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5 Useless Pieces of Advice Everyone Gives to New Parents

#2. "Breast-Fed Babies Never Overeat!"

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Must be a bottle-fed baby.

How They're Trying to Help: I don't know about this one; I guess they heard it somewhere and are trying to take away one more worry that a breast-feeding mom has.

How It Does Not Help at All: I guess it doesn't exactly hurt for most people, because most babies don't overeat? Where this gets ridiculous is when they turn it into a rule that no babies can possibly overeat. My baby sure as hell overeats. Maybe they mean he doesn't digest more food than he needs, and that was certainly true, because he would finish whatever container you gave him (breast or bottle), and then he would vomit up the excess. Does he need 5 ounces? He'll happily eat 8 and then spit up 3 over the next couple of hours. I don't know, maybe he thought it would be rude not to finish what he was given?

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When he gets older I guess he'll politely eat his host's crappy dinner and discreetly vomit it behind a plant.

For some babies, that much spitting up is a medical problem, either standard acid reflux or something called GERD, which sounds like something you have to tell your kid not to call other kids. But not mine. He was what they call a "happy spitter," which sounds kind of dirty, but just means that even though he throws up left and right, it doesn't bring up acid that burns his throat and makes him cry. He'll just toss his cookies while playing or watching you sing to him and continue as if nothing happened. It also means the doctors just shrug their shoulders at you and can do nothing.

What this comes out to is that for a long time I could not just pop up in the morning and let him drink as much boob as he wanted or else we would have a barf party. The experts claimed that this would never be a problem, but my furniture claims otherwise.

#1. "It'll Get Much Better After Three Months!"

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How They're Trying to Help: Some people call the first three months of a baby's life "the fourth trimester," as they act more like disgruntled evicted fetuses trying to get back inside than like the happy human babies we see in movies and ads. It's horrible. Obviously people want to help by telling you there's a light at the end of the tunnel -- by about 3 months, the baby will stop crying several hours a day for no reason and will start smiling and making other human-like interactions.

How It Does Not Help at All: This is like saying "You're only going to be waterboarded for 96 more hours." If you're nearly suicidal at two weeks, getting literally no more than two hours of sleep at a time, the baby crying inconsolably for at least 15 minutes every time you try to change his diaper or rock him to sleep or feed him or do anything (if your baby has "colic" this comes out to more than three hours of crying a day), two-plus months sounds like an eternity.

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"WAAAAH WAAAAH, YOU PUT A HAT ON ME, IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD, WAAAAH."

From your helpful friends' point of view, they are reassuring you that it will only be 2.5 more months. From the harried parents' point of view, they are being told that this will not end for at least 2.5 more months. "Enjoy this time, they grow up so fast," is also a cruel, cruel thing to say at this point, although it makes perfect sense to me now with my kid at 8 months. I used to stare shell-shocked into my friends' eyes as they came to visit and wail, "THEY GROW UP SO SLOWLY," like a doomed ghost.

So this puts the friends in a tough spot. Facts are facts; they can't very well lie and say it will end any sooner. So what's a better alternative? Maybe some comfort along the lines of "one day at a time" that directs your gaze away from the infinitely distant horizon, or even better, my favorite phrase of all, "Would you like me to come by and hold the baby for a few hours so you can get a nap?" I would be willing to give that person anything I had, even my firstborn child ... no wait, especially my firstborn child.


If you enjoyed the article, Christina can be contacted on Twitter and Facebook. If you didn't enjoy the article, Christina can be contacted by shouting as loudly as you can out your window.

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