No reasonable person expects to be able to casually handle an infant or not support a baby’s head as they cradle it. Although most new parents are understandably paranoid about their new babies’ safety and well-being, there are many more factors which affect a newborn’s safety than just mishandling.
Newborns exit the womb in a squishy and well-protected form, but coming out into the world is about the only journey they’re prepared to tackle. Most of their systems are still being built- like their senses of sight, smell, and hearing- and suddenly leaving the cushy womb that was their home for nine months is like the most dramatic of culture shocks.
Outside mom’s belly, the world is cold, loud, and fraught with smells and sights that babies must quickly grow accustomed to. If that’s not enough stress, there are also other factors at play that threaten a baby’s wellbeing.
Although we’re not yet asking our newborns to walk themselves to the car or get their own bottles ready, society still seems to demand more from infants in terms of developmental progress and situations where adults are expected to “tough it out.”
Think about it: would you intentionally subject your brand new infant to painful cosmetic surgery, risk their internal decapitation, or permanently alter their brain’s chemistry? Unfortunately, you may already have if you haven’t considered these fifteen ways newborns aren’t as resilient as parents think.
15 Nighttime Noshing Is Necessary
It’s hard to survive on very little sleep, but it’s something all parents of newborns go through. This rite of passage has a reasonable explanation though- babies wake often because they need to eat often. Although breastfed babies often digest their meals faster than formula fed babies,
all infants need to eat throughout the night so they can grow properly.
As Dr. Sears explains, babies wake to eat so that they can thrive. Even older babies may wake at night to eat, particularly if they are very active during the day and don’t stop for snack breaks. Dr. Sears suggests feeding babies as close to your bedtime as possible to maximize the sleep you both get before the next meal time. This applies to both breastfed and bottle-fed babies as they grow, so we shouldn’t expect newborns to go long stretches without nourishment.
14 Solo Sleeping Is Lonely
It’s no secret that most babies enjoy being held and touched, and in fact, it’s another biological need. Dr. Sears explains that many babies like to sleep nestled up against their moms or against a “prop” because it reminds them of the coziness of the womb. Therefore, expecting a newborn to sleep alone in a crib or bassinet- especially one far away from mom- can be scary and downright damaging to an infant.
While most babies prefer to be near mom, there are babies who don’t seem to care either way. But for those who want to be held, the best thing parents can do is snuggle them, no matter what time of day it is. In the end, tending to baby’s cries is helpful for his brain and overall development, meaning your newborn will one day grow out of this level of neediness.
13 Sleep Training Tactics Cause Stress
Tons of books exist about sleep training for babies, and there are even “experts” who will come to your home to get your infant to sleep through the night. While getting babies to sleep longer has amazing benefits for parents’ well-being, it’s not as benign as most “professionals” suggest to let your infant cry it out. According to Psychology Today,
studies have shown that when babies are stressed, it causes damage to their brains.
Even though many parenting magazines and other resources suggest that kids will turn out fine regardless of their nighttime routine, the studies they used to determine that are flawed. Newborn babies have a biological need to be near their mothers and to eat more often than a full eight hours, and sleep training only serves to quash babies’ natural instincts and teach them that no one will respond to their cries for comfort.
12 Not Too Young To Remember
Although there’s plenty of evidence that routine infant circumcision is not necessary, many people still choose to have their newborn sons circumcised. Unfortunately, as Psychology Today explains, performing such a surgery on an infant changes the baby’s brain- and not for the better. Obviously, circumcision causes immediate harm, causing babies such intense pain that they choke, seize, and lose consciousness.
Psychology Today further cites studies that show this pain in infancy permanently affects children’s brains. In fact, circumcision is linked to increased anxiety, altered pain sensitivity, and other brain changes in adolescents and adults. The psychological consequences last a lifetime, and the trauma of circumcision produces effects similar to those of physical and sexual abuse. Boys who have suffered childhood circumcision can also experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at a higher rate than veterans- one study showed that 51 percent of boys had symptoms of PTSD.
11 Yellow Babies Getting Yellower
Plenty of parents are unsure whether to consent to vitamin K injections for their newborns, and for good reason. In the mid-1950’s, Stanford Medicine explains, the type of vitamin K given to babies (K2, menadione) caused severe jaundice and other issues. As a result, physicians began using K1 (phytonadione) instead.
Still, the K1 has the potential to create hyperbilirubinemia (jaundice) in babies when they receive “extremely high doses” between 25 and 30mg. Stanford Medicine highlights that premature infants were more susceptible than term infants, and that normal “therapeutic doses” are between .5 and 1mg. Apart from the potential impact an overdose of vitamin K can have on newborns, one study suggested a link between childhood cancer and vitamin K, but studies performed since then have not found an association between the two.
10 Shot Reactions Claim Lives
Despite mainstream media’s claims that vaccines are perfectly safe for newborns on up, many parents have come forward suggesting that vaccines are what caused their children’s deaths. From stars like Jim Carrey to mixed martial artist Nick Catone (whose son died following routine vaccinations),
there’s no shortage of people questioning the safety and efficacy of immunizations.
One example comes from a CafeMom thread where parents share their personal experiences. Saved there is a Facebook post from Jeanee Joubert, who lost her two-month-old son Owen Stokes following 8 combination vaccine doses. According to Jeanee, Owen was a perfectly healthy child who died within 48 hours of receiving his routine vaccines. Unfortunately, many parents have similar stories of babies who suddenly became ill after their shots, making people question whether shots are truly safe for babies.
9 Even Slightly Shaken Babies Suffer
Newborn infants are pretty malleable- they do have to enter the world through a 10cm wide canal, after all. But that doesn’t carry over into life outside the womb, as research has shown that babies’ brains are susceptible to damage with even regular movement. As The Star reported, neurosurgeons advise that parents avoid cradles and battery-powered swings because the movement might be enough to damage baby’s brain.
Although baby swings are usually a minor cause for concern, the right caregiver is a more important consideration. Parenting reported one mom’s experience with shaken baby syndrome, which happened through a family friend abusing the child. The babysitter’s husband shook 4-month-old Alex and caused permanent brain damage and partial blindness, among other issues, in the now-toddler. In the space of 5 to 15 seconds, the infant’s life was drastically altered forever.
8 Newborns Need Car Seat Safety
When Prince George came home from the hospital, multiple countries across the globe where aghast at the royal couple’s apparent lack of car seat knowledge. The baby was swaddled and then placed in his Britax seat with the straps loosely around him, a life-threatening hazard for any infant in a vehicle. While sympathizers suggest that the parents fixed George’s straps once everyone was in the vehicle, we’re just thankful there wasn’t an accident on their way home.
If babies aren’t securely buckled into their seats, there’s the possibility that they’ll be ejected from the car in the event of a crash.
Even putting a puffy sweater or coat on an infant can create a gap between the baby’s body and the car seat straps,
making it possible for the baby to be thrown from the seat upon impact. Newborns can’t handle that much force- so buckling up is vital.
7 Silent Car Seat Dangers
While car seats are effective safety devices that have saved countless young lives, they pose hazards of their own. According to The Car Seat Lady, the risks of both strangulation and asphyxiation are always present with car seats. When babies aren’t properly buckled, even the youngest of infants can slouch and flop around in their seat. That means the potential for asphyxiation- like what happened to 14-month-old Jaxon as he napped in his car seat.
11-week-old Shepard died as he slept in his car seat, his head slouched forward and his airway blocked. His straps were completely unbuckled as the seat rested on the floor, and by the time his caregiver checked on him, he was dead. The Car Seat Lady recommends only using car seats in the car or on a compatible stroller and to always keep straps snug so babies stay in the proper position.
6 Round Heads Fall Flat
Most infants born the “traditional” way wind up with a cone-shaped head in their first days. But beyond that, newborns tend to have nice round noggins that start growing and don’t stop until kids are in their teens. However, if parents assume that babies’ heads are hard and can withstand bumps and bouncing around, they’d be wrong. Babies’ bones are still soft as they grow through the newborn stage, and while that’s good news for mom during labor,
it’s not fun when babies’ heads begin to take on a new shape.
Some medical conditions can cause it, but “flat head syndrome” is something caused by babies lying flat too often. Too much time in car seats, bouncers, and even cribs can make babies’ heads flat, requiring intervention to make them round again. In extreme cases, babies may even need surgery or shaping helmets to get their heads back to normal.
5 Nurturing Attachment Or Anxiety
You’ve probably heard a lot about attachment parenting, but this type of attachment isn’t rooted in hippie theory, and it doesn’t involve “extended” breastfeeding or other crunchy pursuits. Attachment theory defines relationships between people, and specific categories describe infants’ attachment to their mothers. The types of classifications are secure, insecure-ambivalent, insecure-avoidant, and disorganized/disoriented.
In the early days, responding to a baby’s needs and spending time holding him or her helps develop secure attachment. Babies learn they can rely on parents for food, comfort, and connection, and this translates into functional and healthy children and adults. Babies who are deprived of loving care, however, can have tumultuous relationships with caregivers and have difficulty maintaining relationships later in life. Secure attachment requires tending to your baby’s social, emotional, and other needs, because even newborns have needs beyond feeding and diapering.
4 Easy Eats For Troubled Tummies
Whether you breastfeed or bottle feed your newborn, they’ll get used to their form of food and odds are, their tummies will be happy too. But what if you have to transition from breastfeeding to bottle feeding, whether with formula or breast milk? What if you need to change formula brands or formulations because of allergies, intolerance, or availability?
Even formula manufacturers recommend transitioning from nursing to formula feeding gradually,
both to avoid potential tummy upsets and to get babies used to new flavors. Some babies also have difficulty digesting certain types of formula, which is why sensitive formulas exist. There are also sterile formulas (the pre-made containers of liquid) that aim to avoid contamination in preparing powder formula- and most doctors recommend sterile formula for newborns because of their vulnerability when it comes to illness.
3 Foodies From Day One
You might think that all babies are somehow created equal and that a bottle is a bottle or a breast is a breast. But that’s not the case, as the parents of many picky infants will tell you. Plenty of moms have bought up every bottle at Babies R Us, only to find that baby only wants the breast and nothing else. Other moms have tried unsuccessfully to get their babes from a bottle back to the breast to no avail. Other babies have their bottle preferences that no amount of coercion can change.
Though most babies will eventually eat if they get hungry enough, newborns aren’t resilient enough to withstand hours of fighting over bottles. Some infants just cry until they fall asleep rather than accept a different bottle than they’re used to, and breastfed infants often wait for mom to come back to eat.
2 Hip Issues Happen Early
According to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, hip dysplasia is the most common abnormality in newborns. Most cases are in baby girls, and the majority occur in firstborn babies rather than their subsequent siblings. While there’s no one confirmed cause for the condition,
some factors include baby’s positioning in the womb and positioning in the early months of baby’s life.
According to the Institute, babies born in cultures that use swaddling and carriers that keep babies’ legs together see higher instances of hip dysplasia. Carrying babies in a natural seated position, however, keeps the hips properly aligned and supported. That’s why many baby carriers today (think Ergo or Moby carriers) feature seating that supports babies’ bottoms and thighs- because newborns are particularly pliable and susceptible to developing hip dysplasia.
1 Adoption Impacts The Brain
In his article on LinkedIn, Alex Stavros quotes psychology professionals who explain that infants’ bonds with their mothers begin in the womb. In particular, “early pre- and post-natal experiences, including early trauma, are encoded in the implicit memory of the fetus,” the article notes, highlighting the fact that our very early experiences shape our entire lives.
The article also suggests that babies that experience stress within the womb can develop attachment issues and developmental trauma as they grow. This line of research proposes that it’s not enough to simply adopt out an infant and create a new family for them- the womb has already impacted them before the intended parents even enter the picture. Still, there is the fact that many adoptees grow up to become healthy and securely attached adults, so more research is needed to determine just how resilient newborns are in adoption.