Babies are delightful, little human beings, but they come with many challenges. As first-time parents, you’re going to make some rookie mistakes. With so much going on, you’re bound to stumble occasionally.
Don’t beat yourself up if you blunder because the learning curve will plateau with time. Parenting is about trial and error. But, if you can learn tips from seasoned parents, maybe you can avoid some epic fails. Pay attention as we present the top 15 rookie mistakes first-time parents make.
15 Waking Baby to Check He’s Breathing
The newborn stage can be a nervous time for parents, especially when the baby is sleeping. When a baby is crying, at least you know that he is breathing. But, when he is asleep and you don’t hear a sound, it can make you nervous. Some new parents poke or rouse their babies to ensure everything is alright, but this action will only deprive your baby of the sleep he needs. If you’re concerned, gently rest your hand on your baby’s chest and you will feel his heartbeat. Otherwise, don’t disturb your baby out of a sound sleep into a crying fit.
The only time you need to wake your baby is if he is a newborn who is sleeping through the night. Because their stomachs are so tiny, babies need to spread out their feedings throughout the day and night. A feeding every 2-3 hours is necessary to prevent jaundice and lethargy. Check with your child’s doctor to determine when your child should be sleeping through the night.
14 Cutting Baby’s Finger with Nail Clipper
Watch out because babies have wafer-thin, razor-sharp fingernails. They are born with long nails, and they will need immediate attention. If you receive a baby nail clipper as a gift, be extremely careful. With fidgety babies, new parents have been known to accidentally nick the tip of their baby’s finger. Your guilt and regret will last much longer than the baby’s tears.
Filing your baby’s nails with a soft nail file is the safest way to protect them from cuts. First, make sure you have sufficient light so you can see clearly. Second, trim your baby’s nails after a bath because they will be softer.
Press on the pad of one of the fingertips to separate it from the nail. Smooth the emery board over the sharp edges. Don’t file his nails too low or it can be painful. Make sure the baby's nail is just below the finger tip. And if your baby is squirmy, cuts his nails while he’s asleep.
Using a soft file instead of a clipper should prevent a painful accident while trimming your baby’s nails. And then, you’ll be able to say you nailed that baby manicure.
13 Buying Too Many Newborn Items
Babies grow so fast, so don’t buy many items made for newborns. If you have a 7 lb baby at birth, he may wear newborn clothes for only a week or two. In fact, some babies are born into 3-month-old sizes, skipping newborn altogether. Unless he’s a preemie, invest in larger sizes. As a bottom line, start with 0-3 months or even 3-6 months. Some baby clothing brands run small, and after washing, they will shrink. You’ll probably receive newborn clothes as gifts anyway, and that will be enough.
The same goes for diapers. Newborn sizes are good to have because of the cut-out for the belly button wound. But once the cord has fallen off and your baby is over 10 lbs, newborn diapers will be too snug. Again, this is something you will probably receive at your baby shower, so go easy on newborn diapers. If you want to stock up, buy larger sizes. They won’t go to waste. And, even if they are one size bigger than your baby, the leaks will be caught by the extra material.
12 Staying up Late After Baby Goes to Bed
It's 9 pm, and your baby has finally gone down to sleep. Now is your chance to catch up on your weekly Netflix series that you’ve missed for months. One episode turns into two. Before you know it, you’ve watched half the season, and now your baby is awake again. Now you remember why you should have gone to bed.
Babies and sleep deprivation go hand in hand. It’s really tough to function when you’re tired and weak, and you still need to care for someone else. This is why “sleep when your baby sleeps” is sound advice for new parents.
11 Assuming You’re Doing Something Wrong
Babies between 2-12 weeks tend to cry more often. It’s sometimes difficult to figure out what a baby is trying to relate. As a new parent, your frustration may set in when they seem inconsolable. If you’re having a cry-sis, rest assured that all babies cry. The most common reason is hunger, but they also cry because of tiredness, discomfort, fear, over-stimulation, and boredom.
Knowing your little one relies on you for everything can be nerve-wracking. But, this is your first baby, so you’re not supposed to know everything. Start at the top of the list why your baby might be crying. If that's not it, move on to the next reason. You’ll eventually figure it out.
10 Rushing out the Door
You've finally made plans for lunch with a friend, and your baby is coming with you. Before you had the baby, getting ready took less than an hour. Now you have to make sure the baby is fed, burped, and wearing a fresh diaper. After getting dressed and doing your hair, you double check that the diaper bag has all of the essentials. And then, you need to grab the infant carrier and the stroller. Now you’re ready to head out the door. Too bad it’s 2 pm, the time you’re supposed to be at the restaurant.
When planning an outing with your baby, you will require more time than usual. Prepare extra early so you don’t feel rushed for any reason. Children are perceptive, and they will pick up on your emotions. If you’re pressed for time and frazzled, your child will mirror your tension. Always leave loads of time to get ready so you don’t put unnecessary stress on yourself or your little one.
9 Installing Car Seat Incorrectly
A 2011 study found that 46% of children’s car seats were installed incorrectly. That’s a scary statistic because there’s a good chance your baby seat is also being misused. Reasons for the infractions included car seats that moved side to side or front to back more than one inch, and chest clips that were positioned too high or too low, not at armpit level.
Install the baby seat facing toward the back of the car. This is the proper direction until your baby reaches at least 22 pounds. Even at this weight, your child is safer in a rear-facing seat. Never put the baby seat in the front of the car because most accidents happen in the front seat on the passenger side where airbags are stationed. For full instructions on how to properly install a child car seat, read more at DMV.org.
8 Forgetting Essentials at Home
It’s amazing that a teeny, tiny newborn needs so many things. A diaper bag is just another vital piece in a new parent’s arsenal. Walks, errands, visits, play dates—every type of outing needs the accompaniment of a diaper bag.
When you’re on-the-go, you’ll need to be prepared for anything, including spit ups, leaky diapers, and everything in between. For all of these possible mishaps, a number of items are necessary. Your baby will go through 8-10 diapers every day. Pack extra just in case. Don’t forget to add wipes, refilling the container every week. Penanten cream, blankets, washcloths, and bibs are all essentials. Make sure they are always in your diaper bag. And don’t forget a change of clothes for your baby. You never know when a bout of explosive diarrhea will hit. Even a small item like a washcloth can be a lifesaver in a drooly situation.
7 Leaving Baby Alone on a Change Table
If you’re using an elevated surface, always keep one hand on the baby. Some change tables include safety straps. Even if your change table is equipped with a strap, never turn your back on the baby, even if it’s for a split second. Babies can wriggle around and roll off a table or bed in a matter of seconds. We hope you never have to learn this safety tip the hard way.
6 Not Sharing the Baby’s Duties
The more time you spend with your baby, the easier daily tasks become. You’ll learn how to diaper quickly, and bath time will be a breeze. But, if your partner doesn’t spend as much time with the baby, he may be awkward and slow performing the same tasks.
While it’s tempting for a new mom to jump in to speed up the process, allow your partner time to learn on his own. Don’t hover. In fact, leave the room to give your partner and your baby one-on-one bonding time.
As any new parent will testify, newborns are not always easy. The smallest human beings can create enormous challenges. Sleepless nights, ‘round-the-clock feedings, and poopy diapers are more work any one person should handle, so don’t try to do everything by yourself.
5 Expecting to Maintain Your Schedule
When you start maternity leave, you may have a laundry list of plans. Perhaps you want to finally organize your kitchen cupboards or repaint your bedroom. If you expect more free time during mat leave, you’re in for a surprise.
Staying home with a baby is not easier than working outside of the home. The truth is, you probably won’t make a dent in your to-do list. In this new stage of parenthood, life takes a completely different focus. Schedules now revolve around the baby. That means after your baby is washed, dressed, fed, and entertained, he may go down for a nap. This is your one hour or so of “free time.” Many women use this “free time” to nap, take a shower, or eat. You probably won’t be relining your kitchen cupboards with this time.
4 Bumping Baby Into a Door Frame
It’s 3 am. Your eyes feel like balls of sand. The night sky emphasizes the fact you should be sleeping. The universe is literally telling you to go back to bed. You wish you could hit the snooze button for ten more precious minutes of sleep, but it’s time for a feeding. You pick up your baby to bring him back to your room, and accidentally bump him into a door frame. Oops and ouch!
It’s the worst when a parent unintentionally inflicts pain on a child. Although your baby will cry, thankfully, he won’t be scarred for life. Babies are resilient. Try not to drive yourself crazy worrying about it. If you’re a klutz, just be extra careful.
3 Trying to Keep the House Tidy
Like hamsters on a wheel, parents are always on the go. Long work hours leave little time for much else. Food preparation needs to be quick and convenient. Laundry and dishes are never-ending messes. Since everyone’s plate is full, household chaos ensues.
First, except that you can’t control everything. The kitchen isn’t a mess because you didn’t plan your day properly. Second, recognize that if your baby is clean, fed, and happy, you’re doing okay. There’s no law that requires you to have a spotless house, so don’t sweat it.
2 Not Accepting Help
If your friend offers to watch the baby so you can take a long, relaxing shower, say yes. If your mother offers to bring a home-cooked meal so you don’t have to worry about dinner, say yes. If your husband insists you take a nap, take advantage of this time to catch up on sleep.
Every mom wants to be a superwoman, but who said you have to do everything by yourself? Everyone knows you are capable of cooking, and taking care of a child. Now’s the time to accept relief when it’s offered.
1 Not Preserving the Moments
Time flies when you have a baby. The memory may seem so vivid now, but in a year, it will be a blur. New parents tend to take lots of pictures, but don’t forget to make note of the milestones, and record as many videos as you can. Home movies are a brilliant way to take a snapshot of the present and keep it for the future. It’s the next best thing to time travel.