5 Mistakes I Made as a New Mom (That You Can Learn From!)

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With Liam now sleeping through the night and starting to follow a pretty consistent eating/sleeping schedule during the day, we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Goodbye sleepless night and worrying over short naps, hopefully for good?

Everything goes by so quickly… It feels like only a few weeks (not months) went by since my 10 pound baby boy would sleep all afternoon on my chest, his fingers curled into tiny little fists. I miss those days, but I am definitely looking forward to the next chapter of our lives… and all the baby proofing that comes along with that!

All this nostalgia made me start to reflect on the mistakes I made as a new mom. It’s inevitable, right? The first few months, there’s a lot of trial and error… and research. But unfortunately, there is no “cookie cutter” baby, therefore no “one size fits all” advice. I learned it the hard way!

Here are 5 mistakes I made as a new mom… and hopefully you can learn from them 🙂


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All new moms are guilty of this, I’m sure! How can you not be?

There are so many cute outfits for baby boys: suspenders, bow ties, preppy slacks and button downs… Only issue is… they’re extremely stiff and uncomfortable! Babies are meant to be at ease at all times so they can explore and play. Instead of wasting money on these stiff outfits (most of them never worn), I should’ve bought tons of cotton pajamas and onesies. Liam pretty much lives in them!

I also like dressing him in onesies and PJs that are a tad bit too big so he’s nice and comfy all day. He currently wears 18 month clothing. Yes. My son is huge.

Note: no need to splurge on those Newborn outfits! Your baby will only get to wear them once (twice if you’re lucky) or they may even outgrow them at birth.

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It worked so well at first, the bouncing. We’d spend 5-10 minutes rocking Liam to sleep on the yoga ball with his pacifier in, then transition him to his crib.

It was great… until it stopped working.

Liam would wake up many times over the course of the night, because he simply had no clue how to put himself back to sleep. We should’ve tried to break this habit about 3 or 4 months in, instead of being afraid to. Turns out that he was fully capable of falling asleep without our help, the rocking, and the pacifier.

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This was something I had no idea could happen, but turns out that DeQuervain’s Tendinitis is a thing (and it hurts like hell!)

Commonly known as “Mommy Thumb” or “Baby Wrist”, DeQuervain’s tendinitis is seen in women after pregnancy with “post-partum swelling and stress on the wrist from holding a baby carrier or young infant. Symptoms of DeQuervain’s tendinitis include wrist pain, which radiates up and down the forearm to the thumb” (handwristcenter.com).

Most of it can be blamed on hormones — during pregnancy your body undergoes many hormonal changes that affect many parts of your body, including ligaments and tendons. With all of the picking up, feeding, and handling, it is hard for the tendon to heal on its own.

To check whether you have DeQuervain’s Tendinitis, bend your thumb into your palm and then close your fingers around it. Your hand should now be in a fist with your thumb being gripped within it. Now bend your wrist away from your thumb (cock your wrist downwards, stretching the thumb side of your wrist). If you feel pain around your thumb or in the wrist near the thumb then you might have it.

It is important to treat De Quervain’s Tendinitis quickly and not ignore it. Although mild cases go away, some may lead to chronic inflammation and necessary cortisone shots, and even surgery. Mine is starting to go away (although I do sometimes feel a “pop” in my wrist area when I move it awkwardly) now that Liam is becoming more independent.

Some things you can do are reducing the activities that aggravate the condition, simple stretches, physiotherapy, and splinting.

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How many times did I let myself get swayed by unsolicited or just bad advice? It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed as a new mom, and like you have no idea what you’re doing.


When someone told me to stop feeding Liam at night cold turkey (when he was supposedly big enough to make it through the night), I knew that it was a mistake, but tried it anyway. Turns out it was a huge mistake and Liam was miserable (I of course, ended up feeding him that night because I couldn’t take it!) Even our sleep coach said that it is a common misconception that all big babies don’t need the calories at night: they actually need them more than the average baby because of their bigger size.

When we went to our 4 month check up and mentioned Liam’s nap issues (he was fighting them constantly), our pediatrician said that this might be his way of telling us that he was able to go more than 3 hours between naps and to follow his cue. I was caught off guard by this because I had researched baby sleep and found that 2 hours was the average awake window for babies his age. Our sleep coach confirmed this and was equally surprised. Turns out that pediatricians aren’t sleep experts and it’s important to do your own research before trusting them blindly on all topics relating to your baby.

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It’s so easy to get caught up in other babies’ progress. I remember hearing that a friend’s baby was already sitting up unassisted when Liam was still toppling over after 2-3 seconds. I wondered if he would ever master the skill. How silly that was. One or two weeks later, he was standing with a beautifully straight back and no assistance needed! Same goes with crawling… Every baby develops at his own pace–whether it’s teeth or motor skills– and there is no reason comparing yours to other babies. As long as your baby is aware and curious about the world, there is nothing to worry about. Be patient and encouraging, and soon enough, it’ll happen!

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Johanna Riehm teaches in the department of Communication and Media at Manhattanville College and in the department of English at Mercy College. She teaches courses in the history of communication, public speaking, and social media, as well as creative and technical writing workshops. Johanna’s work has been featured in Graffiti Literary Magazine, The Write Place at the Write Time, The Bangalore Review, Cactus Heart Press, and the LaMothe Review. She is working on her first longer work, a creative nonfiction novel called We Carved Our Names in Tamarind Trees.

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