In general, we assume that neglect and abuse will only be found in extremely serious and intense situations. While the headlines and stories we read about babies passing away due to being left in a vehicle and overheating are definitely examples of neglect and abuse, they aren’t the only ones.
Situations which can be deemed neglect and/or abuse are not always as drastic as we might think they will be. According to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, “Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child’s basic needs and is the most common form of child abuse.”
While most of us moms out there think that we are doing our best job to provide for our children, there’s always the chance that we are missing something important. Sometimes common—and inaccurate—parenting advice can even lead to issues of abuse or neglect as well.
It’s important to understand what can potentially be causing neglect or abuse to babies. Even if baby’s mom isn’t doing these things, she should be aware of them in the case that a caregiver is. We often trust whomever we leave our children with and think that they are receiving the best possible care.
Let’s take a look at some ways that mothers might be neglecting their babies and why they are considered to be neglect or abuse.
15Restricting The Baby’s Food Intake
One of the biggest roles as a parent is making sure that a baby or child receives the proper nutrition that they need. This varies by age mostly, but it can also depend on where a child is developing or if there are any ongoing worries about a child’s health.
In some situations, moms will believe that their babies are being overfed. Sometimes this will happen if a baby is considered to be at the top of a growth chart. Naturally, moms might think that cutting off the baby’s food supply is the best option.
By restricting a baby’s food intake, moms are failing to provide a physical basic need. This can also happen when moms don’t have enough funds or resources to properly feed the baby, so they try to feed the baby less food or less often.
14Overfeeding The Baby
Similar to restricting a baby’s food intake, increasing it can be harmful as well. This is not as much of an issue though, because it is hard to overfeed a newborn to the point where it is dangerous.
Babies are not overfed very often because they eat small portions of just a few ounces at a time. They usually stop or end up falling asleep when they are full. This helps moms to know when to give a baby a break from the bottle.
The problem occurs when moms force their babies to eat more than they need to or want to. By doing this, the baby’s physical needs are not being taken care of correctly. A baby does not know how much milk the doctor suggested the baby eats daily. Moms should follow guidelines for how much a baby should be eating based on their age and health.
13Failing To Take The Baby To The Doctor
This one is only considered to be abuse or neglect in some situations. For example, some religions prohibit families from going to a medical doctor’s office and rely on prayer instead. Other families choose to provide medical care for themselves at home using natural remedies.
It is considered neglect when moms ignore serious illnesses or injuries. This goes along with the expectation that moms will tend to their children’s basic physical needs. This doesn’t apply to the common cold that blows over within a week. If a child is seriously ill for weeks, and moms refuse to take them to the doctor’s office, that’s neglect.
If in doubt, moms can call the doctor to get an opinion and to find out if it’s necessary to bring a child to an appointment.
12Letting The Baby Cry It Out For Too Long
We have all heard that we’re supposed to let baby cry it out to help them sleep. To some of us, this seems harsh. When a newborn relies on their mom for everything they need to survive, leaving them alone to cry seems awful. Babies need their moms to feed them, change them, rock them to sleep and so much more.
While letting an older child cry it out when they can’t sleep or are having behavior issues is fairly safe, it’s not okay to let a baby cry it out. This places the baby at a higher risk of developing mental health issues later in life. It’s a form of emotional neglect.
There’s no such thing as spoiling a baby, so moms can be worry-free about catering to a baby’s needs.
11Leaving The Baby Unattended
Some of us would never dream of leaving our babies alone in a parked car or in the house. Unfortunately, many people fail to supervise their children, which can lead to serious injuries or death.
When a mom leaves the baby in a car unattended while she runs into a store or the bank, she is putting the baby in danger. The baby could easily become overheated or too cold, depending on the weather. Cars can be broken into, which puts the baby at risk for being hurt or abducted.
No matter how quick an errand is or how close the car is parked to a door, it is unsafe to leave the baby alone. This is considered to be physical neglect because the baby is put at risk of serious danger.
10Failing To Dress The Baby Properly
As we have mentioned previously, babies rely on their moms—and dads, too—for everything. A baby cannot make their own food or change their own diaper. A baby often needs their mom to help them fall asleep for naps or to comfort them.
Babies are also dependent on their mothers to clothe them—and properly. Moms should be dressing their babies in clothing that is appropriate for the weather outside and for the temperature in the house. This may mean extra blankets or a bodysuit underneath an outfit.
When a mom doesn’t put the right clothes on her baby, the baby is at risk for becoming sick or overheating. This is a critical point of a child’s physical safety because parents are meant to provide for them. It’s important to follow guidelines for dressing infants depending on the weather.
9Avoiding Creating A Bond With The Baby
This one is less well known than some of the other forms of neglect that have made this list. We are generally most concerned with properly feeding, clothing and providing for our children’s physical needs. This means that some of us might fail to notice the possibilities of emotional neglect.
One way that babies are emotionally neglected by their moms is through the lack of an emotional bond. From a young age, babies learn to rely on their moms. If a mom doesn’t create a bond with the baby at that point, there can be emotional implications later in that child’s life. It can also place a negative impact on the relationship between the mother and the baby.
It may seem challenging to bond with a baby, but there are simple ways to do so such as soothing the baby when they are upset.
8Leaving The Baby In A Wet Or Dirty Diaper
When it comes to diaper changes, most of us will be quick to dispose of a dirty diaper. Nobody wants to smell those things for very long!
When moms get desperate, they will use a diaper for much longer than they should. These situations can arise when mom is running low on money or can’t make it to the store to buy more diapers in time. Other times, moms simply don’t think about how often a baby needs to be changed. They could also be in the middle of something or forget to change it—especially if they are out and about!
Leaving a wet or dirty diaper on baby for too long leads to diaper rash and serious discomfort for the little one. This is a way that physical neglect can be inflicted on a baby by their mom.
7Failing To Baby-Proof The House
Baby-proofing is a fairly recent idea. New moms are told to put extra locks on cabinets and doors. Outlet covers are to be placed on any exposed outlets. Small pieces should be placed out of reach of tiny hands.
Some moms fail to baby-proof before their child comes into the world and they are often too busy and forget to do it once the baby gets moving. Other times, moms don’t realize the importance of baby-proofing. They may not understand how much babies can get into or the risks associated with babies exploring their territory.
Leaving small objects around can increase the risk of babies choking. Babies are also pretty curious when they start crawling, so they will get into things that we don’t always expect them to. Plenty of parents call Poison Control every year after a baby has gotten into cleaning products.
6Causing Physical Harm To The Baby
This one should be obvious to everyone out there, but–unfortunately—some people just don’t get it. Anytime a baby or child is physically harmed by their mother, it is a form of neglect. It puts the baby in danger of serious injuries or even dying.
Most of the items on this list fall under the category of physical neglect because there are so many ways that it can occur. In this case, we are specifically concerned about moms hitting or shaking their babies. This is usually intentional.
Sometimes babies may be harmed unintentionally as well, such as accidents where they fall out of carriers or are dropped. No matter what the cause is, all of these leave the baby at risk for physical neglect. Caution is a major key!
5Living With An Untreated Mental Illness
It’s not anyone’s fault when a mom—or somebody else—is living with a mental illness. Some of these mental illnesses can take a serious toll on an individual’s well-being and this is especially the case for moms. Moms have lots of responsibilities and their own care sometimes gets shoved under a rug when the baby needs to be provided for.
When moms are living with mental illnesses and they are not receiving treatment or seeking any kind of help, their relationships can be influenced negatively. Bonds may not be able to be made between moms and babies. Sometimes moms will be unable to care for the basic needs of babies, depending on how serious or crippling their illness is.
This is a way that babies can be neglected because they are often not getting the proper physical and emotional support that they need.
4Avoiding Bathing The Baby For Extended Periods Of Time
Some of us may be concerned when it comes to giving the baby their first few baths. There are plenty of legitimate fears, such as water temperature, the risk of drowning, drying out a baby’s skin and more. This can lead to moms being hesitant to bathe their little bundles of joy.
When babies are raised in unclean living conditions—like when they don’t get baths regularly—they may be at risk for developing illnesses or rashes. It’s important to keep a baby clean so that they are less likely to carry germs and sicknesses.
It’s normal to get busy, especially when raising kids. This is more of a problem if it’s intentional or becomes a pattern. It’s necessary to provide the proper care for children no matter what though and moms should strive to do their best for their children.
3Leaving The Baby With An Irresponsible Caregiver
When hiring a babysitter or looking for a daycare to send a child to, moms are overwhelmed with information and personal preferences. Distance, cost, caregiver to child ratio and more are important factors when it comes to choosing childcare.
To make the decision even more challenging, moms need to choose trustworthy caregivers who will be responsible and provide the proper care. This can be hard to gauge after a quick meeting or a phone call. Ongoing communication is important to a child’s safety!
This means that moms should continue to look for warning signs of abuse or neglect going on at daycare centers. It is considered neglect if moms don’t provide the right caregivers for their children or if they fail to remove their child from a situation that they know is dangerous.
2Keeping The Baby In An Unsafe Environment
Similar to the issue of choosing childcare for a baby, there are problems that may arise when a child is left in an unsafe environment. Babies may be in various environments throughout their early months. These places include daycare, relatives’ homes, friends’ homes and their own family’s home.
If a grandparent is babysitting the child for a couple of hours while mom gets lunch with a friend, the child is at risk for being in an unsafe environment. This truly depends on how that grandparent cares for the child. There may be risks present, such as rooms that have not been baby-proofed.
In many cases, babies are safe with a relative or a mom’s friend, but it’s crucial for their mother to look out for risks. If a mom keeps a baby in an unsafe space, they are neglecting the baby’s emotional and physical well-being.
1Using The Wrong Type Of Car Seat
Even though car seats may be expensive and bulky, they are necessary for a child’s safety when riding in a car. Because of the price of car seats, moms may be hesitant to buy a new one each time their child reaches a new phase and needs an upgrade.
Car seats are designed to be effectively safe for specific age groups and weights. This means that moms will be purchasing new ones every year or two. If a mom decides to skip out on a car seat or uses an old one that is not up-to-date on the safety standards, she is putting her child at risk.
Another problem with moms improperly using car seats is that they are not always strapped in correctly. It is also known that the longer that children ride in rear-facing car seats, the safer they are in the event of an accident.
Sources: Parenting, NSPCC
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