Romper bills itself as a site for “a new generation of women figuring out what motherhood means for us.”
For at least one a mommy blogger, it means the potential for baby-shaming everywhere you look. The blogger, Reaca Pearl, is cautioning parents against accidental baby-shaming, which she says can affect infants’ long-term feelings and behaviors.
“Even parents with the best of intentions can inadvertently shame or hurt their children. … That’s why, even though it’s difficult and uncomfortable, it’s important to educate yourself on the ways you don’t realize you’re accidentally shaming your baby. … Even something as seemingly innocuous as your automatic word choice can make a difference,” Pearl warns on the progressive parenting website Romper.
Firmly off-limits, unless you want to shame your infant into a lifetime of eternal trauma: facing the stench of dirty diapers with a consistent sense of humor. “We all know diapers can be stinky and nasty,” Pearl says. “Being playful about just how stinky and nasty is totally fine. Consistently commenting on the baby’s stink or dirtiness, however, may sneak up on them later.”
Comforting a crying baby by saying “there’s no reason to cry” also constitutes baby-shaming, says Pearl. Parents who use this phrase are “actually and inadvertently telling them they’re wrong to be scared or sad or whatever it is they’re feeling and probably cannot label.”
Instead, Pearl suggests, parents signal how available they are for their crying child. “This lets the baby know their feelings are valid and that you’re there to take care of them with those big feelings,” she says.
It’s also totally baby-shaming to ask infants to be a good boy or girl, Pearl says. More broadly, she seems to object to teaching children that some behavior is good and that some behavior is bad.
“What I really want to teach them is that they are good inherently no matter their behavior,” Pearl says. (Good luck with that in about 13 years…)
Other baby-shaming behaviors include teaching babies manners. Please and thank yous are off limits, Pearl suggests, until babies are big enough that they can understand “when I explain versus demand.”
Another example of shaming a baby: “When you use shame.”
That’s actually on the list.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.