First time parents learn parenting the difficult way – by making mistakes. Here are some common mistakes that new parents make in the first year of having a baby.
By Moina Memon
Though becoming a parent for the first time is extremely joyful and ecstatic, it is also very overwhelming and a ‘learning by doing’ journey. It is filled with more good days and less bad days. A lot of these bad days depend on the parent’s poor understanding, responding, and reacting to any situation. The journey of parenting encompasses various mistakes from which once learns and does things better for the younger child (if one has a second child). Here are a few mistakes parents make the first time around.
1. Becoming anxious and panicking for everything: This is one of the first few mistakes new parents make, especially when the baby is at the newborn stage. This feeling of doing things right sets in once a new mother gets home. The main reason for this is that a newborn cannot communicate. Whether it is colic, a simple cold or just a diaper change, a newborn only communicates with crying and this makes the parents anxious and nervous. It is important to be calm in such situations. Observe and learn the meaning of your baby’s cries.
Eventually, parents figure things out either by being worried or by staying calm. The latter is much better and makes it easy for the mind of the parent and in the long run is good for the child as well.
2. Getting stressed about breastfeeding: Stress related to breastfeeding can take a toll on the new mother and can make the experience of motherhood a little uneasy. There will be a lot of sleepless nights for a new mother during the first year because of breastfeeding. The child can also be fed with a bottle of pumped out breast milk so that the mother can take an extended nap. The family members can extend support to the mother by looking after her nutrition needs. As much as it is the mother’s responsibility to lovingly provide nutrition to the child by way of breast milk, it is as much a responsibility of the spouse and the other family members to support her. A lot of times, the mother times the feed of the child and panics if the child doesn’t wake up every two hours. This has to be done only if the baby is unwell. Demand feeding is a great way to tackle this. When the baby needs a feed, she will surely let the mother know.
3. Oral hygiene: Cleaning of the mouth, tongue, ears and nails has to be looked into only later—say around the age of 2.5 months (confirm with a paediatrician). Moms and dads who try doing these with advice from elders in the family are at risk for stressing themselves out with a cranky child who isn’t ready yet.
4. Not sleep training the baby: A lot of Indian mothers believe that it’s OK to keep the child next to you on the bed. Earlier in the new born phase, it does help in dealing with the fears associated with SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). However, as the child grows older, it is very important to sleep-train the child. When to start the training is a call the parents should take. The sooner the better.
5. Trying to force potty training: This is a big NO in the first year. Pushing the child to get potty-trained in the first year can harm the psychological development of the child. Comparing the child, knowingly or unknowingly, to someone else’s child is bad. Understanding that each child is unique in his own way is important. Letting the child take his own time and waiting for him to use the potty is the only solution. Patience is the key to good parenting!
6. Spending less ‘me’ time: First time mothers want to be the perfect mom. They tend to forget their own needs. Going to a spa, salon, reading a book, catching up with a friend over coffee, yoga and meditation are a few ways to rejuvenate and charge oneself with good energy. New moms forget ‘me’ time and end up being depressed and unhappy. The one thing to remember is to be happy so that you raise happy children.
7. Sparing no time for the spouse: Once they step into parenthood, moms and dads forget the husband and wives they were. The world revolves around the child for them and the fun in the marital relationship fades for many couples. Consciously making time for each other and continuing to grow as a married couple is the key to being happy parents who raise happy children.
8. Not ensuring baby safety:
Many parents are not aware of the basic safety measures to adopt when caring for a newborn at home.
9. Feeding wrong portion size: Once the infant is 6 months old, semi-solids are a great source for nutrition. But parents make a big mistake by not understanding the portion size for the child. Children let parents know if they are hungry. Also, it is best to start with small portions to keep the child safe from choking, indigestion, and allergies.
10. Comparing growth milestones: Every child is unique and must be given time to develop at her own pace. Comparing the child with another of the same age or a few months apart is a usual tendency, which is wrong. Thinking “why my child isn’t crawling, walking or potty trained yet when her child does so” and thus pushing the child for it will not only stress out the parents but also the child and can affect her psychologically.
The author is a parenting blogger and writer. She blogs at Mommymojo.
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