Assuming the Worst
Some babies have real health challenges or develop serious ailments that cause legitimate worries or concerns. But even a healthy child can exhibit all sorts of symptoms that trigger parental anxieties-blotchy skin, a cough, colic, diarrhea. Don't worry too much. "In today's society, we're trained to think we can control everything," says Martha MacCallum-Gregory, a Ridgewood, New Jersey, mother of two. "Accept the fact that you can't, and let go a little bit. Things are going to happen, and it's not because you didn't think to prevent them."
Being a new parent, you're bound to worry because you've never had such a responsibility before, but raising children should be a positive experience. If you can learn to relax while the baby is an infant, you may not worry so much over the other weird stuff to come -- like when your child decides she will eat only orange foods.
Comparing Your Baby With Others
Is she sleeping through the night? Smiling? Trying to sit up? Don't focus too much on developmental charts (they're averages), and don't let other parents make you feel as if your little darling is somehow slow because their child is already solving complex equations.
Babies develop at their own pace, and as long as yours is within the normal range, relax. A baby who crawls early isn't any more advanced than another; it just means more chasing for Mom and Dad.
Everyone told me to sleep when my son, Matthew, did. But there was always so much to do. It wasn't until I started dropping things, including plates and glasses, that I realized how exhausted I was.
According to psychologist James Maas, Ph.D., author of Power Sleep (HarperCollins), new parents lose between 400 and 750 hours of sleep during their baby's first year.
You should snooze daily, if possible, or take at least one long nap on the weekend. Without adequate rest, it's hard to enjoy what should be a very happy time in your life. Sure, you'll have to sacrifice other things that could be done during naptime, but getting enough rest right now is more important than putting away the dishes.
Spending Too Much
"Everyone tells you the baby is going to change your life," says Alan Fields, coauthor of Baby Bargains (Windsor Peak Press) and a father of two. "But no one tells you how parenthood will affect your pocketbook. You get sucked into Babyworld, and there is no escape." Like going to the grocery store when you're hungry, shopping can be risky for new parents. Fields estimates that a baby's first year will cost them at least $6,200 for diapers, clothes, food, strollers, and other essentials. His tip for avoiding overbuying: "Take an experienced parent with you when you shop, someone who knows what you really need and can cut through the hype." Go easy on clothes -- your baby will outgrow them in minutes. Ditto with toys; most babies will happily play with the same object over and over-or even the box it came in. "Save your money for piano lessons or college," Fields says.
Not Preserving the Moment
At every stage, you think, I'll never forget this moment. Sadly, you will. In the continuum of life, hours, days, and months blur together. Suddenly, your child's infancy has passed. "When my daughter was a newborn, I visited a friend with an 18-month- old," remembers Marion Paterson, of Simsbury, Connecticut. "She looked at my baby and said she couldn't remember when her son was that small. I couldn't believe it. Now my daughter is 18 months, too, and I can't remember her infancy. I'm so caught up in what she's doing right now."
There are many ways to preserve your child's stages. Keep a journal, take photos, or videotape the simple everyday things-you'll want to relive them for years to come.
Copyright © 2000 Karen Benfield. Reprinted with permission from the November 2000 issue of Parents magazine.