Dealing with Unsolicited Baby Advice: Tips for New Parents

Advice. Sometimes it is just what you need. Other times, it’s the last thing you want. Everyone wants to give advice to parents. New parents can feel especially overwhelmed with all the advice they get from family members, friends with kids, friends without kids and complete strangers. Handling unsolicited advice can be a challenge and may look different depending on who may be giving the advice.

Below are some strategies to help with dealing with unsolicited advice. Whatever you do, you need to do what feels right for you. Just like the suggestions given in this article, if you don’t want the advice or if it does not feel right to you, don’t use it!

Keep in mind that most people who give unsolicited advice believe they are helping …

Advice-giving typically comes from a good place. The person offering it thinks they are helping you and are eager to give “tips” that were helpful to them. It is good to keep this in mind when hearing advice from others. Try to be patient and open with people you have a relationship with (parents, in-laws, friends). Feel free to ignore unsolicited advice from the stranger passing … or take it with a grain of salt!

Know that advice is not “one size fits all.”

What works for one baby may not work for another. As a parent, you know your baby better than anyone else, and you get to decide whether you want to hear others’ input and what will work for your baby and family. A couple of innocuous replies you can make when someone offers advice you didn’t ask for:

  • “We will keep that in mind.”
  • “I have heard that before.”

Recognize there are many types of parenting styles.

Some advice may not align with your parenting style. Even when data from research suggests something will work, it may still not feel right to you–and it is OK to do something different that aligns with your parenting preference. If you receive such advice, you can simply say:

  • “This is what works for us” … and continue to parent the way that feels right to you.

Be aware that some advice may be outdated.

What was a standard practice when your parents were raising babies may have changed. For example, experts used to recommend that babies sleep on their bellies. Now we know that babies should sleep on their backs. Research and expert opinions are changing, so something your parents may suggest to you may not be the best practice now. A way to respond to someone giving old advice could sound like:

  • “I am keeping up to date with research and what our pediatrician recommends, so I am following what they suggest.”

Redirect the conversation.

If you don’t have anything to say or are losing patience with the person giving advice, simply change the topic of conversation.

Set boundaries for repeat offenders.

If the unsolicited advice is an ongoing problem in your family or within different relationships, you may need to have a bigger conversation with the people in your life. If you are a single parent, take a stance on what you need from your support network and set a boundary. If you are a two-parent household, it may be easier to talk to your own family and friends rather than talking to your in laws, so decide on what boundaries to set and communicate that to your respective family and friends.

Boundary setting statements can sound like:

  • “When we need help from you, we will ask for it.”
  • I appreciate your willingness to help me; you can help me in this way … [fill in the blank with a suggestion you are comfortable with].
  • “I am trying my best to make the right decisions for us. Your advice is overwhelming me more than it is helping me right now.”

Whatever you do, you need to do what feels right for you. Just like the suggestions given in this article, if you don’t want the advice or if it does not feel right to you, don’t use it!

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