Learning to Mother: A Few Key “Don’ts”

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When well-meaning, seasoned mothers share strong opinions about what's OK or not OK for your baby, stay strong! We've got a few pointers to help you out.

As a new mom, trying to gain the confidence you need to care for your baby best, you can sometimes feels like fresh prey around older, opinionated mothers who feel their child-rearing ways are best. You can also find yourself around young moms like yourself who have completely opposite opinions from the seasoned moms — it’s so confusing at times! As you sift through all of the chatter about what may or may not be best for your baby, experts say there are a few key don’ts to pay attention to.

Here are some scenarios to help you out:

Your infant cries a lot, and doesn’t sleep well.

Confusing opinion: “Just give him some cereal! It doesn’t matter how old he is.”
That’s a no-no according to Mark Krakauer, M.D., with St. Thomas Medical Group. “The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends starting solids between ages 4 and 6 months, no earlier,” advises Krakauer. “Breast milk and/or infant formula are necessary and sufficient for all nutritional needs of the baby before this time. Starting solids before 4 months of age may be harmful. It may result in the child getting an inadequate nutrient intake. The infant’s kidneys are immature at this point, and solids (or drinks other than breast milk or formula) can also expose the child to a dangerous amount of salt that can actually lead to seizures and death. Another reason to delay solids until at least 4 months is that before then most infants lack the oral motor skills needed to safely do this.”

Bumpers for the crib.

Confusing opinion: “No harm can come of something that’s made for an infant’s bed. Besides, they’re pretty and protect his little head from hitting the rails.”
Whoa — slow down. The old, “it will never happen to us” gets tangled up in all of that bedding. SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) CAN happen. Current research shows that bumpers, blankets and pillows can put Baby at risk for SIDS by obstructing his airways. He should sleep on a firm mattress in a sleeper sack for the best environment and on his back, says the AAP.

Smoking during and after pregnancy.

Confusing opinion: “When I smoked in my pregnancy, it went in MY lungs, not my baby’s.”
The AAP says if you smoke during your pregnancy, you’re setting yourself up for risks such as miscarriage, premature birth, lower birth weight, SIDS, learning problems and ADHD. Not only that, but after Baby’s born, there are even more risks if you smoke around him. Secondhand smoke contains about 4,000 different chemicals, and breathing in that smoke can cause asthma, respiratory infections, lung problems, ear infections and SIDS. And about those e-cigarettes? With little known about the chemicals actually being inhaled (aside from what’s printed on the label), health care providers urge parents to not use them while pregnant.

So, new moms, when it comes to your health and that of your baby’s, it may be best to follow your pediatrician’s advice. And when someone teases you for not doing what they suggest, simply smile and say, “Doctor’s orders!”

Kiera Ashford is associate editor of Nashville Parent and mother of three.

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