Want to know the truth about parenthood? We’re all just figuring it out as we go…especially in the early days. You can read all the books, do all the prep work and lay all the plans, but when you actually bring that baby home? Well, you just might find you’re fumbling with the day-to-day of it all. And that’s ok (and totally normal)!
Parenthood doesn’t have to be perfect. And if you find yourself making rookie mistakes in those early days, just take a second, breathe and remind yourself that you’re not alone.
We chatted with our go-to pediatrician, Dr. Payal Adhikari, about the most common mistakes she believes parents make in those early days. Read on for her thoughts, her advice, and a reminder that you’re so not the only one still trying to get the hang of it.
They buy too much gear before the baby’s arrival
Yes, your babies need certain things when they enter the world — according to Dr. Adhikari, the basics like strollers, cribs, and clothes are key. But as for all the fancy gear you’re coveting? It may not be necessary right away. “Having a whole bunch of bouncers or swings really aren’t needed at the beginning,” she said. “They take up a lot of space and can be expensive, and there’s really no guarantee that your kid is going to like them. Every baby is different: Keep it to a minimum and buy things as you realize you need them or borrow things from friends. Just remember a lot of these things are really fleeting…they don’t need them for very long.”
They try to be perfect hosts
“If you’re going to have visitors over, tell them to pick something up or bring over dinner,” Dr. Adhikari shared. ” [You can even ask friends to] hold the baby while you take a shower, take a nap or relax. You don’t have to be shy when it comes to having visitors. Ask them to help instead of feeling like you have to entertain them.”
They study too much
No need to pile your nightstand high with baby books. “The only book I recommend is Baby 411. It’s very medically accurate, lighthearted and cute to read. I think that’s the best way to prepare to have a baby,” Dr. Adhikari said. “I recommend people take a CPR class, but beyond that, there’s not really a lot you need to take. A lot of it just comes naturally.”
They worry too much about poop
“Parents love to analyze poop color, frequency and consistency,” Dr. Adhikari said (there’s something you never thought you’d hear!). “Generally if it’s not bloody in the beginning, it’s normal. There’s a wide variety when it comes to baby poop. Some babies poop every feeding, some babies poop every two weeks. As long as your baby is eating and peeing [it’s likely normal].”
The don’t follow safe sleep guidelines
According to Dr. Adhikari, parents aren’t always abiding by the American Academy of Pediatric‘s rules for safe sleep. “Baby should be on a flat surface — something like a crib or a bassinet. A lot of parents get frustrated if the baby’s not sleeping where they want and will put them in something that’s not meant for sleeping [or in bed with the parents]. They’re not as safe, [in those situations]” Dr. Adhikari explained. [Editor’s note: This is not one to be taken lightly! As always, please run any questions about infant sleep safety by your pediatrician. It may be a good idea to have a conversation about sleep safety before your baby’s arrival].
They use the wrong thermometer
Parents commonly check their kids’ temperatures using forehead thermometers, but that may not be the best route. “If you’re ever worried about a baby’s temperature, it should be taken rectally to get the most accurate reading,” Dr. Adhikari said.
They get flustered when things don’t go according to plan
You may think you’re the boss, but the truth is, baby’s going to do what baby’s going to do. Dr. Adhikari urged parents to keep in mind that your newborn will eat and sleep when he or she pleases…and that over-planning trips or outings may just blow up in your face. “Sometimes it just doesn’t work out,” she said. “Try to just laugh when things happen. There’s going to be a time when you’re out the door ready to go to dinner and your baby’s going to poop on you or vomit on you. You just have to remember it’s not a big deal.”
About the expert: Dr. Payal Adhikari is a board-certified pediatrician at Child and Adolescent Health Associates and expectant parents teacher at Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago.