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Why You Need to Throw Away the Parenting Books

Here is my No. 1 piece of advice to pregnant women: Put down that pregnancy book. Step away from the parenting books. Toss the sleep books directly into the trash. And for the love of God, stop Googling! You can drive yourself crazy reading through all of the things you "should" and "shouldn't" be doing in regards to your child. You can find any answer you want, no matter what it is. These books contradict each other, and they even contradict themselves. So just stop reading them.

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Here's the truth: There is no manual for a baby. They do not come with on and off switches or a list of rules to follow. There is no one way to do something in regards to parenting. Just because it works for one baby doesn't mean it will work for another. And you can read books until you're blue in the face, but they won't get you anywhere but frustrated, causing you to question whether your child is broken because he doesn't cooperate while you try to dream feed, or because he still doesn't sleep through the night at 10 months old.

Above all, trust your instincts. Because chances are, they are far more reliable than any book ever could be.

Being a parent is hard. No, that belittles it, doesn't it? Being a parent is terrifying and the most challenging thing I've been through. It means always second-guessing your decisions. It means comparing yourself to others. It means comparing your baby to others. It means long nights, emotions running high, little sleep and endless worries. And reading tips from these so-called "experts" can be an endless black hole that doesn't in fact help anything, and in the end only makes you feel worse than you did before.

Because when you read these great tips, and put them into action, only to realize they did not work with your child? It leaves you feeling like the biggest failure as a parent. If you see that it works for someone else's child and not for your own, you're left wondering what is wrong with you or your child. That is not something you should feel, ever. That is a lie.

I want you to know that you are a success. The fact that you put your all into raising these tiny humans of yours makes you a superhero. It makes you strong and selfless and worthy of praise. And you should never feel anything else.

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So please, put down the book and look at what you have created. Rock your baby to sleep. Sing her lullabies. Let him sleep in your bed. Do what makes you happy, and ultimately, what makes your baby happy. Above all, trust your instincts. Because chances are, they are far more reliable than any book ever could be.

I guarantee your child will not still need to sleep in a swing when she's 18 and headed off to college. She won't be sucking her thumb either.

So for now, I know it's hard, but just take it one day at a time. Do what works in the moment. The thing about babies is, what works today will probably not work tomorrow, so try to go with the flow. Know that babies are human, too, and are ever-changing. Try your best. And above all, enjoy that squishy baby. He won't be this way for long.

Image via Katie Michelle Reyes

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