Childbirth is an ordinary miracle; they say “a baby fills a place in your heart that you never knew was empty”. Parenthood is an incredible gift. Having a child changes you as a person. It teaches you patience, kindness, and how to put another’s needs over your own. It is the epitome of love and care. However, this gift comes with a large amount of responsibility, and this can be a difficult and daunting task. New parents have no idea how to go about things, and are suddenly faced with the job of a lifetime. They find themselves overwhelmed, and ill equipped and face fears of the unknown.
As new parents, major life alterations are something one should come to expect, and even welcome, because even though it is going to be challenging to take care of that little person, it is going to be much more rewarding since it will be your own little bundle of joy. The smiles, the cuddles, the soft pudgy touches are things to look forward to! So to help all those anxious new parents out there, here are 10 common mistakes made by most new parents, that they should steer clear from-
10. TEND TO OVER THINK
Being a first time parent is a unique experience. A new life, brings new questions and fears. New parents are constantly skittish about what to do and how to do it. They constantly worry about how to provide for the new baby, how to keep him/her safe and healthy, how their lives will change because of it. Perhaps, the most pervasive doubt they have is “Will I be a good enough parent to my child?”. These fears loom large in the minds of new parents, which is why they often find themselves rushed, panicked and overwhelmed. The baby can pick up on this anxiety.
Leon Hoffman, MD, director of the Pacella Parent Child Center in New York says “This worry gets in the way of being spontaneous and enjoying your infant’s first year of life.”
In addition, this present age of free and easy information, can act as a double edged sword. On the one hand, you are well informed enough to be prudent and wise, and on the other, you could be too informed which is not good. It’s okay to be scared of the unknown, but don’t let that fear cripple you, and hamper your ability to make the right decisions for yourself and your child. Read and stay informed, talk to others who’ve experienced this and prepare yourself. But most importantly, connect to your natural instinct. Nature has gifted us with a beautiful biological imprint of parenting. Trust your gut, and you have nothing to be scared of!
9. COMPARING YOUR BABY
A new baby means a clean slate. You have no experience of your own to refer to, which is why you often refer to the experiences of your peers, or relatives. While it’s perfectly okay to ask for advice, and look to others for support, it’s not correct for you to compare your experience with that of another. If your friend’s child starts crawling/talking before yours does, or your sibling’s baby sleeps through the night while yours tends to keep you up- don’t lose heart! Every child is born different, and develops at different rates. There is no cause for alarm as long as they are developing within the normal rate. Your experience as a new parent will be a lot more fruitful if you simply remember that your child is unique, and give him/her time to blossom in the way they have to, and at the time they have to.
8. NOT COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR BABY
Many new parents assume that they don’t need to speak to their children clearly and precisely until they’re much older. But this is an incorrect assumption. In fact, communicating with your child within the first three years of life is crucial. Talking to your baby helps in their brain development. A research study has shown that the more words the children had heard by age 3, the better they did on tests of cognitive development.
Moreover, it helps build a strong bond between you and your child. Newborns are able to distinguish between human voice and other sounds, so they are well able to understand and participate in conversations. It is also good to imitate your baby’s gestures-smiles, babbling etc, so that they understand that their thoughts and feelings are being heard and understood. Communicating with babies also helps in the building of stronger interpersonal relationships, and social skills in adulthood.
7. BEING AFRAID OF THE BABY CRYING
A new time parent’s immediate response to their baby crying, is to fix it for them. According to paediatric nurse Jennifer Walker, RN., ”That’s because we associate crying with the fact that we are doing something wrong.”
Parents often scramble to find ways to make the baby stop crying, and frantically change diapers, try to feed, or rock the baby back to sleep; and when these attempts yield no positive results, are often surprised and defeated. The truth is, the baby’s food, diaper, and sleep needs may be completely fulfilled, but he/she would cry anyway. Crying is a part of being an infant, and therefore will happen quite often.
However, you must be there to comfort and console your baby, so he/she feels protected and receives solace. Sometimes, it’s okay to let your baby cry it out and learn to soothe themselves, but this may not always work. Every baby is different, and while being allowed to cry it out may work for some, it may be traumatic and exhausting for others. So be sure to be within reach to soothe your baby, and don’t immediately assume that a wrongdoing on your part has caused your baby’s distress.
6. TAKING TOO MUCH ON THEMSELVES
New parents can often be over-protective and over-indulgent, and therefore do not trust anyone else to take care of their baby. All offers of help are rejected, and they take on all the responsibility on themselves. This is wrong. Being a parent is a full time job, in addition to the many other things you’re responsible for as an adult. Which is why you can’t do it on your own. Let your family and loved ones take over once in a while, so you can recuperate your energies. If you are burnt out, you can’t be a 100% there for your precious baby. So be sure to delegate the diaper changing, burping, and sending to sleep responsibilities to other people. Older and trusted members of your family, like your parents, aunts/uncles, older siblings- who’ve raised children of their own, make excellent babysitters.
5. MOTHERS NEGLECT THEIR OWN NEEDS
With a new baby, a large chunk of the responsibility invariably falls on the mother. And in this case, it is easy for them to put themselves last, and put everything else first. A baby’s connection to the mother is their first and most powerful. For this reason, it may become difficult for mothers to involve their spouses in the child raising duties, which often leaves fathers with menial jobs, and mothers with an excessive workload! It may not come as naturally to fathers, as it does to mothers, but they can become pros at baby raising too, provided that the mother and father fall into a good rhythm of communication. It is important for them not to hover, worry, instruct and criticise.
It is important for mothers to take a little ‘me-time’, and pamper themselves away from their child. Don’t feel guilty about needing time away, it is important for you to be yourself and relax, so that child-raising doesn’t become mechanical and joyless.
Mothers must also learn to take naps when the children nap. Your child taking a nap is time for you to prepare and rest your body, till he/she needs you again. Don’t see it as time for you to catch up on work while you’re on leave, or to engage in household chores.
4. NOT CONNECTING WITH THEIR SPOUSES
A new baby means a new life for both mom and dad. It’s tough to adjust when your lives suddenly revolve around another person, and their needs and desires, while yours become subsidiary. “Staying connected within the marriage when you first have a child is really important and can be overlooked,” says John C. Friel, PhD, a licensed psychologist. Fights and disagreements become more frequent, because you’re just not taking the time to understand each other anymore. Fighting in front of the baby is damaging for the child’s development, as they can pick up on negative vibes.
It is important for you to make sure that your marriage is not being completely neglected. Your spouse may not be your number one priority, but they are your greatest support in this crazy journey, and the only one who’s on the same page as you. Which is why you must make the effort to talk to each other, and not zone out when you’re away from the baby. Go on date nights, where you make an effort to talk about something other than the baby, and make sure you’re still each other’s confidante.
3. NEGLECTING ORAL HYGIENE
Dental and oral hygiene is often not the first thing on parents’ minds, for obvious reasons. But according to New York City based dentist Saul Pressner, “Your baby is never too young for you to start encouraging good oral health habits.” He also provides many suggestions for new parents to maintain good oral hygiene for their kids, which include-
- Avoiding giving the infant milk in bed once teeth have erupted, to avoid risk of developing cavities.
- Using a wet gauze to wipe the baby’s gums. Toothbrushes should start being used at age 1.
- Making sure your child gets enough Fluoride. Fluoride is naturally found in water, and helps prevent cavities. Ask your dentist for supplements if needed.
2. BUYING TOO MUCH TOO SOON
A new baby can be an expensive deal-diapers, vitamins, strollers, toys, baby clothes, car seats-and what not. Your excitement over dressing your baby up to the nines could send your budget overboard. Baby clothes are adorable, but spending too much money on them is the same as blowing it away, because your fast-growing child will outgrow them soon. The same goes for toys. Don’t buy too many expensive toys; no matter how much you think your baby will love them, they are likely to lose interest very soon. Budget yourself, and spend only on the essentials, like formula, diapers, etc.
1.NOT SAVOURING THE MOMENT
New parents get so caught up in trying to balance their new lives, and trying to be on top of everything for their precious baby boy or girl, that they often forget that every stage they pass through will never come again. This is why it’s essential for you to make records of all their milestone moments, and preserve all their precious stages. Being a parent is a surreal thing, you give life, and watch it grow bigger and better everyday. If you don’t have records of your child’s best infancy and childhood moments, chances are you’ll regret in the future. So make sure you have plenty of nostalgia and cute baby moments to gush about as your child, and you yourself grow older, by maintaining a baby book, a journal, or a photo/video album. The latest trend is to make an email account for your baby, and to keep sending emails of important milestones, noteworthy moments and such, so that both you and your child can look back on them together someday!