I know, I know, you’ve been given so much parenting advice already you probably want to scream.
And while a lot of the advice can happily go in one ear and out the other, there really are some little gems of wisdom that are worth listening to.
Out of all the things I was told when I became a parent, here are the 6 things that stuck with me and really did help on my parenting journey:
1) Don’t tip toe around the baby – get them used to noise.
I remember going to visit my sister when her oldest was a baby, and before I had any children of my own. We were sat in her living room with the baby sleeping in the next room, with the doors to both rooms wide open and the tv blaring.
I mean, it was really loud. And I asked, wouldn’t it wake the baby up? Shouldn’t we turn it down a bit?
And was met with words that have stuck with me ever since.
“It’s fine. It won’t wake her. She’s used to noise”.
She’s used to noise.
My sister and her husband never tiptoed around when she was sleeping. They went about their day (and night) as usual. Making all the usual noise. And the baby got used to it.
So when Rhys came along we made a point of doing the same. And he will pretty much sleep through anything!
2) Wipe their lower tummy before you take their nappy off.
I wrote about this tip the other day. Basically, if you want to try and avoid getting hit in the face with a stream of wee during a nappy change, loosen the nappy, wipe the lower part of baby’s tummy with a cold baby wipe, then wait.
The cold of the wipe makes them wee while their nappy is still on, rather than them doing it a few seconds after you take the nappy off.
3) Pick your battles
Some things are worth battling with your kids over. When their health or safety is at risk, then yes, you battle with them.
But if they want to go the shops wearing a pyjama top, a tutu and their wellies? Well, does it really matter?! In the greater scheme of things, is it worth a battle?
So they want to pile all their teddies in with them at bedtime. Does it matter?
They want to colour the sun in green and the sky in orange in their colouring book. Does it really matter?
Just take a second and think about it.
Don’t fight over things that really don’t matter. Save your energy for the important stuff.
Pick your battles.
4) Don’t stress about what they eat in a day, look at the whole week
Weaning your first child can be really quite stressful. I mean, it can also be a load of fun, watching them exploring the wonderful world of food, and learning to navigate different textures and tastes, but weaning does come with its stressful times.
One of those stressors can be the concern that your baby isn’t eating enough. Or isn’t eating enough of a variety of foods.
The best advice I was given about that was to look at what they’re eating over the course of a week, not just a day.
While it might be concerning when they eat nothing but yoghurt for a day (or two!), it’s less worrying when you consider that for the other 5 days of the week they also consumed plenty of things from the other food groups.
5) If you’re bottle feeding, give them their milk cold or at room temperature from the start.
I nearly forgot about this one while writing this post, but luckily my husband pointed it out to me! When Rhys was born I tried breastfeeding him for about 2 weeks before deciding that, for us, moving on to formula was the best decision.
I was talking through my decision with my Mum when she gave me this piece of advice that proved really useful for us.
She told me to give him his milk at room temperature (or cold from the fridge) from the start, so I would never be stuck trying to warm up a bottle when I was out and about.
Now, I’m sure some of you will disagree with this, and I think that the standard advice is to prepare fresh bottles as you need them and to make them up at a certain temperature. But what I used to do was boil the kettle, fill the bottles with the right amount of water, screw the tops on and then leave them on the work-surface until I needed them.
Then, when he needed a feed, I would just add the right about of formula powder to the, now-cooled, boiled water and shake it up. Simple. And meant that all his bottles were basically room temperature when he drank them.
And when we went out I would just take my bottles of measured out water with me, and a useful tub with measured out portions of formula powder. Then just mix them together when needed. No need for flasks of boiling water to warm the bottle. He was used to drinking it as it came.
So much easier.
6) “Listen, smile, agree, then do whatever the fuck you were gonna do anyway.”
Ok, maybe Robert Downey Jr didn’t say that in relation to parenting, but I still apply it in that way!
People will give you tons of advice when you have a baby, and most of it will be conflicting and confusing.
Some of it will speak to you, some of it will sound like complete nonsense.
Some will just sit well with you, while other bits of advice will make you want to scream ‘how on earth is that the best thing to do in this situation?”.
So the trick is to do what Robert suggests.
Listen to the various bits of advice (mine included).
Then listen to your heart.
Listen to your instincts.
And do whatever feels right for you and your family.
What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve been given?