10 Mistakes New Parents Make
The top gaffes of new parents during baby's first year and how to avoid them.
Amita Shroff, MD
All parents make mistakes. Don't believe it? Just think about your own parents. You will no doubt come up with a laundry list of things they did wrong.
The truth is no one is infallible -- especially new parents. But if you know the 10 most common parenting mistakes, maybe you can keep from making them yourself. So here they are, along with tips to help you avoid making them.
New-parent mistake No. 1: Panicking over anything and everything.
"Many new parents have overblown physical reactions to spitting up, vomiting, and other things a baby does,” says Leon Hoffman, MD, director of the Pacella Parent Child Center in New York. ”And the baby picks up on that anxiety."
Hoffman says parents can waste the entire first year of their baby's life by worrying about the small stuff. Is he having too many bowel movements or too few? Is she spitting up too much? Is she getting enough to eat or too little? Does he cry too much or not enough? Any of that sound familiar to you?
"This worry gets in the way of being spontaneous and enjoying your infant's first year of life," Hoffman says. "Babies are far more resilient than we give them credit for."
New-parent mistake No. 2: Not letting your infant cry it out.
"We, as parents, think our job is to make sure the baby is not crying," says pediatric nurse Jennifer Walker, RN. "That's because we associate crying with the fact that we are doing something wrong and we need to fix it," she says. "Babies are designed to cry. They can be perfectly diapered and fed and still cry like you are pulling an arm off." Because that's the way babies communicate. It doesn't mean you can't console or cuddle them.
For the most part, crying is just part of being a baby. But if your infant is inconsolable for an hour and has a fever, rash, vomiting, a swollen belly, or anything else unusual, call your pediatrician as soon as possible. You know your baby best. If you think something isn't right, always check with your doctor.
New-parent mistake No. 3: Waking your baby up to breastfeed.
"Breastfed babies can -- and should -- sleep through the night,” Walker says. ”But there’s a common misconception that breast milk is not thick enough to get an infant through the night. But it is possible and beneficial for breastfed babies -- and their moms -- to sleep through the night."
New-parent mistake No. 4: Confusing spit-up and vomit.
Walker says, "The difference [between spit-up and vomit] is frequency, not forcefulness. Spit-up can absolutely fly across the room." But vomiting is all about frequency. "If your baby is vomiting with a gastrointestinal virus,” she says, “it will come every 30 or 45 minutes regardless of feeding." Spit-up, on the other hand, is usually related to feeding.