When you become a first-time mum, it’s like an open invitation for everyone (yes, even random grandmas on the street) to give you well-meaning advice on parenting and childcare.
The advice can get overwhelming, especially if it is unsolicited.
But stick to your guns and follow your instinct because really no one knows your child better.
Here’s 5 pieces of the most common mum advice I’ve come across that I chose not to heed. No regrets so far!
“Don’t let baby use you as a pacifier.”
The kindly nurse from the Mum and Baby hospital unit told me so on postpartum day 2. It gave me the impression that it’s wrong to let baby nurse for reasons other than hunger, and made me paranoid about overfeeding my baby.
I found out upon discharge that the nurse made the remark only because she was concerned about whether I was getting enough rest. In reality, there’s nothing harmful about letting baby nurse whenever they want.
Nature has a way of preventing breastfed babies from overfeeding because hind milk sends a signal to babies’ brains telling them that they’re full. A good nursing relationship builds a strong attachment between baby and mum, and helps promote healthy growth and immunity.
I attribute Gwen’s strong attachment to me as a result of all those long intimate hours of nursing. She’s also the last in the family to succumb to cold bugs, I have breastfeeding to thank for that!
“Let baby cry more before you attend to her.”
Many elders have told me this. Their mentality is that you’ll spoil the baby if you respond to her needs too quickly.
But as it turns out, this is a myth.
Babies who are attended to swiftly and consistently grow into confident, happy individuals because they see the world as a safe and wonderful place. They also develop a more trusting relationship with their caregivers.
No wonder all the maternal warning bells go off in my mind whenever baby cries!
“It’s alright if baby doesn’t nap enough in the day. She’ll sleep better at night.”
The importance of naps is often undermined. Many parents believe that if their babies don’t nap well during the day, they’ll simply make up for that lack of sleep at night.
On the contrary, a bad nap usually means a bad night’s sleep. A child who is overtired will have difficulty falling sleep and may rouse several times throughout the night.
This is a good reminder to myself to keep to baby’s wake time and consistently put her down to nap when she expresses tired cues.
“Don’t hold your baby too often. You’ll spoil her.”
As my baby gets heavier, I get this advice more, usually out of concern for my arms and back.
But I tell people I choose to hold her, because she’s this small once. To reduce the strain, I babywear Gwen and it’s kinder on my body that way.
I also quote child development experts in my reply, “It’s impossible for parents to hold a baby too much.” Babies, especially young infants, need constant attention to give them the foundation to develop emotionally, physically and intellectually.
Babyhood goes by in a flash. I want to baby Gwen for as long as I can, and hold her before she tires of being in my arms.
“Stretch the time between feedings.”
I chose not to. If I could turn back time, I would still stick to that decision of feeding Gwen whenever she seemed hungry instead of watching the clock even though it sapped so much of my energy.
The risk of stretching out feeding times is too much for me. I didn’t want it to hurt my milk supply (which was important to build in the early months), because that might affect Gwen’s intake and growth. Furthermore, crying is a late indicator of hunger and I didn’t want Gwen to get overly hungry (which causes other problems like gas.)
Eventually Gwen’s frequent 1.5 hourly feedings spaced out when she started solids around the 6-7 months mark. I’m glad for the respite and that I enabled Gwen to take the lead in eating and develop her own eating schedule.