- ‘He/she must be hungry’. There are many, MANY reasons why babies sometimes cry. In the last week, our little girl has cried in frustration at rolling over on to her front but being unable to roll back, has cried for no particular reason in the middle of a nap, has cried when Kyle sneezed loudly…you get the picture. None of these instances had anything to do with hunger! Yet, for some reason, complete strangers sometimes deem it necessary to make offhand comments about the fact your little one must be hungry if they’re crying. The best example I have of this was during a meltdown in The Card Factory (of all places) in Harrogate. Stuck in a queue with our little girl crying in her pram, the cashier, when I eventually got to her, rolled her eyes at me and said ‘she must be hungry’, despite the fact I’d just finished a feed. It’s annoying to hear this from someone because it implies that you don’t know or understand your baby well enough to know why he or she is upset and therefore need the helpful advice of strangers, and it also implies that you don’t care about your little one’s welfare, in this instance the assumption was that I was clearly putting shopping for a helium balloon above my daughter’s need to be fed.
- ‘Ugly babies grow up to be cute kids’. I heard this a few times from various people before we’d had our baby and I remember thinking at the time how odd it was to say to someone, pregnant or not. There’s no nice way of looking at this statement. If someone says it to you once you’ve had a baby, it means they think your little bundle of joy isn’t the cutest thing in the world, which will no doubt be what you believe him or her to be, and if someone says the statement but makes it clear it doesn’t apply to your little one, they’re basically telling you that your cute baby will grow up to be an ugly toddler. Of course it doesn’t matter what your little one looks like and what other people might think, but it’s still pretty rude to say this to someone and pretty annoying to hear.
- ‘He/she doesn’t really look like either of you’. This has only been said to me a couple of times as most people say our daughter looks like one of us, or a mixture of us, but still, it’s annoying when it happens! You’ve just spent nine months carrying your little bundle of joy around and falling more in love with him or her with each passing day, and so to be made to feel like you might have just plucked your little one from a car boot sale isn’t ideal.
- ‘Don’t spoil the baby’. Ah yes, spoiling a baby with love. Just to be clear, it isn’t possible to spoil a baby by loving him or her too much. Newborn babies crave the love and attention of those around them and it’s been proven that the neurons and pathways in their brain connect far more efficiently if they’re spoken to, sung to, cuddled, and generally encouraged in the first few months of their lives. If babies aren’t showered with love and attention, they don’t feel safe and secure enough to keep forming those early mental connections. So, stick that in your ‘don’t spoil the baby’ pipe and smoke it. Also, science aside, it’s quite lovely cuddling a newborn and you shouldn’t have to think you need to stick to a cuddle quota.
- ‘Has your little one rolled over/laughed/got into a routine yet’? This is another tricky one where you can’t really win. If the answer is yes to any of the above, or any variation on the above, you just end up sounding smug and annoying when you answer affirmatively. If the answer is no, you end up wondering whether your little one is developing normally, whether these milestones should already have been reached, and generally plunge yourself into a world of neuroses (or Google as I like to call it). All babies develop at their own pace; what’s normal for one baby is not normal for another baby. Some babies skip the whole rolling over thing altogether and just start crawling one day, some babies stand before they can crawl properly, and so on. It doesn’t really matter.
Have you experienced any other little pearls of wisdom from well-meaning, and not so well-meaning strangers? Let us know by commenting below!