The Five Most Dreaded Questions for New Parents

Posted 08-27-2010 at 01:48 AM by brewanothercup

As a new mother, sometimes I feel like I have a never-ending list of questions, many of which feel like they could never really be answered unless I found a psychic who could read my baby’s mind (wouldn’t that be dreamy!).  I sometimes see other mother’s with little ones slightly older than mine and I want to bombard them with questions I’ve been building up – what things can I look forward to in the next months? What terrible milestones are we about to be broad sided with, and how should I prepare myself? How many vacation days should I save for days when I’m a zombie after a sleepless night of teething?

On the same token, sometimes I feel like I’m being asked never-ending questions, too, and it’s like being pregnant — questions vary slightly, but the general answers are always somewhat the same.  Here are my top five favorite questions as a new mama, in no particular order:

1.) Isn’t birth beautiful? About 24 hours after my son was finally born (I say finally because I was in labor for four days, pushed for four hours, and then ended up having a c-section anyway) I was on the phone with my grandmother. I explained my labor to her and she paused for a second, then in all seriousness simultaneously exclaimed and asked: “Isn’t birth beautiful!?” I was floored! How could I possibly think of the beauty of birth while my whole body felt like it had been raked over hot coals and then dipped in acid for FOUR days? The idea of creating life and bringing a new life into this world is beautiful, of course, and perhaps in 55 years I too will recall my first birth experience as beautiful.  It’s probably going to take me that long, if not longer.

2.) Is he sleeping well? It seems like people ask me and my husband this question on the days we are most tired, and I want to just scream, “DOES MY FACE INDICATE HE SLEPT WELL LAST NIGHT?!” The reality is that everyone asks this questions, family and strangers alike. The root of it is unfair -why is the gold standard of “sleeping well” sleeping through the night? A lot of adults I know can’t sleep through the night, but we expect infants to.  All babies have good sleeping days and bad sleeping days, just like adults and older kids. Sleeping a solid five hours at night is actually considered sleeping through the night for an infant, but this question and its partner question of, “Does he sleep through the night?” makes new parents think that they are doing something wrong if baby isn’t holding their same sleep schedule. It’s hard enough to deal with the sleep deprivation as it is, let alone with every stranger and family member inquiring, too.

3.) Is he a good baby? Yes, we are lucky enough to have a good baby. But if we didn’t, I think you’d know by both his screams and mine. What is a “bad” baby anyway?

4.) How is he eating? There are two ways to answer this one: “He’s eating well” or the more sarcastic, “He’s eating with his mouth these days!”.  Covertly, this question seems to be asking about whether the baby is formula fed or breastfed, which each come with their own set of baggage and follow-up questions.  My grandfather once asked me WHAT my son was eating, and without thinking twice I blurted out “diet coke!” as a joke.  Thankfully he got my subtle hint that I didn’t really want to discuss my breast milk with my 80 something grandfather.

5.) Has he  (insert random milestone here) yet? People are obsessed with comparing babies.  Half the time the milestone is grossly inappropriate for the age (someone asked me last week if my 3 month old was crawling yet, no joke) and the other half of the time they’re asking to compare stories of sorts. Of course there are milestones babies meet, but there’s no need to stress people out with added pressure of these expectations.  Babies aren’t predictable robots – that’s why some diaper changes end up with more pee on the table/baby/adult/dog (not like this has ever happened to me or anything) than the diaper. As long as the pediatrician is happy with baby’s progress, then chances are good everything is fine.

My suggestion for handling these questions? Smile, take a deep breath, and take it all with a grain of salt. Or invite the question askers to spend a few hours with baby while you relax so he or she can answer all their own questions.

Filed Under: General, Mommy Talk


25 Responses to “The Five Most Dreaded Questions for New Parents”

  1. norrahsmommy on August 28th, 2010 3:38 pm

    Another good one is if you have a boy- did you circ him? Like that’s any of their business… great post!!

  2. kej on August 28th, 2010 6:12 pm

    LOL! I loved this. And I can define bad baby if you need some help. My first one made us seriously question having another.

  3. skyebows on August 28th, 2010 6:19 pm

    I don’t want to sound rude. But I feel some people should appreciate these questions. Honestly I have no family and after I moved I had my son and I was never asked anything. It would have been nice just to feel someone cared. I think you are lucky to be asked questions wether its there business or not someone cares enough to create small talk about your baby.

  4. brewanothercup on August 29th, 2010 1:00 am

    @norrahsmommy…that is totally another one, though interestingly enough I’ve heard people ask others and no one has ever asked us. And @kej…dying to know the definition! :)

  5. brewanothercup on August 29th, 2010 1:24 am

    @skyebows – not rude at all, a very valid observation. :) I think I find it frustrating because it feels like everyone everyWHERE asks these same questions. I love when people ask me things like, “What fun things has he learned how to do?” or, “What makes him happy?” Because those questions are specifically geared at an individual, and not comparing. But I can totally see where you’re coming from.

  6. krispy79 on August 29th, 2010 9:34 am

    I feel the same way as Skyebows mom, I can’t imagine not being asked those questions. When I was away from the world (well my family) for the 3 months I welcomed any question or any opportunity to talk about my son. For me it gave me the sense that they cared, and most importantly wanted to listen to me talk about him. I can understand how it may get frustrating though. Thanks for the read

  7. MamaK on August 29th, 2010 3:15 pm

    I agree with skyebows – I feel it would be rude if someone didn’t show any interest in your newest family member. I ask my new mother friends these questions all the time because I am looking for advice on what to expect, not being challenging or confrontation.

  8. MeCo7707 on August 29th, 2010 3:44 pm

    Awesome! And so true! I don’t mind talking about my child, but making small talk about my child only because she’s a child and not because someone is interested in her as a person, me as her mother, etc it kind of hard. So sometimes these questions are truly out of interest, and sometimes it’s like asking about the weather.

    On another note my favorite question I have been asked was “what are you going to tell him/her when he/she asks where babies come from” while only three months pregnant with my FIRST child I said “from pregnant women”.

  9. waited4ever on August 31st, 2010 5:55 pm

    I feel that people are being nosey when they ask me specifically “where does the baby sleep and does she sleep through the night”. Like this is the holy grail of parenthood, it feels like they are fishing because they either want validation or to chastise about co-sleeping. I dont even hesitate now I say she is not even 3 months old of course she does not sleep through the night she has to eat every 3-4 hours. And she sleeps with us! Without even a blink of an eye and ususally they shut up!

  10. funnysunny on August 31st, 2010 6:47 pm

    I remember hating those comparative questions at the time and wanting to answer, “Yes, I think my baby is better than your baby/grandbaby/niece/whatever!!” But I didn’t. It gets old. I’m with you that those more personal questions are so refreshing!!! My least favorite thing to hear was “He’s so little!!! How old is he?” Because my little guy was full term, but took his sweet time to grow. While its nice to have interest in your baby, its even nicer when people are tactful and original.

  11. EricaLynn on September 1st, 2010 4:13 am

    My sil asked me when dd was 6 weeks old if she was crawling yet. I couldn’t contain myself and burst out laughing.

  12. aihley on September 1st, 2010 12:24 pm

    Asking about a milestone is not always an attempt to compare children. I know I’m genuinely excited when I ask people about their children because I know the excitement that comes with that first step or first smile. All I’m wanting to do when I ask is share the excitement with the new parent and fawn over THEIR baby’s accomplishments. It’s not always about competition.

    The question that I still get and have no idea why it’s asked is “Will his eyes stay so blue?” Um… no, I’ve scheduled his eyes to change in 2 years? I understand wondering if he’s going to keep his blue eyes, but how am I supposed to know what’s gonna happen?

  13. daddyn4wisechix on September 1st, 2010 2:10 pm

    The question I ALWAYS got was, “Is she a GOOD baby… does she sleep through the night?!?!?”

    Uhm NOPE, horrible baby, she wakes every hour or 2 to nurse all night long.. I mean really?? A “good” baby sleeps through the night a “bad” baby wakes up?? Really?!?!?

    Then they would follow it up with if I would “JUST put a little bit of rice cereal in her bottle,” THAT would help her sleep better…then I explained that I wasn’t going to use any cereals, nor could I put them into my breast, no matter how hard I tried to even if I wanted to… then I would get the “you should give her a bottle at night then..” Uhm, NO THANKS!! Call me lazy, but I don’t want one extra thing to have to fumble with in the middle of the night, or to have to wash during the day… I don’t want to pump unless I have to… &, honestly, I don’t desire to use bottles, PERIOD.

    I also got the wide eye, deer in the headlights look when we would say anything that would indicate we co-sleep… “She can DIE that way!!” “Don’t you worry about smothering her?!?!?” “Oh you don’t want to do that, you are SPOILING her & making her dependent!!!”

    Nope, I don’t care if anything horrible happens to my baby… I am an idiot, hillbilly & just clueless (((sarcastic, of course!!)))… ;0)

    REALLY, she can die sleeping all alone in her crib where I cannot hear her… she can smother in her crib too… I don’t sleep w/blankets & pillows all around her… in fact I freeze my butt off to make SURE she is free of anything that could pose a risk.. she is nice & warm, though, but don’t worry, not too warm that she would overheat…because she is right by us, we can monitor her temp all night long & make sure her needs are met… because she sure can’t meet them on her own.

    Oh and dependent, really?!?!? I don’t see her feeding herself, changing her own diapers, bathing herself, & doing her own laundry any time soon. WHY are people so bent on telling people how to push their babies away from them?!?!? They spend 9 months in utero & we are just supposed to stick them all by themselves when they are born, for fear of them becoming dependent & spoiled?!?!? If we don’t care for them, they will die… I’d call that pretty dependent. Even puppies are left w/their mamas for 6 weeks, but jeepers are people in a hurry to get kids to be “independent.”

    I don’t have babies to push them away… I have them & WANT to nurture them, love them, & care for them… I want them WITH me, even if they are “rotten” or “bad” & wake me up all night to meet their selfish, demanding, spoiled, dependent needs of my milk in their bellies, a dry dipe, & being snuggled by mama.

    Call me cynical, but I have had WAY too much UNsolicited advice & comments thrown at me since becoming a mother. SOME may be well-meant, but a lot is just being said because they disagree w/what we are doing… never mind the fact that perhaps we do what we do because we believe in it. We have a choice to parent hands-on & we choose it, even though it is against mainstream. We don’t go around telling people they are evil for using bottles, formula, sposies, & cribs… don’t make us out to be careless because we don’t.

    It has taken me many years of finally being able to stand up for how we parent because I see it not only works, but works amazingly well. Our kids are VERY healthy, well-adjusted, loving, & well-mannered (most of the time, anyway! LOL). Unlike so many of the “spoiled” kids we run into at parks, stores, etc. throwing themselves onto the floor because they can’t have whatever it is they want. Just because someone does something different, doesn’t make it wrong.

    While some may ask the above questions w/nothing but pure, kind motives of showing interest in someone’s child, so many people don’t have the same motives… at least not most of the people I have encountered. When you have to defend EVERYTHING you do as a parent, from how you feed your child, to where they sleep, to if you vax or circ, you do tend to get defensive & on edge… especially when the people who verbally assault you the most is your family & “friends”… I have found out who my TRUE friends are since having my babies, believe me. They don’t have to do what I do.. although so many of them do, but if we do things differently, we don’t give unsolicited advice & condemn how each other parents. It is not about doing things the same way, but about not putting one another down for NOT doing it the same way.

    Being a parent is very hard & challenging… from the moment my 1st was born I had instincts aboput how to care for her… I kept trying to suppress those feelings because so many people were telling me I was WRONG & going to spoil my baby… after my prayer & research, I found out what I was doing was NOT wrong by any means… that was the beginning of my journey & also my battle against everyone who had conflicting views. I am a veteran mom now, so just about everything rolls off my back, but it didn’t start off that way, obviously!! LOL

  14. squirts_mama on September 1st, 2010 2:32 pm

    some questions im sure are people being nice…. in due #1 in November.. i get the usual ” when are you due!!?” “do you know what your having yet?” (i love the yet! but is better than “what are you having?”) but my favorite is cause its a stupid question! “is she going to be a big baby?” or even better is “is she big?!” i dont know weather she is “going to be” a big baby because shes still got time to grow and im unsure of her current size(answers the 2nd question also)im also constantly getting “talked into” c-section, epidural, other thing because people find out i dont want allot of things. ITS MY BODY!! i have gotten the arrangement that the things i dont want are better for the baby if i get vs. dont get, by people who dont know ANYTHING they are saying. educate yourself, then disagree with what im doing how, or dont but dont try to change my mind!

  15. MamaCaroline on September 1st, 2010 3:32 pm

    I don’t mind answering questions about my baby, but sometimes I get asked by complete strangers (one day, it took us 2 hours in Target to get fruit, onesies and a movie because we were stopped so many times) and then they respond with some random comment that I don’t know what to say next. But I do get tired of answering the same questions over and over. I like the PP who suggested things like, “What makes him happy?” or other more specific questions about the baby. I think I’ll try asking those more often when I meet people with little ones. A lot of my friends are having babies right now, and I know it’s hard not to compare your experiences, but because we all have different babies and make different choices for parenting for different reasons, it’s important we don’t…for our own sanity!

    But I will say, I didn’t get the “Isn’t birth beautiful?” but a lot of, “Isn’t the world so much brighter/better/more amazing now?” in the month after my son was born.

    No. I haven’t slept for more than 3 hours at a time, he’s sucking my nipples to bleeding, my stretch marks are incredibly sore as my uterus contracts, I have a c-section scar that required me to purchase all new underpants and my life now consists of trying to find ways to understand it when my baby starts to cry. I absolutely adore my baby, and am overjoyed he has joined our family, but I do not find the world a particularly attractive place right now.

  16. agalanto on September 1st, 2010 4:27 pm

    I loved this. It’s so funny. I love when people ask me about my baby but sometimes people ask things that I don’t want to stand in the middle of WalMart and discuss (like How my labor was, etc..).

  17. Bunnylvspenguins on September 1st, 2010 10:50 pm

    People are asking you questions to be poliet and friendly, and to let you know you are cared for. I agree with the other half that thinks you should consider how it would feel if no one cared to ask you the dreaded questions. I can garuantee you would be writing an opposite post. I often ask these simple questions even of strangers, not to compare, nor do I have an deep rooted desire to discover and judge their eating habits,or parenting techniques but to feel bonded to another human being as a mother. Because, humans after all, are social creatures.

  18. julie on September 2nd, 2010 4:28 pm

    I don’t find these questions offensive because as a new mom I sometimes want to know from other people because my daughter doesn’t sleep well and is a messy eater and I had no idea it would be like this, my body has changed in really odd unpleasant ways and yet I’m enjoying being a mom. Other than internet forums if you want live answrs. Few people really go looking for “my baby is so happy is yours type things.” I always find it funny how different and yet similar peoples experiences are and also how attractive mothersand and their babies look even though they may not feel that way.

  19. evelyns mama on September 2nd, 2010 10:08 pm

    My daughter is five months old now and the number one question people ask me is, “Does she sleep through the night?”. Truth? Absolutely not. But I find myself wanting to tell people she is “sleeping like a baby” (whatever that is) just to avoid the looks of pity (or judgement) and to steer clear of hearing how their baby has slept 12 hours in a row since they were 3 weeks old. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy they get to avoid sleep deprivation (i wouldn’t wish that on anybody), but I could do without the subtle guilt trip that some (not all) people send me on.

  20. brewanothercup on September 2nd, 2010 11:00 pm

    That question gets me too. I try to explain that 6 hours of straight sleep IS considered a full night, but I don’t want to sound preachy, either. It does seem like the people who ask have all had kids who have slept through the night – or maybe they too felt guilty and just say that? I’d be curious to see what studies say about the number of babies who really do sleep through the night.

  21. brewanothercup on September 2nd, 2010 11:01 pm

    Babies and their mamas (and papas!) are always so beautiful, you’re absolutely right! That’s one comment I don’t think anyone could ever get sick of. :)

  22. brewanothercup on September 2nd, 2010 11:07 pm

    Yes, the questions totally begin with pregnancy! You’ll have to keep us posted on whether she ends up being a big baby or not. :)

  23. brewanothercup on September 2nd, 2010 11:09 pm

    I totally picture a step-by-step very detailed birth story in the middle of the Walmart entrance! That’s hilarious. Perhaps that’s the answer to too personal questions – the gory details anytime, anywhere!

  24. mamahen on September 5th, 2010 4:53 pm

    So when are you going to have another one? ;)

  25. loganphoenixsmommy11309 on September 5th, 2010 8:15 pm

    I get asked all the time, “what new words is he saying?” um idk he doesn’t talk much. (20 moths old) but he is very smart and knows what I ask him and does what I ask him to do (ie:) go get a book, pick up your toys, help mommy pick up your spilt cereal… Ect.
    He was “sleeping thru the night at 3 months old and personally I stopped that! I was scared to death something would happen in his sleep. At 20 months old he still doesn’t “sleep thru the night” and honestly I love out 3 am 10 mins of cuddle and play time. We just sit and talk and giggle. ( me doing most of the talking) lol. I wouldn’t change nothing and I can’t wait to do it all over again 2 more times! ;)

Feel free to leave a comment...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

Leave Your Comment Join Diaper Swappers or login to comment!