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Reality Check: Dismissive Grandma

Q. My mother-in-law thinks it's silly that we put our 9-month-old to sleep on his back and don't give him a pacifier or feed him junk food. What do I do?

How can I put this delicately? Chill out! Of course it's wrong for your mother-outlaw to mock your carefully researched parenting decisions. But not all crimes are equivalent. It wouldn't kill you to look the other way when the occasional juice-free fruit juice or piece of bologna is handed out. Most of the time, and in most of the important circumstances, your rules rule.

If you're concerned Grandma will offer your baby a pacifier, bear in mind that if he isn't hooked on it at 9 months, odds are he won't be, no matter how much she dangles the thing. On the back-sleeping issue, though, make it very clear that this one is non-negotiable, which you can reinforce by inviting her on a visit to the pediatrician. If it comes out of your doctor's mouth, it holds more weight. If you're still worried, don't let her sit during naptime and bedtime, if you can help it, when both the pacifier and back sleeping are an issue.

You might also give her articles to read that support your point of view. She may just not be aware that the thinking has changed since she had kids.

And ask for her advice every once in a while. My mother-in-law and my mother raised eight children between them, and they had their own opinions. But they also knew more about getting a colicky baby to burp and stop crying than a rookie ever could. It may help to remember that Grandma's offspring did survive (in good enough condition that you married him!) and that she also loves your baby.