What are the three most common mistakes parents make when taking care of newborns?
Expert: Dr. Janet Stockheim, pediatrician and author of the parenting guide to infants, Nothing But Newborn.
1. Not Reading Up
Every time I was rounding in the hospital nursery or when I had a newborn in the office, I found that parents asked the same questions over and over again. A lot of the questions pertained to things like normal newborn rashes, droopy eyes, or nasal congestion – things that most newborns have. The parents knew everything about all of the brand name strollers, but very few had thought much about the basics of baby care. There are so many resources out there and parents need to do the reading. I don’t think that they should just expect it to all come naturally, because it doesn’t. Use your pediatrician as a resource. Ask one more question if you have one more question!
2. Fear of Change
One thing I often notice with newborns and babies up through six months of age is that they have flat heads. We recommend that babies sleep on their backs for SIDS prevention, so moms I guess tend to put their babies in the crib always in the same position. Because of this, the baby always falls onto the same part of her skull. Months down the line, she has a flat area in the skull. Parents have to remember to reposition their babies, to face them in the other direction or to put something stimulating on the other side of the crib. You can also, when they’re not sleeping, put them on their tummies. A lot of moms are hesitant to put babies on their tummies, but that takes the pressure off of the baby’s skull.
3. Not Sucking It Up
Babies sneeze quite a bit during the newborn period, with all of the fluid from the in utero environment and all of the milk spit up that gets deposited in the back of the nose. Babies really need to have a very free and clear nasal passage in order to feed well and be comfortable. If the nose is not completely free, they may have trouble feeding or even sleeping. Parents are very hesitant to use saline drops and to suction their baby’s nose. I find myself constantly, in the office, doing it for them. The baby will cry, but in the end it makes him much more comfortable. Parents feel like it’s something they should only do if the baby has a cold but really babies frequently have things in their nasal passages, so use the suction whenever you hear that nasal congestion and the baby will be much happier.
Interview by Lindsay Armstrong