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10 Mistakes New Parents Make

The top gaffes of new parents during baby's first year and how to avoid them.

New-parent mistake No. 5: Not sweating a fever in a newborn.

"Any fever over 100.4 rectally in the first 3 months of a baby's life is an emergency,” Walker says. The one exception is a fever that develops within 24 hours after an infant's first set of immunizations. 

"Some parents may just say 'he feels warm' and give the baby Tylenol," Walker says. "But that's a parenting mistake in this age group. An infant's immune system is not set up to handle an infection on its own."

If your child feels warm, take the temperature rectally. If the temperature is above 100.4, call your pediatrician immediately. 

New-parent mistake No. 6: Not properly installing the car seat..

Any new parent who’s tried knows that installing a car seat can seem like rocket science. “Once you have chosen the right seat,” Walker says, "go to your local fire station or Babies-R-Us or another chain store to make sure you have installed it correctly.” Or go to get help putting it in. "Your infant's life,” she says, “may depend on it."

New-parent mistake No. 7: Neglecting oral care.

"Many new parents don’t think about their newborn's teeth or oral health until it is too late," says Saul Pressner, a New York City-based dentist. Your baby is never too young for you to start encouraging good oral health habits. Pressner offers tips to help new parents:

  • Don't give your infant milk in bed once teeth have erupted. “This will increase the risk of developing cavities,” Pressner says, adding that the cavities are also known as baby bottle decay.
  • Use a wet gauze to wipe down your baby’s gums, he says. And start using a toothbrush when the baby turns 1.
  • It’s also important to make sure your child is getting enough fluoride. Fluoride is found naturally in water and helps prevent cavities. Some towns have fluoridated water through the taps. "If yours doesn’t,” Pressner says, “ask your dentist about supplements."

 

New-parent mistake No. 8: Ignoring your marriage.

"Staying connected within the marriage when you first have a child is really important and can be overlooked," says John C. Friel, PhD, a licensed psychologist. "Any weakness in that relationship will get magnified by having a child. And while you have to focus a lot on the new baby, you must somehow maintain a sense of being a couple." 

Friel tells couples to avoid this common parenting mistake by "making sure that you are not zoning out when you are not with the baby."

New-parent mistake No. 9: Fighting too much (or too little) in front of your baby.

"Even a 3-month old will pick up vibes," Friel says. In terms of fighting, he suggests you ask yourself, “Is it scary?” or “Is it frequent?” "Look at the intensity and frequency of your fights," he says. "Snapping every now and then is a normal part of living with another person. And when people start to suppress too much, it's just as bad as going to the other extreme."

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