"If Your Child Bites, Bite Him Back" and Other Terrible Parenting Advice
Have you been advised any of these? Then you are not alone. We spoke to mums to discover what is some of the worst parenting advice that they have been given over the years. The results left us reeling with laughter or shocked silence. Read on to find out more...
What is it about becoming a parent that makes it alright for other people to give us advice that we really don’t want and most certainly don’t need?
We figured that if we’ve been at the receiving end of terrible parenting advice, then other mums must have been too.
So we asked around and found that some of the (very unwelcome!) advice that had been freely given to them by friends, family, acquaintances and strangers alike, ranged from mildly annoying to downright bizarre.
We sifted through them to compile our list of the top 10 worst pieces of parenting advice ever.
1. “Pinch your child’s nose to make it sharper”
Yes, mums, you read it right. New mums have been told by well-meaning grandmas and not so well-meaning strangers to hold their child’s nose between their fingers and pinch along the base and the tip to make the nose sharper, giving it a more defined profile!
Trust us when we tell you — this does not work. And we are sure that you’ll love your baby, no matter what the shape of his nose!
2. “Trim your daughter’s eyelashes to make them fuller and longer”
This one seems to be popular across the world. Mums of babies as young as just three weeks have been told by female relatives that they really ought to trim their daughter’s (and some include sons into this too) eyelashes to make sure that they grow back fuller and longer. We shudder to think what their own poor children must have been subjected to.
3. “Put hot sauce or chilli oil on his fingers so he doesn’t suck on them”
So your child sucks his thumb, perhaps he even stuffs his entire fist in his mouth. But the last thing that you want to hear a kindly auntie say is,”you should be rubbing hot sauce or chilli oil on his fingers so he doesn’t suck on them.”
What a horrific thing to do! Dear Auntie, thank you but no thank you for your advice. We don’t believe in abusing our children and scarring them for life.
4. “Let our baby cry herself to sleep”
Alright, this is a contentious one. We are all familiar with that heartbreaking feeling when we hear our little bub cry. But mums, don’t listen to those mums with an “I-am-superior-than-you” attitude, who tell you that you need to let your child cry herself to sleep.
They hint that if you give in to your little one’s wails, you are letting her manipulate you; that you will spoil her.
Take heart. If your child is under six months old, she is probably crying for a reason — she is either wet or hungry or in pain. The quicker your response, the more easily she will be comforted and it will help reduce her anxiety levels (and yours too).
5. “If your child bites you, bite him back”
This one has to be the winner for the worst advice ever given. Seriously? Bite your own child, because they learn by imitation? If my little one bit my breast while feeding, my husband’s aunt said I should respond by gently biting her cheek so that “she knows what it feels like and would not do it again.”
When I looked at her horrified, her answer was, “my niece did it to her son and he learned his lesson, never bit her again.” Mums if your little one bites you accidentally while feeding, please do not bite him. What you could try, is gently pinch his nose so that he releases the latch – this is a tried and tested method by much breastfeeding mums all over. However, if your toddler starts biting other kids or you, please don’t bite him back! There is plenty of advice out there for you to help him overcome the habit.
6. “Sleep when the baby sleeps”
Yes, it is a very well-meaning, very practical piece of advice. It is also easier said than done and for most new mums the most irritating bit of advice ever.
Because when your child sleeps, is the time when you actually get the chance to shower, have a cup of tea and feel more human and less Zombie-like!
7. “Have a drink, it’s okay, the baby will sleep better”
Alcohol-related advice has to be the most unthoughtful and dangerous ones given out by people.
It ranges from telling you to rub alcohol on your child’s gums because they are teething, to it is okay to drink a glass of wine or two while you are breastfeeding because the alcohol will get into the breastmilk and help your child sleep better.
You have to stop and ask yourself: Which era are these people living in? Mums, please note that alcohol, even in small doses, can be poisonous for infants and should not be administered directly to them under any circumstances.
8. “Give your baby water instead of milk at night”
This one is priceless as well. So many mums have been told to give their teeny tiny ones a sip of water if they wake up in the middle of the night. Eventually, they will learn, that there is no milk to be had and will stop waking up asking to be fed!
They will apparently figure that it’s not worthwhile waking up for water. Yeah right! Mums, please do not listen to them and give your child water. How’s that for a hungry and upset growing baby who can’t have his basic need met?
9. “Keep your child awake through the day so she sleeps through the night”
This one just makes us grimace. How do you even keep a little baby wake through the day? We might actually roll our eyes at mums who tell us that they managed to “sleep train” their kids at age 2 months!
Did you know that if a child is overstimulated and over-exhausted, the above sleep theory backfires?
Your child cannot store sleep. At every age, they need a certain amount of sleep in regular patterns. Consult your paediatrician to know more.
10. “It’s okay, he doesn’t need a car seat”
Okay, whatever you do, don’t listen to your mum when she tells you that she carried you in her lap in the front seat of the car and you were fine. It is not fine. Your child needs to be strapped into a car seat which is age-appropriate.
Many motor accidents result in babies and children flung out of the windscreen because they were not strapped in properly or were being carried in the front seat. Child safety should always be a priority and your precious one needs you to ensure that is in place.
If you are confused about any aspect of child-rearing, always consult an expert for advice.