Pregnancy is a nine-month period of big excitement and lots of decisions. Parents-to-be have to decide things from the color to paint the nursery, if they want to find out the gender before, if they want to throw a gender-reveal party, and how to announce the fact that they’re expecting. They also have to choose a doctor, write up a birth plan if that’s what they want to do, and arrange childcare in the weeks and months after having their baby if both parents are going to work.
During the first year after having a baby, new parents are all about snuggles and feeling amazed that they have started a sweet family. They want to enjoy every second and not think about anything else. But, of course, being a new mom and dad means making decisions. There are huge decisions, like when to go back to work full-time or what babysitter or nanny to bring into the family, but there are also lots of tiny decisions.
As it turns out, these small choices are the ones that are really key, and they can make a huge difference. Read on to find out 20 small decisions moms make during the first year that could change everything.
20. DOING PRODUCTIVE AROUND-THE-HOUSE THINGS DURING BABY’S NAP TIME
Moms hear people say “sleep when the baby sleeps” and they figure that there’s too much to be done. Why take a nap when you can be productive? But doing productive things around the house instead of catching up on rest is a small decision that could change everything.
As Charlotte Parent says, “For first-time parents, sleep can be scarce—especially in the first few months—but instead of napping when their baby naps, they end up folding laundry instead. This is a big mistake! Sleep when you can. Everyone will be happier and more productive with a couple of hours of extra sleep.”
19. IGNORING ANY SELF-CARE
Ignoring self-care is definitely a small decision that new moms make in the first year that could change everything.
You might think that you don’t need to take a fifteen-minute bath before going to bed because maybe your baby needs you, or you feel bad about thinking about yourself. This is the wrong approach to take because you need to take care of yourself as well as your sweet newborn.
As Pregnancy Magazine advises, “Try your best to practice a ‘let things go’ approach right from the start. Find outlets such as exercise, yoga, or writing to deflect any built up anxieties you have.”
18. STOPPING ‘CRYING IT OUT’ FROM HAPPENING
When a new mother makes the decision not to let her baby “cry it out” because it’s heartbreaking to listen to her newborn cry, that’s another small choice that could change everything. She really needs to let this happen.
As Jennifer Walker, RN, a pediatric nurse told WebMD, “We, as parents, think our job is to make sure the baby is not crying. That’s because we associate crying with the fact that we are doing something wrong and we need to fix it. Babies are designed to cry. They can be perfectly diapered and fed and still cry…”
17. PUTTING A BLANKET (OR SOMETHING SIMILAR) ON TOP OF THE STROLLER
According to Baby Got Chat, it’s not a good idea to put a blanket on top of the stroller that your baby is in. You think that this is fine because you’re stopping the sun, but it will get way too warm.
This is a perfect example of a small decision that new parents would make during the first year that would actually be really important. Parents definitely have to be aware of keeping their baby cool on really warm days. The takeaway for new parents is that nothing, not a blanket or anything similar, should be put on a stroller.
16. NOT GOING ON ANY DATE NIGHTS
According to Webmd.com, many couples who have recently become parents don’t go on dates, and this is so important for your relationship.
You can’t just think it’s all about the baby. This seems like something small, but after the first year, all those times that you two didn’t get away and spend some time alone will really add up. You’ll look at your calendar and realize that you haven’t gone to a restaurant or to a movie since before your sweet baby was born. Of course you love your baby and of course you want to be there all the time, but it’s completely fine to go on a few dates, too.
15. PURCHASING PRICEY (AND UNNECESSARY) BABY CLOTHING OR STUFF
Figuring out which baby clothes to buy might seem like a small decision. But when you think about it, this is a tiny choice that could change everything.
According to Charlotte Parent, “First-time parents tend to go overboard with their baby’s first wardrobe. After all, they want their little one to be the best- dressed baby in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, most of those designer clothes remain hanging in the closet with the tags still on long after the baby has outgrown them.”
If you don’t have a lot of money, why spend a lot on clothes that your baby won’t even wear? Save your cash and spend it on something else that matters a lot more.
14. CLEANING EVERYTHING SO INTENSELY BABIES CAN’T GET USED TO BACTERIA
Do you feel that you have to clean everything that your newborn uses? It would be easy to think that way because you’re their mom and you want to help them get the best start in life.
As You Are Mom explains, moms shouldn’t actually clean so intensely that babies can’t get used to some bacteria. The website says, “Hygiene for babies is paramount during their first few weeks of life, but don’t obsess about it. Try to keep your objects clean so that the baby will come in contact with some amount of bacteria to help them develop their own immune system, but not enough to cause an infection.”
13. DO YOU CALL THE DOCTOR AT THE FIRST SIGN OF YOUR BABY GETTING SICK, OR DEAL WITH IT YOURSELF?
Your baby is sick and it’s such a bad feeling. New moms would do anything to stop this and wish that they could have the illness instead. Do you call your doctor right away or wait for it to get a bit better/
It seems okay to wait a day or so for the fever or cold to subside a bit, but this is another small decision that could change everything. It could be really important to get your doctor’s advice. Since there’s no harm in giving them a phone call, that could be the best thing to do.
As a pediatrician, Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, told WebMD, “Babies under 3 months are at higher risk for more serious problems when they get sick, so we like to see them right away.”
12. NEW MOMS CAN BE NERVOUS ABOUT TAKING THEIR BABES OUTSIDE AND AROUND OTHERS
If a new mom is nervous about going outside with her baby and stays indoors a lot during the first year, that’s another small decision that could change everything.
Yes, of course you would be mindful of this in the beginning, and you want to settle in at home and get all cozy. But as Charlotte Parent says, “While it’s true that a newborn’s immune system is weak and more susceptible to germs, that only means that it is best to avoid crowds—not the outdoors in general. Fresh air and a little sunshine are good for the entire family and the baby is unlikely to catch the flu from a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood.”
11. GIVING A NEWBORN A HAIRCUT PRIOR TO THEIR FIRST BIRTHDAY
It might seem like giving your baby a haircut is a small choice and no big deal, but if you do this before their first birthday, this actually wouldn’t be the best idea.
You Are Mom says that parents should wait until their baby is past their first birthday. This website explains, “The belief that hair will grow in thicker is a myth, as their new hair will be the same.”
It could also be a problem to cut the baby’s hair before they are one year old because “if the baby is very small they can lose heat through their head.”
10. WHAT’S BETTER: A BREASTFEEDING ROUTINE OR WHEN BABY’S CLEARLY HUNGRY?
When you’re a new mom, you’re going to have to decide whether to breastfeed according to a routine, or if you’re going to wait until your baby clearly wants to eat.
Parenting.com explains, “If your baby is crying from hunger, of course you wouldn’t deprive him. But if a schedule makes for a calmer, happier, more rested you, give it a try. Your baby needs you at your best.”
It might feel like this is a small decision because you’re not going to be breastfeeding forever, but this is an important thing to think about. As Parenting.com says, it’s all about what works for you, and you do have a choice here.
9. NOT THINKING ABOUT THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF THE CRIB
Have you thought about the health and safety of your newborn’s crib?
Sure, of course you want the crib to be aesthetically pleasing. New parents spend a good amount of time finding the best nursery furniture to purchase and they might even want to keep everything the same color or at least within the same theme.
But the crib should actually be super safe, and new parents have to make the right decision when buying a crib to make sure that it suits those standards. As Baby Got Chat says, “Ensure that your baby’s crib meets CPSC standards and that everything in your nursery is free of harmful chemicals and toxins.”
8. THINKING IT’S OKAY IF THE NEWBORN GETS MORE SHUT-EYE INSTEAD OF BEING FED MORE FREQUENTLY
It’s cool if your newborn gets more shut-eye instead of being fed right now… right?
It’s easy to think that way because you don’t want to interrupt their beauty sleep. But according to pediatrician and author Dr. Tanya Altmann, parents should absolutely interrupt their baby’s sleep for feedings. As she told CNN, “The first few weeks, the baby does need to be fed … every two to three hours, even if they don’t demand it. But once they have regained their birth weight and you get your pediatrician’s OK, it’s fine to cross your fingers and hope that you get a stretch of three to five hours without the baby waking to be fed. But in the first few weeks, babies do need to be woken up.”
This might seem like a really small decision, but it’s super important since this is a time when your baby is growing and needs the nourishment.
7. NOT TEACHING YOURSELF ABOUT CAR SEATS WAY BEFORE THE NEWBORN COMES
You have to get the nursery all prepped and looking amazing, you have to buy some baby clothes and diapers, and you still want to help your sister throw you a great baby shower. What about figuring out that car seat that your family chipped in to get you? That’s okay, you can wait until your baby is here and you’re actually putting them in the car.
Deciding not to learn the basics of installing car seats until your baby is here is a small decision. That being said, it’s a small decision that could change everything. According to CNN, some new parents can’t actually install car seats properly. It’s smart to figure this out early.
6. NOT GOING OUTSIDE ENOUGH THEMSELVES
Not going outside enough is another small decision that a new mother would make during the first year of their baby’s life that could change everything.
This is important for a new mom’s mental health and well-being. According to Good Housekeeping, “A little sunlight helps boost their vitamin D — and a nice stroll helps alleviate feelings of being trapped. For the 10-15% of women struggling with postpartum depression, getting out and exercising has been proven to help alleviate symptoms.”
Just think about how you feel when it’s rainy or freezing outside and you haven’t been able to go for a walk in days.
5. GETTING WORKED UP AND ASSUMING EVERYTHING IS A BIG CRISIS
New moms are always amazed at how much they find themselves thinking about their baby, and they know that their lives are forever different now. Since new mothers are so concerned with their little one’s well-being, they also sometimes get worked up and assume that everything is a big crisis.
Feeling that way will really add up over the course of your baby’s first year, and you’re just going to feel pretty miserable. As You Are Mom says, “Many mothers overreact about their child vomiting or regurgitating food. The baby usually picks up on their mother’s feelings and moods, and your anxiety and nerves can make the child feel more nervous and anxious. Try to do everything calmly and smoothly.”
4. ASSUMING A BABY CAN’T BE ALLERGIC TO FOOD
It might seem like your baby is way too young to be allergic to food, but they actually can be. According to Reader’s Digest, “If you notice your child reacting negatively to food or infant formula, discuss your concerns with your pediatrician as soon as possible and discontinue feeding your child the food you suspect to be the culprit.”
If you assume that they can’t be allergic, that might seem like a small decision, but it would change everything because you want to be able to keep your baby as healthy as possible. It’s great if you can catch these food allergies earlier rather than later.
3. PUTTING A CARRIER ON A GROCERY CART
Would you put a carrier on a shopping cart? This might seem like a great idea and a practical one, too.
According to Reader’s Digest, this is a really bad idea: “Parents of infants often struggle to find ways to run errands with their baby. Should they bring a stroller or wear the baby in a carrier? It turns out either of these options is much safer than what many moms mistakenly do: balancing the infant carrier on top of a shopping cart.”
Making the choice to put a carrier on the cart is a small one, but it could become a problem. It’s definitely best to avoid this.
2. LOOKING SOMETHING UP ONLINE WHEN REAL ADVICE WOULD HELP
It’s so easy to look something up online when you don’t know the answer. Everyone has gotten used to doing this, especially since you’ve always got your iPhone super closeby.
No big deal, right? The problem is that if you do this every time, those searches will add up, and you could be reading something that isn’t correct at all. According to Semi Delicate Balance, “When in doubt, call a pediatrician or nurse for your child’s ailment if you truly believe it is serious.”
Getting some real advice is going to be the better call. Ask your doctor (and if you have mom friends or family members who are trustworthy, of course you can talk to them, too).
1. HAVING THE BABY SITTING DOWN MOST OF THE TIME
Cnn.com says that babies who sit down a lot of the time and don’t do “tummy time” regularly can get “a soft spot on the back of their head.” The publication also says that “not interacting with the baby can cause language delays and other issues due to a lack of stimulation.”
While having your baby sit down a lot might seem like a small decision, it can definitely change everything. Remember that tummy time is really key and that your job as a parent is to be with your baby a lot and talk to them.
While these 20 choices might seem fairly small, they can all add up, so it’s good to be aware that every decision you make as a new parent is super important.