17 Mistakes New Moms Make With Their Newborn

by | Aug 2, 2019

No matter how well you think you’re prepared for bringing home your newborn, there will still be mistakes you make, lessons you’ll learn, and tears you’ll cry. Every mom learns the hard way about how to care for their baby.

There’s also no right or wrong way to be a parent and raise your child. There are always suggestions and recommendations if you want your baby to sleep better, eat better, or feel better.

However, the decisions are all your own.

Motherhood is a job that no one is an expert in. You can’t take a college course or get a degree to become certified as a mom and there are all different types of mothers out there.

New moms. Old moms. Expecting moms. Know-it-all moms. PhD moms. Pediatrician moms. Teacher moms. Stay-at-home moms. Working moms. First-time moms. Fourth-time moms. Breastfeeding moms. Formula feeding moms… the list goes on.

We all make decisions about our child’s care differently and there is no right or wrong answer.

You most likely will not do harm to your baby by making any of these ‘mistakes.’ It is just something that may make them a little bit fussier or possibly less.

Related Post: 29 Must-Have Newborn Items for the First Weeks with Your New Baby

Don't make these common mistakes as a new mom when caring for your newborn. Learn the tips for raising your baby safely and healthy.

Top 10 Mistakes New Moms Make With Their Newborns

This list comes from my subjective experience and what worked for me may or may not work for you and your baby. Since every child is different, raising a newborn is very much trial-and-error.

You will work out to find what suits you and your family best.

This post is in no way meant to make you question your actions as a mother, but to help you learn things that you may not already know.

Read on for mistakes that you may be making with your newborn. Some may even contradict each other because every one’s situation is different. Feel free to try the alternate options that I have recommended.

Also for more, read on to 12 Mistakes You Should Avoid as a New Mom for Your Own Sanity

Related Post: 18 Things NOT To Do After Giving Birth

This post may contain affiliate links which I would receive a small commission should you make a purchase. I am not an expert, just a mom with a blog. For any specific or serious concerns, consult your physician. See disclaimer and privacy policy for full disclosure.

1. Fearing nipple confusion

There’s a lot of talk nowadays about nipple confusion, especially when breastfeeding. New moms are told that offering pacifiers or bottles too early could result in your baby no longer wanting to breastfeed.

This is not true in all cases. Both of my breastfed babies took pacifiers starting at 3 days old and 1 bottle a day starting at 2 weeks old and never had a problem nursing.

A newborn has a sucking reflex that they need to satisfy and the best way to do this is with a pacifier. Otherwise, you will be turned into a human pacifier or risk overfeeding them if you think they’re always wanting to suck on a nipple.

On the other hand, if you wait too long to introduce a bottle or pacifier, they may have trouble taking it, which could present another issue.

After a couple months when I started giving bottles more often, my baby preferred the bottle over my breast. However, there was a quick fix to change him back and just one bottle here and there won’t make a difference.

My advice: Offer your baby a pacifier as soon as you can. You’ll be amazed at how it dramatically soothes them.

Don’t be afraid of giving a bottle every once in awhile if needed while breastfeeding. Mama needs a break some time!

If there is a bit of nipple confusion, read my post on 19 Tips to Try When Your Baby Refuses to Breastfeed

Don't make these common mistakes as a new mom when caring for your newborn. Learn the tips for raising your baby safely and healthy.

My favorites are: Mam pacifiers and Phillips Avent Bottles. My babies took to these right away. They mimic the shape and feel of a breast nipple so it helps to decrease nipple confusion.

2. Over or Underdressing Your Baby

The rule of thumb is to dress your baby the same way you are dressed, but possibly with one extra layer (ie. sweater or blanket) on them.

Take other factors into consideration when you’re dressing your baby, such as how long they will be in the car, outside, or inside.

For example, if it’s 40 degrees Fahrenheit outside, but you’re going straight into the car and straight into your friend’s house, there’s no need to bundle them up as if they are spending the day in the snow.

The temperature in the car and house are a lot warmer than the outside temperature. When in a car seat, they are smushed up in a position that they don’t get too much airflow. Therefore, it’s always going to be warmer than you feel.

My Advice: Keep a blanket on them as a covering so it’s easy to take on and off. That could be used as their “extra layer” if they’re wrapped in a blanket in addition to their normal clothing.

Don't make these common mistakes as a new mom when caring for your newborn. Learn the tips for raising your baby safely and healthy.

During summer months, a Muslin material blanket (like Aden & Anais) is preferred because it’s light enough to let air through for a slight breeze. For winter, a fleece blanket will do the trick to keep them soft and warm.

Also, you should never have a heavy winter coat on your baby while in the car seat because it doesn’t adhere to safety regulations.

3. Letting your newborn cry for fear of “spoiling them”

A newborn should NEVER be left to cry-it-out. They are too young to be manipulative and they’re not going to be spoiled if they’re held for 23 hours a day.

If your newborn is crying, there is probably a reason. Even if the reason is just that they want to be held and cuddled.

Think about your little baby just entering this big, scary, cold world and seeing bright lights and hearing loud noises for the first time. They may be terrified!

My advice: Give them all the cuddles and hugs that they need for those first couple of months.

You’ll start to get a feel for their temperament as time goes on and figure out what is a cry for attention or a cry for a necessity.

Related Post: 16 Tips to Soothe a Crying Baby

4. Delaying tummy time

Tummy time can and should begin immediately after birth.

It is vital for babies to strengthen their neck muscles, allowing them to hold their head upright.  It also improves strength in the arms, hands, and fingers for fine motor skills.

Some parents tend to wait for weeks or even months before they start tummy time because of the “Back to Sleep” campaign. We’re taught to not put our babies on their bellies while sleeping or unattended due to the risk of SIDS.

However, you still can provide your baby with tummy time while you are present and focused on your child. The earlier you start tummy time, the quicker your baby will get used to it.

My advice: Start tummy time from day one. Just by laying your baby chest-to-chest, they are getting their tummy time in.

Place your baby on their bellies for 5-10 minutes several times a day to maximize the benefits that it has on your baby’s physical development.

Don't make these common mistakes as a new mom when caring for your newborn. Learn the tips for raising your baby safely and healthy.

Propping your baby up on a Boppy Pillow can provide a slight incline which will help them ease into tummy time.

Read this post on the Benefits of Tummy Time and 11 Activities to Help Your Baby Enjoy It.

5. Allowing too many visitors touching your baby

Everyone will want to come see you and your baby during those first few weeks that you come home. However, adults and older children can carry germs that are not-so-serious to them, but can have deadly effects on a newborn baby.

Even an adult with a common cold can pass those germs to an infant, leading to a condition known as RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). This is a relatively common infection in babies, but unfortunately can lead to serious complications, hospitalizations, or death.

You can never be too careful with keeping your baby safe. Therefore, limit their exposure to others during the first few months.

My advice: If you need to have visitors, make sure they wash their hands or use natural, antibacterial cleanser before touching your baby. Also, make sure everyone is informed that if they have even the slightest cold or cough to stay away.

Especially during cold and flu season, keep your baby at a distance from, not only strangers at the grocery store, but relatives and friends too.

6. Not Following Proper Skin Care

Newborn’s skin is so sensitive and dry. Going from the warm, wet environment while in the womb, into the outside world, can cause severe dryness and skin issues.

Many moms think that applying lotions, creams, or moisturizers (even if they are baby products) is the right thing to do. However, that’s not the case.

My advice: Follow these tips to care for your baby’s skin properly:

  • After baths, thoroughly dry your baby in all creases and folds of arms, neck, thighs, armpits, etc. Moisture getting trapped in those places can cause itchiness and irritation.
  • Do not overuse lotion. Newborn’s skin is perfect the way it is and you shouldn’t apply anything to your baby that is unnecessary, even if it is dry. Unless you’re recommended by a doctor for a medical condition, leave their skin alone.
  • Coconut oil is the most natural and moisturizing product you can use on your baby’s skin. Use this if necessary over all other lotions if your baby just has normally dry skin.
  • There aren’t any lotions or medications that treat milia or baby acne. It will go away on their own within a few weeks or months, so don’t apply creams for those issues.
Don't make these common mistakes as a new mom when caring for your newborn. Learn the tips for raising your baby safely and healthy.

This Infant Baby Bath Support is great. It works perfectly for sponge baths by putting them in positioning your baby at a slight incline.

7. Getting the Umbilical Cord Wet

Bathing your newborn too often could cause a delay in the drying process of the umbilical stump. If you get the stump wet, it will increase the healing time longer than it should be.

My advice: Only give your newborn sponge baths for the first few weeks until the umbilical stump falls off. Just dampen a washcloth and wipe them down with a little soap while avoiding the stump, instead of submerging them in water.

If you accidentally get it wet, make sure you dry it off quickly.

Also, be sure to watch out for any signs of infection on the umbilical cord because this is a place where infections can grow. It’s normal for it to bleed a little, but it should remain dry and not secrete any puss or discharge.

8. Keeping them on their backs or in gear too often

Don't make these common mistakes as a new mom when caring for your newborn. Learn the tips for raising your baby safely and healthy.

The longer time your child spends on their back or in inclined baby gear (swings, bouncers, car seat, etc.), the more chance they have for their head to get molded, resulting in flat spots. 

Even from the early days, make sure you’re aware of how long your baby spends in the same position.

My advice: Limit the time on their back or in baby gear to reduce the chance of developing flat spots. Position them in tummy time, on their side, more upright, or in a wearable baby carrier as much as possible.

If you absolutely need to place them in gear, make sure you’re switching up which ones you choose. For example, don’t put them in the same swing every single day, but rotate between a swing, bouncer, newborn lounger, and flat on their back.

This will change the position that their head lays and what part receives the most pressure every time.

Related Post: 9 Simple Activities and Positions to Prevent a Flat Head in Your Infant

9. Putting items in the crib

Some parents may be worried that their babies may be cold or lonely laying in an a large open crib. You may be inclined to stick a light blanket or small stuffed animal in there with them.

Putting anything in the crib with your young baby (pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, excess clothing or toys) is a safety hazard and could increase your baby’s risk of SIDS.

My advice: For the first several months, your baby should remain completely alone in their bassinet or crib.

Swaddles and Sleep Sacks are considered safe. Therefore, if you’re worried about your baby being cold, place them in a sleep sack, swaddle, or wearable blanket.

These will keep them warm by acting like a blanket, but are wearable so they don’t provide any excess areas that could cause your baby to suffocate.

Related Post: Establishing Healthy Sleep Habits for Your Baby Early On

10. Overfeeding or underfeeding

Your newborn should be fed every 2.5-3 hours around the clock. This will ensure that they are meeting their nutritional needs, as well as getting them started on a predictable schedule.

A newborn may not know how much they need or want to eat. If they are upset for another reason and you stick a bottle or breast in their mouth, they may eat just because it feels good.

This especially reigns true for bottle fed babies. An infant will drink much more out of a bottle than he will from the breast because the bottle is easier.

A breastfed baby is somewhat unpredictable in determining how much they ate. Therefore nursing often is perfectly fine.

Overfeeding won’t harm your baby, but will result in a large spit up that could remove all the nutritious milk they just ate.

If they just ate and are still crying, there is a possibility that they can still be hungry. Just give them a little bit in a bottle or breast as to not overfeed.

Underfeeding can be harmful if your baby isn’t receiving enough milk to meet their nutrient requirements.

My advice: Learn your babys cues of when they are hungry or just crying for another reason. It may be difficult to decipher at first, but you will figure it out in time.

Always offer a feeding if they seem to be rooting (turning their head to the side and opening their mouth) or inconsolable.

11. Comparing breastfeeding to formula feeding

A formula-fed baby and breastfed baby will take different amounts and be on a much different feeding schedule. The two should not be interchangeable.

Formula is much thicker and more filling than breastmilk so therefore a baby can go longer stretches between feedings. You also don’t know how much your baby is getting when breastfeeding so it’s possible that they’re not getting enough in one feeding.

My advice: Always refer to guidelines for feeding a formula-fed baby or breastfed baby and don’t interchange the two.

Related Post: First Steps to Breastfeeding Success: Helpful Tips from Day One

12. Not Burping Enough

Burping is so important during every milk feeding. Otherwise, too much gas and air could build up in their bellies making them very uncomfortable or leading to reflux.

Both of my babies were “happy spitters” aka spit up very, but didn’t seem bothered by it. This was dramatically reduced by burping often.

My advice: Burp them OFTEN. Not just after each feeding, but after every 1-2 ounces in the beginning.

You can gradually let them go longer between burps as they get older or if you don’t see an issue with gas or spit-up.

13. Not recognizing your baby’s sensitivities

Some babies have a sensitive stomach. They cannot properly digest regular formula or certain foods that a mother eats through her breastmilk.

You may notice that your baby is extra gassy, spits up more, breaks out in hives, or cries uncontrollably if they are sensitive to a specific food or ingredient in formula or breastmilk.

There are special non-dairy formulas if your baby has an allergy to dairy. You may also need to cut out some foods from your diet, if you’re breastfeeding, to determine what could be the cause.

My advice: Try to take notice to what signs or symtpoms your baby shows after being exposed to certain ingredients (dairy, broccoli, gluten, soy, wheat, etc.). This should help you to determine what needs to be cut out.

However, there are steps to take that should ensure that your baby’s sensitive stomach can tolerate what you’re giving to them.

Don’t switch formulas or cut foods out of your diet unless your doctor suggests it. Consult your pediatrician to see what they recommend.

14. Doing an activity after a feeding

After a feeding, your baby should remain sitting upright for up to 30 minutes if possible. This will aid in digestion and reduce reflux/spit-up.

Don’t attempt to do tummy time right after a feeding.

Holding them on your shoulder, propping them up in sitting, or placing them in baby gear (car seat, swing, Boppy Newborn Lounger, or bouncer) all provide some head elevation for your baby.

My advice: Keep them upright as long as possible after a feeding.

If you have to put them down for any reason, put them in baby gear or wear them (in a Baby K’tan) which keeps them elevated.

15. Waking Them Up For Night Feedings

If there are NO HEALTH CONCERNS, your baby does not need to be woken every 2.5- 3 hours at night.

For example, my second baby had severe jaundice and needed to be woken to eat, as per doctor recommendation in order to get rid of the bilirubin from his system.

My advice: If your child has any medical condition that would dictate more feedings OR if he is not eating enough during the day, you are required to wake them up.

If you have an otherwise healthy and well-fed baby, it’s not necessary to wake them at the same daily schedule.

16. Not Using a Sound Machine

Although most newborns will sleep through an earthquake, some tend to be light sleepers. Even with good sleepers, a sound machine is a great tool to help them get to sleep and stay asleep.

If you have the sound machine on in their room, they are less likely to be woken up by noises from the house or street. It is also a great way for them to form a sleep association (when I hear the sound machine, I’m supposed to go to sleep).

My Advice: Get a sound machine! You won’t regret it. They are portable so you can take them anywhere with you.

I highly recommend the Dohm White Noise Machine. It has sound produced by an internal fan and provides one consistent sound.

17. Not sticking to a schedule

The first couple weeks home with your baby you will be feeding on demand and responding to every little cry. As the weeks go on, you should try to get on a schedule.

I highly recommend the BabyWise protocol to establish a schedule by putting your baby on Feed, Wake, Sleep pattern. This helps them get used to a routine and will help them understand when they will be tired or hungry.

My advice: You should start your baby on a schedule by their 2nd month. It may not always be consistent, but you can try your best.

You’ll be very happy that you did because they will become better sleepers and happier babies because of it.

Related Post: Establishing Healthy Sleep Habits for Your Baby

. . . . .

As moms, we all tend to make mistakes and learn as we go. That’s all part of the process.

No two children are alike and we will all parent a little bit differently. However, we all have one thing in common: wanting what is best for our children.

I have shared my opinions and it does not mean to advise anyone against your child’s medical professional. Always seek a professional’s advice on any matter of concern for your newborn.

Also for more, read on to 12 Mistakes You Should Avoid as a New Mom for Your Own Sanity

Have you made any “mom mistakes” in your motherhood journey? Respond in the comments below!

Hi I’m Marissa!

A mom of two little ones, here to provide some relatable experiences, tips, and tricks to the joys and challenges of pregnancy and childbirth through raising babies and toddlers.  Read more about me here.