When my daughter was an infant and never seemed to sleep, I remember desperately typing the words “how to get a baby to sleep” into the search engine. I found about 6 million parenting resources with strategies, ideas and suggestions, but I didn’t have the time to review any of them!
The more we learn about the experiences of new parents, the more we see that my situation is very common. In fact, ZERO TO THREE and Vroom/Bezos Family Foundation surveyed more than 2,000 parents of young children and found that the majority of parents (58 percent) say there is so much parenting information available that it’s hard to know who to trust.
So, how do you know where to turn when you need advice or more information? Here are some helpful parenting tips:
- Seek advice from reliable sources. It’s always a good idea to start with trusted organizations that ground their guidance in science and research – like ZERO TO THREE, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Hand in Hand Parenting and others.
- Find sources that resonate with you. Make sure to find other less formal sources that resonate with you – parenting blogs, magazines or particular authors who really speak to your experience as a parent.
- Join a community. It’s critical to find some place where you can share information and ideas with other parents in a nonjudgmental setting. Sometimes in-person parenting groups are more difficult to get involved with than online ones, but the important thing is to find a group of parents who you really click with and who make you feel supported.
- Ask your parents or your pediatrician for advice. Parents and in-laws can be great sources of information and advice. That’s why new parents turn to their own mothers for parenting guidance almost 70 percent of the time. Pediatricians, trained in child development and child health, are another common resource for parents.
What are the red flags for online parenting resources?
- Beware of any website that guarantees solutions to any issue. In almost all cases, parenting just isn’t that easy.
- Another red flag are resources that strongly promote one approach or belief system for raising young children. After working in the field of child development for 20 years, I have seen firsthand that there are many ways to raise a healthy, happy child.
The trick to managing expert advice is to remember that there’s no one right approach for parenting. So, what’s really important is how you incorporate advice, ideas and research – as well as your own values, beliefs and experiences – to do what’s best for your family.