If you’re lucky enough to have a newborn or an infant in your household, you understand that a baby is nothing less than an amazing marvel of joy. What’s truly incredible is how a tiny person has such immense power over us. But as any new parent will testify, newborns are not always easy.
The smallest human beings can create enormous challenges. But sleepless nights, ‘round-the-clock feedings, and poopy diapers aside, their kisses and cuddles make it all worth it. Still, the birth of a baby is a huge culture shock for first-time parents. Newborns are delightful, little human beings but they are life-changing. As parents struggle to find their footing, they may slip.
We all make mistakes, and parents are certainly not infallible. Even your dear old mom and dad made a few blunders in their day. No matter how composed they seem today, their first child caused a baby quake—a shake-up of life as they knew it. But if you're a new and struggling first-time parent, don’t beat yourself up. With so much going on, you’re bound to stumble. Plus, the learning curve will plateau with time.
Before making the same mistakes, learn from the advice of seasoned parents. Hopefully, you can avoid some common parenting errors. These are the 15 things all new parents get wrong.
15 Mistaking Spit-Up and Vomit
It’s easy to panic when fluid suddenly spews from your baby’s mouth. Scenes of The Exorcist may flash in your mind as you run for the nearest washcloth. Once the mess is cleaned, you’ll probably worry if your newborn just threw up. New parents often confuse spit-up and real vomit but there are telltale signs for each:
- Easy flow of fluid through the mouth
- Most common among babies under 12 months
- Related to feeding, usually within an hour of milk
- Often accompanied with a burp
- Causes no discomfort
- Forceful throwing up
- Will occur every 30-45 minutes regardless of feeding
- Thicker and more curdled than spit-up
- Smells stronger than spit-up
- Causes discomfort
Most newborns spit-up, but within 6-12 months, the esophagus will become more coordinated. If your baby is throwing up frequently, contact your pediatrician as it may be a gastrointestinal virus or an allergy.
14 Sleeping Through the Night
You’re probably familiar with the phrase sleeping like a baby. No, it doesn’t mean waking up and crying every three hours. It means sleeping soundly, all comfy and snug. At some point in time, a sleeping baby became synonymous with a good baby. And considering new parents are overworked and sleep deprived, the last thing they need is to rouse a baby they just rocked to sleep. Although stirring a sleeping newborn seems like a bad idea, that’s exactly what you need to do.
After delivery, it’s common for newborns to lose weight. Until your baby is back up to the birth weight, a feeding every 2-3 hours is necessary. Because their stomachs are so tiny, babies need to spread out their feedings throughout the day and night. Frequent feedings also prevent jaundice and lethargy, and establishes the milk supply for a nursing mother. Check with your pediatrician to determine when your child should be sleeping through the night.
13 Not Pushing a Pacifier
Sucking on a pacifier is a natural behavior for babies. It offers a comforting feeling that helps newborns rest. Yet, some new parents believe soothers create overly dependent children. This is a myth. The fact is, a pacifier lowers a baby’s risk to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome.
If your baby is nursing, don’t introduce a soother until breastfeeding is well underway or at least until your infant is 1-month-old. A pacifier given too early can cause nipple confusion. If your infant rejects a soother, don’t force it. If he takes it, place the pacifier in his mouth when you lay him down to sleep on his back. If the soother falls out while he’s sleeping, do not put it back in his mouth. You may not have planned to use a pacifier with your child, but if it can help avoid a potentially fatal event, it’s worth trying.
12 Panicking Over Everything
Taking care of a newborn is one of the hardest jobs a person can tackle. Because of their wobbly heads and soft craniums, handling a baby requires extra care. Dressing your newborn will also take some getting used to, as will bathing, feeding, and soothing.
To be 100 percent responsible for a delicate, wrinkled human being is daunting. It can be a nervous stage for a first-time parent because, in every waking moment, babies need to be safe. This is why many new moms and dads worry about everything from the color of the baby’s poop to sudden infant death syndrome. While it’s natural to worry about the well-being of your newborn, your thoughts shouldn’t be all-consuming every minute of the day.
Yes, babies are helpless but this vulnerability provokes an emotional response in us that wants to keep them safe and secure. It’s a response that is hard-wired in our brains to ensure the survival of our species. Trust that you will rise to the occasion. So, take a deep breath and follow your gut. Still, if you are concerned about symptoms, contact your child’s doctor.
11 Ignoring Your Relationship
The first few weeks of parenthood are challenging. With increased demands, there is so much to do but less time to do it. Sleep deprivation, stress, and a whirlwind of activity can lead new parents to burn out.
In these challenges, the physical and emotional needs of a couple can take a back seat. In comes a child and out goes unlimited romantic time. Although romance may temporarily be on hold, communication should still be a priority because cracks can form in a relationship if an effort isn’t made.
The responsibility of family and home life rests on both of your shoulders, so work together to make sure you and your partner spend more time with each other. If that means opening a can of soup or eating cereal for dinner, do it. When you have a newborn, there’s only a small window of opportunity for an intimate moment, so take it.
10 Worrying When Your Baby Cries
It’s 4 a.m. Your baby is crying. You feed her, then burp her gently. You rock her back to sleep and place her in the crib. She cries again. This time, you undress her to make sure her clothes aren’t a bother. You feel her belly to estimate her body temperature and then change her diaper. You place her back in the crib but she cries again. What’s going on?
When you don’t know why your baby is crying, you may start to worry, but don’t panic. All babies cry; some more than others. Studies show that babies between 2-12 weeks cry more often. It’s sometimes difficult to figure out what a baby is trying to relate but there are several reasons why babies cry. These reasons include:
- Physical pain, i.e. teething pain, ear infection, digestive issues
- A soiled diaper
Babies can also cry because they’re too hot or too cold, scared, uncomfortable, or frustrated. Start at the top of the list why your baby might be crying. If that’s not it, move to the next reason. You’ll eventually figure it out.
9 Trying to Speed Up Milestones
New parents have a tendency to compare their babies with others but development varies from one baby to the next. Some babies are super active, while others are calm. A relaxed baby is not necessarily slower or less advanced than an active child. Some babies are just late bloomers; that doesn’t mean there’s necessarily a problem.
If your baby develops slower than the typical rate, it could mean your baby just needs time to reach these milestones. Kids are individuals who reach stages at different times. It could have nothing to do with intelligence or ability. Even if your baby’s hearing and comprehension are excellent, not all children express themselves in the same way. It depends on the infant.
The bottom line: children set their own pace. Milestones are developed to evaluate a child’s progress but don’t feel rushed to move your baby to the next step. The best advice is to watch your child, not the calendar. But, if you notice a developmental delay, your pediatrician can offer ways to help.
8 Trying to Do It All
The more time you spend with your newborn, 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 or she may be awkward and slow performing the same tasks.
While it’s tempting for the more experienced parent to jump in to speed up the process, allow your partner time to learn on his or her own. Don’t hover. In fact, leave the room to give your partner and your baby one-on-one bonding time.
Babies are lovely, little beings but they create more work that any one person should handle, so don’t try to do everything by yourself. The responsibility of family and home life rests on both of your shoulders. The more you and your partner work together, the more time you will have for each other.
7 Expecting to Lose the Baby Weight Within 6 Weeks
Isn’t it irritating when you see a celebrity mom bounce back into her pre-pregnancy body within two months after birth? For most new mothers, this isn’t reality.
Doctors advise that new moms refrain from exercise until the 6-week checkup, so forget the celebrities and other women who are back to normal within weeks. There is no need to feel ashamed of your postnatal body. It’s hard to feel sexy when you’re still in the “jelly belly” stage, but you have created a miracle of life and your body went through a slew of changes during those 40 weeks.
If your baby weight isn’t melting away, you are among many women who are struggling to reclaim their pre-baby bodies. But 10 months of weight gain won’t disappear in a flash. Give yourself the same 10 months to shed those pounds.
6 Letting Your Baby Play With Your Cell Phone
Radio waves have been transmitting signals for over a century. This innovation has helped to inform and entertain us. But, transferring information from distant places requires powerful transmitters and receivers. Unfortunately, these technologies come with an increased exposure to radiation that can cause serious health problems.
One source of radiation that is probably always with you is your cell phone. Mobile phones use digital microwave radiation instead of high-energy ionizing radiation, but the exposure to cell phone radiation can damage DNA cells over time. In fact, Turkish studies found that cell phone exposure to rats affected their brains, livers, and eyes.
For these reasons, moms and dads are encouraged to keep their cell phones away from their infants. They are not toys. And if you have to talk on your phone, keep your cell phone away from your face by using headphones or talking through the speaker. With all other high-tech gadgets, hold 8 inches away from your body. With wireless technology, distance is your friend.
5 Not Sleeping Enough
When your newborn baby arrives, you’ll have to say goodbye to a good night’s sleep for at least a few weeks. Sleep becomes fragmented, taken in shifts. But, when sleepless nights become stressful days, irritability is bound to set in. Studies show that when you experience sleep deprivation, you’re more likely to be negative and hostile.
It’s difficult to function when you’re exhausted. It’s even harder to take care of someone else when your energy is low. So, if you’re in desperate need of a good night’s sleep, enlist the help of a babysitter. Sending your little one to grandma’s house for one night is a reasonable request. There’s no need to feel guilty because you need help.
Sleep is vital, and a few more hours can make a huge difference. Go to bed earlier. In the meantime, hang in there. Parenthood is tough enough but assuming this task with very little sleep is extremely challenging. You and your partner need to preserve your health, your happiness, and your home life.
4 Laying a Newborn Face Down
SIDS is also known as crib death or cot death because most cases are associated with sleep. The most important measure to help prevent this syndrome is to place your sleeping baby on his back.
If you put a baby to sleep on his stomach, he will experience more difficulty breathing. For the same reason, don’t place your baby to sleep on his side because he could roll over onto his stomach. If your baby has a rare medical condition that requires him to sleep on his stomach, follow your pediatrician’s recommendations. Otherwise, place a healthy baby face up while sleeping.
Ensure all of your baby’s caregivers follow this practice. Even if it’s for a short nap, babies should always sleep face up. In fact, a baby who is used to sleeping face up is at an even higher risk of SIDS if placed face down.
Once your baby starts rolling both ways (from back to stomach and stomach to back,) it is okay for him to choose his own sleeping position. Rolling on his own should happen around 6 months of age.
3 Offering Cow’s Milk Too Early
A newborn’s digestive system is delicate. An immature system needs milk that is easily digestible, as is mother’s milk. Cow’s milk, on the other hand, is highly concentrated with proteins and minerals. Many people, especially young children, are not able to digest lactose, the natural sugar in cow’s milk. Not only could your baby be intolerant to cow’s milk, but he or she could also be allergic. This is why many pediatricians suggest delaying the introduction of cow’s milk until a child’s first birthday.
Some young children do well with cow’s milk before the age of 1 but that’s because they are ready to digest it. For others, it’s simply too soon. Intolerance to milk can overwhelm a young baby’s kidneys, causing fever and diarrhea. An allergy can cause adverse reactions including rash, and colic-like crying.
If you want to introduce cow’s milk to your child before the age of 1, check with your pediatrician. Upon recommendation, offer a small amount, and then watch closely to see your baby’s response.
2 Not Applying Feng Shui
Preparing a new baby’s room requires planning. There is a 3,000-year-old Chinese doctrine that can help. Feng Shui, pronounced fung shway, is all about chi, the energy that flows through everything. Its purpose is to bring positive energy into your home.
Designing good Feng Shui in a nursery is more than just beautifying the room. Feng Shui techniques not only improve the aesthetics but also creates positive energy that is said to attract good fortune and wellness. Think of your infant’s room as the second womb. By building a positive and loving space, you are building the connection with your baby.
Feng Shui design incorporates five elements: fire, water, metal, earth, and wood. To incorporate these elements in your nursery, check out our how-to guide on how to integrate Feng Shui.
1 Putting Yourself Last
A newborn is a big adjustment for new parents. To ensure that you don’t feel overwhelmed, you will need to take time for yourself. Maintaining mental health means nurturing ourselves before caring for others.
After the baby goes to sleep, this is a parent’s chance to sit down and exhale. With so many demands, it’s nice to take a minute to do whatever you want. Perhaps you want to catch up on a TV show or read a book. Personal time can make a new parent feel sane again. Think of it as a reset button for your emotions.
The demands of parenthood are extremely stressful, and everyone wants to be a superhero. But amid the chaos, moms and dads often sacrifice their own needs for everyone else but parents need time to regroup. So, whenever you need to calm your topsy-turvy world, take a deep breath and slow down. The flow of serenity will benefit your entire family.