Marianne is a mother from Scotland who is passionate about providing accurate information about breastfeeding and parenting.
Here are my top ten most annoying things people say to you when you have a baby. Most people mean well, but new mums don't really want advice they haven't asked for. Try not to give it. Also, comments about the next baby are annoying, too.
1. Are You Going to Try for a Sibling?
My baby was two days old. We were still in the hospital, and a family member asked, "When are you going to try for number two?" I was just getting used to my first baby and having another one (or anyone touching me down there) was very far from my mind.
A couple of weeks later and we went to meet baby's Great Grandpa. He said, "I hope he's not going to be an only child?"
Since then, several more people have asked. It's best not to ask, especially when you don't know whether someone has had miscarriages or needs fertility treatment.
2. Does He Sleep Through the Night?
When my baby was a bit older and I was out and about, random strangers would come to have a look. No problem, admire my baby, ask his name and how old he is (although to the people drunk in the supermarket at midday, please don't touch my baby—just stay away). What I found strange was how many people asked whether he slept through the night.
Normal babies do not sleep through the night, especially under the age of 6 months. (Some do, but they are not typical). It's not helpful to set this expectation or make parents think there is something wrong with their baby because they don't sleep through the night.
If you want to ask a supportive question about sleep, ask me whether I am getting enough sleep to function. My baby never had any issue getting the right amount of sleep for him, but I sometimes struggled to get enough sleep around his wake-ups.
3. Is He Good?
This is the other way strangers asked me if my baby was sleeping well and if he was a nice quiet baby that didn't complain or bother me.
Anyway, yes my baby is very good, thank you. He is the most beautiful lovely baby in the world. He requires almost nearly constant attention and doesn't like being put down. He goes to sleep when I feed him and lie next to him and also when I take him out in the pram. He often wakes in the night when he needs food or comfort. He is the best baby in the world and has no idea what 'good' or 'bad' means yet.
4. Just Put Him Down Drowsy but Awake
Apparently some babies will go to sleep if you put them down when they are "drowsy, but still awake." For example, my little sister did. This is great for those babies and parents. My baby wouldn't, or couldn't, do this.
Please don't give advice on getting babies to sleep unless asked for it.
5. Just Let Him Cry a Bit and He'll Sleep
As above. My baby wouldn't just cry a bit and sleep. He would scream and cry and (after he was old enough) pull himself up to standing in the cot and yell at me with tears in his eyes that would melt my heart.
I have never actually left him to cry like this, not for more than a minute, so according to some people I am not tough enough. Leaving my baby to cry himself to sleep goes against every single mothering instinct I have. Don't criticise my instinct. My instinct is my baby isn't sleeping well due to the teeth that have just burst through his gum, not because I need to leave him crying.
6. Are You Going to Keep Trying for a Girl?
A variation on the "Are you going to have another baby?" question. This is the assumption that a perfect family is made up of at least one of each gender. I have a son; if I have another baby, it would be great to have a girl but also lovely to have another little boy. I know other mums who have had multiple children of the same sex and feel pressure to keep going to have one of the other.
Also, it's not like you can guarantee that your child will follow gender norms anyway—just because a baby is a girl doesn't mean she will grow up to be into talking about hair and makeup with you, for example. Children are their own people.
We once had neighbours who ended up with six little boys as they really wanted a girl. It's their business that they kept trying, but a shame for the boys if they ever knew this.
7. Are You Sure He Is Really Hungry Again?
When my baby was very small and I visited family, they would offer to hold him. Sometimes I had trouble getting baby back again. My dad would tell me, "He can't be hungry again" and kept holding him. He is my baby, and I will be the judge of whether he is hungry or tired, or needs me. I know he is lovely and cute and you like holding him, but if I ask for him back, please hand him back.
8. Sleep When the Baby Sleeps
My Health Visitor told me to just sleep when the baby sleeps. But if I sleep when the baby sleeps, when is my time to do my own thing? When can I read a book, drink a cup of hot tea or wash the dishes? (Note: I never actually read a whole book—just a page or two).
My baby also slept much better outside in the park, and it's probably not appropriate for me to nap there.
9. Just Wait
Picture the scene: There you are talking about how your baby is now sleeping longer or how you are looking forward to xyz, and a know-it-all relative with a big grin on his face says "Just wait" as if there is much worse to come, and they know it all because they had young children twenty five years ago. They probably can't even remember most of what happened twenty five years ago. I've already forgotten a lot about the early days with a baby, and it was only a few months ago.
10. Just Give Him a Bottle
A breastfeeding friend of mine was repeatedly told to just give her baby a bottle by her family, as if somehow a bottle of formula would magically make her baby sleep and stop her being tired as a new mum. This is complete nonsense. Evidence shows that (on average) breastfeeding mothers get more sleep than formula feeding mothers.
The rule is: However a mum is feeding their baby, don't offer opinions you haven't been asked for. It's also very insensitive to make comments about why a woman isn't breastfeeding her baby.
Useful Things to Say to a New Mum
- How are you?
- Are you getting enough sleep?
- Is there anything I can help you with?
- Would you like a cup of tea and a biscuit?
- What a lovely baby! You are doing a great job with him.
What About You?
Comment below with your examples of annoying things that people have said to you when you have had a baby.
Farrah Young from Lagos, Nigeria on May 26, 2020:
I can also relate with this post. My daughter is three going on four and I still get a few weird questions.
The other day a neighbour asked why I hadn't tried for number two and if I didn't think I was letting it stay too long before giving my daughter a sibling.
In her exact words: "Stop being a chick and get pregnant again. Marriage is not all about being a trendy wife, you should have your kids quickly."
I was hurt by her words, seeing as I have been trying for number two for almost two years and have had a miscarriage during this time. I left her without saying a word.
Liz Westwood from UK on May 26, 2020:
These all resonate with me. You have done a great job in picking out the main irritating comments.