Should we agree to disagree?

This is a follow-up to a previous post wherein I complained about the lack of consistency in childcare advice in the maternity ward. We've since spoken to a pediatrician who told us that the number one complaint to healthcare professionals from new parents is the lack of consistency in information. Nowhere is this more in evidence than in childcare/parenting websites. 

Of course people can blog and share information about their parenting philosophies all they want. But some of these sites offer cross the hazy boundary between some random person's opinion into actual healthcare advice. While some sources are maintained by healthcare organizations and present expert opinion [1], a little digging reveals that more than a few are run by random moms who extrapolate from their own anecdotal experience [2].

See, it's not like we found these sites from random internet searches. Rather, multiple care-providers have given us pages of 'useful' resources. One such page of links contained several instances of contradictory advice, depending on which site we visited. Similarly, if we speak to our pediatrician or lactation consultant, we'll get yet more differing information. We're not looking for opinions on how to raise kids, here. Is it really so difficult to find out how much he should be eating?

My gut tells me that most of the stuff we're worried about is nothing, but you also have to keep in mind that our family is pretty sleep-deprived and antsy at this point. So when one source is telling us that we absolutely need to do X, while another says that we absolutely should not do X, it's more than a bit frustrating. I'm on the side of trusting our doctors, even though the handouts that they've given us contradict their advice.


[1] This is a much broader topic, but I think that we scientists don't give people enough credit for their mistrust of 'expert opinion'. It's a bit ironic how an healthcare organization can, in the same paragraph, 1) now strongly recommend that all babies be breastfed and, 2) point out that they spent years discouraging women from breastfeeding. Or how Dr. Spock used to recommend that babies sleep on their stomachs, while it's now 'obvious' that they should sleep on their backs. It would behoove folks to be more careful about making policy pronouncements. I suppose that researchers are people too and hedging suggests lack of confidence.

[2] There's value in sharing experience, but there is also a hell of a lot of woo and conspiracy theory on these sites. I've noticed a few instances of pairing mother-to-mother advice with organic/anti-GMO screed, for example.