Mistakes new parents make – Identified and managed!
Remember being a new parent? Actually, scrap that question; you probably don’t want to!
If anything, you may recall one big blurry haze of overwhelming happiness, exhaustion and a plethora of complicated, challenging situations. From the solicited (and who can forget, unsolicited) advice of various well-meaning parties, to the 2-hourly wake-up calls, to realising with some degree of shock that you still look pregnant despite the baby now being located outside your body, the whole experience of being a new parent is one that very few people can truly be prepared for.
You may have read every parenting book on the planet, participated in every forum discussing parenting issues, have every parenting related app installed on your smart phone, but you will nevertheless find that parenting is very much a journey of trial and error.
So try and ease the very heavy load that new parents take on, here are 5 common mistakes that first-timers tend to make and how to manage them.
1. Dressing baby inappropriately.
Ever been out and seen smiling happy new parents pushing a pram, only to sneak a peek to find yourself staring at a shapeless bundle of various fabrics and material instead of an infant?
Dressing a newborn in layers of clothing, complete with mittens, booties and a beanie would be totally acceptable and understandable, if we lived in a cold climate. Hot, humid, tropical weather like ours however, requires loose-fitting, light-weight clothes, preferably made from a breathable fabric like cotton.
Wrapping a newborn in too many items of clothing can cause not only discomfort for the baby but can result in more serious, and possibly even fatal outcomes such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) due to overheating. Dress your baby in a similar fashion to you. If you feel warm and unpleasant in a long-sleeved garment, chances are your infant will also experience similar discomforts.
Newborns are also curious little beings and love exploring with all their senses including their fingers and toes. Mittens and booties limit these important developmental experiences and inhibit the progression of hand-eye coordination. Plus who can resist seeing and kissing such precious cute little fingers and toes…
2. Dismissing car-seats.
For a new parent, it’s easy and only natural to feel that your newborn is safest in your arms. As a result many parents opt to hold their infants rather than place them in a car seat when travelling. A common justification given by parents who choose this option is the “I drive very slowly and safely -so it’s okay”.
What many fail to realise however is that although they may drive extremely carefully, there are also hundreds of other motorists on the road who may cause accidents. In the event of an accident, newborns who are not secured appropriately in size and weight applicable car-seats risk being seriously wounded, and in many cases end up fatally injured.
Car-seats, especially quality ones, can often be an expensive unwelcome addition to an already long and costly list of essential newborn items. However, it is a critical must-have item to ensure the safety and well-being of your precious little bundle of joy. Some babies will fuss when they are first placed in it, after all nothing beats mummy or daddy’s warm embrace, but parents who start using the car seat as soon as they leave the hospital find that their little ones are quite content to stay in it and don’t know any different.
3. Leaving baby to sleep through
Did you return from hospital with your newborn anticipating the dread of many sleepless nights to come, only to find your darling infant sleeping through? Before you jump up for joy and dive into bed with a big smile ready for a good long sleep, you may want to consider that very young infants who sleep through the night are at risk of getting dehydrated – a condition which can cause serious health complications in babies.
Sleeping for long extended periods could also be an indication of illness in your infant. Some babies may be too lethargic or fatigued due to a fever or other infection to wake up and express hunger.
The general consensus amongst paediatricians is that newborns should be feeding every 2 to 3 hours. If your little one seems content to sleep through and doesn’t rouse for feeds, then you have no choice but to wake your baby up to be fed, at least every 4 hours.
4. The solution isn’t always MILK
It’s a familiar scene; the moment a newborn lets out a cry, the parents run helter-skelter to breast feed or a produce a bottle to comfort the infant. The cries nevertheless continue and after repeated failed attempts at feeding, the new mum or dad finally gives-up, exasperated not quite understanding why their darling baby is behaving in such a manner.
Newborns produce a variety of different cries for a range of reasons. Although many first-time parents automatically assume hunger to be the reason behind a baby’s discontent, the truth is babies demand a lot more than just milk. Often many infants just want to be held and smell the familiar reassuring scent of mummy or daddy. Babies can also cry if they are bored and are seeking some form of stimulation. Other reasons for tears can include dirty and wet nappies, over-stimulation and tiredness, discomfort in terms of being too hot or too cold, and even the baby’s individual temperament.
So the next time you’re summoned by your little one’s tears and the magic milk formula fails to work, try figuring out what else your baby might be in search of.
5. Looking after YOU
It’s easy to forget about yourself as a new parent. A baby enters your life and before you know it, your individuality is being traded in for dirty nappies, non-stop feeding, burping, spit-ups, throw-ups and other equally blissful infant related joys.
Although a newborn will demand much of your time, and even though you will be more than happy to give it, don’t forget to provide yourself with the occasional break. You can only be a great parent, if you’re happy and feeling good about yourself. Rest and catch up on some much needed shut-eye when the baby is asleep, and get your partner, parents and in-laws to help with baths, nappy changes and cuddles when they are available. Dress up and wear a little make-up in the mornings if it makes for a perkier start to the day. Chocolate has also been known to put a smile on the faces of many a sleep-deprived new parent.
Most importantly, make peace with the reality that SuperMums and SuperDads don’t really exist. You can only do the best that you can with what you have, and take comfort in knowing that your baby will appreciate all of it.