 3 months or she would cry. Many people told me I needed to put her down, and that I was going to make her shy and clingy. But now at 18 months, she is a happy, confident and very sociable little girl. My worst piece of advice was to give my baby rum or brandy so she slept – I thought the woman was joking, but apparently did it with her daughters!

    • I really am so glad there are women out there who can sleep when their baby sleeps! That’s like a major gold star in motherhood! <3 I've managed a few naps here and there with my second child, but thankfully she sleeps way better than my first child at night!!!

      It amazes me that women recommend giving rum or brandy to a baby!! I've heard of dipping a dummy in scotch to help them when they were teething... so, so bad.

  5. You have nailed it! I have heard them all and I don’t know how many times I have quoted World Health Org’s recommendation to blank stares thank you for this article, 10 years after my last child these rediculous outdated gems of advice still get under my skin (good for their lungs? good grief.

  6. I recommend a book called “the wonder weeks” for any mum. It is doctors and scientist studying babies for over 40 years. They put their findings into this book. I was sceptical but so far it has been very helpful I would recommend it to anyone.

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