What to Do When Others Tell You How to Raise Your Baby
February 28, 2022
When you become a parent, it often feels like everyone around you has an opinion about all things baby-related – and they're not afraid to share it with you. At times, their comments can make you feel overwhelmed and confused. You may question whether you're making the best choices for your child.
Above all, trust your instincts. You know your child best.
“No matter how good others’ intentions may be, their opinions are usually just that – opinions,” says pediatrician Lauren Beene, MD. “Follow your gut – this should lead you in the right direction.”
With the right support, it becomes easier to drown out all the unsolicited advice other people like to share with you. Here's some helpful information on parenting hot topics to keep in mind.
Rock to Sleep or Cry It Out?
It’s OK to rock your baby to sleep if that's what works best for you.
You can also try sleep training, in which you allow your child to cry for increasing amounts of time to help him or her learn to fall asleep.
This method is safe and effective, and doesn't increase a child's stress levels or impact their bond with you, according to a study in the journal Pediatrics.
“Sleep training can be very helpful in certain situations. If you decide to sleep train, talk with your child's pediatrician to determine when it is OK to start,” Dr. Beene says.
Breast or Bottle?
Everyone will tell you that “breast is best.” But according to Dr. Beene, “there are so many healthy ways to feed a baby.” If you're unable to breastfeed or choose not to, that's OK. Dr. Beene often shares her personal experiences as a mother with her patients – “I breastfed, bottle fed and formula fed my daughters. Babies in today’s world thrive because we have incredible options for nourishment.” Infant formula that's iron-fortified provides all the nutrients your baby needs.
To Vaccinate or Not?
Vaccinate. Immunizations are safe and protect your baby against diseases that can be deadly.
“Vaccination is the single most important thing we do to keep our children heathy,” says Dr. Beene.
There's a lot of incorrect information out there about vaccines. For example, people may try to tell you that vaccines cause autism. This is false.
“Research has shown over and over that there is no link between vaccines and autism,” Dr. Beene says. “In fact, the research paper that originally made this claim was found to include fraudulent information and was retracted.”
Store-Bought or Homemade Baby Food?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing solid foods to babies around age 6 months. As long as you're feeding your baby age-appropriate foods, such as pureed vegetables, it doesn't matter whether you make it or buy it.
As a working mom, Dr. Beene shares, “Store bought baby foods are convenient and safe, and can make it easier to introduce a wide variety of foods to your baby early on.” She adds, “If you do buy store bought foods, try to avoid those that contain rice as a main ingredient as most rice grown in the U.S. contains heavy metals.”
“Whenever you have questions, please call your child's pediatrician," Dr. Beene says. “We love to help.”
Beyond your child's health and development, your pediatrician can guide you on a wide range of topics, including sleep, feeding, behavior and more.
An additional resource Dr. Beene often recommends is the AAP’s book Caring for Your Baby and Young Child – “I read this book as a new mom and often recommend it to my patients. It’s a great alternative to ‘Dr. Google’.”