When you become a new parent, it’s inevitable that you’ll be bombarded with advice from nearly everyone in your life.
Much of it is well-meaning. People are just trying to help!
But whether the advice and tips are outdated or just plain wrong, you should probably ignore most of what you hear.
Here is some of the absolute worst parenting advice new parents hear all the time, and why you should definitely ignore it.
Most of these so-called tips come from well-meaning parents and grandparents of an older generation, friends, and even people who don’t have kids!
They’re all just doing their best to offer guidance, so no shame. In fact, some of this bad parenting advice is just plain funny.
Let’s take a look at the full list!
1. Put Your Kids First
This one seems to make sense, but in reality, it’s not practical.
Of course, having a baby turns your life upside down and you’ll need to design a whole new way of living.
But once you’ve got your feet under you, you should actually learn to put yourself first.
You know the “oxygen mask on an airplane” expression. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else.
2. Sleep When the Baby Sleeps
Again, makes sense! Sleep deprivation is a major problem for new parents.
And while you should make every effort to catch up on sleep and grab naps when you can, it can be awfully depressing when the only thing you’re doing for months on end is sleeping and taking care of the baby.
It’s OK to use those nap times to get stuff done around the house, relax, or have fun with your partner.
You’ll catch up on sleep eventually. Your mental health is important, too.
3. Don’t Spoil the Baby
Older generations are big on this idea of not being too soft with babies.
Don’t pick them up when they cry, let them cry it out, etc.
We should know better by now. It’s impossible to spoil a baby and, in fact, lots and lots of holding and cuddle time is correlated with a ton of positive benefits down the road.
4. Breast is Best
Look, breast is great!
But baby formula is extremely advanced these days and ultimately, fed is best.
When we talk about the benefits of breastfeeding, we rarely discuss the costs. The physical and emotional toll it takes on new moms is profound, and many women aren’t able to do it at all.
Just find a way to feed your baby that works for you and leave this outdated advice in the past.
5. Doctors & Nurses Are the Enemy
This one’s personal for me!
We took several childbirth and “natural childbirth” classes before the birth of our first daughter and a running theme was that the doctors at the hospital were not to be trusted.
There was definitely a disturbing pattern that tried to convince us that doctors were going to push for all sorts of unnecessary interventions and wouldn’t have our or our baby’s best interest at heart.
It introduced a lot of unnecessary stress when going to the delivery room.
Having a birth plan is really great, and going natural is wonderful if that’s what you want to do. But this Us versus Them attitude is not helpful.
6. *This* Is How We Did It Back in the Day
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We know that there used to be crib bumpers, stomach sleeping, and using whiskey to get babies to sleep.
But just because it worked out for older generations doesn’t mean we don’t know better now.
A lot of stuff that worked in the past was actually incredibly unsafe, you just didn’t hear about all the bad outcomes before social media made them more public.
Why not benefit from decades of accumulated knowledge and improved safety standards?
7. You Have to Lay Down the Law to Prove You’re in Charge
Displays of dominance are so played out.
If you’re truly in charge, you don’t have to prove it all the time by digging in and engaging in endless power struggles.
The best parents know when to let stuff go, and they’ll save their authority for battles that really matter.
8. Ignore Temper Tantrums and They’ll Stop
There are lots of ways to deal with temper tantrums, but especially when it comes to really little kids, ignoring them may not be the best option.
When kids are feeling overwhelmed with emotion, what they really need to know is that they’re safe and loved.
Walking away and making snarky comments isn’t ideal. You can refuse to engage with the tantrum while also gently providing guidance and love.
It’s a tricky balance, but here’s a good article on the topic.
9. Stick To the Routine, No Matter What!
Routines are a must for new parents looking to survive.
But life is going to get pretty bleak if you don’t eventually learn to be flexible and adapt!
And you know what? It’s good for young kids to learn how to adapt, too.
If you don’t practice shifts in naptime, bedtime, and mealtimes early, they’ll really struggle when you eventually want to take them out for special occasions.
10. Never Wake a Sleeping Baby
Eh, this one is iffy.
It’s definitely not great to wake a sleeping baby for no good reason, but there are lots of good reasons you might want to ignore this one.
Staying on the eating schedule is really important for newborns. You may also need to wake a sick baby to give it medicine, or change a poopy diaper.
It’s a good rule of thumb but not a hard and fast law!
11. Stay Together for the Kids
Having children puts enormous stress on a marriage or partnership. Many couples simply won’t make it through.
The old adage was to stick it out for the kids, no matter what. Today? It’s not so cut and dry.
Yes, there are some worrying statistics about children of divorce. But parents who fight a lot also cause emotional and social problems for their kids.
Amicably separated parents who work together and communicate well are a better option.
12. Spanking Is the Best Discipline
Some people refuse to let this one go. But the science has been more than clear.
Spanking and other forms of physical discipline have incredibly detrimental effects on a child’s development and mental health.
It may work in the short term to gain compliance, but the cost is extremely severe. Don’t spank your kids.
13. Cherish These Moments
Parenting is really hard, guys. It’s just about one of the hardest things a human can do, with untold amounts of stress, anxiety, fear, anger, sleep deprivation, marital struggles, loss of identity, and more.
So it really hurts when your struggles get laughed off by well-meaning strangers who say, “One day, you’ll miss this!”
It’s true, you probably will! But that doesn’t mean the advice is helpful, and if anything, it makes parents feel more guilty that they’re having such a hard time.
Time to leave this one-liner behind.
Before you go, don’t miss some more of my favorite like:
Hope this helps!