15 Avoidable Mistakes Parents Make with Their First Baby
Nothing can truly prepare you for raising a newborn baby besides experience. Books, articles, videos and blogs can certainly help, but they don’t give you practice and hands-on experience. That comes from having the baby in your arms and in your constant presence day and night – or some really good advice for new parents from someone who’s been there.
Many new parents often end up making some mistakes, but most are easily avoidable, and they’re not extremely threatening to your baby. It’s definitely a “you-learn-as-you-go” experience. Caring for a newborn involves trial and error, and the mistakes you’ll make will help inform your parenting style and give you confidence in your parenting skills for the future.
Of course there is not only one way to parent your baby. Ultimately, however, you make the decisions for how your baby will eat, sleep and be cared for. But learning from the experience and wisdom of those who came before you can help. Behold, my suggestions, recommendations and advice to new parents regarding some considerations you should avoid with your newborn.
1. Being Too Rigid With a Schedule
Some parents think that they need to establish a schedule with their newborn right from day one. They may want to have feedings every three hours on the dot, and get baby down for bedtime at 8 p.m.
It’s important that newborn babies be fed every 2.5 to three hours and nap in between almost all feedings. This isn’t always a steadfast rule, however. Your baby may be hungry more often, so it’s important to let them feed on demand at this young age. A newborn should be fed right when they start crying, at least for the first few weeks. This will help them to get the nutrition intake their particular body requires, since every child is different.
2. Not Using a Sound Machine
Most newborns are pretty sound sleepers, but others can wake easily from the quietest noises. Using a sound machine will help to not disrupt your baby’s sleep. Sound machines give babies sleeping cues, so when they hear it, they’ll associate it with going to bed. Lastly, the shushing sound of white noise through a sound machine calms and soothes baby and helps them sleep.
3. Skipping Tummy Time
Tummy time is a vital part of baby’s physical development and can be started on their first day home. If your newborn is closely supervised, you can place them on their bellies for short intervals throughout the day (three to five minutes). Tummy time will help strengthen their neck, arm and back muscles. This allows your baby to eventually hold their head upright, and prepare them for future rolling and crawling.
4. Not Burping Your Baby Enough
Babies need to be burped to eliminate the air that was swallowed during feedings. If you don’t burp them enough, they’ll spit up a lot more precious milk or become very uncomfortable. You can burp baby before, during and after feedings to help them get rid of those gas bubbles.
5. Breastfeeding Exclusively When You Have Very Low Milk Supply
As most people know, breastfeeding is very healthy for your baby. It’s only beneficial, however, if your milk has come in and you has enough supply. Many moms are so set on exclusively breastfeeding their baby, and they ignore that their baby may not be getting adequate nutrition due to their lack of milk. If this happens, it’s good to know that there are other ways to feed your baby (including formula). Getting baby fed properly is the most important factor in keeping your baby healthy.
6. Putting Items in the Bassinet or Crib
A newborn baby should not sleep with anything else in their crib or bassinet besides a fitted sheet on the mattress. Blankets, pillows and stuffed animals have been known to cause suffocation or SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). It’s important to know that babies should be placed on their backs to sleep, with no other items in the crib/bassinet except for the clothes, swaddle or sleep sack that they’re wearing.
7. Not Waking Them to Feed
I know that it can feel so glorious when your baby is on the third hour of a nap, especially for exhausted new parents who may have been up all night. However, letting baby go without feeding for more than three hours can actually be disruptive to their body.
Not only will this reduce the amount of nutrition and calories they’re taking in, but it also won’t break them from the day-night confusion as quickly as possible. If you let your baby nap too long during the day, they may not be able to sleep at night, and that could continue the vicious cycle of sleep deprivation for the new parents.
8. Keeping Them on Their Backs or in Baby Gear Too Often
Babies typically love the feeling of being held tight in a comfortable fetal position. Certain devices like baby bouncers and swings give them this safe feeling. However, they should not be kept in them at all times of day. Your baby needs to stretch and lie in different position, to strengthen their muscles and start to feel their body moving without constraints.
9. Letting Visitors Touch Your Baby Too Much
It’s best to keep your baby away from others for as long as possible. Even when not in the midst of a pandemic, it’s not a great idea to take a newborn into crowded places or let too many people hold and kiss them. A newborn baby’s immune system is not fully developed, and would have a hard time fighting off the type of infection that an older child or adult would be able to. Of course, grandparents and loved ones are going to want to hold your new bundle of joy. Make sure any visitors wash their hands thoroughly before holding the baby.
10. Worrying About Spoiling Your Baby
Newborns need all the love and cuddles that you can give after being born into this whole new world. They’re now exposed to so many new sights and sounds, and they need to feel safe in their new environment.
You should never let a newborn baby cry it out or feel that you’re holding them too much. Despite what you may think, it won’t lead to them being too attached, because you can’t spoil them at this age. If anything, they will sleep and act better because they feel secure and loved.
11. Over- or Under-Dressing
Some parents tend to think that their newborn babies need to be swaddled and covered with lots of blankets to be kept comfortable. To the contrary, they should be dressed for the weather just as adults would. If the temperature is warm outside, put them in something light like a onesie. You can always add layers or a blanket if it feels too cool.
12. Assuming the Worst
The newborn stage can be a very anxious time for new parents. You’re learning and experiencing a lot of new things as the same time your baby is. This is not a time, however, to be worried over every little thing.
Of course there can always be reasons for concern that you should consult your pediatrician about, but the vast majority of time your baby is perfectly fine. Newborns are very resilient and they may do things that seem strange or unusual, when in fact they are completely normal.
13. Not Sleeping When the Baby Sleeps
Every new parent has heard the dictum “sleep when the baby sleeps.” But we all know that’s difficult when you have laundry, cooking, cleaning, and a ton of other household chores to get done. Just know that those things can wait. The most important thing is to rest when you can, so that you’re able to have enough energy to fully take care of your little one.
14. Not Taking Enough Videos
You’re probably so obsessed with your newborn baby that you take a ton of photos all day every day, but don’t forget to take videos. I love looking back at old videos and hearing those sweet little coos and seeing my baby blow bubbles in live action. It’s often better than just a simple photo.
15. Letting Them Fall Asleep from a Feeding
Babies tend to get really tired during and right after a full feeding. They may fall asleep right in your arms and stay that way for a full nap. However, it’s important to wake them up right before they fall asleep, to avoid them requiring another feeding to fall asleep.
Although you will make your own decisions on how you choose to parent your children, it can be helpful hear opinions and advice from experienced parents on what works and what doesn’t. What works for me may not work for you – and that’s okay, because the most important thing your baby needs from you is you.