posted 48 min agoedit Or any parent in my experience..... Well worth the long read! As parents, weve all made mistakes. Weve all seen other parents make mistakes. In some cases, the mistakes are due to poor information and in other cases just poor judgement. The poor judgement part is, in my mind, just part of learning the art of parenting. It is something you learn through experience and by observing like-minded parentsand hopefully your judgement improves with time. But poor information is a problem. The science of parenting continues to evolve. We know better now about a lot of things and therefore do things differently than our parents did. However, a lot of people turn to their parents, their older siblings, friends with older children, and other trusted people in their lives for advice on raising their children. Or they just get given the advice, unsolicited. With the intent of dispelling some of the misinformation out there, I put together a list of the things that I think all new parents should know (of course, Ill check the most recent studies before giving this same advice to my kids as they embark on parenthood in a few decades time!). 10 Things Every New Parent Should Know 1. You cannot spoil a child with love: So many new parents hear well-meaning people telling them that they are spoiling their baby by holding him and responding to his needs. But you cannot spoil a child with love. You can only spoil a child by giving the child stuff as a replacement for the time and attention that you are not able to give your child. This great article discusses the issue in more detail: Am I Spoiling My Child? 2. You should be responsive to your childs cries:Your baby does not need toexercise her lungs. She doesnt need to learn to self-soothe. What she needs are parents that understand that a babys cry is her only way of communicating with you and she uses it to tell you that she needs something or that she needs you. It is important to respond to your babys cries both to meet her most basic needs and to give her a sense of security that she will carry through life. Excessive crying can be harmful to babies. Another part of being responsive to your child is watching for cues (crying is the last cue - once the others have been missed!) to tell you when your baby is hungry and when she is tired. You dont need to implement a schedule for feeding and for sleep, you should watch your baby instead to determine when feeding and sleeping times should be. 3. Discipline means teach: New parents worry that they need to discipline their child. But often when they say discipline, they mean spanking or punishing. However, the word discipline means to teach. That is what parents need to do. They need to guide and teach their children. In the same way that we do not expect a first grader to learn calculus, it is important to understand what age appropriate behaviour is and to shape your expectations of your child and your discipline (teaching) according to what a child can reasonably be expected to understand at any given age. 4. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for 2 years or beyond: So many mothers think that they need to start weaning when their baby gets teeth. Or they need to wean when they introduce solid foods. Or they need to wean when they go back to work. This last one is the one I hear most often here in Canada where we have one year maternity leave. I hear mothers that loved breastfeeding talk about how they have to wean because they are going back to work. That is not the case. Moms can continue breastfeeding on demand when they are with the baby and just not nurse while at work during the day. They can, of course, choose to pump while at work (I still pump once per day for my daughter who is 16 months, but I stopped pumping at 1 year with my son), but they donthave to. Breastfeeding doesnt have to be all or nothing, it is possible to set limits or to partially wean, but still keep nursing in certain situations or at certain times of day. I think if more mothers knew this, more of them might be willing to nurse up to the WHO recommendation of 2 years or beyond. I recognize that not all mothers want to nurse for that long and that some babies do self-wean before that age. However, I think it is too bad when mothers that want to continue nursing feel that they have to stop earlier. Personally, I do everything in my power to keep my kids nursing until they are 2 years old and at that point, it is up to them to decide when they want to stop. 5. Solid food is not recommended before at least 6 months: Over the years, the recommendation on when to introduce solid foods has changed. I was given pablum at 6 weeks. But today, experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months, followed by slow introduction of solid foods. As explained in the link, this gives babies greater protection from illness and food allergies, it gives their digestive system time to mature, helps protect from obesity, and many other benefits. 6. Your doctor is not a parenting expert and usually not a breastfeeding expert: I hear of so many new parents that feel bad after they leave their doctors office. It isnt because their baby isnt healthy. It is because the doctor was giving them advice on parenting issues like how and where they baby sleeps, how they deal with night wakings, how they discipline their children, and so on. Even on issues that are medical issues, listen to your doctor but do your own research too and dont be afraid to get a second opinion. I have heard of many doctors that express concern about any baby that is not above the 50th percentile on the growth charts and start suggesting formula supplements. Hmm 50% of all babies are below the 50th percentile. Are half of our babies really at risk of starving? Also, it sometimes takes time for recommendations to trickle down to your doctors office. A lot of doctors still arent aware of the recommendation that solids only be introduced at 6 months of age. A lot of them are still using the old growthcharts for formula fed babies instead of the new charts for breastfed babies. A lot of them only had very minimal training on breastfeeding to begin with. If your doctor is raising concerns about the feeding of your baby, consider seeing an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. They are medical professionals with significant training and experience in breastfeeding. 7. You can sleep safely with your baby: There has been a lot of publicity about co-sleeping being dangerous. I addressed a lot of those myths in my post Faulty logic from the Ontario coroner regarding bedsharing. However, if you implement a few simple guidelines, then it can be safe to sleep with your baby and can even be safer than putting your baby in a crib in a separate room. 8. Obesity is going to be the biggest health problem facing our childrens generation: They say fat is the new tobacco, meaning it will have the greatest negative impact on the health of the next generation. We need to give our children a good head start by making the right choices about infant feeding to avoid obesity and then continue to feed our children healthy foods that are low in sugar and low in saturated fats. 9. Children need to connect with nature: When we were kids, we roamed the neighbourhood without our parents. We climbed trees, picked berries, played in the dirt, built forts, caught frogs, and had a great time. We learned about nature by being part of nature. Today, parents are scared to let their kids go out on their own, so that means they keep them inside. They watch TV, they play on the computer, they go to organized sports or other activities. But free outdoor play time is rarer and rarer. If parents dont want to let their kids roam unsupervised (I know I dont not yet at least!), then they need to go with them and let their child take the lead. Let them play freely in nature. Let them touch nature. Let them get exercise and fresh air at the same time. Want to read more? Get Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. 10. Keep your child rear-facing in the car for as long as possible: A lot of parents ask when they can turn their child around and then turn them around as soon as they have met the minimum guidelines for height, weight and age. However, you should keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible, i.e. at least until they reach the height and weight limit of the car seat while rear facing (but possibly considering buying a new seat if that would mean turning the baby too soon). More information here: Why rear facing is safest. Once youve done your research and made your decisions about how you want to parent, there are always going to be people that will try to tell you what you are doing is wrong. Some of them are well meaning, some of them are not. But none of them are you. Sometimes you may welcome advice and even seek it out. Other times you may want people to leave you alone. Regardless of whether the advice is solicited or not, you need to learn to take what works for you and leave the rest. And if someone keeps bothering you and wont let up, ask them to pass the bean dip.