Becoming a new mom is an exciting thing. It’s also scary, stressful, confusing, wonderful, tiring, and so many other things.
On top of the roller coaster of feelings that come along with becoming a mommy, you have all of your friends and family members chiming in to give their two cents about your mothering style and your baby’s well-being.
I understand that all these things listed below have been said to me with the best of intentions, but the way they come across to a brand new mom isn’t the best.
So the next time you see a new mom, try not to say these things.
1. "Sleep when baby sleeps.”
Gee, I never thought of that! People tell me this all the time, as if I’ve never heard of this wonderful solution to exhaustion. If it were really that easy to sleep whenever my baby sleeps, I would be getting 18 hours of sleep a day!
But the thing is, that would only be possible if I didn’t have to eat, shower, wash baby’s millions of burp cloths and outfits she keeps spitting up on, keep the cat alive by feeding her when I can, and keep the house in some semblance of order, among other things.
Plus, you can’t just magically adjust your body’s sleep cycles to match your baby’s 3-hour sporadic chunks when you’ve been used to sleeping 7-8 hours all at once since you were 5 years old. Or maybe you can - but I can’t.
2. “Don’t worry about the housework - just relax and recover.”
As you can see by what you just read above… it’s impossible to just relax when you have a baby. Unless you have a maid, a cook, a pet nanny, and a babysitter. Maybe you have those things. Good for you, But I don’t.
It is important to TRY to rest as much as you can so that you can recover. But once you’ve completely run out of forks because they’re all dirty, you have 2 weeks worth of laundry filling all of your hampers, and the tub you bathe your baby is in forming some strange kind of crust - it’s time to do some housework. So unless you’re offering to come and do that for me, don’t suggest that I need to relax and avoid doing it.
3. “Your baby is so TINY!”
Okay, my baby was almost 9 pounds at birth. She’s been in at least the 90th percentile for height and weight since birth. Yet people STILL comment that she’s tiny!
Yes, she is tiny when compared to a full-grown adult because she is just a baby, and babies tend to be smaller than adults. But saying she’s tiny when she’s actually perfectly healthy and actually big for her age, makes me feel like you think she’s undernourished or something.
This girl eats constantly - so she’s not lacking anything. And she’s NOT TINY! But whatever.
4. “Oh, your baby is just hungry / tired / gassy / etc.”
I had this baby inside of me for 9 months, and since her birth I’ve been with her pretty much 24/7. I KNOW what’s wrong when she cries. Immediately. I just know.
So it’s strange to me when someone else thinks they know what she wants. Especially when I’m right there, telling them I know what’s wrong, and they refuse to believe me.
5. “Let me take baby, I’ll fix it.”
This phrase typically follows the one above. Again, it’s annoying because I know my little girl better than anyone. I know what’s wrong, and I can handle it, just like I do when I’m alone at home taking care of her every day of the week.
I think this is used mostly as an excuse to get to hold her. But really, you could just ask to hold her instead of suggesting that I don’t know how to calm and take care of my own baby.
6. “You really should have (X, Y, Z baby product) for your baby.”
Whether it’s some kind of outdated baby gadget that isn’t even considered safe anymore, a certain kind of bottle or sleeper, or any other baby product you can imagine, if I don’t already have it for my baby there’s probably a reason. I’ve done my research and know what I prefer to use for my baby, whether for reasons of safety, practicality, or just personal preference.
So don’t waste your breath. You’re not going to convince me to waste money on baby products I don’t need and don’t want.
7. “You should try (X, Y, Z baby formula) to help with your baby’s gassiness.”
So first of all, babies can be gassy because their digestive systems are still developing. If their gas gets stuck, that can be a problem. But if it’s coming out, that’s good!
My baby toots a lot, but she has no problem getting them out. So I guess you could say she is “gassy,” but it doesn't cause issues for her. She’s happy and healthy.
Second of all, she’s exclusively breastfed (and occasionally fed breast milk through a bottle). She’s never had a drop of formula. Now there’s nothing wrong with formula, and it can be a great option for lots of babies. But to me, the many benefits of breast milk far outweigh the slight gassiness it may cause for my baby.
As long as my girl is not in pain or losing weight, I plan to continue breastfeeding as long as she wants to nurse. For someone to even suggest that I should switch to formula is very upsetting, and if you’ve ever breastfed you probably get what I mean.
8. “Have you tried bicycling her legs?”
Again with the gas thing… normal. Not a problem. And yes I’ve tried that. Thank you very much.
9. “I think your baby will sleep through the night soon!”
Do you think so? That’s nice, but I don’t really like getting myself all hopeful that this is going to happen only to be disappointed. As I write this, my baby is almost 2 months old and she has actually slept through the night once. But sleeping through the night isn’t something that can be forced, and honestly the more stressed you get about it, the less likely it is to happen.
So as excited as you may be for me to get a full night’s sleep someday, I’m totally fine with that not happening consistently for a while, and I’d appreciate it if you just didn’t bring it up.
10. Any comments on my body changes…
What my body looks like is none of your business. Whether I’ve gained weight or lost it since having my baby is not in any way applicable to you. You might think you’re giving me a compliment, but really you’re just making me feel self-conscious. Unless you want me to start commenting on your current weight loss or weight gain…. don’t comment on mine.
11. “You’re beating your baby when you burp her!”
Really? Then why isn’t she crying? My girl doesn’t burp super easily, so I do have to burp her firmly, but it is by no means painful or harmful to her. It never leaves any redness, and she never cries. Sometimes people seem to think that babies will break if you so much as touch them, and that’s really not the case. They need to be burped effectively.
12. “Just wait until…”
Until she’s a teenager, until she acts just like you, until she talks back, blah blah blah.
Well right now, I’m enjoying her, and I’ll take each stage as it comes.
13. “Your baby will be a year old before you know it!”
Ahhh! She’s only a couple months old now, and I have no intentions of wishing time away. I want to savor every second, so please don’t rush me here.
14. “She’s such a little piggy!”
I remember having things like this said about me when I was a kid. And actually, I think it ended up being quite damaging to my body image and eating habits. So don’t EVER call my daughter anything that insinuates she eats too much or is too chubby. She’s just perfect as she is.
15. “She looks just like her daddy.”
I carried her for 9 months, dealing with all the morning sickness, body aches, and exhaustion - and then she’s born looking just like dad! Yes, I know. I don’t need reminders.
16. “You guys should still go on dates.”
Yes, we should. And we try. Having a baby to take care of is time consuming, though, and tiring. In an ideal world, we’d go out more. Right now it’s hard enough to take a shower everyday, much less plan and go out on a date, timed correctly with baby’s feedings and naps.
17. “You should get rid of your cat because she might scratch the baby.”
Anyone who suggests you should get rid of your pet doesn’t understand that they’re a part of the family, too. You don’t just get rid of family.
Plus, my cat is the sweetest kitty ever. She’s protective of her baby sister and watches her like a hawk to make sure she’s safe. Thanks for your concern, but don’t just assume all pets are dangerous threats to babies.
18. Outdated medical/health advice of any kind…
I know babies were given water from birth in the olden days, and they slept on their stomachs with fluffy blankets and they “turned out just fine.” But such practices are no longer recommended - actually, they’re dangerous.
So I’ll listen to my pediatrician, and ignore your outdated advice.
19. “When are you going to have another one?”
Woah, slow down! I’m still getting used to THIS ONE. Another one? Let’s not talk about that just yet.
20. “When are you going to stop breastfeeding?”
First of all, this falls under the category of none of your business. Second of all, the World Health Organization actually recommends that babies breastfeed for AT LEAST the first two years of life. While that certainly isn’t the norm in our country these days, it’s in the best interest of the child to nurse for a couple of years if possible. My child is nowhere near 2 years old yet.
We’ll stop when we stop. And I don’t need to set an exact date on that. I take it one day at a time. You can keep your opinions out of how I choose to feed my baby.
So now that you know what NOT to say to a new mom, you may be wondering what you should say to her instead. How about this:
“How can I help you while you recover and adjust to life with your new baby?”
Really, that’s it. New moms just want a kind offer for some help, wherever we may need it. Don’t assume you know where the help is needed. Don’t judge a new mom’s decisions. Just offer to help and leave it at that.
That’s all we new moms really want.