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4 Parenting Tips that Didn’t Work for Us

Parenting advice that doesn't workWant to know one of the worst things about new parenthood?

Unsolicited advice.

Yup, as soon as you announce your pregnancy, you start getting parenting tips from pretty much everyone you encounter – friends, relatives, the postman, that random woman you meet in the fresh fruit aisle in Tesco… the list goes on. And on. And on. And… you get my point, I’m sure.

The problem with all of these parenting tips, of course, is that what works for one baby might not work for another, so you end up buying/doing a lot of stuff purely because it was recommended to you, only to find that, actually, your baby would rather set himself on fire than use that absolutely indispensable gadget everyone told you it would be impossible to live without. And then you’ll feel like a complete freak, because, hey, how come every other baby in the world falls instantly asleep at the first sound of white noise, while your baby just looks at you, all bright eyed and bushy tailed, like, “HEEEEEYY! WHAT CAN WE PLAY NOW?!?!?”

(Spoiler alert: Max is not here for your stupid white noise. No siree…)

Anyway, because I’m every bit as bad as anyone else for this, I’ve already provided some totally unsolicited parenting advice of my own, so here are some of the parenting tips that DIDN’T work for us, too…

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Sleep when the baby sleeps

I really wish I had a £ for every time I’ve heard this, because if I did, I’d have, like £50 or something AT LEAST. I’d be RICH, people, RICH! <insert evil chuckle here>


I mean, I’m sure there are some people this one actually works for, but I’m ALSO sure those people must be either rich enough to be able to sleep all day while someone else does all of the cleaning, cooking and life admin stuff that’s getting neglected while they sleep, or they’re… actually, no, I can’t do it: I have no idea who this could work for. People who don’t have lives? People whose babies are kind enough to immediately go right into the kind of sleep schedule that also works for adults? No idea.

So, here’s the thing: newborns sleep A LOT. Like, A LOT lot. For the first couple of weeks, that and feeding is really ALL they do: in fact the good Dr Google informs me that newborns typically sleep around 16 – 17 hours a day, so if you’re going to do that too, then damn girl, you’re going to be well rested! Except, sorry, no, you’re not, because although babies sleep a lot, they do it in annoying, short little bursts, so basically as soon as you start nodding off, the baby’s all, “HELLO! WAKEY WAKEY!” SORRY.

The other problem with the whole “sleep when the baby sleeps” thing is that it totally neglects to take account of the fact that most of us have other things to do, too – and the only time we have to DO those things is – wait for it – WHEN THE BABY SLEEPS. So, if you  want to be able to do things like shower, eat or clean, you can’t really sleep when the baby sleeps. Similarly, unless you want to spend the next few weeks either a) sleeping or b) tending to the baby, with absolutely nothing in between – not even a sneaky episode of The Walking Dead, or a quick scroll through Instagram – you’re not going to be able to sleep whenever the baby sleeps, are you?

Luckily for us, we realised this one wasn’t going to work for us before Max was even born: we do sleep when he sleeps during the night, but in the daytime, when he sleeps, that’s when we frantically rush around trying to catch up with everything we haven’t been able to do while he’s awake. It’s also when we go to garden centres. But you knew that, right?

Don’t worry about the housework or your personal appearance

Another piece of advice you’ll hear a lot of as a prospective parent centres around the idea that, when the baby arrives, you should just let everything else go: so, don’t even THINK about trying to clean the house or comb your hair – just concentrate on looking after the baby, because that’s the only thing you’ll be able to do.

So, I’ll hold my hand up here and admit that, at first, that really WAS all I could do. The housework got forgotten, my hair didn’t get combed, people started to forget what I looked like with makeup on… that kind of thing. After about the first week or so, though, I realised that I actually felt better when the house was (relatively) tidy, and I was showered and dressed. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not some kind of Wonder Woman with an immaculate house and my hair done every day – I mean, I WISH – but the fact is, I’m a neat-freak who gets stressed out by a lot of mess, so the advice to ignore everything other than the baby didn’t really work for me, once we were past those first few days.

These days my house is definitely nowhere near as clean as I’d like it to be, and I’m still wearing leggings most of the time at home, but I’m doing my best to keep things relatively tidy, and I feel all the better for it. Obviously this won’t be the case for everyone, and I’m really fortunate to have Terry here to share parenting duties, which gives me a bit of extra time to try to stay on top of things, but if you’re anything like me, don’t be surprised if this particular piece of advice doesn’t work for you, either.

Don’t let the baby have a pacifier

Yeah, I know: we were those parents too – we totally thought we wouldn’t ever let him have a pacifier, but hey, last week I found three of the things behind a cushion on the couch, so that went REALLY well, huh?

What can I say? We do try to limit his use of his pacifier, and I wouldn’t say he depends on it or anything, but sometimes it’s the only thing that soothes him when all else fails, and I’m not about to argue with that. I know a lot of people are going to judge us hard for this, and tell me that we’ll never get him to stop using it now, but, I mean, I don’t know any adults who still use a pacifier, so I guess we’ll cross that bridge if and when we come to it.

(Also, I’m not claiming this as gospel, but I broke down on the pacifier issue when I read that they’ve been shown to help guard against SIDS. I’ve no idea whether that’s true, so obviously feel free to take it with a pinch of salt, but it made me feel a little better, anyway…)

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A sling is the answer to everything

Baby won’t sleep? Buy a sling! Baby cries a lot! Buy a sling! That dress you want is sold out at ASOS? Buy a … well, OK, maybe not that one. I have, however, almost lost count of the number of times I’ve been told I need a sling, and that it’ll be the answer to (almost) every parenting woe I ever encounter, but the fact is, I have three … and I hate them. And yes, I know the answer to THIS one’s just going to be “SLING LIBRARY!” buy honestly, I’m just not all that keen on having the baby strapped to me at all times. I know that might change as he gets older, but, for now, I just find slings uncomfortable, and not particularly convenient (My main reason for using one would be so I could get on with either housework or computer work, and it’s just not practical to be bending down to clean the floors, or sitting at a desk, with a baby strapped to your front.)

On the plus side, Terry absolutely LOVES the sling, and uses it a lot, so I guess it’s a horses for courses kind of deal with this one. Isn’t everything, though?


Of course, all of the usual disclaimers apply here: so, personal opinion only, works for me/might not work for you, everyone’s different, etc etc. And, with all of that said, tell me:

What were the parenting tips that didn’t work for you?





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  • Oh gosh I should do a post about all the stuff I was told to buy etc. too. I am glad I did not follow all advice as not only only I ll be bloody broke but most of those stuff would i never been used.
    Oh i heard so many times : sleep when the baby sleep. what nonsense. I mean yeah I used to sometimes but sometimes I need to shower and eat and do something else than just sleep because like being an adult . I was lucky enough that my baby start sleeping at night when she was only 5 weeks old but still.

    anyway great post

    March 5, 2018
  • Alice


    Sleep when the baby sleeps basically assumes that you have someone else to do all the housework etc…… and that you can just fall asleep in the daytime any time.

    No one advised me either way with a dummy, but I didn’t have one and wouldn’t have known when to use one – there is evidence that they reduce risk of SIDS though (so does breastfeeding, which went well for us, so I have tried!). So definitely not a bad thing!

    And having a bedtime routine – reading a book etc – just doesn’t work, my daughter always wanted a feed at bedtime and nothing else of any interest. Downside of this is that I still need to feed her at bedtime, upside is that she will sleep anywhere (on a plane, in a hotel, etc). On balance I’m happier with the flexibility.

    I think there are a few key things that you really must/mustn’t do (eg don’t drop the baby! 😉 ) but otherwise you find what works for you.

    March 5, 2018
  • Alice


    The only person who actually told me to sleep when the baby sleeps is the health visitor. Who also told me I was being morbid because I updated my will to include my child.

    (But having been told it by the health visitor, my partner kept telling me I should be sleeping during the day when he was at work – it just doesn’t work like that……..)

    March 5, 2018
  • Im 13wpp after a c section as well and I wanted to smack everyone that said sleep when the baby sleeps. We got blessed with a beautiful baby… who barely naps. She wasn’t your typical newborn that nodded off constantly but rather cried… and cried… and cried (colic they tell me…). Anytime another mom would say “I hope you’re taking plenty of naps during the day to get your rest and recover” I wanted to hurl the closest object at them!

    March 5, 2018
  • Kristian


    I’m pretty sure every single thing I’ve ever read about babies was prefaced with-” this may work for your baby or may totally make things worse! Every baby is different!” So…. ya know.

    I’m confused that people don’t want babies to use pacifiers? The American Pediatrics Association recommends using them because, as you said, it helps reduce risk of SIDS. Also, according to the Happiest Baby book again, sucking is a hugely calming reflex that can help calm a baby (our kid soundly refused a pacifier but….)

    March 5, 2018
    • Alice


      Some people are a bit snobbish about them I think – and I have seen people who struggle to get the child to stop using them when they are much older.
      Also, apparently in some demand fed breast fed babies they can settle the baby too much and they don’t feed often enough – don’t know if this is true.

      March 5, 2018
    • At least here is the US, a lot of people are worried that pacifiers will ruin kids’ teeth. But a lot of that is because people used to dip pacifiers in sugar water or honey and THEN give them to babies and toddlers to suck on. Just giving them a pacifier, as you said, hits that calming reflex in a big way (depending on the kid, of course, as with everything!)

      And the reason they help reduce SIDS is because it is much harder for a baby to end up flat on their face, which can block breathing, with a pacifier sticking out of their mouth. They’re much more likely to turn their heads to the side, which keeps them safer. But again, every kid is different, and every parent is obviously just doing their best in whatever way they can!

      March 12, 2018
  • Patricia Lucy


    That one about not worrying about personal appearance was the worst for me. I just feel a whole lot better when I’m wearing mascara. Call me shallow, but pass me my make- up bag.

    March 5, 2018
    • 100% agree! I feel like myself when I look put together, and feeling like yourself is one of the best things you can do for your mental health once you have a baby.

      March 12, 2018
  • Trudy


    My sister’s baby boy was always crying when they were in the hospital, wanting to be fed even though he had only just been fed. The hospital refused to let him have a pacifier, but a soon as she got out my sister gave one to him, and he settled right down. Some kids just like to suck on something, better for that to be a pacifier than mum the whole time!

    March 6, 2018
  • Chiarina


    I TRIED to give both my babies pacifiers, because they both wanted to breastfeed all the time, so I basically spent most of my day with my top off, but they absolutely refused. “What even IS this, mom? I want that other stuff.”
    Also, my babies both liked to sleep outdoors in the pram and slept very little indoors during the day, so sleeping while pushing them along would have been kind of akward!

    March 6, 2018
  • Thank you for sharing. I just want to let you know that I really like your blog.

    March 7, 2018
  • I was cheering after every one of these – I have never managed to have a nap whilst my son naps, even on my most tired days and we caved to a dummy pretty quickly. He goes to sooth himself with his thumb, and as someone who sucked her thumb for many years and found it very hard to quit, I figure it’s a lot easier to take away a pacifier than, say, cut off a finger?!

    March 7, 2018
  • Sharon


    I think you misunderstood #1. To me that means to try to catch up a little on your lost sleep during the day when your baby is napping because you are missing sleep at night and you are recovering from pregnancy and childbirth. I was told in the hospital with our first one that moms who take naps for the first 6 months recover much more quickly. Obviously you can’t sleep EVERY SINGLE TIME your child naps but lying down (even for a few minutes) is really necessary. And you are fortunate your baby is sleeping 16 hours a day; many don’t. The point really is that sleep needs to be a priority. Some things can wait.

    March 10, 2018
  • Sleep when the baby sleeps is nonsense. EAT when the baby sleeps! And take a shower. And go to the bathroom with your hands free, because they don’t let you do that either. My son is 18 months now, and whenever people find out that he takes a good long afternoon nap, they always immediately say, “Oh, you must love getting your nap then too!” I wish. The days we’re home together, if he’s asleep, I am either frantically trying to get everything on my to-do list done or trying sitting with a cup of tea enjoying the fact that it is SILENT. Although, on weekends, we do often have “family nap time,” when my husband and I take a nap together during the kiddo’s nap. And that is pretty nice.

    Also, I found that the main point of white noise was not to help the baby sleep but to block the sound of our Netflix habit. ?

    March 12, 2018
  • Angie


    Like you, I found the white noise machine useless when he was an infant. It did, however, come in handy later in his life. When he got old enough for a “big boy” bed, we had trouble keeping him in it because he didn’t want to miss anything. We tried the white noise machine again, and this time, it worked! It blocks out the sounds from the rest of the house, so he doesn’t have as much fear of missing out!

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is not to be afraid to retry something that has failed in the past as your adorable little guy grows and changes.

    March 12, 2018