Parents make a lot of new relationships; not just with their precious little ones, but with other adults, too. Of all the new relationships parents make, the one they make with their child’s pediatrician is one of the most important.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies have six well visits in the first year of life alone (2 weeks, 2, 4, 6, 9, and 12 months). Add in any unexpected illnesses, and that’s a lot of visits to the pediatrician. It’s no wonder that parents form such a connection with their babies’ doctors. Plus, the pediatrician is the go-to whenever a baby’s health is in question. In other words, it’s a good thing for moms and dads to form a relationship with this medical professional.
However, despite the importance of having a good rapport with a child’s doctor, and regardless of how healthy that relationship may be, there are some things that parents do that drive pediatricians up a wall. From constantly the office for every cough, sneeze, and sniffle, to not using common sense and making poor decisions that could impact the health and well-being of their babies, here’s a look at 15 things that parents do that drive pediatricians crazy! I’m sure we’re all guilty of at least one of them.
15 Too Much Bundling
When there’s a chill in the air, it’s a parent’s natural instinct to ensure their little one is warm. While dressing the baby in those fluffy (and super cute) coveralls, using a plush car seat warmer, and putting on a few extra blankets might seem like a good idea, it can actually be downright dangerous.
All of those layers can lead to two devastating consequences:
Just like adults, when babies are too bundled up, their internal temperature can raise a significant amount, leading to a condition known as hypothermia. This can cause serious issues, including brain damage. Add to that the fact that there’s a possibility that those loose layers (especially blankets) can get trapped around mouths and noses, suffocation is a risk, hence the reason why over-bundling can lead to SIDs.
According to pediatricians, use common sense: If you think you'd be too hot, so will your baby. Also, avoid any loose items that could suffocate the baby.
14 Using Soft Bedding
In mentioning SIDs, another thing that parents do that drive pediatricians nuts is putting their infants to sleep with soft bedding. Despite the warnings about using soft bedding with babies that have been issued by health organizations and pediatricians, parents are still letting putting their little ones to sleep with these items.
What’s soft bedding? Think pillows, blankets, crib bumpers, plush animals, etc. While it might seem like these items would make for a comfy and cozy spot for an infant to sleep, they turn a crib or bassinet into a deathtrap. They can block an infant’s nose and mouth, which could lead to suffocation and SIDs.
The general of thumb: wait to use these items until the baby can push him- or herself up from the belly. Until then, keep these items out of sleeping areas and instead, use a blanket sleeper or a secure sleep sack to keep your little one warm.
13 Using A Car Seat As A Crib
It’s hard to avoid having a baby fall asleep in the car seat. They are all warm and cozy, and the movement of the car lulls them to sleep. While you might not be able to prevent your little one from dozing off every time you get into the car, and it might be hard to wake him up when you arrive at your destination, avoid the temptation to let your baby stay asleep in the car seat.
Why is letting an infant sleep in a car seat dangerous? – Their heads could flop (especially if they don’t have control of their necks yet), which could constrict their airways and ultimately lead to suffocation. Think it can’t happen? – Shepard Dodd, an infant, passed away because his daycare provider left him sleeping in his car seat. And his isn’t the only tragedy that occurred as a result of sleeping in a car seat; a study from Penn State Medical Center found that more than 30 children under the age of two died while they were sleeping in a car seat, and the cause of the majority of these deaths was because airways were constricted.
12 Heating Bottles In The Microwave
The baby is crying to be fed, but that bottle of breast milk in the fridge or the formula is cold. You want to warm it up as quickly as possible so that you can feed your little one STAT, so tossing it in the microwave seems like a no-brainer. Don’t do it!
According to pediatricians and the US Food and Drug Administration, warming bottles in the microwave can be extremely dangerous. How could that be? – Well, think about how many times you’ve heated something in the microwave – a cup of tea, a plate of leftovers – and some portions were scorching hot while others were cold. The same is true for your baby’s bottle. When you heat a bottle in the microwave, the liquid could be heated unevenly, which could lead to serious burns for your little one.
11 Leaving Newborns Unattended On Beds
Yet another thing that drives pediatricians crazy is when parents leave their newborns unattended on a bed. No, not a crib; a bed, like mom and dads or a sibling’s.
While it’s true that newborns can’t crawl or even roll over on their own, they can certainly wriggle about. If you’ve ever watched your little one squirm during diaper changes, you know what I’m talking about. That’s exactly why a newborn unattended on a bed is so dangerous! They could very well squirm their way right off the edge! Should this happen, the consequences could be grave; broken bones, head injuries, concussions…
While you might only be gone for a few seconds, in that short period that you leave your baby alone on a bed, she could roll off the bed.
10 Napping With The Baby On The Couch
If there’s one thing that all parents of newborns have in common it’s this: EXHAUSTION!
All of those late night feedings and broken sleep can leave moms and dads feeling like they are zombies. When you feel like you are going to crash, cuddling up on the couch with your little one seems like the perfect idea. And while you’re cuddled up, your eyes slowly close, and the next thing you know, you and your baby are both fast asleep.
Seems totally harmless, right? Wrong! Pediatricians warn that sleeping on a couch with a newborn can be deadly. For one thing, they could roll off the couch. For another, you could roll over onto your baby, crushing and suffocating him. And, there’s a chance that your little one could roll between you and the back of the couch. For all of these reasons, it’s no wonder why sleeping on a couch with a newborn is so dangerous – and why it drives pediatricians crazy when parents do it!
9 Calling The Doctor For Every Little Thing
It’s parents’ natural instinct to protect their little ones. This protection includes making sure that they are healthy. It can be tough to tell when a baby just has a case of the sniffles or has something more severe, like the flu. When you can’t tell what’s going on with your newborn, you might be tempted to run to the phone and call the pediatrician.
Of course, in many situations, calling your child’s doctor is warranted and the pediatrician won’t mind at all; in fact, he or she will be glad you did. However, there are times when calling the doctor just isn’t necessary. For example, you don’t have to make an emergency phone call or appointment just because your baby sneezed two or three times. Your pediatrician is there to help you and make sure your baby is safe; but remember this: every time you call, you are taking valuable time away from other patients.
8 Bathing Every Day
There’s nothing better than the sweet smell of a freshly bathed baby. That natural newborn aroma mixed with lavender and baby powder can be quite intoxicating. A lot of parents give their newborns baths on a daily basis, not just because they love the smell, but because for proper hygiene.
While yes, proper hygiene is super important for newborns, bathing them every day isn’t the best idea. In fact, pediatricians advise skipping full baths all together with newborns. If that little piece of the umbilical cord hasn’t fallen off yet and their belly buttons haven’t healed, fully submerging them in water could increase the risk of infection. Plus, baths can dry out that super delicate newborn skin, causing flaky, itchy skin.
Instead of bathing your newborn the traditional way, do a sponge bath. Lay the baby on a flat surface (supervised the entire time, of course), and wash him down with a warm, damp cloth, paying extra attention to the diaper area.
7 Swaddling Too Much
New parents usually learn how to swaddle their newborns from the nurses at the hospital where the baby was delivered. A blanket wrapped securely around an infant recreates the feeling of mom’s womb, which can be very soothing. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, when a swaddle is done the right way, it can be a very effective way to calm a newborn and encourage him to fall asleep. However, swaddling too much isn’t the best idea. In fact, it can be dangerous.
While swaddling can be beneficial, if a baby spends the majority of his days and nights wrapped up in a blanket, there’s a chance that it could lead to hip dysplasia, a condition that affects the way the hip bone connects to the socket. This is especially true if the swaddle is too tight. Plus, it’s important for newborns to move their arms and legs around for proper development, and too much swaddling prevents them from doing that.
6 Giving Cold Medications
The symptoms of a cold can be pretty uncomfortable, which is why many adults reach for over-the-counter (OTC) cold medications when they feel congestion, a runny nose, and a cough setting in. Since these remedies can be very effective for adults, some moms and dads might think they will be just as effective for their newborns. However, giving a newborn OTC cold medicine can be extremely dangerous. In fact, it can be so dangerous that the US Food and Drug Administration strongly warns against it.
If you’ve ever taken a cold medicine and felt that woozy medicine-head effect, you know how off-putting the side effects of these medicines can be. Now, imagine what they can do to a newborn? OTC cold remedies can be exceptionally dangerous for newborns. They can cause an elevated heart rate, convulsions, a decreased level of consciousness, and even death.
5 Being Overly Worried About Milestones
Milestones are those big events in a child’s life that every parent looks forward to, as they signify the baby is growing properly. There are certain milestones that newborns are “supposed to” reach a certain time. For example, two weeks old, newborns should be able to lift their heads for a brief moment during tummy time and move their arms and legs equally, and by four weeks old, they start cooing and reacting to your voice. However, timeframes for milestones are suggested. In other words, not all babies reach them by the exact age they are “supposed to”.
Just like adults, all newborns are different, which means that some may reach milestones earlier, some may reach them at exactly the suggested age, and some may reach them later. It drives pediatricians crazy when parents freak out because their little ones haven’t hit a milestone within the projected timeframe. If they seem severely delayed in reaching them, there may be a cause for concern; but if it's a week - or even three - late, there's probably nothing to worry about.
4 Freaking Out Over The Soft Spots
The soft spots – fontanelles – are the spots on a newborn’s head where the skull bones aren’t firmly joined together. These spaces are important, as they allow the baby’s head to pass through the birth canal. They also allow the brain to grow (and those brains do a lot of growing in the first year of life).
Eventually, the fontanelles fuse together and the soft spots harden, but until then, it’s important to be mindful of them. For example, it’s definitely not a good idea to put a lot of pressure on them. However, a lot of parents are overly obsessed when their newborn’s soft spots are touched at all. It takes a good deal of pressure to do any damage (not to say that you should go out of your way to touch them), so freaking out when they are touched at all – even a slight graze – isn’t a big deal. That’s why pediatricians often roll their eyes when parents call them to report that the soft spot was touched. Unless severe pressure was placed on them – such as a blow – chances are that everything is fine.
3 Listening To Your Mommy Friends
New parents receive tons of advice. In fact, when it comes to babies, it seems like everyone wants to put their two cents in. While you may have friends that are experienced parents and they may offer great advice and insight, taking that advice over the pediatrician’s is something that will surely drive your newborn’s doctor nuts.
For example, let’s say your newborn has the sniffles and your friend suggests giving him a little cold medicine, but your pediatrician strongly warns against it. Instead of listening to the doctor, you listen to your friend and give your baby the medicine. There’s a chance that nothing bad could happen, but there’s an even greater chance that something bad will happen – increased heart rate, convulsions, etc. In cases like this, it’s definitely better to listen to the doctor than a friend.
2 Freaking Out About Germs
It’s no secret that newborns have very delicate immune systems. It takes time for them to develop, which means that those little ones are highly susceptible to illnesses, like the common cold and the flu. However, while it’s definitely in your baby’s best interest to avoid being exposed to high levels of germs, pediatricians get annoyed when parents freak out if their newborns are exposed to any germs. For example, they refuse to leave the house, won’t let anyone hold them, and insist on slathering on the hand sanitizer. Of course, you want to use your best judgment and obviously don’t want someone who has a cold to hold your baby, and you want to make sure that hands are clean before holding too; obsessing over keeping germs at bay can actually be detrimental for a newborn. Exposure to some level of germs is necessary for their immune systems to grow stronger and build up defenses.
1 Not Properly Cleaning Pumps
As the old saying goes, “breast is best”; however, sometimes, the breast can’t be available. In those instances, breastfeeding moms rely on pumps. By pumping, moms can ensure that their little ones are receiving their milk, even when mom can’t supply it directly from the source.
While breast pumps can certainly be a great tool, they can also be dangerous; particularly when they aren’t cleaned properly. If a pump isn’t cleaned thoroughly, there’s a chance that breast milk can become contaminated with various types of harmful bacteria. Should a baby ingest that bacterium, she could become gravely ill. In fact, not properly cleaning breast pumps is such a topic of concern that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recently issued new cleaning guidelines. If you aren’t cleaning your breast pump properly, not only are you going to drive your pediatrician crazy, but you could be putting your little one’s health in serious danger.