Mistake: Thinking you have to bathe your baby every day
It's fine for most babies, but it isn't necessary. And if your child has sensitive skin, it might be best to give him a bath every other day. For some babies, daily baths can disrupt the skin's protective flora and cause pH imbalances, leading to an over-growth of bacteria or yeast or making the skin red, irritated, and dry, says dermatologist Sarah Boyce, M.D., assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. If your baby has eczema, bathing can cause flare-ups.
Smart solution: Many infants are fine with a nightly bath, but don't feel bad if you miss it. If your baby has sensitive skin, dry patches, or eczema, experiment with less tubtime. Trisha Creekmore of Washington, DC, bathes her daughter, Lily, now 3, just twice weekly: "I felt guilty at first, but then I noticed that bathing her too much caused dry skin, so my neglect -- or non-obsessive parenting, as I like to call it -- turned out to be right for her."
Mistake: Assuming that caregivers understand the health instructions you give them
Be explicit. One mom I know learned this the hard way. Her daughter, age 6 months, needed Zantac, the reflux medication, during the day, so she gave it to the director of the daycare center to administer. But a few months later when she asked the providers if they needed a refill, she got blank stares. They had just stopped giving it long before, without telling her.
Smart solution: Whether it's the daycare staff, a babysitter, or your own mother, take a moment to write down the instructions in simple, direct language, and be precise. "Don't say 'one or two pills' or 'only if he looks ill,' because a caregiver shouldn't be asked to make these decisions," says registered nurse Gloria Mayer, president of the Institute for Healthcare Advancement, in La Habra, California, which studies medical communication. Ask her to read your directions back to you to make sure you've been clear.
My friend now puts in writing any health care instructions for her daughter and then gives a copy to everyone on the daycare staff. Plus one for the director.