Saturday, June 14, 2014

Stop giving bad advice!

Dear parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings and friends of new parents,
Stop giving them bad advice!


But seriously, stop it. I can honestly say that the majority of advice I have been given since the very first time I got pregnant was bad advice.

Stop telling new mums to give their baby rice cereal in a bottle because they wont sleep through the night. Stop telling them to start solids earlier than the age recommended by their doctor.
Stop saying that they will sleep through the night if they have a full belly.
Stop telling them to lay their babies on their belly or sides to sleep (I understand that in some cases, like with a gassy/colicky baby, this can help them, but I'm talking about in general).
Stop telling them to put whiskey on their teething baby's gums.
Stop telling them that it is okay to balance their infant car seat on top of a shopping cart/trolley (it's really not).
Stop telling them to loosen the car seat straps, or that they should be able to fit 2/3/4/5 fingers or a whole elephant between the straps and baby.

This is all outdated advice and I could seriously add so much more to that list.
But it gets worse. The well meaning people who are giving this bad advice, back it up by saying things like "Well I did this with my kids and they turned out fine" or "They are always changing what you should and shouldn't do, they will probably change it again in a year or two anyway"
To the people who say these things: do you freaking hear yourselves?! You are telling new parents, who are probably feeling a little unsure and maybe even a little vulnerable, to go against what medical professionals say is best/safest.
Yes, you did this with your kids and they probably turned out okay, but that doesn't mean it's the safest option.
Now before you get insulted, defensive or just plain jump down my throat, I want to reiterate that I am not attacking your parenting choices. I do not doubt that you did what you knew at the time was best for your children and that's fantastic. I have no doubt that the majority of people who are giving this advice are/were great parents, but the fact is, knowledge has grown.
Research and technology have shown us that there are increased risks of diseases and other health problems when you feed your baby anything other than breast milk or formula before 6 months.
It has shown that putting your baby to sleep on their back significantly decreases the chance of SIDS. And no, a baby is not going to choke on their own spit up and die if they are sleeping on their back, so stop telling new moms that.
And don't get me started on putting whiskey on a baby's gums, seriously?
The one that really gets to me, though, is the car seat issue. the straps should NOT be loose enough to fit two fingers between the straps and baby, they should be snug. No, a child is not going to choke or suffocate from having the straps on their car seat done up correctly. So what if your kid survived having loose straps on their car seat, or if they survived not being in a car seat at all? The fact is, if a child or infant is not in the correct car seat for their age and size, with the harness done up correctly, their risk of being seriously injured or even killed in the event of a car accident significantly increases, same with putting your kids in expired car seats (yes, car seats expire and it's not just a gimmick). Why would I ever risk that?!

Oh and FYI: Doctors/the AAP don't change recommendations just for fun, they change it because knowledge grows and they have a responsibility to recommend what they know at the time to be best/healthiest/safest for your children. Stop telling people that it is okay to risk their child's health or safety by not doing what we now know to be best.

The same goes for pregnancy, I don't care if you chose to eat or do the things that we are warned by our doctors not to do during pregnancy and your kid turned out just fine, that doesn't mean I should do those things, so stop telling pregnant women that "just a little bit is okay" because sometimes just that little bit of whatever it is can make the world of difference in the health of the baby. I WILL NOT RISK MY BABY'S HEALTH FOR A PIECE OF HAM OR DELICIOUS RAW SUSHI.

The whole point of doctors making recommendations about what to feed your baby and when, about what to avoid eating or doing during pregnancy, about what position to put your baby in to sleep, or any other important recommendations, is NOT because they think that everybody that goes against these recommendations will experience the adverse effects. No not at all, the point is that doing these things that are not recommended significantly INCREASES the risk of the adverse effects. I am not going to knowingly put my children at risk just because your children turned out fine.

SO please, I don't care who you are, or how many kids you have, if you find yourself in conversation with a parent of a young child and you find yourself thinking  that you did things differently with your kids, remember this post.

Stop saying that you did [insert no longer recommended thing here] with your children and they turned out fine.
Stop saying that doctors are always changing what you should and shouldn't do, or that they will just change it again anyway.
Stop telling parents to go against what research has shown is best for their kids.
and most importantly:
Stop getting defensive or taking it as people are saying you are/were a bad parent for doing those things, because that is just plain not true.

Oh and before I step off my soapbox, I want to add:
Stop telling new parents that their choices are wrong. As long as they are not putting their child in danger, who cares if they breastfeed or bottle feed? Who cares if they use cloth or disposable diapers? Who cares if they put their kid in a stroller or baby carrier? Who cares if they pick up their baby when they cry or do controlled crying? Who cares if they choose to have an epidural, elective c-section or unmedicated natural birth? Who cares if they give their baby store bought baby food or make their own? Who cares if they choose to let the baby sleep in their room or if they put them in their own room from the day they come home? You may not agree with some of these decisions for whatever reason, but as long as their kids are safe, let them parent the way they feel is best, don't tell them that they are "wrong" and if you really cant help but judge them, keep it to yourself. We parents need to love and support each other to keep these precious babes safe!

***Please remember that there are some doctors who chose not to keep up to date with the AAP recommendations and still recommend things like feeding baby at 4-6 months, rather than 6 months. Parents, remember to do your own research as well***

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