Parenting Advice EVERY Parent Should Listen To

posted by Andrea | 04/25/2012

Yup, that’s right — I’ve been a mom for 5 whole months now, and I’m already giving parenting advice :)

Well…. not really.

You see, over the last 5 months of Nora’s life (and for several months before that, when she was still “inside”) I’ve gotten more parenting advice than I ever imagined possible. I suppose that goes with the territory of blogging and sharing my life with the world! And a lot of it has been really helpful advice… so thanks! 

However, I learned early on in my “mom journey” that, unless I wanted to go insane, I was just going to have to smile, nod… and let a lot of advice, suggestions, and criticism roll off my shoulders.

After reading lots of books, watching movies, listening to audio books, going to a class, doing online research, and getting all sorts of advice from friends, relatives, coworkers, neighbors, and blog readers… I have one piece of advice EVERY parent should listen to…

Do what works for YOU. Period!

If you want to use cloth diapers — go for it. If you want to use disposable — do it.

We use disposable diapers and I’m positive our trash bags full of diapers won’t ruin the environment all on their own.

If you want to nurse your baby — great. If you’d rather use formula – that’s great too.

I’m still nursing — but that’s just because it’s free and it has always been really easy for me. I’ve heard great things about formula and I’m certain your baby will not have a horrible life just because you didn’t nurse them exclusively.

If you want to start feeding your baby solid foods at an earlier age — do it. If you want to wait — that’s fine too. 

As long as your doctor says it’s OK, go ahead and start feeding them cereal, baby food, or whatever your doctor recommends. We tried feeding Nora cereal right at 4 months but she wouldn’t eat it… we’re still trying :)

If you like wearing your baby in a sling (and your baby likes to be worn) — great. If you don’t — no big deal. 

We were told that we absolutely HAD to have all sorts of baby carriers for Nora… but she really didn’t like any of them except the Moby wrap on occasion. She’s much more content to just lay on the floor and look around.

If your baby sleeps in their crib — that’s fine. If they sleep better in a swing or car seat — do that! And if they only sleep in your bed — it might just be worth it.

Nora sleeps in her crib, but know lots of people who used the swing or car seat for months! We also have friends who were TOTALLY against co-sleeping until they had a baby who absolutely refused to sleep unless he was with his mom. So, after months of almost no sleep, they resorted to co-sleeping and they now have a healthy, happy 3 year old who willingly sleeps in his own bed.

If you want to work outside the home — good for you. If you want to be a stay-at-home-parent — more power to you.

We make choices every day and there are pros and cons to each choice. You know what’s best for you and your family… no one else does, so don’t let them make you feel guilty for your choice.

If you want to home-school your children — go for it. If you choose to send them to school — great.

Either way, your children will learn, grow, mature, and get a great education.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is you know your children, your family, and your situation better than anyone — so don’t let yourself be easily swayed by what everyone else says you SHOULD do.

Obviously, you’ll want to check with your doctor before you do anything really crazy — and of course, it’s always important to be informed before making decisions — but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from these past 5 months, it’s that I absolutely have to do what works for me, what works for Nora, and what works for our family. 

I spent the first few months of motherhood trying to do what the books, the videos, and other people told me to do… but none of those sources knew our specific situation.

After I threw all that information out the window and just started doing what seemed like the best thing in my opinion, life started to get a little easier.

Even though I had absolutely no experience with children before Nora was born, I’m with her 24/7 — so it didn’t take that long for me to start figuring her out. Dave and I still have a long way to go, but we know her better than anyone… and you know your children better than anyone. 

How’s that for some practical parenting advice

Please note that I am NOT ‘for’ or ‘against’ any of the parenting techniques above… they are just examples.

Also, I’ve decided to leave the comments open on this post — but please remember that the whole point of the post is to “do what works for you” (not to give MORE advice or judge other parents.) Please consider that when you comment!  

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58 comments

  1. Vicki

    04/26/2012

    I agree whole-heartedly except for the part about how your diapers won’t ruin the environment. You know this isn’t true. The landfills are full of diapers that won’t decompose. Everybody thinks they don’t have an impact. Lots of everybody’s out there!

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  2. Debra Kapellakis

    04/26/2012

    You are one smart Mama! BRAVO!

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  3. Laurel

    04/26/2012

    As I read these posts, I have to chuckle because the advice from friends, family and even the professionals changes too. So even if you are given advice and are feeling guilty because it’s not what you do or it didn’t work out for you, don’t worry because the recommendations will soon change on you. Like coffee, one day it will kill you, the next, it’s a health food. When I was having our children, the recommendation was be sure not to introduce cereal until the baby is 6 months old or he/she will develop food allergies. Now I see that must have changed. Sleep positions too. That’s something I think all mothers worry about and when my kids were babies we had to put them on their stomachs. When my last one was born, the advice was out him on his side . You can drive yourself crazy with this stuff and one thing I do know for sure is that we moms carry around enough guilt, way more than any dad I’ve ever met and that’s just on it’s own after trying to do the best you can. It’s a challenge no matter what ages your kids are. I have found that as my kids become teenagers and young adults it’s even more of a challenge because now their opinion about what you’re doing enters in. Ugh. Anyway, great advice, Andrea.

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  4. Laura

    04/27/2012

    You KNOW I’m totally on-board with this! ;) Great post!

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  5. Judy

    04/27/2012

    The best “advice” I ever received was from a nurse who was teaching a pre natal course.
    She advised us to throw away all the books and videos, and just get to know our babies.
    Those sweet little beings have an awesome ability to let us know what will work for them, and when we are getting it right.
    This advice really reduced stress for me. It worked for both my babies who are now 19 and 16 years old.

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  6. Krista

    04/27/2012

    I completely agree with this. I have 2 kids who are only 18 months apart and I get asked a lot by other moms at playgroups and such how I do it and what works for us. I always tell them I will be happy to share with them what I do with my kids, but that ultimately they know their kids best and should do what their instincts are telling them. When I had my first, my mom reminded me of something that Dr Spock said in a book when she was a young parent. “You know more than you think you do. Trust your instincts.” This is a great post and I am glad that you have found something that works for you and Nora. Life was so much easier with my 2nd because I knew to listen to my instincts instead of books or other parents and even on occasion my doctor.

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  7. Amy McCready

    04/28/2012

    I love this!! You’re right – following everyone else’s rules or conforming because it’s PC only creates more stress. Best of luck to you in your parenting journey. I think it’s going to be fabulous for you!

    Warmly,

    Amy McCready
    Founder, Positive Parenting Solutions

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  8. Catie

    05/06/2012

    This is so completely SPOT ON! Love it and I couldn’t agree more. I have 2 girls; ages 3 and 1 and there’s not a day goes by that this whole philosophy isn’t more and more confirmed in my life. It’s cliche but so true–do what works for YOU! :)

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  9. Liz

    05/08/2012

    I would caution against “asking your doctor” before doing anything crazy. There is so much information available in our day and age and as you said… you know your family better than anyone else, so trust your instincts. Research things for yourself and DON’T rely on your doctor for everything. They have agenda’s of their own and it doesn’t always include the best interest of your baby.

    I’m just saying.

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  10. Nicky

    04/01/2013

    I do agree if ‘it’ is working but what if what you’re doing *isn’t* really working,? What if your child wakes several times a night and you are exhausted but can’t find a way to change this? What if your child won’t eat foods you eat as a family and you can’t afford the time and expense for this fussiness? It can be really hard to admit you don’t have things really under control and need some help / advice / suggestions. I have 4 kids, all different. Lots of times I’ve had to ask for help, they have taught me that it is OK to admit I don’t know. With my first I struggled for ages alone rather than admit I didn’t get it. Then I met a wonderful nutritionist who had my daughter eating within a couple of weeks using a routine I would *never* have thought of on my own despite months of trying. I say I agree with ‘do what works for you’ but add ‘always be prepared to listen to others’ and be honest with yourself, you may need their ideas one day in the future when things change.

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  11. Hannah VW

    07/13/2013

    I think it is most important to know your child, like you say.
    However, I’m not sure any of these things should be decided by what we “want to.” I think it is important to do our research, examine what we are capable of in our life (for example, I do think that disposable diapers have a negative impact on the environment, but sometimes it just isn’t feasible to use cloth, or it is better for a particular family to reduce their environmental impact in another area rather than using cloth diapers), and what God is calling us to do.

    I also hope that my close friends still feel OK stepping in and giving gentle suggestions, especially when there is an element of risk involved, and vice versa with me for them. For example, I have friends who are passionate about carseat safety and I have learned a lot from them about common safety “mistakes” and some of the newer recommendations I may not have heard of otherwise. It isn’t my own personal soapbox or thing I spend a lot of time researching, so I’m thankful for their input.

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