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6 Things You Should Never Say to a Sleep-Deprived Mom

Photograph by Twenty20

I'm not sleeping.

At first, it was just the newborn thing. You know, round-the-clock feedings, diapers changes and struggling to get a fussy baby re-swaddled in the dark.

Then it was insomnia, something I've dealt with off and on since I was a kid. Once my son had started to sleep a little better, I found I was still awake in the middle of the night.

Next, came the four-month sleep regression.

Now, we're rounding the corner towards teething.

So, no, I'm not sleeping.

And it turns out a lot of people have a hell of a lot to say about that.

RELATED: How My Marriage Survived Two Straight Years of Sleep Deprivation

Here's the thing, unsolicited advice is already dangerous territory when you're talking to a mom. Add sleeplessness to the equation and you're walking on thin ice. If you're thinking about sharing your thoughts with a mom with bags under her eyes, here are the five things you should never, ever say to a sleep-deprived mom.

"You look tired."

If you have any comments about a woman's appearance, you best keep those to yourself. Now, practice with me: "How are you?" See how much better that sounds?

"They really should be sleeping through the night by now."

Trust me, us sleep-deprived moms have Googled and prayed and bargained for sleep daily. No one misses hours of sleep a night for months on end without considering that something might be wrong. The truth is, there isn't really science to back up our obsession with babies who sleep through the night. Instead, a lot of studies on babies and sleep find that night wakings are totally normal during the first year of life.

"Maybe you should switch her to formula."

Nope. The entire world should know by now that unless you're a doctor, encouraging a breastfeeding mom to switch to formula isn't going to go over well. Not only is it not really your business, there isn't a lot of proof that formula-feeding results in more sleep for Mom. In fact, there are plenty of studies that found breastfeeding mothers report a higher quality of sleep.

My mom used to put rice cereal in my bottle to help me sleep.

Look, no offense to your mom, but when we know better, we do better. Now that we know that adding rice cereal to a bottle is a bad idea, outside of a few really rare situations like severe reflux, this advice needs to be retired for good.

You know it's OK to let your baby cry, right?

When my first was little, I got this all of the time. Making up our mind not to use cry-it-out in our home was a heavily researched and thought out choice. Nothing quite upset me more than feeling like someone I barely knew wanted me to explain my choice to them.

RELATED: 4 Things Couples Need to Talk About Before They Have Kids

Sleep When the Baby Sleeps

Easier said than done.

Moms of more than one kid have to stay awake to keep their toddler from climbing the counters or eating weird things and at some point, the house does have to be cleaned. Instead of offering meaningless advice to exhausted moms, try coming over to drop by a meal or hold a baby for a few minutes so we can take a shower—that we can appreciate.

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