You know how sometimes you see a struggling mom and don't just want to say the same old boring stuff? Stuff like "How can I help?" or "Here, let me take your baby so you can get a break?"
Well, don't worry, because I've put together this list of other stuff you can say. And if you want to come up with your own ideas, just follow one of these general rules:
- Make sure you state the obvious.
- Whenever possible, compare their difficult baby to your easy baby.
- Ensure you place at least a little bit of blame on the parents.
As long as your comment incorporates one of these elements, you can rest assured you're on the right track.
Here are 50 little gems that I've actually heard from parents. Be sure to add your best advice at the end of this post!
- "I think you should ask yourself if you can handle breastfeeding."
- "Your baby is miserable because you're miserable." (Because surely it can't be the other way around.)
- "Here, let me put my finger in your baby's mouth to see if he'll stop crying." (Thanks, random stranger.)
- "The reason he's so fussy is because you're too tense and should relax."
- "It's good for babies to cry, it strengthens their lungs."
- "Maybe with the next one, you'll just let him get used to noise while he's sleeping."
- "You should teach her to sleep when you're out and about." (No thanks, I've loved being confined to my home the past eight months!)
- "You should work on your expectations; all babies cry."
- "You're spoiling him when you respond to him when he cries; he's manipulating you and you're allowing it." (Why didn't I see this before? Bad baby!)
- "She's picking up on your anxiety."
- "Maybe she's hungry." (Oh! Are you supposed to feed them?)
- "Have you prayed for your baby?"
- "You're a new mother. All babies are like this. You'll get into the swing of motherhood soon enough."
- "If I had to deal with her every day, she'd be in daycare."
- "You're a stay-at-home mom. This is your job. You should be better at handling this alone."
- "Speak to your doctor because you seem to feel a strong need to hold your baby when he cries."
- "Weird, all babies like the car. I mean, we'd put our baby in the car and he'd go right to sleep." (Oh, cool, thanks, I didn't realize all babies like the car! It must be a coincidence that my baby screams every time we get in one.)
- "I guess WE were lucky that we got such a great boy on our first try."
- "We told you that your first two kids were so good that you shouldn't tempt fate. Looks like he's making up for all the easiness you had before."
- "It's probably something in your breast milk."
- "What did mommy and daddy do to you? Are they big ol' meanies?"
- "You seem like you'd be such a natural with a baby... I wonder why it's so hard for you?"
- "Maybe he has a wet diaper." (I KNEW I was forgetting something the past six months!)
- "Your son's psyche is damaged. What did you do to him?"
- "You caused his colic by crying in front of him because of your postpartum depression."
- "You should look into seeing a child psychologist." ("So, little 4-month-old baby, what's brought you in today?")
- "It's just colic. You need to suck it up and toughen up."
- "Yeah, we were up twice last night... sorry to hear you had a rough night, too."
- "Looks like somebody needs to be fed!"
- "How are you going to cope with two when you can't cope with one?" (Said by a GAP sales associate.)
- "I'll try to REALLY look after myself during pregnancy so that my baby doesn't turn out to be like yours."
- "ALL babies love the stroller."
- "I feel sorry for you. My baby was never like this."
- "Just give him formula, put him in his own bed, and let him cry it out."
- "You could probably handle this better if you were younger."
- "Treasure every moment, because one day you'll miss these days."
- "I'm so glad I have an easy baby." (Me too. I haven't slept in three months, and my baby screams so loud my ears bleed, and my marriage is falling apart, and I haven't spent time alone with my other kids since the baby was born... but the thing that makes me so happy is that you have an easy baby.)
- "You're too quiet when she's sleeping. Resume normal activities while she sleeps so she gets used to the noise."
- "Let her cry, she'll learn."
- "He cries like that because you don't put him down enough."
- "The reason she can't fall asleep on her own is because of all the sleep props." (Because it can't be that I used the sleep props because she wouldn't fall asleep without them.)
- "This is why WE established a routine from day one." (We chose not to do a routine as we enjoy the excitement of never knowing when our baby will eat or sleep.)
- "When I have a baby, we're not going to change our lifestyle for him. He needs to fit into our lives."
- "The reason he can't fall asleep on his own is because you've never let him try." (Oh darn, so all those times he almost fell asleep all alone in his crib, I shouldn't have jolted him awake so I could rock him to sleep?)
- "Maybe if you relaxed a bit he'd calm down, too."
- "Have you tried _________?" (Remember, the more obvious the better.)
- "When my kids were little, they knew I wouldn't stand for tantrums; they had one, and then never again." (I, on the other hand, LOVE tantrums, so I totally let my kids have as many as they wanted.)
- "You just need to put her on a schedule and she'll know what's expected of her."
- “If that was MY baby, ____________” (e.g., I’d get her into a routine, I wouldn’t let him get away with that, I’d let her cry it out, etc.)
- And my personal favorite... "Aren't all babies high needs?"
If you liked this post, you may also enjoy finding out the The 9 Causes of Colic, Fussiness, High Need Behavior and the Spirited Temperament.
What advice would you add to this list?
A study published in the journal Infant Behavior & Development revealed that the standard "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby" has little to do with reality. When 253 college students were asked to rank photos of the same individuals as infants and young adults (without being told who was who), there was no relationship between how cute the students found the babies and how attractive they found the grown-ups.
No, really, it's true. It doesn't matter how many times you've heard the shout "Mine!" -- research shows babies can sense fairness at 15 months. During one study at the University of Washington, 47 babies observed videos of an experimenter distributing milk and crackers to two people. When one recipient received more food than the other, the babies paid more attention. That means they had expected a fair distribution. The researchers also found that babies who did notice unfairness were more likely to share their own toys.
OK, so they're not exactly psychic. But a recent study from the University of Missouri found that babies just 10 months old are starting to follow the thought processes of others. Yuyan Luo, an associate professor of developmental psychology who conducted the study, tells The Huffington Post, "Babies, like adults, when they see something for the first time -- when something is surprising -- they look for a long time. It shows [they recognize] something is inconsistent." It's called the "violation of expectation," she explained. When babies are surprised by something or notice something unexpected has happened, they tend to gaze at that thing longer. In Luo's research, babies watched actors consistently choose object A (such as a block or a cylinder) over object B. When an actor then switched to object B, the babies stared for about five to six seconds longer, meaning they recognized the change in preference.
Don't judge a book by its cover. Treat all people the same. We're all equals. These are sentiments parents strive to teach their kids from a very young age. And they should. Starting, like, immediately. Researchers at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom found that babies at three months begin showing a preference for the faces of people of their own race. But not all hope for equality is lost. The same study showed that babies who are exposed to people of all different races are less likely to develop bias at such an early age.
Researchers from Brigham Young University found that five-month-old babies can identify an upbeat song as being different from a series of sad, slow songs. In other words, they are happy. They know it. They will clap their hands. Or stare longer, as the case may be. The experimenters showed babies an emotionless face while music played. When they played a new sad song, the babies looked away. When the music pepped up, the babies stared for three to four seconds longer.
Babies have a sense of morality at six months old, say Yale researchers. During the Yale study, babies watched a puppet show in which a wooden shape with eyes tried to climb a hill over and over again. Sometimes a second puppet helped him up the hill, and other times a third puppet pushed him down. After watching the act several times, the babies were presented with both puppets. They showed a clear preference for the good characters over the bad ones by reaching to play with the good puppet.
Dr. Janet Werker of the University of British Columbia, who studies how babies perceive language, found that if a mother spoke two languages while pregnant, her infant could recognize the difference between the two. And they don't even have to be spoken out loud. Werker's research found that infants four to six months old can visually discriminate two languages when watching muted videos of someone speaking both.