It is common for a baby’s arrival to trigger an influx of advice from family and peers on everything from sleep to feeding routines. Some of this advice may be welcome and useful. At other times, it may feel overwhelming or confusing. Most advice comes from people who want to help or feel useful. However, if a lot of different advice comes from different sources, new parents sometimes lose track of how they wish to care for their child.
Some advice may come from people, such as grandparents or other family members, who are experienced parents and want to share their knowledge. Some new parents find that different midwives or health nurses provide conflicting advice, which can be confusing. Occasionally, unsolicited advice from a stranger occurs, for instance if a baby is crying in their pram while out.
There are many ways to manage advice from others, depending on what feels comfortable and effective for you. Some of these include:
- Deflect it with humour
- Give a brief nod, not engage too much in the conversation and choose not to take it on board
- Divert attention from advice by asking people to help in different ways instead
Sometimes, these strategies work well. However, if firmer communication is needed, it can help to come up with a couple of sentences and to practise saying them. One example could be:
“Thank you for trying to help. I really appreciate that you care about me and the baby. We are going to take our time with trying a few different things and we’ll work it out.”
Or more directly:
“I’ve noticed I get stressed when I get different advice from various people. Thanks for offering but we’re figuring it out and I’ll let you know if I need help.”
It may help new parents to know that:
- Most struggle with this issue at times
- Parents’ intuition plays a part in decision-making
- New parents find what works for them eventually
- It is OK to try different things and have a flexible attitude
We all make mistakes so extending compassion towards self is also necessary. You will work out over time what is best for you and your family and whose advice fits with your view on parenting.