Mom Survey: Controversial Parenting Methods

From vaccinations, to breastfeeding in public, to co-sleeping, many moms are known for having very strong opinions on which are the best methods for raising and taking care of their babies. 

Do you let your baby "cry it out"? Should you discipline your child by spanking them? How about breastfeeding — do you breastfeed, and until what age with your baby?​

These are some of the most controversial, hot-button parenting topic​s with today's moms.

So, we decided to take the pulse of these moms and discover where they fell out on 10 of the most oft-debated parenting positions.​

  • What did we ask? Our goal was to learn about where new moms stood on some of the more controversial parenting topics, so we asked 10 direct questions about some of these hot-button issues.
  • Who responded? With the help of SurveyMonkey, we commissioned 100 moms who have children between ages 0-4, from all geographic regions in the U.S.

Data, Key Findings, and Analysis

Here are the full responses to the 10 questions.

Some of the results are surprising; others, less so.

1. Do you think it's appropriate to physically discipline your child by spanking them?

78 %
Yes (at least in some cases)

Yes, I was disciplined this way and I turned out fine.


No, never under any circumstances.


Only in extreme circumstances.



The issue of disciplining your child is always a big one, and the idea of physically spanking your little one is always sure to spark up a debate. While some parents believe it's never okay to lay your hands on your child, others think it's an effective form of fixing bad behavior.

It's important to note here that the term "spanking" was not defined for this survey, and it's likely that different parents have different interpretations of what spanking actually means.

Key Findings

  • 22% of our respondents said they would never spank their child, under any circumstances. 
  • On the other hand, 36% of our moms noted they were disciplined by spanking and turned out just fine, while an additional 42% of moms responded that they do believe in physical discipline, but only in extreme circumstances.
  • When you combine these last two numbers, then fully 78% of moms believe that it is appropriate to discipline their children via spanking, at lease in extreme situations that call for it.

2. Are you a proponent of vaccinating your child?

72 %

Yes, it's too risky NOT to vaccinate.


No, it's too risky to vaccinate.


I'll do whatever my pediatrician says is best.



The subject of vaccinating your child has been making headlines lately, with those in favor arguing that it trains the immune system and gives it a chance to fight off dangerous diseases, and those against saying that vaccines aren't all that effective and that they can actually be harmful to your child.

Key Findings

  • Despite all the rabid debate going back and forth on this issue, only 4% of our respondents said they are not proponents of vaccinations due to the associated risks.
  • Meanwhile, 72% of our moms responded that they do/will vaccinate their children because it's too risky not to vaccinate them.
  • An interesting data point from this question revealed that 24% of moms are comfortable leaving this decision up to their pediatrician to make the ultimate call on whether or not to vaccinate.

3. Are you a proponent of the "crying it out" sleeping method?

52 %

Yes, it can help baby sleep better.


No, it's too cruel to the baby.



Perhaps the biggest adjustment new moms face involves the matter of all thing sleep. And when it comes to their babies sleeping, there may be no more controversial topic than the "cry it out" sleep training method.

Standing in one corner of the ring: parents who believe this method teaches babies how to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own. In the other corner of the ring: parents who believe it's not good for baby's well-being and is simply too cruel.

Key Findings

  • On this contentious issue, our respondents were nearly split down the middle: 48% of our moms said that "crying it out" can help baby sleep better, while 52% of respondents said that it's simply too cruel.

4. Are you a proponent of "co-sleeping" with your baby in the first year?

51 %

Yes, it's natural and can improve breastfeeding rates.


No, the risk of SIDS isn't worth it and/or it affects my sleep too much.



The most hotly-contested question from our survey belongs to the issue of co-sleeping. While about half our moms believe that it's a natural arrangement that improve breastfeeding success, the other half believe the risks involved with SIDS and other potential mishaps are just too great.

Key Findings

  • Clearly, when it comes to sleeping decisions, moms are equally divided: first with the "crying it out method", and here with whether they are proponents of co-sleeping with their children.
  • 49% of our moms responded that co-sleeping is natural and can improve breastfeeding rates, while 51% said that it either wasn't worth the risks of SIDS, or it simply affected sleep too much.

5. How long did you (or plan to) breastfeed with your baby?

63 %
Until at least age 1

I don't/didn't breastfeed.


Until at least age 1.


Until at least age 2.


Longer than age 2.



Though you'd think this would be a strictly personal decision and therefore not up for debate, the issue of how long to breastfeed your baby (or if you even breastfeed at all) is perhaps the most contentious debate topic among new moms today. 

Key Findings

  • On this issue, the majority of moms (63%) believe that breastfeeding until at least age 1 is the way to go.
  • The second most popular response to this question was moms who either didn't breastfeed, or didn't plan on breastfeeding at all, with 20% of moms answering this way.
  • Another interesting data point was the 7% of moms who responded that they had (or had planned to) breastfeed with their baby past the age of two.

6. Do you think it's appropriate to breastfeed in public?

87 %

Yes, it's completely natural, even in public.


No, it should only be done in private.



Breastfeeding in public is an issue that always seems to pop up in the news and in Facebook feeds, with both sides arguing their cases passionately. Is it something that should only be done in private, or is it completely natural and a non-issue to nurse in public?

Key Findings

  • While this issue may not be as contentious as the media would have you believe, 13% of moms who responded to our survey still believe that breastfeeding should only be done in private.

7. Are you a proponent of swaddling your baby?

91 %

Yes, it's safe & helps baby sleep longer.


No, it's too risky for baby's health.



Swaddling is the long-used method of wrapping baby up like a burrito in a receiving blanket, which a lot of parents say helps their little one sleep better. There is a contingent of moms who think swaddling may be too risky, though, especially when it comes to breathing properly. 

Key Findings

  • The least controversial of the topics we asked our moms about was swaddling: an overwhelming 91% are proponents of swaddling and believe it's safe and helps their babies sleep longer.

8. Do you think it's appropriate to change your baby's diaper publicly in a restaurant?

70 %

Yes, sometimes you just have to do whatever it takes.


No, that's just too weird and/or gross.



Yes, believe it or not this is actually a thing. There was a story a short while back about a mom needing to change her child's diaper at a Chipotle restaurant, but because the location did not have a changing table in the bathroom, she went ahead and changed the diaper on a table in the dining area

Key Findings

  • Our moms were not fully on board with this novel diapering practice, as 70% of respondents said that publicly changing a diaper in a restaurant was just too weird and/or gross.

9. Do you let your child play with iPads or other electronic devices to stop them from misbehaving?

69 %
Yes (if only as a last resort)





Only as a last resort.



We've all been there before — our little one is acting up again, and the only thing that can get him to calm down is to just give him the iPad and let him play around with it for a while. Seems harmless enough, but there is definitely a segment of moms out there who believe that "iPad parenting" is not the way to deal with misbehaving toddlers.

Key Findings

  • While 31% of our moms say no to using the iPad as a parenting technique for stopping bad behavior, 69% of respondents said it's something they don't have a problem doing, if only as a last resort.

10. Are you a proponent of "baby-wearing" (carrying your baby on your chest/back with a sling)?

85 %

Yes, it frees up my hands so I can do other things.


No, it's too weird and/or not safe.



More of a light-hearted debate topic than actual "controversy", we wanted to find out how many moms are fans of those baby-carriers that you seem to see everywhere nowadays. Turns out, most moms really like them.

Key Findings

  • The vast majority of moms (85%) are clearly onboard the "baby-wearing" train, but there's still a small segment (15%) who just aren't comfortable with them yet.

Hi there, I'm Kate! I started Maternity Glow to be a place for new and expecting moms to come to for practical pregnancy advice, parenting tips, and baby care tricks.

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