Why Parenting ‘Experts’ Are Letting Us All Down

If you’ve been reading my blog a while you’ll know how I feel about parenting advice. We all need it from time to time, and there’s no shame in asking for it. Unfortunately so many people feel the need to hand it out when it isn’t asked for and it’s really not helpful. IMG_7652 This is a sponsored tweet that appeared in my twitter timeline. Great timing, as Iris is really struggling with sleep this week and I’m on the verge of not coping with it very well. I’d do anything for some sleep. I’m desperate, I’m over tired and I’ve had enough. So according to Pampers I should just put Iris in her cot. She’ll sleep better. It works for all babies, right? “Your LO will rest better” is what it says. Only that’s crap. Iris would scream the place down. It may work perfectly well for other babies but it just isn’t going to roll here.

Thankfully I’ve been a nursery nurse for most of my adult life. I’ve worked with hundreds of babies and hundreds of parents. I have known very few who sleep better in a cot during the day. Some babies do like their own space to sleep, but not very many. Most would rather be with their mums or carers, cuddled up feeling safe. Iris likes to fall asleep next to me. I can sneak away once she’s dropped off, so it’s fine. If I put her in a cot she’d lose her mind. I don’t blame her. She’s helpless and depends on me for everything. It must be terrifying to be plonked down behind bars and then left alone in a room. Babies don’t know that’s a safe place. How are they supposed to know that? Of course some babies like to sleep like that, but to expect all of them to respond well to it is ludicrous.

Of course there’s the ‘it’s just advice you can choose not to take it’ argument, and I can see their point. I don’t take most of the advice given to me. Especially if it pops up on twitter and I didn’t even ask for it. But like I said before, sleep deprived parents get DESPERATE. I know I have. Sleep deprived parents are the ones who buy Gina Ford books and hope that ‘Cry-It-Out’ will work despite all of the reasons why it shouldn’t. They are the ones who would come to me at work in tears saying things like ‘we got some parenting advice and found out it’s our own fault because we don’t persevere with putting her in a cot’ or ‘oh my goodness my baby is supposed to be sleeping through the night by now but she doesn’t!’ They’re left feeling helpless and stupid, like they’ve got some weird alien baby that isn’t like other babies. It hurts. It makes them feel inadequate. It’s damaging.

Here’s my advice (that isn’t really advice).

Don’t listen to them. So many of these ‘experts’ don’t even have kids or any qualifications that make them ‘experts’. While they may well have some good suggestions that may well work perfectly for your little bundle of joy, chances are they don’t. After all, they don’t know your kid. Nobody knows your kid like you do. Your baby is not SUPPOSED to do anything by a certain age. They certainly aren’t supposed to sleep well and through the night. Do you think if there really was a cure or method that worked for all babies we’d all still be walking around with these bags under our eyes and losing our house keys 20 times a day? Fighting naps is normal. Waking frequently at night is normal. While you might want to change what you do and try to get your kid to sleep better, don’t assume one person’s advice will help. If somebody sends out a tweet through a huge nappy company that says your kid WILL do something if you follow their advice then they aren’t taking their responsibility as a parenting ‘expert’ very seriously. They aren’t thinking about how that affects parents or babies. They clearly aren’t aware that all babies are individuals.

They do not know your kid. Your kid is as individual as you are.

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4 thoughts on “Why Parenting ‘Experts’ Are Letting Us All Down

  1. I love this post. I recently wrote about similar sleep troubles and specifically said I didn’t want advice and that there was no alternative, for me anyway, than to let her find her own time to sleep alone. The first thing that happened was a so called ‘sleep expert’ tweeted me to say the alternative was to speak to her and her ‘sleep angels’. Yes, because after 3 children, only one of which has slept well, what I need is a sleep expert to try and fix me and my daughter. I had *all* the rage.

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  2. I love it, similar to my accepting sleep deprivation post of a few months back. Baby’s write their own books and absolutely no ‘expert’ knows your baby the way you do. I’m having a chat with Jo Tantum next week out of curiosity of what she’ll say about Toby but I’m the expert on him, the same as you are on Iris and we all (should) no that all babies are different. I hope you do manage to get some rest soon, I know you’ve had a tough time xx

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  3. Oh goodness, I can’t imagine going to her for advice. It doesn’t sound like it would be my cup of tea at all. Fi Star-Stone seems pretty good though. I don’t see much point in seeking advice. I don’t think there’s anything they could tell me that I haven’t thought of and tried already. Iris isn’t a good sleeper. I’m tired. That’s all there is to it. We’ll get through and we’ll be fine. It won’t last. 🙂

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