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Avoiding the Mistakes Even Smart Moms Make

Mistake: Changing your baby's formula to stop a spitup problem

Frequent formula changes can make it harder for your pediatrician to identify the true culprit, whether it's a milk allergy, acid reflux, or something else. When Mary Rose Almasi of Somers, New Jersey, would feed her newborn daughter, Grace would spit up and cry. The pediatrician advised switching to a non-milk-based formula to rule out an allergy. It didn't help, but eliminating allergy as a trigger let her doctor arrive at a diagnosis: reflux.

Smart solution: Work with your pediatrician to find the cause of the problem, especially if your child's not gaining weight (or is losing it) or if you see blood in her stool (which might mean an allergy to milk-based formula). Changing the formula may well be one recommendation. For reflux, however, other approaches work better. When she's feeding, her lips should form a tight seal around the bottle's nipple so no air gets in; you may want to experiment with different kinds of nipples. Try keeping your baby upright for a half hour after feeding (Almasi found that the car seat worked like a charm), offer frequent small meals instead of fewer larger ones, make sure she's burping adequately (even if you have to interrupt feedings to burp her), and tuck some rolled towels underneath one end of her crib mattress to keep her on an incline. If your baby's a spitup artist, Almasi recommends ditching the swing and the vibrating bouncy seat, which she found "jiggled my baby's little belly and brought up the spitup."

Mistake: Overbundling your baby to keep out the chill

After the first few days, infants are quite good at regulating their own body temperature. Dressing them in too many layers can lead to dehydration and exhaustion, says Trina Austin, M.D., chief of pediatrics at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, in Fountain Valley, California. During sleep, becoming overheated can disrupt the ability to regulate breathing, increasing the risk of SIDS.

Smart solution: Indoors or out, dress your baby in the same number of layers you're wearing. In the car or at home, set the air conditioner so it's not so frigid that you feel you need to bundle him up; when the weather cools, set the thermostat around 68 or 70 degrees F, no higher. Summer or winter, when your room temperature is comfortable for you, lightly dressed, it's fine for your baby. Telltale signs he's too warm? He may turn red in the face, sweat, or cry because he's uncomfortable.