Don’t Ask

No one means harm in peppering new parents with questions about their new baby – it’s generally happy interest and excited wonderment but there are a handful of questions that when asked of new parents may make their heads spin, hearts sink or shoulders scrunch. Read on for the top ten. The best thing to say to a new a parent instead? “Your baby is so cute! Are you doing good? Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. I brought you a box of homemade chocolate chip cookies. Eat them all.”

Top Ten Worst Questions to Ask a New Parent

Q: How is your baby sleeping?

A: Like every other baby.

(And, if by the grace of luck you were fortunate to have a baby who always slept through the night or your sister-in-law’s baby sleeps through the night or your son’s triplets all slept through the night or your best friend’s niece is down from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m., that is fantastic. I also think they might be lying. Don’t remind a new parent in the quiet two minutes they have that shortly they will be not sleeping again.)

Q: How was your labour?

A: It’s quite possible a woman doesn’t want to talk about this with anyone. Plus, the answer is likely, “I went into labour on Monday and then he was born on Tuesday.” And, then you’ll likely pull a face, like You were in labour for 25 hours?! And then it’s like, Yeah, pretty common. Besides, if someone popped their baby out in 45 minutes, she’ll tell you. You won’t need to ask.

Q: Did you have an epidural?

A: Why in the world does anyone think they can or should ask this question?

Q: So, when are you going to have another?

A: Can I get through this one? A new parents’ brain cannot even begin to process what they are currently doing. They cannot picture getting through to Monday. Maybe not even the next few minutes.

Q: Are you vaccinating your child?

A: This is a medical question. Not a conversation topic.

Q: What percentile does your baby fall into?

A: The 20th percentile does not mean that there is something wrong with the baby. It’s about proportion and growth – a 20th percentile baby growing at a 20th percentile rate is just a petite baby.

Q: Are you co-sleeping?

A: Maybe just let a parent tell you what they have decided to do for sleeping arrangements. They haven’t asked you if you and your husband are co-sleeping, have they?

Q: Are you coming out Friday night?

A: Probably not.

Q: How long are you going to breastfeed until?

A: “When he goes to prom!” answers my friend Diana. Really, unless you are nursing too or you are genuinely interested for your own child-rearing education, don’t ask this personal question. Moms have enough of this conversation cluttering their minds. It is not a conversation they should have to have out loud. Besides, does it matter? (No, it does not…)

Q: Are you going to make your own baby food?

A: If you ask this of a mother who does not have the time to make her own baby food but really wishes she did, you’ve stressed her out. If you ask this of a mother who is making her own baby food, she might start thinking about how she forgot to put the sweet potato puree from this morning in the freezer and maybe now it’s no longer good, because what if it has spoiled and I wonder if I should go out to the grocery store now because if I can get the oven on again before dinner then there will be a chance to make some more puree before bedtime, and oh, my, goodness, bedtime, I forgot to wash the sheets, but, agh, the towels didn’t get put in the dryer so those are probably musty and that reminds me we need to take the trash out because it’s garbage night, plus those diapers are starting to …

So, what should you talk about when you come upon a new parent? Perhaps a positively enlightening detail from the news, a recent release on the bookstands, a convenient new take-out restaurant.


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