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!  

6Shares

Filed under: FamilyParenting

Leave a comment

58 comments

  1. Martina

    04/25/2012

    You are so right, this is why i hated going to the well Baby check up’s, my husbands in the military, going to a military hospital is always fun, but it also means that they read of the checklist and if your child don’t measure up, you are very likely to end up somewhere were you never guessed you would be. My oldest could only name 3 shapes at age 2, and they taught he was delayed(he didn’t understand what the doctor was saying as he grows up bilingual), hes 4 now and now and will graduate kindergarten this year. With our other son who is 2 we got told he was autistic when he was 8 month old, because he didn’t walk and talk, turned out he was born with fluids behind his eardrums, and he couldn’t hear, once the put tubes in he was talking, just this year we found out for his delayed walking, as he had cancer in his neck, which messed with his muscle system. He is doing fine now, and talks up a storm from dawn to dusk. I did learn that yes if there is a concern for their health, by all means go see a doctor, but usually mothers knows best.

    [Reply]

  2. Angel

    04/25/2012

    LOVE this post! I am the mother of a 31/2 yr old and a 18 month old both boys and this is my number one piece of advice to new mothers who ask me “how do you get him to do that or what do you think about this?” and I tell them every time that they have to do what works for them and what they are convicted about doing because you will always live your convictions, but when things get tough you will not hold to some else’s convictions you will just be frustrated and feel guilty that you could not do what so and so does or says to do. You are fortunate that you have learned this so fast it takes some years of heartache to get it.

    [Reply]

  3. Amanda

    04/25/2012

    AH! Thank you! This is so true. I remember with my first…I tried to give him rice cereal at 4 months just like the pediatrician said. He would vomit it up and I was so determined to give it to him that I just kept feeding him…finally my friend, mom of two, said to me, “why are you giving that to him when you know in your heart he doesn’t want it?”. That woke up me up! Now pregnant with my third…I don’t push it. We try things when THEY are ready for it. Why force your kids to eat solids or do anything else before they are actually ready? No one knows your kid better than you!

    [Reply]

  4. Chelley

    04/25/2012

    My son was waking up every two hours. After being exhausted I fell asleep with him on my belly on the sofa. We slept for 5 hours, it was amazing! I had been afraid to have him sleep on his stomach. It turns out, Michael had acid reflux. He needed that extra pressure on his stomach. I discovered this after talking to his doctor. We slept peaceful on the sofa with him on my stomach until Michael started to squirm at night. At four months old, he went to sleep in his crib on his stomach, but could roll over and was crawling by 5 months. I tried following the advice of others until fate took over. I spoke to Michael’s pediatrician and this worked for us.

    [Reply]

  5. Susan VB

    04/25/2012

    Amen, sister!

    [Reply]

  6. Angela Rajnus

    04/25/2012

    YES!!! Romans 14 applies to parenting 🙂

    [Reply]

  7. Sarah @ Sarah's Deals

    04/25/2012

    Perfect advice. I think it goes far beyond parenting as well though. Your food, your career choice, everything. You know you better than anyone else as well. 🙂

    [Reply]

  8. Living So Abundantly

    04/25/2012

    I totally appreciate this post, as I’m 11 weeks pregnant and am already getting more advice than I know what to do with. 😉 Haha! I do have some highly opinionated friends(love them, though!) who can make you feel stupid if you don’t do things the way they do, so thank you so much for this post. It is very refreshing, and I’m sure I’ll look back on it once in a while to be reminded of this.

    [Reply]

  9. Micki

    04/25/2012

    The difference between a stay-at-home mom and a working mom – is the amount of guilt the mother has – either way.
    I was raised in New York City and 67 years ago my mom HAD to put me i daycare. I know of no other child that was in day care. I never knew the difference. My dad was out at sea and my mom had to work. I thought all mom worked.I never knew the difference.

    [Reply]

  10. amy martin

    04/25/2012

    I’m with you on this!!! after 7 kids not even the same things worked with each kid, so my two biggest pieces of advice for any mom/dad/child care person is to pay attention to each kid and do what works for him or her and pray like your life depends on it!!!

    [Reply]

    Jen Reply:

    @Amy: You couldn’t have said it any better! (and I only have three) ;o)

    [Reply]

  11. Kristen @ Joyfullythriving

    04/25/2012

    Well said, Andrea. Well said! I especially liked the diaper comment, as this seems to be especially hot topic right now! I’m with you on the disposables, too. 🙂

    [Reply]

  12. Patty

    04/25/2012

    I am an older mom now with our youngest being eighteen. Life takes so many twist and turns along the way that truly most families face different situations and decisions have to be made accordingly. However, looking back, there was some advice I wish I had regarded more. Ultimately for us, because we are Christians, we chose to follow a Biblical path that has worked well for us. I have also realized as I have aged that those who have traveled the path before us do have wisdom to offer. Sometimes the turnoff is the way advice is offered. I was a pretty independent young mom and didn’t want to be controlled. I also did some things different than our parents did ~ like choosing to nurse my child. I think many decisions are made because of convenience or because it is the “social norm” not because they are truly the best decisions for our families. You know the saying ~ “If I knew then, what I know now” ~ experience does have a useful voice ~ sometimes for success and sometimes for avoiding mistakes others have made.

    [Reply]

    Tanya Reply:

    Totally agree!

    [Reply]

    Melanie Reply:

    Patty, I love this. I have five kids, and though they are not grown yet (10, 8, 5, 3, 1), I already wish I would have known at the beginning what I know now. And, what is funny is how worried I was that I might do one thing wrong and screw them up forever! Now there is no way I could begin to count how many times I’ve changed methods, schedules, sleeping arrangements, nutrition choices, schooling decisions, etc… And, as others have said, even in one family, multiple kids can all have different needs. I guess my best advice would be, just because you make a decision for your family, it doesn’t mean you can never change your mind. I thought I had parenting down until I had my second, and I’ve never felt that way since!

    [Reply]

  13. julie

    04/25/2012

    that’s the same advice I like to give new parents… don’t get caught up in what you read and what everybody says. Do what works for you!! well said Andrea!

    [Reply]

  14. Heidi

    04/25/2012

    While I do agree somewhat, I can’t help but also disagree as well.
    I enjoy advice from other parents who have been there and done that. I don’t feel offended. If I don’t like their advice, I don’t take it. No biggie.
    I have saved myself a lot of trial and error on some issues in my journey as a mother thanks to the advice of other mothers. And I am thankful for that.
    I just assume people are doing it out of the goodness of their hearts and see no reason to get bent out of shape over it and try to think if their advice (unsolicited or not) applies to my situation.
    While it is VERY true, that what works for one family may not work for another, I think we should realize that this advice is almost always coming from a helpful place and we just might find some use of it in our own lives! 🙂

    [Reply]

  15. Karen stoner

    04/25/2012

    I agree wholeheartedly, Andrea! We have 5 grown children and they were ALL different! I do give some ideas/suggestions to my kids who have children, but we both know and believe that they are the parents and they should do what works for them. And guess what? Even though they are raising their kids differently from us, their kids are happy, healthy, and the joy of our lives! And I am so proud of my kids for being amazing parents!

    [Reply]

  16. Beth

    04/25/2012

    Very well put! It takes moms awhile to feel confident enough to follow their gut and make what might be considered “unconventional” decisions. But once you do, you realize how freeing and good it feels to listen to your gut and trust it! Thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

  17. Maria

    04/25/2012

    You’re abolutely right and I agree with Peitra. I’m a mother of twins (boy and girl). They’re the same age (my daughter is 2-minutes older than my son). But they absolutelydo not react the same way! DO what works for you… simply do your best remembering we’re only human beings!

    [Reply]

  18. Peitra

    04/25/2012

    Well said! As the mom of a 2 year old and 7 week old– I have also learned that every child is different. What works for one, might not for the other. Do what works for you and what works for your child. And if you’re not sure, ask/read/research….. and then decide for yourself.

    [Reply]

  19. Sue

    04/25/2012

    Well done. And every child is different too. My first did not respond to most textbook advice & was terribly colicky but he LOVED the baby carrier. My second was the “good baby”–I could put her down awake in the bassinet and she would fall asleep on her own–a miracle! She did not like the baby carrier at all and was amazingly independent. Of course, with your second child you feel much more confident of your decisions. It’s a shame that we cannot give new moms the gift of self-confidence at their baby shower! By the way–beautiful pics of Nora. I love my children at every age but I miss those sweet babies!

    [Reply]

  20. Amy

    04/25/2012

    Thank you, Andrea! I needed this reminder today!

    [Reply]

  21. Leslie H

    04/25/2012

    I think you are exactly right!

    Wish I would have figured that out sooner with my kids…but they’ve grown into responsible adults despite our parenting failures. The best parenting relys on God’s grace, and really, really appreciates it too!!

    Blessings on you three!

    [Reply]

  22. Savvy Shopper

    04/25/2012

    I went through this exact same revelation after my first son was born. Well said! I think, one day, we’ll be able to move past the “good mom, bad mom” argument and just support one another.

    [Reply]

  23. Carlen

    04/25/2012

    I concur completely. But, I do think it is important to be open to advice and different ways of thinking. I am very much a “by the books” kind of person, so when I found something that worked, I stuck to it. Problem is, children aren’t like that. Their needs change constantly. I remember going through a very difficult few weeks when she was young, and someone gave me some unwarranted advice. At first, I blew her off, but then I was desperate and I remembered what she said and tried her suggestion and IT WORKED. I think most people are just trying to be helpful, and there are a lot of people who know lots of things that I don’t. So, be open to advice, but don’t be obligated to follow.

    [Reply]

  24. Bonnie

    04/25/2012

    Excellent Advice!

    [Reply]

  25. Jennifer M

    04/25/2012

    Thank you for sharing. I agree 100%. We have a 3, 2 and a 1 year old and have learned this over the last 3 years. A friend recently had their first little one and she was telling me how overwhelmed she was. She felt like everywhere she turned someone was telling her how bad of a mom she was if she didn’t do this or didn’t do that. I basically told her the same thing, do what works for you and your baby.

    People will always have their opinions but we can’t live by them. If I did everything that everyone else thought I should do (parenting or just in life) I would go insane and not be the person that I am. I would be a clone of 50 other people.

    [Reply]

  26. Lora

    04/25/2012

    Well said, friend! 🙂 Glad to be sharing this adventure with you.

    Here’s another one.
    If you want to put socks on your baby- do it. If you think it it too hot for socks- let them be barefoot.

    Nicaraguans think babies should ALWAYS have socks on. I rebel and I never put socks on him. The only time he’s worn socks were 1) on his hands (when he scratched his head :)) and 2) in Michigan at Christmas!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’m laughing so hard right now Lora — I vividly remember (right before we had Nora) Dave commented to me about one of Beto’s pictures on Facebook. He said, “Why do they have socks on him… isn’t it really hot there!”
    So funny!

    [Reply]

    Katherine@YeOldCollegeTry Reply:

    AHHHHHH!!!!! Our neighbor is constantly addressing us through our kids: “Aren’t you cold out here? Doesn’t Mommy have socks to put on those little feet? Brrrrr….” and it makes me crazy! It hasn’t happened in months (because our littlest is 2 now) but we’re expecting number three in a few weeks and I forgot to get myself ready for those comments all over again. Socks!!!!!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Reply:

    I don’t think I’ve ever commented here on one of my absolute favorite blogs 🙂 But now I will because this made me laugh! I live in West Michigan and my husband is Nicaraguan. Our three year old and 11 month old hardly ever have their socks on and my husband is always, always telling me I should put their socks on. But they must have taken after my side on that one because I try to put socks on them and they both pull them off and don’t seem one bit bothered by cold floors, even in the Michigan winter. My husband says it makes him cold just looking at them!

    [Reply]

  27. Diana

    04/25/2012

    AMEN! Unfortunately it takes a new momma a little while to be comfortable enough to get to the point you are at – so GOOD FOR YOU! We as women would do each other so much more of a service if we gave the advice to Stop “should-ing” on yourself!! Instead of making an already overwhelming task so much MORE by trying to be “helpful,” we need to give each other the grace and space to test out our new wings and fly!!

    [Reply]

  28. Kathleen

    04/25/2012

    Well said!

    [Reply]

  29. Jenifer

    04/25/2012

    I remember when my daughter was a newborn (she is 2 now) and I didn’t have a clue! I was reading everything I could get me hands on and getting all sorts of (solicited and unsolicited) advice that I didn’t know what to do.

    One day I was in Target and my daughter was being very fussy and crying. An older lady walked by and smiled and said “Oh, someone is hungry.” And I thought ‘She is? A stranger knows my daughter better than me!’ And when it happened again recently with my 2nd daughter, I thought ‘No, she just doesn’t want to be in her carseat.” And I remembered that moment 2 years ago when I felt so inadequate.

    I have learned that most people mean well but they don’t KNOW. And I think twice before I say ANYTHING to a mom with a fussy/screaming baby.

    I am The Mom. 🙂 And this journey is not black and white but shades of gray.

    [Reply]

  30. Amie Odahl

    04/25/2012

    Nice way of putting it. When I was a first time mom, I was overwhelmed by the advice (and most of it always seemed to dwell on the negative). I came to the same conclusion – do what works for you and your family!

    Our biggest issue – with all three children – was sleep. We tried everything and couldn’t get our kids to sleep! My oldest was 4 when he finally slept through the night! We ended up doing a lot of different things – and we had to be flexible – what worked one week, didn’t work the next – but eventually everyone can now sleep through the night! No one warned me about this – so I was shocked – and very frustrated with sleep deprivation…at times I thought I would get more sleep if I was a prisoner of war! My husband and I agreed that we would do whatever we needed to do – to get sleep – so at times I slept on the floor next to the crib, or the baby slept in our bed, our we dozed on the couch…most of what we did – was not found through advice but our own trial and error!

    Thanks for highlighting the fact that we all know what is best for our own unique families and advice can be helpful but when it finally comes down to it – we’ll do what works best for our family!

    [Reply]

  31. Kadie

    04/25/2012

    That was wondeful parenting advice. I remember the advice that everyone, including doctors, gave us when we first had our children. Most of it didn’t work. Some of the advice I have read as the kids have gotten older has helped, but I take what most people say with a grain of salt. As long as my children are happy and healthy, I am happy.

    [Reply]

  32. Samantha

    04/25/2012

    BTW.. both of my kids are NOT behind in development. my daughter is only two and already knows all of her shapes, colors, animals and animal sounds. she can even read some words! and my son is just where he needs to be

    [Reply]

  33. Amy

    04/25/2012

    Bravo! Every child, parent and family is differernt. That is what makes us all special! Finding what “works for you” and doing it shows honor and respect for your family and their specific needs, wants and loves. :o)

    [Reply]

  34. Samantha

    04/25/2012

    sometimes even the doctor can be wrong. I have a two year old little girl and a seven month old little boy and BOTH of them have someone come to visit each week through a program called parents as teachers because their doctor though they were behind in development… that is because my two year old wasnt talking (to HIM, when she was about a year and four months… she didnt like strangers, and still doesnt.. but BOY CAN SHE TALK) and because my son hadnt picked up a cherrio by himself at six months… which is because i had never given him any because HE DIDNT HAVE TEETH! Dont get me wrong, im thankful for the program, but it just taught me that i dont have to listen to the doctor all the time!

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    I hear ya on that! My little guy was early and always small for his age. The doctor was all over my case that he needed to eat more and put weight on. So, per doctor’s orders we increased his calorie intake, but now the same doctor is telling me my son is overweight and needs to go on a diet!! Ugh!! I can’t please the doctor and he has me all confused. So, now I’m just going to listen to my “mother’s intuition” and take my son off the high calorie diet and offer him healthing options
    (with maybe a treat here or there) and just be thankful that he is happy, healthy and thriving!

    [Reply]

  35. Monette

    04/25/2012

    I totally agree with you! Like my hubby says “a baby is not too complicated! You just got to give them some more lovin!”:)

    [Reply]

  36. Kelly braman

    04/25/2012

    Yup! Great advice! Mamas need to uplift,love,support & encourage one another…not judge:) Well said,Andrea:)

    [Reply]

  37. Audra

    04/25/2012

    Well said! It is so important to remember that every parent, child, family and situation is different. It is imperative to do what works for you and your family…especially without feeling the guilt. 🙂

    [Reply]

  38. Pamela

    04/25/2012

    Doctors aren’t above parents! Take their advice with a grain of salt too!

    [Reply]

  39. Lisa

    04/25/2012

    AMEN!

    [Reply]

  40. Bridget

    04/25/2012

    Awesome! Be informed, but do what works for you and your family. Best advice ever.

    [Reply]