Raising a baby can be tough, there’s no doubt about it. While there is tons and tons of advice available online on how to raise your little one, there isn’t exactly a straight-cut manual for doing so. This is primarily because each baby is different and there isn’t one right way of parenting.
But this ambiguity can be confusing, making us parents prone to making honest mistakes. We’ve compiled here fifteen common mistakes that many people make with newborns and what we have to say about them.
15 Ignoring Baby
Psychologists who specialize with newborns all agree: it’s probably not the best to ignore your baby’s middle-of-the-night cries. This could result in anxiety and insecurity.
You might, however, want to leave them to cry for a while to see if they get back to sleep after a few minutes. If they persist, however, they probably genuinely do need something. When it comes with feedings, you will also want to delay it a bit to get them accustomed to your sleep schedule. However, you should generally never ignore your baby if they’re persistent in their cries.
14 Letting Other People Kiss Baby
There’s very little doubt about it: babies are adorable, and yours is too. When you see something that cute, it’s very difficult to resist giving baby a good hug and a kiss. That could probably be acceptable if your little one has already reached the three or four month mark, although it’s still a bit sketchy. With newborns with still-underdeveloped immune systems, however, kissing is a really, really bad idea.
There are numerous illnesses that can be transmitted through airborne droplets. Some people may even be carrying them even if they’re not exhibiting any symptoms. Your little one could easily catch these pesky microorganisms, which could lead to illness!
13 Use a Pillow or Soft Cushion
All parents want their little one to experience as much comfort as possible. But as far as comfort goes, putting your baby on a firm mattress will do. Don’t be tempted by puffy, soft pillows or cushions. This is because these comfy-looking things could pose a suffocation hazard. If your baby lies on his belly, it can be particularly risky especially since he will not have strong control over his head and neck. If he somehow manages to get his airway blocked by the soft cushion, he may not be able to breathe.
For this same reason, blankets and stuffed toys are also no-nos in the baby’s crib.
12 Smoke Around Them
Sometimes mom or dad just needs a good smoke. While this is, of course, your own personal decision, make sure that you think long and hard about its consequences on your newborn. You may very well know that cigarette smoke contains plenty of toxic chemicals. Since your baby has a small body, it’s easier for all these toxins to accumulate in his bloodstream.
Inhaling secondhand smoke – and even third hand smoke from your clothes or the room – makes your baby prone to certain illnesses and increases his risk for sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS.
11 Waiting Out a Fever
Waiting out a fever in older children may be alright, as long as there are no signs that it could be dangerous. With newborns, however, it’s best to bring them to a doctor straight away if they develop a fever of any sort. This is because babies below three to four months of age still have underdeveloped immune systems. They are therefore ill-equipped to combat microorganisms. Even if it’s “just a cold” or some mild form of infection, it can wreak havoc when your little one’s immune system is not able to fight off the germs that cause it.
10 Forgetting to Burp
When you’re feeding in the middle of the night, all groggy and tired, it can be easy to forget that you still need to burp your little one. Your baby sucks in more air than you might think, more so if he’s bottle feeding. Try burping your baby when you switch between breasts, and also after each feeding.
You might even want to burp more frequently than that if your little one spits up a little bit of milk often during the course of the feeding.
9 Waiting Too Long to Change a Diaper
Another mistake that tired, hard-working parents make is to wait too long to change a diaper. We’re not going to lie: it is difficult to get yourself up in the middle of the night when it needs to be done. However, if you wait too long, it can lead to painful diaper rashes and even urinary tract infections. Ideally, you’ll have to change his diaper every two to three hours, although in the middle of the night you’ll have to wait for him to ask for a change so as not to disturb his sleep.
One other reason a parent might not change the diaper when it is needed is to conserve nappies. Diapers, after all, can be expensive and the costs can add up for disadvantaged families. If you find yourself in this situation, some non-profit organizations may be able to provide you with diaper donations from concerned citizens.
8 Shaking the Baby
It’s already a relatively well-known fact that shaking the baby is a very, very bad idea. Shaken Baby Syndrome is a bit of a buzzword nowadays, and most parents are familiar with it. However, the sad truth is that it still happens.
This is among the leading causes of deaths in infants in the developed world. This often happens when a vulnerable parent gets frustrated at a baby’s crying, shaking him violently and damaging his brain.
Swaddling your little one to help him keep warm and comfortable is fine if you’re around. However, it’s a bad idea to keep him swaddled up during the night. There are several reasons for this.
First of all, this may pose a suffocation hazard in newborns who may inadvertently move down and get drowned in all the swaddling. Second, it limits movement, keeping your baby from moving his limbs in the middle of the night. This can result in joint problems later. Finally, you also run the risk of overheating him. Granted, you do need to keep your baby warm, but there are better, less risky ways of doing this.
6 Wiping Back to Front
This is particularly relevant for baby girls: when cleaning your little one’s bum during a diaper change, never wipe from back to front. You should always wipe in single strokes from front to back. This is because the region around your baby’s anus could harbor microorganisms that could cause a urinary tract infection when introduced to the urinary meatus. Girls have shorter urinary tracts than boys and so it’s easier for the microorganisms to get up there.
With boys, the principle still applies: just don’t use anything you’ve used to wipe his bottom to wipe anywhere near the vicinity of his penis.
5 Keeping Baby’s Head in One Position at Night
Before six months old, your baby will not have full head and neck control yet. He may therefore not be able to move his head around in the middle of the night, which can result in a flat spot if you return him to the same position each time.
The remedy is simple: every time you feed him or change his diaper, switch around the position of his head. Also, during the day, make sure to cuddle and carry him lots!
4 Keeping Them Indoors
Sure, it’s not ideal to take your little one to crowded places where he might catch an infection. But on the opposite end of the spectrum, you might be tempted to keep him locked up indoors during the first months. Your little one will still need sunlight and fresh air, after all.
Take him out to a good, long walk in the park every morning when it’s not too cold and not too hot. He’ll be healthier for it, and you’ll get your much-needed exercise as well!
3 Scheduling Baby’s Feedings
You will, of course, want to train your baby’s inner clock to fit the daily grind of your home. However, it’s a bad idea to be entirely too rigid about it. Your baby will probably want to feed roughly every two to three hours. If he wants to eat earlier or later, however, just let him. You can wait for time clock training later.
Newborns don’t have a very good sense of time, after all. All they know is that they’re hungry and they’re not being fed! Feeding on demand is the best way to go.
2 Not “Brushing”
Your baby may not be chewing on anything yet, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t need oral care! Even if he’s exclusively drinking breastmilk, any residue that pools in his mouth may still cause microorganisms to multiply, leading to gum problems and tooth problems, if he already has any!
Because of this, make sure to clean your baby’s gums gently with a moist piece of cloth regularly. You’ll find that this sort of gum massage can also relieve teething pains!
1 Punish Them
In attempt to discipline their babies, some parents hit their babies harshly. But at this point, your baby simply doesn’t understand why he’s being hurt. As a general rule, you should save negative reinforcement for when your baby already understands what the word “no” means.
Even later, we encourage you to implement positive parenting. While this is much more difficult than conventional hitting, it is ultimately better for your child’s well-being and psychological health, as well as yours!