New parenthood is overwhelming. For one, there’s that whole new life to take care of – and there’s also a mass of baby-related information to take in. There are do’s and don’ts and safety precautions enough to make your head spin. But no matter how much you absorb as you set out on your parenting journey, keep in mind that all parents take wrong turns here and there. And while most of those so-called mistakes are harmless, there are a few common areas you’ll want to pay particular attention to. Here are 5 common mistakes new parents make while caring for their newborn:
Most new parents focus on proper carseat installation and keep informed of the latest recalls and recommendations. However, many don’t consider the potential hazard of leaving baby for too long in a carseat while not in the car. Especially with the prevalence of portable carseat baby carriers, the tendency to let baby sleep in the carseat until he or she wakes is common. A baby’s respiratory system can be compromised by leaving him or her in a semi-reclined position too long, and this is particularly risky for premature babies 10 pounds and under. Although it’s tempting to let baby carry out a napping session if he or she falls asleep in the carseat, your child should be taken out and placed in a crib or bassinet.
New and expecting parents often receive gifts of scented lotions, baby powder, and washes and with all of the sweet and adorable packaging and marketing they’re easy to fall for. However, it’s important to know that these types of consumer products – even baby ones – are not regulated by the FDA. Many are packed with toxins that can easily be absorbed into your baby’s tissue like skin. The best solution is to purchase products for baby that are free of unnecessary chemical ingredients. Remember, just because a product is pricey and says it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s the best for your baby.
Newborns don’t need a lot and in fact, too much stimulation from electronic toys with lights and loud sounds can be disruptive to them. Hearing your voice read books or sing, feeling a soft blanket, or looking in the mirror are great, basic ways to stimulate baby without going overboard.
Although you always hear about the goal of getting baby sleeping through the night, for the first two weeks until your baby gains sufficient weight you need to make sure that doesn’t happen. Your baby will need to be woken up every three hours during the night to eat, until your pediatrician gives you the OK to let him or her sleep for a long stretch.
In addition, many new parents assume that keeping their baby up as much as possible during the day will result in their infant sleeping through the night. However, this is not the case. When infants are over-stimulated or overtired, they are unable to power down at night and their adrenaline kicks in. Until your baby is about one year, more sleep during the day equates to more sleep at night. Apply an approximate 90-30 rule – for every 90 minutes your baby is awake, he or she should nap for 30 minutes.
When you have a baby, things to stress over abound. From baby care to sleep deprivation to financial worries, you will feel stress at some point. But keep in mind, whatever form your stress takes radiates from you and is sensed by your baby. This can translate to fussiness for seemingly no apparent reason. Try your best to practice a “let things go” approach right from the start. Find outlets such as exercise, yoga, or writing to deflect any built up anxieties you have. No one is perfect and there’s not just one way to care for your baby.
— Carole Kramer Arsenault, RN, IBCLC, and author of The Baby Nurse Bible: Secrets Only a Baby Nurse Can Tell You about Having and Caring for Your Baby