11 New Parent Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

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Newborn baby swaddled in blanket with toes to the camera

I’m here to tell you that, broadly speaking there is no such thing as right or wrong when it comes to following your parenting instincts. I strongly believe that every family has different needs and preferences, and of course, every baby is unique. There is no one size fits all approach, however, there are a few common oversights that can often crop up but luckily, they’re super simple to avoid.

01. Covering a buggy or bassinet with a blanket to block out light 

I get it, you want your baby to sleep well by blocking out natural or artificial light with a blanket, so you carefully place a blanket over the buggy or car seat when you’re out and about, but by doing so you’re unintentionally limiting the airflow around your baby (even on a cool day), which can actually be dangerous for various, including increasing the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). 

It’s understandable that you don’t want bright light disturbing your baby, but blankets should never be used as covers as they’re too dense. 

Instead opt for a breathable sheet or specific buggy cover like this mum-designed one from SnoozeShade which blocks UV light and has a breathable design. 

Alternatively you can use a light muslin sheet like these from Ana Wiz or from Aden and Anais whose products are fantastic quality and incredibly versatile. I’ve yet to meet a new mum who doesn’t have at least four uses for her muslins.

Side note: If you’re looking for a baby focused podcast, the Aden and Anais one is brill and comes highly recommended! 

02. Leaving baby on changing table unattended 

When it comes to newborns, establishing good habits from the off is always a safe move. Safety is always paramount, yet it can be tempting to leave a baby on the changing table while you search for supplies, but though a newborn can’t realistically move anywhere, I’d strongly advise against leaving them unattended for any length of time, no matter how short.

Babies grow so quickly and it could be 8 days or 8 weeks when they spontaneously throw their head back or roll over slightly and it would be terrible for this to happen when they’re on a high surface. So, my advice? Don’t do it. 

I believe that instilling the habit of never leaving your child unattended on the change table sets you up for a safe mind frame down the track, when the real sleep deprivation and stress can set in. 

If from day one you make the conscious decision to never turn away or walk away then it will become a habit. So that when they are rolling over in the (not so distant) future accidents can be avoided. 

If you have a portable changing mat, you can always change the baby on the floor to eliminate this risk altogether. 

03. Sterilising conundrums (either steam or cold water)  

Sterilising can be a real faff, but it’s so important to keep baby protected from germs, hygiene is so important.

Yet, time and time again I’ve seen parents take the time to wash and sterilise all of baby’s bottles, dummies and pumping equipment only to touch the teat when assembling or pick up a dummy and touch the end that goes in baby’s mouth, which, I’m sorry to say, defeats the point of sterilising. Annoying, but true. 

So here are my tips to make sure you get the most out of your sterilising routine.

  1. If you’re using dummies then always have a good number of them to keep in rotation.
  2. When assembling a bottle always wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap. Then, use a clean paper towel or the small tongs provided when you buy the steriliser, to pull the teat through and assemble immediately. 
  3. Once a bottle is assembled it is good for 24 hours. If you do not use it within this time frame then it is time to sterilise again.
  4. Once the steriliser has been opened, remember it is no longer sterile so either unload the unit completely or turn it on again if you choose to leave something in there.
  5. Buy a pair of tongs (only to be used for baby things) and the sterilising tablets. This is a great option for travelling or daily use at home.
  6. Don’t forget that the residual water and condensation left inside the bottles once they have been sterilised is totally normal and is sterile water. Bottles and equipment can still be assembled. With cold water sterilisation the residual water left on the bottles is safe for baby.
  7. Do not leave parts out to dry as this leaves them to have air borne bacteria settle on them. 
  8. Everything needs to be assembled as soon as the steriliser is opened and again within 24 hours. 

My recommended products for sterilisation:

Tommee Tippee Closer Electric Steriliser 

Milton Cold Water Steriliser 

04. Accidentally Sharing Germs 

Most people would agree that newborns are irresistible and invite lots of kisses, cuddles and attention, but that doesn’t mean that everyone should handle your newborn. You should never feel awkward or unreasonable asking friends and family to wash their hands before they have a hold, and ask them to refrain from kissing your baby. A newborn’s immune system is susceptible to germs that we, as adults, can much more easily fight off. I like to have a big pump bottle of hand steriliser at the door for when people arrive from outside. 

05. Not Positioning Baby Correctly In A Sling

Slings are easy – when you know how, but for beginners they can be quite complicated so it’s not surprising that sometimes new parents can be unsure whether their newborn is correctly positioned. 

When using a baby sling, whether a bamboo wrap or a more structured version such as a design by Bjorn or Ergo, it needs to be a tight fit but that you could also slide your hand in-between yourself and baby. The top of your baby’s head should be close enough to kiss and this is a great rule of thumb to ensure that your baby is not sitting too low in their sling.

Some slings I highly recommend include:

Ergobaby Baby Carrier and the Baba Bushbaby Wrap.

If you’re London based and searching for the perfect baby carrier then I recommend a visit to the Wear My Baby Boutique in Tooting Bec who provide slings for hire, purchase and lots of hands on advice on finding the perfect sling and ensuring the perfect fit.  

06. Car seat problems

When using a carseat, whether in the car or attached to the buggy frame, you should limit the time your baby spends in it, to a maximum of two hours. 

This is because your baby’s newborn spine is shaped like the letter C. As they start to gain head control and hold their head up, their cervical lordosis (neck curve) starts to develop. With tummy time and crawling their lumbar lordosis (low back curve) eventually starts to develop but too much time in car seats and buggies can affect the optimal development of these curvatures of the spine and the straps can prevent babies from using their muscles to move freely.

If you have a long journey to take it’s worth planning stopping points so you can give your baby some time out of the car seat. 

07. Keeping The Baby’s Room Too Warm

Room temperature is one of the most obvious reasons a baby may be waking more frequently during naps and during the night. I often visit homes to determine sleep issues and find that the nursery or the room the baby sleeps in is much too warm or that the baby is wearing too many layers. 

It’s best to dress baby in one more layer of clothing than your own and try to keep the room between 18-20 degrees Celsius. This temperature is optimal for sleeping and linking sleep cycles independently. An overheated baby will struggle to settle and will often wake. 

I recommend having the thermostat set to 19 and putting your baby in a long sleeved body, long sleeved baby grow and a 2.5 tog sleeveless sleeping bag. This makes for a perfect combination of temperature and layers for sleep. 

If you’re swaddling your baby I can recommend the Love to Dream Swaddles for newborns  – I cannot recommend them enough and I always take mine with me when doing in home consultations with newborns. 

Parent’s are always astounded at how well their baby sleeps when using one. They come in four different sizes and a range of togs/weights and even have transitional versions for when baby is ready to have their arms out. 

08. Swaddling For Too Long

When your baby is aged between four and six months old you should transition them from a full swaddle into something sleeveless as this is when your baby will start to roll.

A sleeping bag is ideal and there is an extensive range of baby sleeping bags available. I really love the White Company as they fit from 6-18 months so you can get some decent use out of them. 

Little Green Sheep sell some lovely organic options too.  

09. Using Sudocrem At Every Change

It’s actually not necessary to use Sudocrem at every nappy change, not unless baby has an obvious nappy rash. Using a wipe and then drying with a cloth (so that the skin isn’t left damp) is enough for a change. By using a barrier cream at every change the skin will become used to having the extra layer and this instead creates a cycle of always needing it. 

Sudocrem is great to have on hand and most babies do need it at some point but there’s no need to use it every time. If your baby is suffering from a more severe case of nappy rash I can recommend Metanium which is very effective, but be careful as it can stain fabrics.

10. Wiping The Wrong Way 

During a nappy change there is a right way and a wrong way to wipe. Always wipe from top to bottom. Otherwise you can inadvertently spread faecal bacteria towards the urethra which can lead girl babies especially, to urinary tract infections. So to recap, always, always wipe from top to bottom and when changing a poo-ey nappy never use a dirty wipe or cloth to go over the area again. 

11. Not Removing Baby’s Bib At Naptime

Often when feeding, a baby will be so cosy, content and full of milky goodness that they drift off to sleep but never forget to always remove their bib before placing them in their basket or crib – no matter how sleepy they are. I completely understand the hesitation that you might rouse them but it’s more important to be safe. A baby shouldn’t be left with anything around their neck unless under direct adult supervision. 

Caring for a newborn requires diligence at all times but at the end of the day we’re all human (and new parents are usually sleep deprived humans), and we’re all capable of making mistakes. There’s no judgement here, just sound advice to help keep your baby as safe as possible so you can have more peace of mind. 

Got a question about newborn care? Why not find me on Instagram to ask me directly? I’d love to hear from you.