How to Deal with Unwanted New-Baby Advice

When you have a new baby, suddenly everyone is an expert. Your mother, your mother-in-law, your sister, your neighbor, the guy in the deli, and the woman walking her dog in the park will all look at you, with your big belly or your tiny baby, and think, "Aha! She needs my help!" Then they'll swoop in with their sometimes questionable pearls of wisdom, telling you how to feed, dress, burp, and carry your baby, plus what you should be doing right now to make sure he gets into the college of his choice in 2026.

Why Everyone Offers Advice

Everyone's an Expert

Sometimes that advice can indeed be a lifesaver. But not every suggestion is helpful. Ignoring unwanted advice is one way to keep your sanity, but if the source of that advice is someone you have to deal with continually, like the woman who gave birth to you or your husband, it can be a little trickier. It's hard to keep blowing her off (especially if she's helping out with the baby), and she may insist that she knows best because she managed to raise you without any major mishaps. "But a lot has changed in what we know about babies since Mom last changed a diaper a few decades ago," says Ari Brown, MD, a pediatrician and coauthor of Baby 411. "Patients come to see me all the time with misinformation they have heard from their parents," she says. "Here are some of my favorites: fever is dangerous; if you let your baby bear weight on his legs, he will be bowlegged; don't introduce fruits before veggies or he'll never eat vegetables -- the list goes on and on."

The thing to keep in mind, though, is that as annoying as it is, most of the advice is well intentioned. "Babies bring out everyone's compassionate side," says Jennifer Hartstein, a psychologist at the Child and Family Institute at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, in New York City. "Other people may see you struggling with certain parenting issues, and they feel it is their duty as experienced parents to help you out." To a new mom who is sleep deprived and not yet completely confident in her parenting skills, even well-meaning advice can come off as critical and irritating. So take a deep breath, relax, and follow these tried-and-true tricks to sorting out the helpful from the harmful and blowing off the bad advice with charm and style.

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