7 Mistakes That New Parents Make
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We all know that babies don't come with an instruction manual—but how about a little pamphlet or something? As a new parent, you skyrocket from singular person to all-powerful mama in a matter of minutes, and you're somehow supposed to instinctively know what your little one needs … even when you don’t. Before you beat yourself up too badly, remember that all new parents make mistakes. Sometimes, they even make the same mistakes. Here are a few to prep yourself for so they don't get you down.
- Looking for Naming Critiques. This might even happen before your little one makes his arrival—you have a name all picked out and ready to go, when Aunt Maude announces she hates it. Does that mean you're back to the drawing board? Parenting blogger Shari Schmidt thinks you should stay mum. "New parents should never tell anyone the names on their lists. For some reason people think it's an invitation to critique names," she warns. "Everyone has a bad story about some name. Some kid was mean to them in third grade; their first boss was a jerk; their crazy uncle had the same name." Either keep the name to yourself or let your loved ones know that it's not up for debate.
- Forcing a Schedule. You’ve probably done your reading—and that parenting book you practically memorized says that your little one should get a bath before bed, but that might not be the best policy. "I'm always surprised when clients tell me they always give their baby a bath before bed even though their baby hates baths!" says Dana Obleman, author of The Sleep Sense Program. "When I ask them why they're forcing their baby to do something he or she hates right before bedtime, they usually say their mom or sister told them babies need a bath before bedtime, so they just started doing it." You don't need to force a schedule if it's not your baby's cup of tea. Instead focus on what works for him, not for the babies in your parenting books.
- Expecting a Specific Timeline. When your little one hits six months, you might start looking expectantly at his knees—babies are supposed to crawl by then, right? While milestone timelines can help you gauge your little one's development, they're not exact or set in stone. Don't make the mistake of expecting your baby to hit milestones right on schedule. If you do have concerns about slow development, head to the doc—not a book, website or online forum.
- Thinking Breastfeeding is a Breeze. If you've made the decision to breastfeed your babe, you might be in for a surprise when it isn't the totally blissed-out experience that you've seen in pictures. "Mothers are often unprepared for how much support they will need to breastfeed their child," says registered dietitian Maryann Jacobsen. "While some have an easy time, many will need someone to help them at home with things like meals and cleaning so they can focus on feeding baby. It usually takes about 6 weeks before it gets easier." Don't beat yourself if every feeding isn't a magical moment. It gets better and until then, time to hunker down and catch up on your DVR while your little one gets the hang of feeding.
- Comparing Your Baby to Others. If you have friends or family members with babies of a similar age, it's only natural that you compare notes on feeding, sleeping and everything else. But take care when you size up your pint-size competition; your baby is an original and shouldn't be pitted against tiny contenders. If a certain friend seems dead set on comparing your little ones, it might be time to take a little break so you can focus on only your child instead.
- Keeping it Quiet. We get it: when your baby finally sleeps, you basically want to tell your entire neighborhood to keep it down so you can have a few spare moments. But a little noise is good for your little one, even when he's off in Snoozeland. That way, he learns to sleep through minor noises, which means you get more hands-free time. A white noise machine can help your little one get used to sounds but also block out sudden and loud noises for the longest nap possible.
- Thinking You’re the Only One to Ever Make a Mistake. "New parents often make the mistake of thinking they're the only ones who do make mistakes," says parenting expert Cathi Brese Doebler. "Many are their own worst critics." Whether you mixed the formula wrong, forgot the socks or didn't pack an extra onesie, let it go. All new parents make mistakes and it’s OK. Don't beat yourself up over it—instead, grab a friend, order some coffee and exchange war stories to reduce the tension.
Making parenting mistakes is practically initiation for the job. Instead of agonizing, learn from your gaffes and then look forward to bigger and better mistakes in the future. On the bright side, no one expects you to be perfect—and guess what? Your little one thinks you're pretty much the best mama ever … and that’s the opinion that really matters.