I recently saw a friend who is pregnant with Baby #4. Babies 1, 2 and 3 are boys. “You must be hoping for a girl!” everyone says to her. “Honestly,” she replies with exhaustion, “I just hope it’s not a serial killer.”

Fun fact: the bar of parental expectations is inversely proportional to the number of children one has. So how do you ensure your baby will definitely not be a serial killer? It seems overwhelming, but it’s simple, really. Just follow this simple step-by-step guide, and you, too, can avoid living with a serial killer baby.

Step 1: Feeding

Do not use formula. Every serial killer baby was fed formula. Except for the serial killers who were breastfed. Those kids are clingy and weird and will obviously turn out to be crazy.

Don’t ever feed your kids any GMOs. To be safe, don’t feed them anything not labeled with a picture of a pretty butterfly. The serial killer brain gene feeds off genetically modified foods—if it can ever figure out what those actually are. And never, ever feed your baby any foods that haven’t been directly treated with pesticides. Fun fact 2: pesticides kill the serial killer gene. Along with a lot of other things like bees and birds, but whatever.

Babies who eat baby food from jars will always become serial killers. Direct access to easily broken glass? It’s kind of obvious. The only thing more dangerous than food out of a jar is food you make yourself. Are you a professional baby-food maker? No? Then why are you turning your baby into a serial killer?

Step 2: Crying

If you want to have a serial killer baby, definitely don’t ever let your baby cry. Especially in the middle of the night when the rest of the world is sleeping and you would trade your adorable serial-killer-in-training for one solid night of uninterrupted sleep. If you listen closely, you’ll actually hear them crying, “I’m going to kiiiiiiiill you!” Fun fact 3: they totally will.

Everyone knows that picking up a baby every time they cry will do nothing but spoil them. Spoil them into a serial killer, that is. They’ll learn that you will do anything for them, up to and including helping them hide the bodies.

Step 3: Soothing

If your baby does like to cry a lot—and if you’re a selfish parent who finds that kind of thing irritating—then you may think there’s something you can do to make it stop. Well, you can try anyway.

Just don’t use any screens. None. Of any kind. Ever. Avert your child’s eyes from any and all blue lights. Those new-fangled churches with the screens at the front? Nothing but serial killer training grounds. Note that if you do limit all screen time you may also breed an anti-social weirdo who has no cultural awareness of modern technology and media.

Maybe you think a pacifier would be a good way to soothe that screaming baby. Only if you want to raise a serial killer with an overbite. Pacifiers are right up there with strollers. You just go ahead and wheel around your little monster instead of carrying him like you’re supposed to. But don’t wear that baby all the time or their muscles will atrophy and they’ll have to compensate for inevitable physical shortcomings by becoming a serial killer.

Step 4: Working and School

I know you like your job and your career and being fulfilled as a complete human and whatnot, but you have to stop. Just stop it. You can’t have a job and not raise a serial killer. Well, dads can, but that’s another conversation. Question: what kind of serial killer tendencies will rub off on a child after a day interacting with peers while being cared for by a saintly person licensed and trained to nurture and stimulate babies and toddlers? Answer: loads.

Of course, if you really want Junior to go on a murderous rampage, definitely quit your job and stay home. Smother that baby with your undying affection and attention every minute of every day until they build an Oedipal shrine to you in a dark corner of your basement. No, that knot in the pit of your stomach isn’t resentment. Don’t be silly! That’s what love feels like.

As your child reaches school age, you may feel like you can breathe a sigh of relief. That’s cute. Now you get to decide which school to send them to. Public or private? Charter or magnet? Montessori or Waldorf? Parochial or heathen? Language immersion in Spanish? Chinese? French? Urdu? Everyone knows that loads of choices means way less stress. Just don’t pick a public school. Fun fact 4: “How to be a serial killer” is an integral part of the public school curriculum.

Step 5: Listen to all the Advice

While this guide was likely exceedingly helpful in your journey not to raise a serial killer baby, it is surely not an exhaustive list. The best part about having a baby is that every stranger always has loads of advice for you, even if you didn’t think you needed it. The best thing to do for you and your baby is to always do everything every stranger tells you to do. Unless you don’t.

Photo by Rita Morais on Unsplash

Rachel is a freelance writer based in Minneapolis. She is a recovering political writer and most recently taught high school English in Baltimore. She is thrilled to now be a full-time mama and writer,...