When you have a baby for the first time, everyone wants to give you advice. Sometimes this is welcome and reassuring however for many new parents they may find so much conflicting advice overwhelming. In addition to well-meaning friends and family you also have books, magazines, websites, blogs, and Apps that want to give you advice. Parenting forums can be a place to go when you are confused about a health or settling issue however they can also be full of conflicting opinions and judgemental comments. Nurses, Paediatricians, GPs, and other health professionals will also offer advice; however, this can change from person to person. There are so many sources and so many conflicting ideas and opinions, is there any way to get a “right” answer? So, try the following tips to deal with advice overload:
- Try starting with professional,face-to-face advice especially if you have a health question. It is crucial when you become a new parent to develop trusting relationships with a family GP and potentially and Early Childhood Nurse. If you don’t connect with the first one you meet, try someone else until you find the right fit.
- Take advice with a “grain of salt”(i.e. not too seriously). Some advice is genuinely helpful however, if advice given by friends and family doesn’t suit you don’t feel pressured to take it or agree with them. Each baby and parent pair are so different there is no guarantee what worked for someone else will work for you and your family.
- Don’t get caught up in competitive parenting. If you start to feel like another parent is competing with you about how much their baby sleeps, or developmental milestones, try not to get involved. Smile, nod, and talk about something else. Make a habit of spending time with people that make you feel good and encourage you.
- Be careful of strict or dogmatic parenting styles. There is no specific parenting style that works for every baby. Parenting advice ranges from highly strict routines and feeding schedules to completely “baby led”. You do not need to follow every aspect of a particular approach just because a book or article tells you so. Very few, if any of this parenting advice has been well researched and it certainly hasn’t been researched on yourbaby. Caring for a baby is trial and error until you find the best fit so just find what works for you and your baby.
- Talk to someone who will listen. You will be surprised that when you talk to someone who really listens you will feel better about a particular issue or come up with your own solution. A caring family member or friend may lend an ear or a shoulder to cry on. A Psychologist is another great option as we are trained to listen and also provide privacy and a non-judgmental attitude.
So, in conclusion trust your own instincts and seek out supportive people who will really listen and support you. When you want advice seek out quality sources and whenever possible face-to-face, “real” people rather than books or online. If you find a book that you like consult it without getting too caught up on every detail. I hope that didn’t sound like too much advice!!
Psychologist and mother of 2 young children