The Best Piece of Advice We Got as New Parents
When we had our daughter, everyone – and I mean everyone – had advice to share. The grocery clerk suggested I put an extra blanket on the baby. The plumber told me to rock the baby to stop her crying. The girl at the make-up counter reminded me to “sleep when the baby sleeps.”
People love to give advice to new parents, and it’s all well meaning and nice. Unfortunately, it’s often largely repetitive and therefore unhelpful. I wanted to scream: I know I need to sleep when I can. I know the baby needs a blanket in winter. Tell me something I can use!
And then finally someone gave me a piece of advice that changed everything:
Don’t try to make a happy baby happier.
It was so simple! If the baby wasn’t fussing, she didn’t need an extra blanket. If she wasn’t rooting or crying, she wasn’t hungry. Sometimes the baby looked so cute while napping in her bassinet that I’d want to scoop her up in my arms. The few times I did, it woke her up, and she would burst into tears. My husband would call from another room: “You tried to make a happy baby happier, didn’t you?” I quickly stopped that behavior.
Best of all, this advice was so bite-sized that all of our visitors quickly caught onto it too. Both grandmothers, who seemed to be obsessed with the baby being either too hot or too cold, were suddenly happy to just cuddle her and not randomly remove or add a blanket. If the baby was happy in one of our friends’ arms, that person was brought snacks and drinks for as long as the baby was calm. No one was to move a happy baby – if baby wasn’t fussing, she stayed right where she was.
It can be hard to tell if a newborn is happy, because they don’t smile until they’re around six weeks old. But if baby is blissfully sleeping, calmly snuggling, or generally not crying, keep right on doing what you’re doing. Baby will let you know, loud and clear, when she needs something.