Facebook Has Saved My 'New Mom' Butt More Times Than I Can Count

What I want to know is what moms, particularly new moms, did before Facebook and Twitter? Seriously. These social media outlets have saved my ass -- and kept me from losing sleep -- more times than I can count in the 15 or so months that I've been a mom.

Back in the day, where did moms turn at 2 a.m. when their babies began puking buckets? Or when their kid spiked what appeared, at least to the inexperienced parent, to be a dangerously high fever? Or when the toddler who hadn't pooped in a week began screaming with belly pain?

What did our moms do in the pre-Internet dark age?

Now, I'm not one to frequently update my status or to tell all of my "friends" what I had for dinner or how good my coffee smells or how much traffic annoys me. But I have no shame in admitting that one of the first places to which I'll turn with a "mom" question is social media. What better way to take a instant poll of trusted fellow parents and get immediate feedback, even at 2 in the morning?

The first time our baby got sick, I turned to Facebook to ask other parents what they did when their child was congested as all get-out and too young for meds or nose-blowing. I got amazing tips from other night-owl parents and was able to sleep with the peace of mind in knowing that the symptoms my baby was exhibiting were normal. I learned about vapo-rub on the bottoms of the feet and vaporizers and bulb syringes and saline and steam showers.

And when our little girl spiked a fever of close to 105, I was assured that she likely wasn't dying and heard from numerous parents about how children's Tylenol alternated with children's Motrin was way more effective than Tylenol alone in breaking a fever. I've learned about what holistic remedies are safe for babies and which ones are not.

I learned when others started giving their babies cereal and what foods worked with picky eaters. I was assured to learn that my child wasn't unique in her penchant for hurling food on the floor when she lost interest and encouraged to try other foods when that happened.

I found out about Pedialyte popsicles on Facebook and how to cover the nursery floor in sheets when there was a projectile vomiting baby in the house.

In the past year, I've learned about acclimating babies and new puppies and where to find the best consignment children's clothes. I've gotten ideas for what to pack in school lunches and the best place to buy non-plastic food containers. I've found connections for raw goat's milk and organic baby food. I've learned about which strollers and high chairs are the best and which items are wastes of money.

I was able to confirm that my baby's scary looking rash looked exactly like the a penicillin allergy rash (it was). I've heard about the pros and the cons of vaccinations.  I've gotten travel tips and heard tales of how moms handled playground bullying or questions about sex.

Of course, Internet search engines and social media are no substitute for bona-fide medical advice. And I'm now on a first name basis with most of the nurses-on-call at the office of my daughter's pediatrician. But sometimes you just need a sanity check, you know? You need to hear that even though this fever or rash look scary, they're really quite common. That the children of other moms have experienced the same things and survived no worse for wear.

I call it the Social Media Hotline, a one-stop shop for parenting advice (among other things). And I can tell you that it's way more comforting and interactive than looking in the index of an old Dr. Spock book or, worse, Googling a symptom and being inundated with the hysteria commonly found on medical message boards. 

And I now find myself weighing in when other scared new moms post about their child's first fever or fall off the couch. Because I've been there.

There is nothing better than community. And say what you will about the social graph, it definitely extends one's community. It lets us know we're not alone.

If this weren't true, I don't think there'd be a need for a forum (like say, CafeMom) for moms to connect with one another. The fact that the site on which you're reading this article has grown to over 10 million viewers in three short years tells us all we need to know about the need for the Mommy Hotline. Hillary Clinton was right. It does take a village. And there's likely not one thing happening with you and your child that some other parent hasn't experienced before you.

So, thanks CafeMom and Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and KellyMom and all you other mom sites out there. You've definitely helped this mom make it through her pregnancy and first year of parenthood relatively unscathed. And I think I'm a better mom for it.

How has social media helped you as a parent?

Images via Mark Montgomery; Brooke Kelly

baby first year, facebook


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nonmember avatar dana

Absolutely. My son somehow got away from me and not only fell off the bed, but somehow hit a metal pipe, head first. I felt like the worst mother in history. I mean, I only rubbed my itchy eyes and he was somehow on the floor. Then I saw the amount of people who stated that it had happened to them, and didn't feel so bad. It's also saved me extensive tootle searches about what particular food they mean when they say "squash," or "white" potatoes... oh so many examples.

ATLmo... ATLmotomama

Amen! My son had a 104 fever for 3 days straight and then it was gone. First I used Facebook to get advice on safely bringing down a fever, and then about a week later I used it to help out a couple of other moms who were seeing the same thing. Sometimes I use it to tell stories and read other's stories - not so much as a piece of advice directly, but just knowing, as you said, you're not alone in your adventures is comforting.

I've learned some cool things from people who had skills I didn't even know about. We were a little worried (which is Mom-code for "really worried in secret, but putting on a strong face in public") about my son's talking... er... lack there of, and it turns out a friend from the breast cancer walks (we've been on several moto crews together) is a speech pathologist! She lives pretty far away and we only see each other a few times a year, so having an outlet to connect and get that expert advice was such a relief.

nonmember avatar NoWay

When my kids were little, there was no facebook, but there were online communities of moms that I would chat with via message board (I used babycenter a lot). But, I would mostly turn to my parenting books or give my own mom a phone call. :)

Tracey Plummer

Yeah, I either called my Mom at 2am (sorry Mom!), or called my pediatrician's hotline in the middle of the night. I don't think that man ever sleeps. He is awesome at allaying fears and pretending that he isn't completely pissed you just woke him up AGAIN...I wish I had FB when my daughter was a baby. It would have made my doctor's life so much easier!!! I swear my Mom kind of enjoyed being woken up with panicked baby questions, though. Whenever she would answer after midnight the first thing she would ask was "want me to come over?" Love her!!!!

Teresa Kennedy

My mom had a book called "Mother's Encyclopedia" that had most of the stuff I turn to FB for.  It had sections on childhood diseases, preventing accidents and poisonings, answering children's questions, a baby-sitter's guide (including craft projects), the pre-school years, and the encyclopedia which had things like how to design a room to be shared by siblings of different ages/ interests. Decorating styles have changed and some of the medical advice is different these days (no more aspirin for kids) but strep throat still looks the same today as it did in 1965!

D.O.E. D.O.E.

lol, who did you call at 2am when your kid is puking? my mom, my sisters.

who else?

and thats what was done before social networks lol (and i am only 29!)

Waag Waag

I call my mom my grandmother or my aunts as large as my family is you bet someone has gone through it and knows what to do

tuffy... tuffymama

I am typically the person who is called or texted in the night by other mommies. I once called my friend/birth assistant/favorite EMT and volunteer firefighter when infant ODS was croupy sounding in the wee hours, and she came over with her chest of homeopathic pills. Like an old fashioned house call! I think she was checking up on us because we had no family support, frankly. ODS had his little white pills a couple of times and was better in 24 hours. I had a lot of experience being sick as a kid, and ODS was never critically ill, so I kinda knew what to do for him. I got lucky. LO has had a bad cold one time and I just cleaned his nose out, kept him upright, and kept the humidifier going. I feed the boys well, use EOs and natural products to clean, and avoid vaccinations so they stay healthy.

nonmember avatar Leigh Anne

If your kid has a temp over 104 take 'em to an emergency room or a doctor. Even if it's nothing, better safe then sorry. I know a friend whose son nearly died from an infection that caused a really bad tempature spike because he had an infection. He was hospitalized for a week and was put in an medically induced coma.

wiccan92 wiccan92

Yes and no... Social media sites are around and I have a 2 year old. But I don't go straight to the sites to ask other moms who I have never met. I ask my own mother since she has experience raising 3 children! Or I'll ask the dr (mine or my daughter's pediatrician). I'll only ask social media sites if it's an opinion question or a silly question; nothing health or life-threatening related. If your child is sick, talk to the dr or the person who raised you, not some other mom in another part of the country who probably has a completely different opinion than your own and has no background information on your child. 

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