Every new parent, even the ones who look like they have it all together will wonder at some point, “Am I doing this right?” Raising a kid isn’t an exact science, and common parenting mistakes come with the territory. However, if you’re pregnant and thinking ahead, or you’re a first time parent fumbling through sleepless nights, there are a couple of mistakes you definitely DON’T want to make. These are the kind of common parenting mistakes that can have SERIOUS consequences for you, and your baby.  

Don’t worry though, no need to panic. Knowing that mistakes are bound to happen, we asked experts what common parenting mistakes they warn new parents about, so you can avoid them in the first place. Read on, and breathe a little easier knowing you’ve got it covered.  

Mistake #1 – Not Installing Your Baby’s Car Seat Properly

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, auto accidents are the number one cause of death among children. In some cases, this is the result of parents either not installing or not properly installing a car seat. We get it, getting the correct fit and placement of a car seat isn’t always easy, particularly if you’re a new parent that has never done it before. 

Avoid this common parenting mistake. Many states offer programs that help parents find the right car seat and teaches them how to install it safely. These programs also provide information about how long your child should remain in a rear-facing seat before facing front and eventually switching to a booster seat.

Your baby will be in a car seat from the moment they leave the hospital, so it’s important to get this handled before they’re born. Even if you think you know how to install a car seat and it looks right, you still want to have a safety expert take a look to confirm it was done properly. Check out Parents Central to find a car seat inspection location near you and get it done! Your baby’s life may depend on it.

Mistake #2 – Forgetting About Oral Care

One of the most common parenting mistakes is forgetting to take care of your baby’s gums and developing teeth. Lack of oral care in the early stages of life can lead to cavities or other issues before your child even reaches preschool age. In fact, tooth decay is the most common chronic infectious disease of childhood.

It can lead to a condition called early childhood caries, also known as baby bottle tooth decay or bottle rot. You don’t want this for your little one. Plus, it will be harder to teach a child oral hygiene if they haven’t become accustomed to it early on.

Start taking care of your baby’s teeth and gums from the get-go, so you can avoid future problems. Check out the American Dental Association’s guidelines for preventing infant tooth decay. 

Mistake #3 – Not Knowing What Is An Emergency And What Isn’t

Another common parenting mistake is not knowing what is and what isn’t a real emergency. You want to be aware of what signs and symptoms indicate the need for medical care. For example, if your baby (3 months or younger) has a fever higher than 100.4 degrees, you should seek medical attention. Other warning signs worthy of a trip to the doc include; difficulty breathing, lips that look blue or purple, unresponsiveness, severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea (just to name a few).

Before you bring baby home, be sure you familiarize yourself with this list of Warning Signs Of Childhood Emergencies so that you’re prepared.  Not going to the emergency room or urgent care when your child needs medical attention could result in a more serious illness, some of which may lead to developmental delays or even death.  For a quick guide with clear answers and smart advice, we like the book Baby 411.

Mistake #4 – Not Making A Schedule

For the first few months of your baby’s life, they create their own schedule that revolves around the big three; sleeping, feeding, and pooping. And this, my sleep-deprived friend, is totally normal. But as your baby gets older and is alert more often, getting them into a regular routine makes life easier. You’ll have a more predictable pattern for your days. Your baby will know what to expect at certain times, and pediatricians tell us babies like consistency.

Plus, once you’re ready to leave your baby with a sitter or caregiver, having a schedule will make the transition easier. Your baby can be comforted by the fact that things still happen when they expect them to. Also, your caregiver will be able to anticipate your baby’s needs more effectively.

Mistake #5 – Not Taking Time For Your Relationship

Another common parenting mistake new parents make is forgetting to plan time for their partner. Having a child puts a huge strain on a relationship. You are sleep-deprived, hormonal, emotional, and any little thing can annoy or frustrate you. 

Some couples that don’t make time for each other end up with hurts that fester. This can form a disconnect so large that when baby is older, the relationship can’t recover. In fact, 67% of couples see their marital satisfaction plummet within one-year post-baby, according to a study published in the Journal of Family Psychology.

It’s important to think about how you will keep (at least some of) the spark alive after the baby is born. Think about ways to divide up or outsource household chores. Enlist friends or family members to babysit so you can plan the occasional date night, and commit to it! Go out of your way to express appreciation and admiration for your partner.  

Most importantly, keep those lines of communication open and talk about your relationship and the transition to becoming parents. You also want to discuss how you can regain intimacy with each other since many couples, mothers, in particular, feel uncomfortable having sex after the baby is born. This can be for physical or emotional reasons.

It’s important to talk about what’s going on so that both sides understand and no one feels rejected. Good communication is the bridge that leads back to intimacy after a baby comes into your life. Some family psychologists go so far as to suggest pre-baby counseling, so couples can hash out marital issues before they add a baby into the mix. 

Now that you know about these common parenting mistakes you can take steps to avoid them. Knowledge is power! We know you’re going to do great.