The first few days, weeks and even months with your new baby can be overwhelming. As you adjust to your new life as a parent, there are some common missteps you can avoid. We reached out to pediatricians and a family doctor with JDC Pediatrics and WellSpan to learn what they see as the top mistakes that new parents make.
1. Making the baby adopt your schedule.
Try to adopt your baby’s schedule. The sooner you get synchronized with the baby, the happier everyone will be. Lower your expectations in terms of getting work done. Nap when the baby naps. This will make the long nights easier to tolerate.
-Joseph Irwin, M.D., WellSpan Family Medicine
2. Having a strict “plan.”
It is normal for families to have certain expectations with having a newborn—from birthing to a certain feeding method (breast or bottle); but it is important to be willing to change or modify those plans if necessary for the benefit of baby and the family and not for that to be seen as a “failure.”
–Timothy Kaminisky, M.D., JDC Pediatrics
3. Getting worked up about spitting up.
Spit happens. It doesn’t mean babies are sick. As long as they’re gaining weight and not having fever or pain, spitting up is not a huge cause for concern. Spit up generally happens only during feeds. Vomiting, on the other hand, is usually associated with illness and happens outside of feeds.
4. Ignoring feeding cues.
In the first week or two of life, babies need to feed every two to four hours. Don’t wait until you baby is crying before you feed them. Watch for stirring or sucking on their hands after waking up. If it has been more than an hour or so since they last fed, they may be hungry.
-James Mosher, M.D., JDC Pediatrics
5. Waking up the baby to feed.
Healthy babies will wake up when they are hungry. If they get eight to 12 feeding episodes every 24-hour period, then they are doing well.
6. Allowing the baby to sleep in the bed with the parents.
This isn’t safe. Babies should be in their own sleeping area and always placed on their back.
-Allison Ray, M.D., JDC Pediatrics
It is well known that smoking is harmful for the smoker. However, infants exposed to cigarette smoke are at a higher risk of SIDS, ear infections and other health issues. Thus, if you must smoke, do so outside the home, wash your hands, and change your clothing when you come in.
8. Not asking for help.
If you are a new mom and feel you are struggling, speak to your partner, your family members or friends. If you feel that things are getting out of control despite your best efforts, contact your doctor, your therapist, or your child’s pediatrician. They will be able to evaluate your situation and get you the help you need.– Vinitha Moopen, M.D., WellSpan Family & Pediatric Medicine – Rothsville
9. Neglecting your relationship with your partner.
As soon as you feel comfortable, make a promise to yourselves to secure a sitter and get out of the home without your baby regularly once every two to four weeks — even if only for an hour to go shopping. Sure, you may spend the entire time talking about your new child, but at least you will be able to pay attention to each other without the added distraction of your infant.
10. Comparing your baby to other babies.
All babies grow and develop differently. If you are concerned that your baby is not [growing or developing properly], consult your baby’s doctor.
11. Not keeping up to date on immunizations.
Do all the recommended vaccinations. Babies produce on average 30 antibodies per day from exposure to things in the environment. Adding shots is not a burden for babies’ immune systems, stimulating their body to produce just five to eight more antibodies that day.
12. Not following the package instructions when mixing formula.
Adding too much or not enough water to infant formula can lead to electrolyte imbalances and significant consequences such as seizures.
13. Not installing the car seat correctly.
Babies should face the rear at all time. Most collisions are head-on. Babies have big heads and narrow necks, which are not designed for sudden deceleration associated with head-on collisions.
14. Parents not taking care of themselves in addition to the baby.
Parents should draw on support from friends and family, sleep when they can, share duties with their significant other, recognizing potential signs of post-partum depression to discuss with their doctor.
15. Thinking you need to be the perfect parent.
Nobody is perfect. I have yet to meet any parent (especially myself!) who always gets it right and/or who doesn’t regret some of their parenting actions or decisions. You’re going to make mistakes. You need to forgive yourself for those mistakes and realize that your child is probably going to be fine (but also not perfect) anyway.