5 things first-time parents shouldn't worry about

Relax rookie parents—here's your no-stress list. You're welcome!

baby-new-moms Photo: iStockphoto

As a first-time mom, it’s hard not to worry about everything your baby does or doesn’t do. You’ve heard it before, every child develops differently, but that's hardly enough to satisfy all your questions and concerns. The good news? Here are five common reasons why first-time moms worry, and the evidence for why they shouldn’t.

1. The amount of time that a baby is at the breast Before your baby is born, you may read that newborns feed for about 20 to 40 minutes at each breast, every two to three hours. You may have friends who swear by these numbers, or even keep track of the time that their baby is at the breast. Then, your baby is born and will not feed for more than five to ten minutes at a time. It’s easy to worry that your baby isn't getting enough nourishment. However, the length of time that a baby is at the breast is not a good indicator of how much milk they received. If your baby is gaining weight and producing adequate wet diapers in a day, you shouldn’t worry. Your flow may be fast, or your baby may not be much of a comfort feeder. Be thankful that your days (and nights!) are not spent breastfeeding.

2. “Spoiling” a baby by holding them too much The most important thing that you can teach your child in the first two years of their life is that they are loved and supported. The world is a scary place, full of new sights and sounds for a newborn, and your baby needs to be held when she's crying, kissed when she's scared, and loved no matter what. Positive attachment with a caregiver early on in life can give children the tools to cope with stressful situations as a child and also later on in life. The next time someone tries to tell you that you're spoiling your baby by holding them, tell them to read this article released by the Canadian Paediatric Society entitled "The promise of the early years: How long should children wait?"

3. When a baby first rolls over/crawls Development in general varies so much in the first year and a half of life. However there are some early developmental guidelines to help physicians screen for many different medical concerns. When it comes to rolling, the ability for a baby to roll from front to back at about four months is relatively important as it demonstrates core body strength. But rolling from back to stomach doesn’t seem to matter; some babies just don’t like to do it. There are no specific guidelines as to when a baby should crawl simply because some babies never crawl—some bum-scoot, some army-crawl, and some actually go straight to walking. So, your non-crawler may become an early walker!

4. Early speech development and first words If your 12-month-old has yet to say their first word, there is no need to panic. There are many other things to look for: Are they babbling? Do they point and grunt for what they want? Do they wave hello/goodbye or shake their head no? Do they use any baby sign language? These are all early signs of expressive language and usually mean that words are on their way.  Most paediatricians will not diagnose a language delay or label a child as a "late talker" until 18 months to two years of age. This is because there's no correlation between expressive language at one year and future success in school. If you are at all concerned about your child’s language skills or milestones in general, contact your physician and your local childhood speech therapist for suggestions.


5. Screen time for toddlers In today’s day and age, technology is all around us, from TV, to tablets to smartphones. We know that too much is not a good thing, but who decides how much is too much? Currently, the Canadian Paediatric Society still recommends limiting screen time to one to two hours per day. However, most available studies are on passive screen time where a child is placed in front of a screen without interaction. There are limited studies on active screen time involving games and activities on an iPad, but those that are available show that a little time may not be a future concern. In fact, who’s to say that a little "educational" screen time is not beneficial? The bottom line is, like most things in life, moderation is key.

Looking for more tips for new parents? Check out this video on how to hold a newborn:

This article was originally published on Aug 27, 2015

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