Parenting advice: don’t “should” on me

Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

One comment I hear again and again from parents is “Someone told me that I should…”. This comes from many places: grandparents, parents, in-laws, siblings, colleagues, friends, and even Facebook groups and parenting forums.

Don’t let anyone should on you.

Have you been told you “should” night wean, or sleep train, or get out more, or stay home more, or co-sleep, or breastsleep?

My biggest piece of advice to new parents is this: don’t let anyone should on you. You don’t have to follow anyone’s advice, especially when that advice goes against your parenting beliefs. I’m aware of the irony that my “advice” is to ignore advice! But many parents feel ashamed when they are told that they should – or shouldn’t – parent a certain way. Parents are often struggling with opposite “shoulds”. They are told to leave their children alone to cry at night, and this doesn’t sit right with attachment parents who want to meet their babies’ needs day and night. But they are also told to treasure every moment of the infant months. This type of dismissive comment minimizes the parent’s feelings when they are struggling. Neither of these approaches is healthy, but you can find a middle ground that lets you meet your infant’s needs without compromising your own wellness.

If your routine is working for you, don’t change it!

I nursed our first child to sleep for 13 months. It worked, so I kept doing it despite being told that she should go to sleep alone. When she no longer nursed to sleep, we changed the routine to one that worked — a book, a song, and a cuddle. We didn’t let anyone “should” us into changing something that worked for our family. I’m so glad that I spent that year nursing her to sleep (even those tough teething nights when sleep eluded all of us), and I’m glad that I met her needs at night beyond that.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your baby’s sleep, remember that the parent is an important half of the parent-child dyad! If you aren’t functioning at your best, then you aren’t parenting at your best either. Reaching out to your family, community, or an expert can help.

I’m here to tell you that there are options. You can meet your infant’s needs without burning out or cry-it-out sleep training.

Babies wake up at night. It is natural and normal. It helps regulate their breathing, lets them eat when they’re hungry, and gives them the chance for contact when they’re lonely. If cry-it-out goes against your beliefs, don’t let anyone “should” you into sleep training. And if you’re struggling, don’t let anyone “should” you into suffering in silence. There are options for better sleep! An Infant Sleep Educator can help the whole family find sleep solutions that work for everyone’s needs.

About Polly VandenBerg

I believe that it is possible to get better sleep as a family, without the need to have your baby cry-it-out. Gentle solutions to ease baby to sleep can help parents and babies be more flexible with bedtime, whether your family is at home or on the road. I help parents understand normal baby sleep patterns, and uncover ways that their family can work with normal baby sleep to get better family sleep.

1 Comment

  1. Tamara on August 17, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    Thank you for this. I was just thinking: Beware of advice that begins with “You should…”

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