Mommie Dearest: The Facebook Crowd-Sourcing Guide To Sleep-Training, Feeding & Vaccinating Your Baby

My Facebook feed is exploding with new babies. Adorable, squishy, big-eyed baby pictures are popping up all over the place, and most of them belong to first time parents. One of the great things about social media is that I have easy access to an array of newborn cuteness, from friends across the globe. At the same time, it’s also a window into “Facebook parenting” — the phenomenon where parents take to social media to ask parenting related questions, and then have to sift through the various (and often contradicting) range of responses. In a recent piece for CNN, Kelly Wallace takes a look at this trend and weighs the pros and cons of sourcing parenting advice from folks on Facebook.

As a mom, I totally get the appeal, and had I been active on social media when my son was born, perhaps I would have made use of it. After all, why bother Googling (or — gasp — picking up a book) when you can post to Facebook and get answers from your mom, childhood best friend, neighbor down the street, and favorite barista all in one place? Honestly? Because the answers are always going to be the same, and you’ll still be left questioning what you should do. Regardless of the parenting topic, there will always be those in Camp A and those in Camp B, and a few folks in Camps C and D for good measure. Hidden within all the differing opinions might be some good nuggets of information, but it can be tricky.

In hopes of easing the burden for all the new parents in my own feed, I present to you the following common parenting challenges, complete with the answers you will most likely receive if you source them via social media.

Sleeping. This one comes up all the time, and for good reason. Parents — especially during the newborn phase — are usually sleep deprived like whoa. So, of course they’re going to be on the hunt for tips on catching a few extra Z’s.

Camp A: Cry it out! Let your baby figure it out for herself. A few tears isn’t going to cause irreparable harm, and in the end your baby will thank you for learning how to self soothe.

Camp B: Co-sleep! Your baby just wants to feel close and connected to you. You’ll both sleep better if you sleep together. Letting your baby cry-it-out is mean and teaches your child he can’t depend on you.

What to do? Here’s the thing. For some families, doing a method of cry-it-out works. For others, co-sleeping is where it’s at. But for most, it’s a jumble of trying all sorts of things. I remember a friend who slept on the floor of her baby’s room while her daughter slept peacefully in a crib. Not necessarily what I would do, but it worked for them. When it comes to sleep — regardless of what you’ve read — there’s no magic solution. That’s because all families are different and all babies are different. Families with more than one kid see this all the time. What worked perfectly for the first kid may not work with the second or third. Short of drugging your kid up every night, whatever you end up doing will most likely be fine in the end.

Feeding. Breast milk or formula? This debate rages hot and furious with no signs of waning (weaning? ha!) anytime soon.

Camp A: Breastfeed at all costs! Breast is best, it’s free, and our bodies were made to breastfeed. It’s the natural choice and everyone should breastfeed. If you can’t, you can try X,Y,Z. If you stopped breastfeeding, you probably didn’t try hard enough. Who knows what’s in formula, have you seen that laundry list of chemical ingredients?

Camp B: Formula is a perfectly fine choice. It takes stress off the mom and allows the other parent and other caregivers to get involved in the feeding time. You shouldn’t have to make yourself fall completely apart over how you feed your child.

What to do? While it would be ideal for every baby across the world to get breast milk, it just isn’t feasible in every situation for a plethora of reasons.

Breastfeeding itself can be a difficult, vulnerable activity that carries with it a lot of weight, guilt, and judgement. Like sleeping, what works best for one family won’t work for every family. Add to the fact that our society promotes breastfeeding in word, but does practically nothing to actually support the practice, and it’s enough to drive anyone to drink. Ideally, check out the information that is out there regarding breastfeeding and formula feeding and make the best choice for you and your family. If you can breastfeed – hooray, that’s awesome! If you want to breastfeed but are having trouble, try and source out support in your community, with either a La Leche Group or Lactation Consultant, or even other mothers who have been there and you know won’t give you the stink eye if you choose not to nurse in the end. And, if you choose to formula feed, then that is okay too and everyone will turn out a-okay in the end.

Vaccinations. You’ve heard all sorts of things about vaccinations, from measles making a comeback at Disneyland to all sorts of possible side effects to the vaccines themselves. What to do?

There’s no pro or con list here. Vaccinate your kids.