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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.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by 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 top 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,” explains New York City psychoanalyst Leon Hoffman, MD. ”And the baby picks up on that anxiety." Hoffman is the director of the Pacella Parent Child Center. He tells WebMD that parents can literally waste the entire first year of their baby's life by sweating 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? Hoffman says, "This worry gets in the way of being spontaneous and enjoying your infant's first year of life. 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 Atlanta-based 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, persistent 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 baby up to breastfeed

Mistake or misconception? "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." Vomiting, however, 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.

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