Monday, August 31, 2009

5 tips for avoiding the biggest mistakes parents make in the first 2 years.

Making the right choices for your baby's safety and proper
development is the first priority of nearly all parents. However,
there is so much conflicting advice out there, and so many
different philosophies on how to raise your children, it can be
very overwhelming. Many parents find themselves just winging
it as they face the small day-to-day decisions, and that is
where some of the biggest mistakes can be made. Here are a
few common mistakes that parents often make, so you can
watch out for them.

1. Too much T.V.
I used to be a great fan of the "Baby Einstein" videos, and
generally scoffed at the idea that a little T.V. now and then
could be harmful to babies. After all, T.V. today is much
different than it was when I was a kid, the educational aspects
seemed to outweigh the idea that T.V. could be harmful. That
was before the latest study came out showing that babies who
were exposed to T.V. on a regular basis during their first year
displayed a significant developmental delay in many areas.
Most notably, their social development was affected. I have
seen myself the positive effects on a borderline-autistic toddler
who had T.V. removed from his routine. The social skills
flourished and the delays in his gross motor coordination also
dissipated. I highly caution parents against falling into this bad
habit, the effects on your baby are likely to be negative and any
potential positive benefits are generally over estimated or

2. Weening too early.
This is a difficult one, because there are often reasons both
personal and physical why a mother must help her baby ween
early. However, whether your baby is breast fed or bottle fed and
whether she eats breast milk or formula, most of her nutrition is
going to come in fluid form for the greater part of the first 2
years. Even after she is consuming three or more regular meals a
day, a baby's digestive tract is not strong enough to break down
many foods. Even when you puree table foods, they will only yield
a fraction of their potential nutrients to an immature digestive
system. I recommend that parents always feed their baby a bottle
first and then top off with the solid foods, instead of allowing
your little munchkin to fill up on indigestible roughage before
trying to squeeze a little nutritious breast milk or formula in

3. Unsafe teething toys.
A baby will chew on anything. From a pinky to a pencil, everything
is fun for him to munch on. But there are many common things
that a parent might want to think twice about before allowing in
their baby's mouth. The number one things ironically, are fingers,
yours, or other peoples, especially children's. Hands go
everywhere, they touch everything, and they get washed way too
rarely. Make a habit of asking visitors to your home to wash their
hands as they enter, and be sure to always wash your own hands
when you get home. Carrying a bottle of hand sanitizer with you
is another good tool for keeping yourself baby-ready. Another
terrible chew toy is a key ring. Keys are filthy. They have many
crevices where germs can hide, and no one ever washes them.
However, babies love to chew on the cool metal and shake them
to hear the jingling they make. I highly recommend using a
sterling silver multiple-ring teething ring in the place of a key
ring. Watches, necklaces and other jewelry are also terrible choices
for teething toys. Jewelry, even if it is well-made, is rarely made
strong enough to hold up to the drooling, shaking and chewing
abuse that a baby can put it through. Besides the risk of illness
from the types of germs that might be hiding in the crevices of
your jewelry, the main risk is that your jewelry might come apart
and become an immediate choking hazard. Beaded necklaces are
at an especially high risk for this problem.

4. Too little sunshine.
From the moment your little butter cup takes her first stroll
outside you will probably find that you have suddenly become
hyper-aware of the amount of sun exposure she gets. Though
many pediatricians do not recommend sunscreen for infants,
others prescribe the liberal application of sunscreen from the
first month on. Many parents end up covering their babies from
stem to stern with layers of cloth and sunscreen any time they
might encounter a drop of unfiltered sunlight. The problem with
this is that the best source for vitamin D is from sunlight and
vitamin D is a wonderful mood booster and sleep regulator. As
babies become more and more shielded from the sun, reports of
sleep problems continue to rise exponentially. While you do want
to avoid burns at all cost, gentle exposure to indirect sunlight is
wonderful for your little sun bunny. Practice moderation, and use
common sense, but do regularly give your baby a dose of the
sweet warmth of natural light. You'll both sleep better, and feel

5. Not enough rough-housing.
While, like anything, physical play can be taken to the
extreme, regular tossing, swinging and rolling of your baby
after 2 months has enormous benefits. While your baby is
becoming aware of his position in relation to the world he
will also be developing his sense of balance and a rudimentary
grasp of general physics principles. Of course this can also be
called becoming sturdy, but whatever you call it, it is an
important part of physical development. Fathers are generally
very good at engaging in this type of play, but mothers and
other caretakers can do it just as well. I recommend that this
type of play be done over soft surfaces, like carpets and
blankets, and that the delicate nature of your baby's joints be
considered. But as long as you are safe, this type of fun is
healthy and very beneficial to your little gymnast.

One mistake that I don't have an answer for is the tendency of parents
to beat up on themselves for every mistake that they make. Give
yourself a break, and try not to let every little thing that you wish you
had done differently keep you up at night. Parents today are some of
the most well educated and responsible people ever to raise babies in
this world. By all means, educate yourself, and do the best you can, but
always remember that babies are resiliant and as long as you are giving
them love and doing your best, they will probably be okay. If you have
found these tips helpful, please forward them to any new or expecting
parents you know. Questions, comments and suggestions are always
welcome. Happy parenting!


  1. Great tips! I always justify why I let Peanut watch TV but I know I should turn the damn thing off!

  2. Thanks! I'm glad you found them helpful. We had to learn the T.V. tip the hard way. Our son is only just now beginning to catch up on his social development.

  3. I love your blog, as a FTM it has been tough especially since there is so much more information available. My son is 8 weeks and I worry all the time that I may be doing something wrong but your tips have helped alot. Thank you.

  4. Wonderful! I'm SO happy that I've been able to help. If you ever have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. I send all the best you you and your little guy. :^)