Parenting is challenging. It even becomes harder with the technological world marred with social shares whereby comparison and competition are the order of the day.
Hey mama, let’s reason together.
Have you ever bought baby things out of pressure, yet it wasn’t of help at that time?
Sometimes, you want to get things simply because of society’s pressure and trends. Or better to say,” Appealing to the eyes.”
But do you ever sit back and think about the impact your actions or these things you got for your baby may have on their development?
Please forgive my ignorance. As a die-hard campaigner of traditional parenting, I tend to dig a little deeper into parenting information, lifestyles, and baby equipment to ascertain the extent of help or risk these things may have on my babies.
And this is what I am up to in this post.
I believe every parent wants the best for their children. That is why I urge you to keep on reading.
Here we go.
Avoid These 13 Things for Better Baby Development
1. Flat Laying Your Baby on the Tummy When Asleep
Ever had a condition called sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)? According to medics, Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is an infant’s unexpected or unexplained death that may occur in their sleep.
Sometimes its also referred to as cot death and is highly associated with tummy sleeping in infants.
According to studies, SIDS may occur when an infant breathes its own exhaled air due to obstruction in the upper airway.
Medics suggest that laying your newborn on a tummy while napping may increase the concentration of carbon dioxide and a drop in oxygen which is hazardous.
Similarly, the researchers suggest that breathing its own exhaled air may also make it harder for the body to release excess heat. This condition may cause overheating of the baby, a risk factor that can lead to SIDS.
There have been many speculations on the possible causes of SIDs but without definite conclusions.
While SID condition is rare and the risk is low, taking precautions is necessary for any parent who cares for her infant.
I must admit that most parents are fond of laying their babies on their tummies. And if the list were to be written today, I would be among the top. I mean, who doesn’t want her baby to sleep for long?
I loved laying my baby on the tummy, especially as a remedy for colic. And it worked wonders. However, I would monitor him closely and ensure his head was raised slightly for better breathing.
According to the 2016 policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the recommended baby sleep safety to reduce the risk of SIDS should include;
- Laying your infant on a flat and firm surface
- Laying your baby on their back
- Ensuring that your infant’s crib or bassinet does not have additional pillows, toys, or loose bedding
- Sharing a room with your baby but not a bed
As a parent of three kids, I know it can be hard to fulfill all these conditions. As a matter of fact, I shared a bed with two of my infants because of a few reasons.
However, this is not to encourage any mom to violate the AAP guidelines. Taking precautions is good, and here is what I found to work best for babies’ sleep safety in their early months.
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AAP advocates for having a baby crib as one of the safe sleep guidelines. There are varieties in the market, but one thing you should ensure is your baby’s safety.
What should you look for in a good crib?
Besides your taste and preferences, there are standard safety features that one must look for when sourcing a crib, and they include;
- A firmly secured hardware. Ensure that the bolts and screws are not loss. Avoid cribs with sharp edges or cracked spots that can pinch your baby.
- Your newborn’s crib should not have headboard and foot-board cutouts or drop-sides
- If painted, ensure that the paint is non-toxic. In case of any peeling or cracked paint, please avoid it as this can be a health risk to your infant.
- Ensure you get the right size of the mattress that fits snugly inside the crib
- If you must use a bumper, ensure it’s made of breathable mesh; otherwise, you may increase the risk of suffocation.
Please watch here how you may place your Breathable mesh cot bumper
Worthy to note is that there are variations of baby cribs in the market. I have sourced around some based on features and reviews, and here is my top pick.
Babyletto Hudson Crib
Baby bassinets or bedside sleepers are also AAP-approved options to enhance baby sleeping safety.
The advantage of using a bassinet is that you can position it close to your bed and allow the infant to sleep at the same height as the parent. This feature makes it easy to reach out to your baby at night for breastfeeding and mommy’s warmth if necessary. It also does not occupy a lot of space.
What features should you look for in bassinets or bedside sleepers?
- Stability; ensure that you go for a bassinet with a wide base for stability
- Safety: no sharp points or edges either inside or outside
- Meshy sides for proper aeration
- Folding mechanisms that are strong to prevent collapsing of the bassinets, especially those with storage pockets that can add weight.
- Lockable wheels for safety
- Additional features like the ability to vibrate or make some white noise.
Although AAP does not recommend co-sleeping with your child, the use of baby nests continues to be popular because of their ability to keep a baby on their back throughout the napping time.
Laying your baby on the back in the nest reduces their possibility of turning or rolling over to the stomach, which has been deemed risky.
Co-sleeping baby nests also come in handy if you’ve just started life and need something temporary to keep your baby safe.
Sometimes you may choose to share your bed with the baby for many reasons. You may not have a big room or the financial ability to get a good crib or bassinet. Or, better still, you may be traveling away from home and want to save yourself from the hustles of carrying bulky baby accessories.
If that is your case, then co-sleeping baby nests may help you. Always ensure that the baby’s head is the same height as yours to avoid covering them with your blanket.
What should you look for when buying a baby nest?
- Safety. The nest should not be too soft or too hard but firm for the baby’s safety.
- How long your baby can use the product. Get an adjustable nest that can accommodate your growing baby.
- Material. Go for a nest that is made from certified baby-friendly material.
- Functionality; check for a baby nest with more than one function. This way, you may save money by buying one product that can be used longer
How long should you have to keep these sleeping recommendations?
According to the American pediatric association, the recommended time to keep these guidelines is 1 year. However, by six months, your baby may be able to roll by themselves or even wake up and sit in their bed.
If your baby can roll over naturally in both directions, there is no cause for alarm. They should roll on their back and tummy or sideways naturally.
2. Laying Your Baby on the Same Side Always
Most first-time mothers will admit that this is a common mistake you can commit involuntarily. With AAP advocating for a back laying position for infants, you may find yourself doing it religiously.
Who doesn’t want to keep their baby safe anyway?
But do you know laying your baby always with their head to the same side can make them develop flat spots?
The flat head syndrome, also called positional plagiocephaly, occurs in the early months of your infant, and the main cause is the baby’s sleeping position.
As they lay on the same side most of the time, their soft and developing head skull may be pressed due to pressure. This is likely to leave them with a flattened spot on the head at the point of pressure.
What are the symptoms of flat head syndrome?
As a parent, you will notice that
- The baby usually has less hair on that part of the head.
- Your baby’s head, especially the back, is flatter on one side.
- In some instances, the ear on the flattened side may look pushed forward.
In severe cases, the forehead might bulge on the side opposite the flattening and look uneven. If torticollis is the cause, the neck, jaw, and face also might be uneven.
Do not be afraid.
This is not something to worry about since flat head syndrome is a cosmetic issue, not a medical one.
- Incorporate tummy time into your baby’s daily routines. This may help your baby develop strong neck and shoulder muscles and promote motor skills.
- Vary positions in the crib to encourage active turning of the head to the side that’s not flattened.
- Ensure you limit the time your baby spends lying on the back by holding them more often. Minimize using car seats or strollers to reduce the time your baby’s head rests against flat surfaces.
- Be sure to keep changing the head position while your baby is napping
3. Covering Baby’s Head Tightly While Sleeping
According to the American pediatric association, infants cool themselves by releasing heat from their heads, feet, and faces. That is why you’re encouraged to cover their feet and head where the temperatures are not favorable to prevent excessive body cooling.
Similarly, Babies can overheat, especially in hot weather, when they fall asleep wearing hats or beanies. So it’s crucially to ensure that your baby’s head is loosely covered or uncovered when napping for better body temperature regulation.
Additionally, if the hats or beanies get off their head at night, it may pose a risk of suffocation.
How do I cover my newborn at night to avoid cooling or overheating?
One of the measures of ensuring that your baby sleeps comfortably without the risk of overheating is to lay them on a warm flat, and firm surface without loose blankets or covers.
The mattress in their crib should be firm and well fitting. Also, you should securely tuck the bed sheets and covers under your baby’s arms to avoid slipping over their head.
For newborns, getting warm fleece swaddles or baby rappers with loose hoods may be safe instead of covering their heads in tight hats or blankets. Also, you may consider sleeping sacks instead of swaddles as they grow and start rolling around.
4. Daily Use of Forward-Facing Baby Carriers
Forward-facing baby-wearing is not wrong with older kids. However, it may not be the best with infants.
If you are constantly forward wearing your baby with their legs dangling, you may risk your baby’s development due to the following factors;
Most forward-facing baby carriers do not support your baby’s leg to the hip level. This not only leaves their legs unsupported and dangling, but it may also affect the spine and hips, which go unsupported.
A suitable carrier should support your baby’s back, thighs, and knees for proper hip development.
Also, the forward-facing baby carrying style is not recommended for infants whose neck muscles are not yet strong.
This is because wearing your infant in a forward-facing position does not offer support to the head and the neck. It even worsens when the baby falls asleep along the way, and their head and neck remain dangling.
But why recommend inward-facing baby carriers?
When you carry your baby facing inward and embracing your chest, their head and neck naturally lean on you.
If wearing a baby wrap or carrier, the mother can further support her little one’s heavy head by tucking it partially under the fabric. Or using a sleeping hood. The legs and hips tend to lean on the mother’s body for extra support.
Additionally, forward-facing carriers may place your infant in an arched or hollow back position, which may exert pressure on the pine, risking good posture development.
When should you consider having a front-facing baby carrier?
- Front-facing baby carriers are suitable for babies who can control their head, neck, and entire upper body, usually between 4 – 6 months.
- Suitable for infants who are tall enough for their chin to sit above the carrier
- Suitable for use when carrying a baby for a short period, about 15 -60 mins. This position makes the baby’s weight pull away from you, thus destabilizing your center of gravity and leading to your neck and back pain.
- Suitable when the baby is a wake
Ensure your carrier offers a deep, bucket-shaped seat, helping to support your baby in an ergonomic ‘M’ position with their knees higher than their bottom and their pelvis tilted upwards.
Avoid narrow-based carriers if you choose a forward-facing style. Go for a deep-seated carrier with a broader base for more support and comfort like, the Ergo baby carrier
5. Using Developmentally Inappropriate Babysitting Gear
Baby development comes in stages. The little delicate human being you’re handed over at birth will surprise you with how quickly they grow.
Between 3 to 4 months, a baby may be able to hold its head steady without support. And as such, they will try to sit and not want to be held in a slanding potion.
At 5 months, most babies are already showing signs of trying to sit but with a little help.
This is where parental support comes in handy.
Learning how to sit comes gradually, and If your baby does not get appropriate babysitting gear or support, they can delay sitting, which affects his development milestone.
Consequently, they can get injured or develop container baby syndrome.
How can you help your baby learn to sit up?
Before you try to sit your baby, First, ensure that your baby can steadily hold their head upright without support. Then practice sitting him up on your lapse and with full support.
As they grow and gain more confidence, strength, and body control, you may introduce safe sitting gears to perfect the sitting exercise. Here are a few tips to help start your baby off in sitting;
Most parents underestimate the importance of tummy time. However, placing your baby on their tummy strengthens their upper body and neck muscles. Having 5 to 15 minutes of tummy time with your baby may help them develop the stamina needed to practice sitting independently. Begin your tummy time after a few weeks from birth. Probable when the umbilical cord is heald. Then keep elongating the time as the baby grows.
Practice assisted sitting
Sit on the floor with the baby in between your legs. Ensure the baby leans on you to get support on his back. Daily practice of assisted sitting helps the baby develop the muscle control and coordination essential to help them sit independently.
Incorporate pillows and appropriate babysitting gears
Baby pillows and baby gears can also come in handy to assist your baby in attaining an excellent sitting posture. However, this should be done cautiously since there have been concerns about inappropriate sitting gear that deter a baby from developing appropriately.
According to AAP, some gears are too narrow and may negatively interfere with your baby’s pelvic bones. Similarly, they don’t offer appropriate back support and thus may interfere with their spinal cord development.
Here are a few things to consider when choosing babysitting gear;
- Stability: Look for a babysitter with a broad base that can offer stability. Even though you shouldn’t leave your little one unsupervised, the sitting gear you buy must be stable enough to reduce the risk of your baby falling off.
- Sitting surface: Some chairs or sitting gears can compromise your baby’s natural sitting positions. If your baby’s sitting gear provides a poor positioning of the pelvis, it may also affect the posture of the baby’s whole body. Which often results in a rounded back and some squishing of the back of the neck.
- Leg position and support: When babies learn to sit, they use almost all body parts, including their legs and feet, for support. Unfortunately, some manufacturers will produce sitting gears with narrow leg areas that restrict a baby’s leg motion. Please buy a seat allowing the baby’s legs to move a bit instead of being completely immobilized. Allow your baby’s entire legs and feet to be in touch with the sitting surface. Look for the babysitter that offers a tailor pose when in use.
- Arm support: babies learning to sit are likely to wobble; thus, the best baby seats should allow some wobbling to occur. For this to happen, the seat should at least offer support to the little arms serving as preventive wings that shield the whole body from falling flat on the ground.
So what should you go for?
Wait for your baby to learn how to control his head and neck. Then Choose a seat with a flat, wide sitting surface where the baby’s bottom and legs can rest easily, like upseat baby seat and Fisher-price-sit-me-up Floor Seat.
6. Using Jumpers and Baby Walkers Too Early or Too Much
To my knowledge, baby walkers or jumpers are manufactured in different styles. The most common ones are pushed in front by the baby learning to walk, while other versions provide a sitting space for the infant to ride in .both walkers have wheels that help in the movement, thus aiding the baby’s mobility.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, baby walkers have been associated with causing infant injuries. And here are the reasons they are giving;
Walkers with wheels make children who are otherwise learning to walk, move faster than their age. This is a risk as they can fall or injure themselves since their legs are still developing strength.
Similarly, baby walkers can get them where they don’t belong, like in the kitchen, fireplace, and pools.
According to AAP, there is zero value to a walker. And in their view, walkers may delay the baby’s development when introduced too early. They decrease a child’s desire to walk independently because they prefer the walker doing the work for them.
Introducing walkers and bouncers too early may deter babies from developing the leg strength needed for pulling up in an attempt to stand or move around using surfaces.
This is not to say that baby walkers are bad altogether. Other parents swear by them helping their kids learn to walk faster.
So what is the deal?
Here are a few guides to help you when deciding whether to buy or not;
- Wait until your baby shows signs of walking
- Have a baby on their ground for tummy times to strengthen their muscles
- Start training your baby by holding their hands as they follow in your footsteps
- Make sure you get a walker that allows your baby’s feet to actual walk and not Just scoot
- Buy walkers that offer Proper support for hips and spines
- Ensure the baby walker has a broader base for stability.
- Look for additional features to prevent it from going through the doors to eliminate staircase falling of babies
- Limit the time you use baby walkers
7. Prolonged Screen Time
In today’s technologically and media-driven society, parents use screens to keep young ones busy.
From entertainment to offering a short-term distracted while you polish up some chores, screens come in handy as a second nanny to our babies.
But do you know that too much on the screen may impair your baby’s development?
Brain scientists suggest that too much screen time can inhibit your infant’s ability to read faces and learn social skills.
Here is their reasoning;
Infants- from newborns to 1 year learn most from interacting with people. A mother is their first teacher, followed by whoever they will interact with from time to time.
According to studies, prolonged screen time interferes with children’s ability to learn empathy and social skills, passed on through daily interaction, learning, and interpreting non-verbal cues.
Brain scientists like Patricia Kuhl have come up strongly to advocate for prolonged human interaction in babies under 1 year instead of machines and cartoons.
No wonder the world health organization, in their new guideline on child health and development, recommends no screen time for infants under 2 years. Similarly, they advocate for shorter screen time a day for kids aged 2 to 4.
Additionally, there have been arguments that prolonged screen times hinder imagination and creativity development in children. With constant stimulation and entertainment, your child rarely gets bored. They tend to switch from channel to channel.
This kind of option never portrays life as it is. They neither learn how to cope with boredom nor come up with creative ways of entertainment or solving issues.
So what can you do to reduce screen time now that you’re locked in such a busy daily work schedule?
Here are a few ideas;
- Incorporate book reading time, singing, and reciting nursery rhymes together in your baby’s routine.
- Under your supervision, let your baby learn how to use different things. Use bells or rattles to produce noise. Allow your baby to hold, drop and roll balls.
- Use toys and bright objects around your baby to encourage movement.
- Use your face, tonal variation, and soothing to enhance their learning.
8. Daily Use of Baby Mittens
As a first-time mom, you may have been given a shopping list for newborn items. And definitely, baby mittens will not miss on the list.
The main reason you may be given for spending your hard-earned money on mittens is that they prevent babies from hurting themselves with their sharp nails.
Well, I am not here to dispute.
It’s true, mama, newborns somehow tend to have tiny but sharp fingernails that you can hardly cut with a nail cutter. And often, you may only notice how dangerous their nails are when you see the scars on their beautiful faces.
Also, as they develop motor skills, babies tend to move their hands all over, with their face being the primary victim of jittery movements.
And that is where the wearing of hand mitten notion draws its strength.
But do you know that improper use of Mittens can obstruct proper sensory development in babies?
And not just that.
Sensory development is closely linked to baby brain development. That is why experts recommend limiting the use of babies’ mittens and letting their little hands explore.
Additionally, decorated mittens with loose string can be dangerous to newborns as they pose choking hazards if placed in their mouths.
So how do you ensure that mittens DO NOT become a problem in the long run?
- Do not use mittens more than two weeks after birth to allow your baby’s hands to start exploring the world around them without restrictions. Allow them to suckle their hands or accidentally grab and pull your hair so hard; that is the essence of motherhood.
- Ensure you file your baby’s nails to keep them short. This reduces the risk of scratching their faces.
- Safely Swaddle your baby when they are asleep to reduce the jittery movement.
9. Babies Wearing Shoes Too Early
According to medics, shoes have no benefits for your infant’s feet. Dr. Farida, a pediatrician at NMS Hospital, suggests that early wearing of shoes may cause a delay in walking.
According to Dr. Farida, baby shoes with stiff or inflexible soles may restrict natural foot movement. Similarly, they don’t allow your baby’s feet to interact with the surface naturally, thus interfering with their sensor development.
“Shoes are meant to protect the baby’s feet, especially when walking outdoors. But if the baby is still learning to walk, probably indoors, what good will the shoes do”? She adds.
To be on the safe side of enhancing your baby’s natural development, ensure that you Keep them active. Allow them to move around the house bare feet when it’s hot or warm.
Walking bare feet helps your baby develop strong leg muscles and ankles. This is how you lay a foundation for exploring and learning.
As they engage their feet, they strengthen and align their muscles, thus improving their balance and posture.
Unless it’s a recommendation from your health care provider, please cancel this item from your shopping list. Maybe the only expense you may incur is to invest in safe play stations, mats, and toys to keep them stimulated for the longest time.
10. Your Infant is Not Getting Enough Sleep
Do you know that babies with insufficient sleep may suffer from decreased brain development?
Lack of enough sleep in infants has been associated with reduced brain development, learning issues, and negative emotions.
And that is not all.
Sometimes sleep-deprived kids come to struggle with weight management problems like being obese, growth problems, and an increased risk of recurring illnesses.
Also, they tend to have persistent sleep terrors, nightmares, and sleepwalking as they come of age.
According to AAP, children are not getting enough sleep due to prolonged screen times and early school start times.
Sometimes caregivers are reluctant to enforce a sleep routine that ensures their developing kids get the recommended napping hours.
According to CDC, parents or caregivers are responsible for ensuring that their infants get enough sleep throughout the day. Here is the recommended age-related amount of sleep your baby should have in a day.
11. Avoid Confining Your Baby Too Much
Babies are human beings too. And such confining them in a particular space can be somehow boring.
I have researched the idea that babies must stay inside the house for several weeks after birth but have found no evidence. In fact, according to doctor Korir, the chief nursing officer at Harehe Medical Center, as long as your baby is healthy, getting some fresh air can benefit both mommy and baby.
This is not to say that you should just be careless with your young one. Dr Korir goes ahead to give conditions that you should adhere to when thinking about a baby’s day out.
- First, ensure that your baby is not overdressed or underdressed. Just one more layer compared to what you are wearing is enough. Pack your all-in-one diaper bag, possibly with extras. This can be shawls, clothes, an umbrella, or anything else you deem suitable.
- Also, ensure you shield your baby from direct sunlight, especially when the sun is hot at midday.
- Avoid visiting crowded places or highly infectious areas like hospital wards with a baby. They are still delicate; thus, contracting infection is quite fast.
12. Not Practising Safe Swaddling for Babies
As much as moms love swaddling, it can be unsafe sometimes, especially when your baby starts to roll over.
Yes, you heard me right.
AAP recommends following the ABCs of safe sleep when swaddling your newborn to lower the potential risk of SIDs.
According to AAP, you should stop swaddling your baby as early as 2 months when they start rolling over. That is using their upper bodies and heads to shift positions when lying down.
Here is their reasoning.
If a snugly swaddled baby manages to lay facedown on their tummy, the risk of SIDs increases twelve times compared to the unswaddled baby in the same position.
Additionally, in warmer climates swaddling may pose the risk of overheating in infants. As such, caregivers are encouraged to gauge environmental temperatures when dressing the baby.
Here are a few tips to follow when swaddling.
- Dress the baby in fewer layers of clothes, followed by a lightweight or thin blanket for Swaddling.
- Always monitor your baby’s body temperature for overheating signs. These signs may include rapid breathing, heat rash, and flushed complexion.
- The snugness of your swaddle should be loose to allow at least a few fingers to fit between the blanket and the baby’s chest. A tight baby swaddle may restrict breathing. Similarly, one that is too loose may unravel and cause suffocation. As a parent, you may reduce these risks by purchasing swaddle wraps with snaps or Velcro
- Learn to monitor your baby’s development milestones closely so that you can stop swaddling as soon as your baby starts rolling over. This can be between 2-4 months, depending on the baby.
- Ensure that you keep the baby’s hips loose when swaddling to prevent an abnormal hip joint formation. This abnormality may occur where the thigh bone is not held firmly in the hip socket.
The AAP Section on Orthopedics recommends “hip-healthy swaddling” that allows the baby’s legs to bend up and out.
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13. Not Giving Your Baby Enough Tummy Time
Tummy times are very crucial for babies. Not only do they keep them engaged, but they also enhance their development.
They help to build strength and develop the neck, shoulder, and arm muscles needed for sitting up, crawling, and walking.
Pediatricians recommend that you start tummy times as early as when your baby is one month, and by the time they hit two months, you’ll be going for a 15-minute session or more.
This will enhance their motor skills and movement. They also help to prevent flat spots on the baby’s head.
Here are a few tips on tummy time that you can borrow;
After bathing your baby or a simple diaper change, place your baby on their stomach and lie them across your lapse for about five minutes.
Repeat the process at least two to three times a day.
Baby development is a whole chapter of life. It may have a beginning but no definite end. And what worked for you may never go well with me. However, there are things to avoid for better baby development. And is even much better to follow AAP-recommended guidelines to promote healthy baby development