Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Online Parenting Advice - What and When?

With the world at our fingertips, and a child without a manual, it can be quite tempting to pop online and look up ideas. It's a great to be able to look for craft ideas, to get book recommendations, and search recipe ideas. The internet is a fantastic tool for these things. Though, when your query gets a little more personal, involves symptoms, or human relationships, you should be a little more things get a little more complicated. Suggestions may come from experience, but not from expertise. Remember, every child is different. If you are too relaxed, or take the wrong advice, you risk prolonging physical pain, or causing the emotional kind. Today we look at 3 popular sites for the new parent and the when they can help, versus when they might just cause you more harm than good.

What: Pinterest

When: Your question is light in nature (tips, tricks, crafts, recipes)

It is a personal passion of mine to go on Pinterest for everything from planning my dream home to what's for dinner. I only wish I had known about it for planning my wedding! As a resource for rainy day activities, cute baby wear, and nursery décor, I recommend it highly. You can customize a board to a specific topic (ie my son's whale themed birthday party) and put all your ideas in one easily accessible place!

Be careful when pinning ideas that involve your child's health. The websites gathered on Pinterest can be posted by Jane down the street, who is probably not a doctor. Chemical formulas are also tricky. Any combination of household cleaners or beauty products should be carefully considered. You risk allergic reactions, burns, and even possibly explosions. Seriously.

What: Facebook

When: You need a little advice, or to blow off some steam

Once you have a child, your wall and all your photos are suddenly covered in messy faces and cute sleepy shots. While your single friends might not share your new passion for baby food purées and preventing diaper rash, Facebook has lots of creative communities in which to trade coupons, buy used toys, and even ask advice from other parents (such as our own page!) Finding a group with similar beliefs (be they religious, or just frugality) is a fun way to add to the social media experience gained from your own friend list.

Just be cautious of the Facebook "over-share." Consider scaling back the number of photos and be aware of the poses you post. Not everyone has the purest thoughts about kids, and once the photo is online, you can never be 100% where it gets passed around. Think too about your words. Frustrated statuses in the heat of the moment can really hurt people's feelings. It's fine to talk vaguely about confrontations or controversial choices, but calling people out is not the best way to improve the issue. If anything, you'll end up looking like the jerk.

What: Babycentre

When: You want some general information about phases and symptoms

No matter how different, there are certain commonalities when it comes to baby phases. From pregnancy to toddlerhood, there seem to be general experiences, but you may not have heard of them before. You'll often be asked at the doctor's office if your little one has hit a certain milestone (sitting, crawling, walking, etc) or has tried a certain food. If you're curious about if your child might be teething or why they seem to be sleeping differently than they used to, Babycentre has a wealth of information that might clear things up.

As with any website, the articles are not always written by people with authority on the matter, and the barrage of comments that follow can add to your confusion. If you're feeling uncertain about the validity of the advice provided, it's time to talk to a real professional. This does not mean another website, like WebMD, which is enough to make you think that paper cut will require finger amputation. Call your public health nurse, your doctor's office, or even consider the hospital in extreme circumstances. With infants especially, it's better to feel silly than regret not asking.

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