My name is Kayla, and I have a problem: like many new moms, I. Google. Everything. Every bump, sneeze, every weird thing they do, every not-so-weird thing they do – I google it all. And I realized recently that all my Google searches may be doing us more harm than good. So I’ve decided to give it a rest, and here’s why.
1. Anxiety Overload
I have anxiety. This isn’t new; I’ve always been excellent at worrying about every little thing that could potentially go wrong and I’ve got a knack for jumping to the worst case scenario every time. Becoming a mother only made my anxiety worse. Now, I had two tiny little humans whose lives depended on me. And as a new mother, I don’t know what’s normal and what’s not. That’s where Google searching comes in. But anyone who’s ever googled their symptoms knows that there’s no better place to find the worst case scenario than Google. When the boys broke out in baby acne all over their faces, I searched “bumps on baby’s face.” There I found all of the things that it could be. Baby acne, eczema, erythema toxicum, folliculitis, heat rash, chicken pox, measles. Can you see how that wasn’t reassuring at all, especially for a professional worrywart like myself?
2. Conflicting Advice
Is there anything more frustrating than when every website says something different? I recently searched for what time a five-month-old baby should go to sleep at night. According to the first page of search results, I should put the babies to bed at 7 PM, 8 PM, 9 PM, or 10 PM. Every website said something different. Which one do I listen to? The most popular one? The one that reads the most sterile and medical? The one that sounds most homey and mommycentric? Or the one that sounds most like what I want to hear?
3. The BabyCenter Black Hole
Eventually, I called the pediatrician’s office about the bumps, and they told me “It sounds like acne, put some Aquaphor on it and keep it clean.” So my next step was googling “Aquaphor on baby acne.” What I found was an old BabyCenter post where someone said Aquaphor cured her baby’s acne in one day and another said Aquaphor made her baby’s acne ten times worse. That’s what I call the “BabyCenter Black Hole.” This is when I google something about my baby and instead of getting responses from any remotely reputable sources, the only results I get are old discussion threads on the BabyCenter message boards.
I make a policy now not to click on BabyCenter links, but before I knew better, I would always go to them looking for answers and leave annoyed and disappointed. Woman A asks for advice about her baby. Woman B tells her what to do. Woman C enters and discusses how Woman B is utterly wrong and woefully misguided and how that didn’t work for her baby at all. Back and forth, on and on, each thread is chock full of arguing and conflicting advice and would leave me more confused than ever. But so often, BabyCenter boards are the only results to my searches – another reason to leave the googling alone. (By the way, neither woman was helpful. The Aquaphor didn’t help or hurt, it just made them look greasy.)
4. Unrealistic Expectations
As preemies, the twins aren’t always “on target” with where a full-term baby their age would be. This is to be expected, and their pediatrician reminds me of that every time we see her, but still, I watch their development like a hawk. Part of it comes from being a special education teacher. Even at their age, I’m constantly watching out for developmental delays. This leads to my most unproductive Google searches. “When should my baby sit up?” “When should my baby roll over?” “When should my baby sleep through the night?” The truth is, every child is different. Even my twins are different from each other. Alexander developed more in the womb, which makes him bigger and developmentally slightly ahead of Nathan. Trying to figure out when my baby “should” do something only leads to me worrying more about if my babies are “normal” versus just leaving them to develop at their own pace and celebrating each new milestone as it comes.
5. Going with My Gut
My babies are mine – period. And as a first time mom, I totally get using the Internet to guide my decision-making, but at the end of the day, some things I don’t need a website to tell me. I don’t need to Google “when to put my baby in his crib” when I know I don’t feel ready for my baby to leave my bedside yet. I don’t need to Google “when to increase my baby’s feedings” if I can tell by my baby’s behavior that he’s still hungry. Some things are natural, and I trust my instincts over all else. I don’t need to second-guess myself by constantly looking up what I should be doing with my kids – I just need to believe that as a mom, I know what my baby needs.
Of course, the occasional Google search will still be necessary, but I’m tired of my browser history being nothing but questioning and worrying. Ultimately, I go with advice from my pediatrician and what feels right for my family – because nobody knows my babies like I do.