Advice on Advice

From the moment you announce your pregnancy you need to be prepared for a barrage of advice from anyone who has ever had a baby, worked with babies, or even just seen a baby. It can be a tad overwhelming at times. I’m going to break down the types of advice you’re going to get so that you can prepare yourself for handling it.

First off, professional advice. Whether it be from a health visitor, midwife, doctor or nurse, if you have a medical problem see a professional. Don’t be embarrassed about sensitive topics either. Checking out your piles might not be the highlight of their day, but it won't phase them.

Then there's the advice that you ask for from friends, family and people you know. You go to them for advice and to learn from their experience. You don’t have to follow their advice, but these are nice people, they won’t hold it against you. Sometimes they might have a tip or suggestion that changes your life, like when someone told me about white noise for babies (thank you, thank you, thank you!)

You could also seek advice from people you’ve met online. I know I've met lots of mums through Instagram who I would happily go to for a few words of wisdom. But be careful! Watch out for keyboard warrior, mum police ready to tell you what you’re doing wrong and what a perfect parent they are. Remember that the perfect family might just be a front. For all you know Mrs Perfect just spent her morning clearing up faeces that her little angel smeared on the walls. 

You'll also be on the receiving end of unsolicited advice too. Well meaning people (mostly) who just want to help, whether you want/need it or not. I think parenting is the only walk of life in which you are an expert when you've only done something once before. Driven a car once? Why not become a driving instructor! Had one baby? Now offer parenting advice to anyone you see.... Now I'm sure you do know everything there is to know about raising your child, but this is my child and they are different. No, she won't sleep though the night if I give her formula before bed. Trust me, I have tried.

You'll get told all the many things you definitely do and don't need to buy (are you on commission, hun?). When you're pregnant for the first time it’s so easy to fall into the trap of buying all these 'must haves' only to realise that there’s no room left in your house for an actual baby now that you have all the equipment. In hindsight, three different types of baby chair are probably not necessary.

One of my biggest annoyances is the “in my day.....” advice. This will vary depending on the age of whoever is giving you this unwanted parenting lesson. Maybe things were different for you but don't tell me I can't eat nuts when I'm 7 months pregnant and tucking into my coffee and walnut cake. I’m not going to dip the dummy in brandy (who even has brandy in their house these days?) and I'm not leaving her in the pram at the bottom of the garden.  Anyone who expects me to live like they did in the 60s/70s/80s better step away from their smart phone and HD TV and take their own advice.

You're going to meet patronising, side eye mum whose little angel would not dream of waking her at night or misbehaving in the middle of the supermarket. Little Damien was sleeping through the night from day one, sitting up unaided day two and reciting Shakespeare on day three. Take everything she says with a large amount of salt, smile, nod and walk away. 

If you try and follow all the advice you are given, you'll find it impossible. Whether it’s breast feeding, bottle feeding, controlled crying, attachment parenting, baby led weaning or purees; someone will have an opinion on it. I'm going to add to your long list of advice with my tuppence worth. My suggestion is that you take all the advice you are given, weigh it up and come to your own decision. You know your child better than anyone.