10 New-Parent Mistakes

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Becoming a new parent is wonderful at best, worrisome at worst. Don't sweat the small stuff!

You’re home with your bundle of joy. Now what? The thought of having to take care of something so tiny can be a daunting task for some new parents. Worry, frustration and more begin to set in before you know it. However, you WILL conquer this parenting thing and soon enough be an expert at it!

1. BUCKLING UP BABY

This one point can’t be hammered enough because new parents are dealing with a surprising number of new conflicts in their mind. It’s easy, in a rush, to just assume the seat’s in right. Installing a car seat can take time and be tricky. Once you’ve chosen the seat for your baby, visit safecar.gov and check the Child Car Seat Inspection Station Locator to find a location nearest you to have your seat installment checked properly.

2. PANIC ATTACKS

New parents waste an awful amount of time in the first year of their baby’s life by worrying about every little thing. Is he wetting enough diapers? Is he having too many bowel movements? Is he being held too much, too little? Am I doing this right? Is he doing that wrong? Does he cry too much or not enough? Any of that sound familiar to you? All of the worrying gets in the way of enjoying being a parent, enjoying your infant’s first year.

“I can remember worrying on just about everything,” recalls Julie Anderson, a mom of two in Murfreesboro. “Especially when visitors start asking you if the baby is hungry, when did you change his diaper last and so on, and you’re not sure of the answer,” she adds.
You have to remember that moms and dads have been raising babies for thousands of years. So, just let it go. You’re enough. You have a big heart and you love your child. Take it easy on yourself, do your best and when all else fails, sit down and rock in the rocking chair for YOU.

3. CONFUSING SPIT UP FOR VOMIT

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 because of a gastrointestinal virus, he’ll vomit every 30 or 45 minutes regardless of feeding. Spit-up, on the other hand, is usually related to feeding, i.e. taking in too much and not being burped.

4. IGNORING BABY’S TEETH

Lots of new parents don’t think they need to do anything about their baby’s gums until it’s too late. Start him off on the right foot by:
• Never allowing the baby to sleep with a bottle in his mouth as it can promote baby tooth decay.
• Wipe down your baby’s gums with a lukewarm wash cloth after eating and begin using a toothbrush when baby teeth appear.

5. FIGHTING IN FRONT OF BABY

Vibes are contagious at home, and when parents yell at each other, even a 3-month-old can pick up the worry, say parenting experts like good, old Dr.Spock. Look at the intensity and frequency of your fights — snapping every now and then is a normal part of living with another person in a sleep-deprived time. Find ways to honor each other by giving one another a break. When you MUST have a serious argument, take it quietly into another room, if possible.

6. NOT HAVING A TRUSTED SOURCE FOR GOOD ADVICE

Many new parents feel cornered by all of the advice from relatives, friends and even total strangers they meet who want to tell them how to do this or that with their infant. YOU are the parent, and you have to learn to trust yourself. Know who you can turn to in a pinch or even in the middle of the night. Look to your parents or to family members whom you feel do a great job with their children. Talk with your pediatrician about your concerns. As time goes on, your expertise will grow and along with it your confidence. Before long you’ll have a solid system in place for figuring out parenting matters with your children.

7. USURPING THE SPOUSE

A lot of new moms are guilty of, whether intentionally or not, making their spouse feel like they can’t do things for the new baby as well as they themselves can. Try to avoid this. If you feel your spouse needs “work” in baby care, then help him out. Find ways to encourage his involvement and allow him to help rather than shut him out.

“I work nights, so I take care of our baby for a few hours and let my wife try to sleep,” says Justin Watkins, a father in Greenbrier. “I just do whatever I can to help my wife out. She did all the major work, so diaper duty and morning feedings are no biggie. I love my baby girl and our time together.”

8. THINKING DISCIPLINE STARTS EARLY

Pediatricians agree that disciplining a baby before 7 – 9 months isn’t necessary or effective. Before that age, a baby isn’t capable of manipulation or of consciously “being bad.” Until a child can understand, the best way to thwart undesirable behavior is to distract with toys or another activity. Around 8 or 9 months of age, you can discipline most effectively by rewarding desired behavior with attention and kind words, and by withholding these rewards when the baby does not behave as desired.

9. COMPETING OVER SLEEPING BABIES

Until 6 weeks of age, your baby does not have the ability to self-soothe or have any real sense of timing and will probably only sleep in two- to- three-hour increments. Sleeping habits really develop on a child-to-child basis. Some children will sleep through the night at 4 months, others not until 11 months. Old wives tales, such as feeding your baby cereal hoping a fuller stomach will keep him asleep longer, are to be avoided as they can actually lead to tummy problems.

10. TRYING NOT TO SPOIL THE BABY

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you can’t spoil a baby by giving him attention.

“My mother was always telling me that I’ll end up spoiling our baby when she saw me pick her up when she cried,” says Anderson. “I would feel chided and that I was doing something wrong,” she adds.

During the first few months, it’s important to respond to all of your baby’s cries; she’ll cry less if you’re there to comfort her. You’ll soon be able to distinguish between your baby’s cries — the sound of a hunger cry is different than a cry of pain or distress. You also might be able to eventually identify a leave-me-alone cry. Pediatricians agree that babies often have fussy periods during which nothing will console them; this seems to be a way for them to relieve tension and excess energy, often leaving them more alert and content afterwards.

Jenna Fleming is a freelance writer and a mom to two children.

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