The parenting gig does not come with an instruction manual. (Even if it did, who in their right minds will ever read an instruction manual anyway?). Raising a child is all about trial and error, especially when you are new at this.
And boy, have we made mistakes with sonny! If we honestly started counting, I am sure we'd add newer and newer experiments and experiences each month to our list of epic parenting fails. But instead, we just shrug our shoulders and move on.
Photo Credit: Eduardo Merille via Flickr.
We laugh and learn from them, because thankfully, not all parenting mistakes are big enough to doom kids to therapy for life. And, thankfully, kids don't even remember the rookie mistakes we make in the first year (and the second year too!) when the parental learning curve is steep and the challenges are far too many to avoid bumping into once in a while.
So, here's our list of 10 rookie parenting mistakes we made in sonny's first year. I hope new and would-be parents out there will get to learn from our fails, and seasoned parents will enjoy a good laugh over them :)
1. Bugging The Pediatrician If there is one thing that distinguishes pediatricians from other doctors in the world is perhaps their ability to keep a straight face when asked the funniest of questions, and having the patience to answer them all without sounding condescending.
From nursing questions to the disgusting poop questions, we have done it all. And I am going to bet that most parents reading this post have been in the same boat! We have visited sonny's pediatrician on the flimsiest of pretexts, three to four days in a row, just because we wanted expert reassurance on sonny's day-to-day activities.
We have asked poop frequency and quality questions, nursing frequency questions, weight gain questions, and more. You name it and chances are we have gone to the pediatrician and asked him about it. And yes, we have shown him photos (yes, multiple) of sonny's poop, too, because it did not seem quite right!
We finally stopped bugging him when one fine day he just lost it (eventually!) and told us not to come to him until and unless sonny was pooping more than 17 times a day or was not pooping at all for more than seven days in a row. Anything else was normal and did not need his attention. That day, we got the message.
2. Over- And Under-Dressing The Baby Hubby and I are opposites when it comes to feeling hot or cold. On the days I feel hot and crank up the air conditioning, he will complain about how cold it is and vice versa.
It was all fine until we decided to apply our feelings of hot and cold to dressing sonny accordingly. It did not help matters much that sonny was born in fall when the weather was just about starting to transition to cold.
Back then, on the days when we under-dressed him, it was easy to gauge, considering he will start getting goosebumps and get this slightly dark splotchy skin. And we will immediately remedy the situation.
But on the days when we over-dressed him, it was difficult to gauge, until one of us picked a fight with the other about the hot weather conditions and won.
One day after we had over-dressed him for a while (and surprisingly, none of us fought about the heat that day), we happened to notice that sonny's body felt hot to touch. And without another thought to the reason, we shipped our baby to the pediatrician (as usual!) bundling him in another layer of baby blanket, thinking he was running a fever.
The first thing the pediatrician did was to remove all the extra layers. Then he showed us how he was sweating despite the AC and his half-sleeved shirt. He asked how did we expect our baby to not feel the heat under all those extra layers. Then he proceeded to give a lecture on how babies are still learning to regulate body temperature and so on.
Of course, we had read all about it in the What To Expect books, but doing a practical is way better than reading theory. We never forgot that lesson after that day. Basically, baby needs to be dressed per the weather and not per your feelings.
Germaphobia Nothing says rookie parents like a giant bottle of hand sanitizer. We had not one, but three (just in case guests could not see the humongous one-liter bottle sitting smack-dab in the middle of the baby's room!).
Before the umbilical stump falls off and the belly button heals, of course, one has to be very cautious of infection etc., but I don't think we need to rage a full-blown war against the germs! After all, the baby is going to live among all the bacteria, viruses and germs for all his life. No one really gave us that memo, and we became germaphobes -- my phobia being many degrees higher on the scale than hubby's.
That one time when I banned school-aged children and any grown-ups who happened to have mild cold from even entering sonny's room was just precious! Perhaps it was my postpartum hormones or whatever, I had one epic meltdown, a few days after sonny's birth, wailing about all the dangerous infections he was going to catch because one child had happened to accidentally sneeze right into sonny's baby mouth!
I laugh at my former self these days. You will not catch me batting an eyelid now even when sonny picks up random food (or other) items from the floor and continues with his meal. Talk about progress (or is it regression? I don't know!).
4. Going Overboard With Buying Baby Products A baby makes new parents go bonkers, splurging on tons of clothes, accessories, baby gear, toiletries etc. And it is all fine if done with some level of self-control. But as any rookie parent will tell you, it is quite difficult to control impulses when your baby is involved. And we had gone overboard too when sonny was born, buying
- bulky, very rarely used pram (sonny loved to be carried rather than riding in his pram)
- tons of toys (we could've furnished the entire first and second year aisle in a toy store with the toys he had back then!)
- countless clothes, shoes, socks and mittens
- loads of wash clothes, burp clothes and bibs (sonny hated bibs and rarely used them, still we had many)
- loads of baby care products and toiletries
- and plenty of snacks (when sonny started solids)
The list could go on for pages. But if there is one rule to shopping for baby: You should never ever buy in bulk or in advance. And it is always better to know your baby's likes and dislikes first before going crazy with all the baby gear. Babies grow at an amazing rate during the first year, and before you know it, they will outgrow their clothes, shoes and diapers.
And babies are very quirky. The snacks they loved like crazy one week ago will become disgusting to them the next week, their favorite toys will lose all appeal in two days, etc. We still struggle with this one, though!
5. Bragging About The Baby There is no scientific evidence to this point, but strong anecdotal references would suggest how annoying -- and ironic -- bragging about the baby can be!
- The day you brag about the baby sleeping through the night, he will wake up at 1:00 am and will not go back to sleep till 6:00 am in the morning.
- The day you proudly tell everyone that your baby has started running to the bathroom for peeing or pooping is the one day your baby will forget his elimination cues and "go to the bathroom" right in front of the people you just bragged to.
- The day you tell someone your baby does not like eating bananas is the day he will chomp them down like there is no tomorrow.
- The day you brag about your baby's powerful teeth and his chewing capacity is the one day he will manage to gag on corn puffs and vomit in front of everyone.
Oh, the list is endless. Don't believe me? Ask the other moms and they will tell you their share of stories on similar lines. In short, just don't brag. Learn to hold it in!
6. Obsessing Over Growth Charts One place where an increase in weight is a matter of joy and pride is obviously a child's nursery. A growing baby somehow gives us a sense of achievement which shouts out to whoever is listening,"See? We created this tiny person and we are nurturing him/her to become so big and strong."
During the initial weeks and months of a new baby, the weight and height chart somehow feel like a report cards of how we are fairing as parents. No doubt, parents (especially moms) have a tendency to get too serious about it and go overboard trying to get a good "score." We get depressed when our babies don't scale up, so to speak.
There was a time when I would weigh and measure sonny every day (I had a scale bought specifically for it!). Sonny was always on the lower end of the growth curves being the picky eater that he is, barely making it to three percent in terms of weight and 25 to 50 percent for height. And I would feel like a complete failure.
But turns out obsessing over baby's growth charts is just a waste of time. Babies come in all shapes and sizes. The sooner we, as parents, reconcile to the fact, the better. As long as they are maintaining their individual growth rates and are not failing to thrive, worrying about their height or weight vs the rest of the world is pointless.
7. Forgetting Essentials In The Diaper Bag No matter how many times you review your diaper bag, there's always something missing or something you run out of. Be it extra diapers, clothes, socks, wipes or what not, you always forget something or the other.
Well, after the first few times of missing this and that, I decided enough was enough and made a checklist of the essentials. I was prepared as hell, but turns out nothing says a rookie parent like a parent who packs everything for the baby and forgets an extra pair of clothing for self!
8. Messing With "THE ROUTINE" "The Routine" refers to whatever schedule your baby has settled into after the first few initial weeks (and yes, the routine changes every couple of weeks or so and you need to pace yourself accordingly!).
Seasoned parents know what rookie parents tend to overlook: You don't mess with the routine. No matter what. It doesn't matter if the president is visiting, if it's baby's nap time, it is baby's nap time. Let the baby sleep or be prepared to suffer the consequences. Enough said!
9. Trying To Keep The House Clean No matter how unorganized and messy you were prior to the birth of your baby (read: people like me!), every new parent tries to keep the house clean, partly due to germaphobic (see Point 3 again) and partly because they need to be able to locate stuff faster when the baby is wailing his lungs out!
A limited amount of organization is fine but if you try to go Martha Stewart on your house, chances are that you are up for disappointment, because once your baby is even slightly mobile, his curiosity will get the better of all your decorations and knickknacks. And don't even get me started on the infinite toys and baby gear scattered across the house (Read Point 4 again).
10. Getting Over-whelmed with choices Gone are the days when the only source of advice for child care used to come from your parents and relatives. Now in addition, you have a thousand books and the omnipresent and omniscient internet. And you get overwhelmed with choices.
- Organic or not
- Chemical free baby products or not
- Co-sleeping or not
- Nursing or Bottle Feeding
- Elimination communication or potty training
- Cloth Diapering or Regular
- Parenting style
Need I go on? And each website you read confuses you to a degree you never thought was possible.
Add to it the incessant "advice voices" from other parents, who may have gone through their own set of websites and advice, and the choices rapidly multiply. Before long you are overwhelmed.
How exactly should you bring up your baby? Which path to choose? It's bloody exhausting! And nothing shouts rookie mistake from roof tops louder than when you start drowning your own parental instincts in favor of the overwhelming choices presented to you and start trying one advice after another on your "guinea-pig" baby.
So the takeaway here is this: Do consider other choices, but make up your own mind on how you want to raise your baby.
There you have it! Our 10 rookie parenting mistakes done during baby's first year.
What rookie mistakes have you made in year one as parents? What mistakes are you still struggling with? Don't forget to share!
NOTE: This post was originally published on FertileBrains Website.
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