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Beware the Know It Alls: How to Handle Unsolicited Baby Advice

Unwanted baby advice from family, friends, and strangers -- why so many people give it and how to deal with it gracefully.

Baby Advice Etiquette

So what's the most gracious, intelligent way to deal with the barrage of baby advice?

Many parents say they just smile and tell the adviser that they'll "think about it" or something similar to that.

"In the end," Hallac tells WebMD, "we figured out two responses that seemed to fit our every need. The first was, 'We will check with his doctor,' because no one questions the doctor; and the second was 'Great! Thanks!' and then we just went ahead and ignored it."

Here are four other options:

  • Thanks! We'll consider that. 
  • Thanks! We appreciate your care and concern about our baby.
  • Thanks! We know that advice was hard earned through the years.
  • Thanks! Um, that certainly is some advice! (This requires a bright smile so they don't catch your sarcasm.)

Doctors recommend that parents tempted to try out some advice make sure it makes sound medical sense -- especially since the advice from one, two, or three decades ago might have changed in light of new scientific data.

Examples of how things change, according to Thompson, include:

  • Back is best: In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics introduced the "back to sleep" campaign, which recommends putting babies on their backs to sleep. This practice has resulted in a decline in the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome [SIDS].
  • No juice in bottles: Drinking juice greatly increases the risk of dental decay and cavities; it's also a source of empty calories and could contribute to pediatric obesity.
  • No water needed in addition to breast milk or formula: Babies receive adequate amounts of water from the breast milk and formula -- and providing water in place of feedings could cause an imbalance of water and salts, resulting in illness.
  • Cereal When? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting solid foods at four to six months.

Here are two more examples of how things change, whether the advice giver knows or not. Railings in those quaint cribs you were advised to buy used are often spaced incorrectly. Remember, if you can fit a can of soda between the rails, the space is too wide. And older children still need to be in car booster seats depending on their height and weight -- regardless of the cool or convenience factor.

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