Relax, mama: 5 baby issues you don’t need to worry about

Being a new mother is challenging enough without adding unnecessary pressure and worry to our plates.

Relax, mama: 5 baby issues you don’t need to worry about

Being a new mother is challenging enough without adding unnecessary pressure and worry to our plates.

That’s why staying informed on what we should (and shouldn’t) worry about is so important! We recently caught up with research scientist and journalist Emily Willingham, PhD, to talk about her book, The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Resource for Your Child’s First Four Years.

Willingham offered her expert insights on some of the most common worries among new mothers—and why mamas can officially stop sweating them.

Here are 5 things mamas can quit worrying about, according to Dr. Willingham:

1. Mercury in vaccines

Thimerosal, a preservative used since the 1930s, is used to keep multi-dose vials of the flu vaccine uncontaminated with repeated uses. It contains an atom of mercury. However, most vaccines never included thimerosal. The first recommended dose of flu vaccine for infants is at age 6 months.


No link has been found between any component of vaccines and conditions like autism and ADHD.

Like all interventions, vaccines carry a small risk of a reaction, but serious reactions are very rare.

2. Crying

Crying is communication.

You and your baby have really just met, and you’re not speaking quite the same language yet. Give yourselves time to learn what your signals mean and which responses work.

Some babies cry more than others and crying can signal hunger, pain, fatigue, frustration, an unscratchable itch or an uncomfortable diaper, among other things.

There may also be a period of PURPLE crying:

  • Peaks between 2 weeks and 4 months of age
  • Is Unexpected
  • The baby Resists soothing
  • The baby makes a Pain-like face
  • The crying is Long-lasting, going on for hours
  • It occurs most often in the Evening

It can be exhausting and alarming, but it’s fairly common. If it happens to you, run through your checklist of things to address (like feeding and fatigue).

Don’t get frantic and never, ever shake a baby.

Putting the baby down and just walking away for a break is okay. It’s important to remember that as upsetting as the crying can be, it’s not doing any lasting harm. We all did it.

3. ‘Spoiling’ your infant

The danger around spoiling an infant isn’t that it’s possible to do. It isn’t.

The danger is that the idea of “spoiling” exists and can lead parents to misread the needs an infant is communicating and see them as demands rather than needs.

One survey suggested that 50% of adults think that a parent can spoil a 6-month-old infant and 44% of parents think that picking up a 3-month-old every time she cries runs a risk of spoiling her.

As we note in our book, at this age, your child is as un-manipulative as a human can be, and it’s fine to respond to all her requests for food, love, safety and comfort. Just consider it “nurturing” instead of “spoiling.”

4. Breast milk vs. formula

When it comes to feeding, nature has designed a good food source—if it’s available. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends of exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of life. (More on that here.)

But for many, even most, American women, the reality is often quite different. And mama, you don’t need to worry about it.

All kinds of obstacles (work, low supply, caring for other children) can come between a woman’s wish to breastfeed and being able to do so, and some women simply don’t want to do it. Luckily, humans have also developed a perfectly good food for infants called formula. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sets the standards for manufacturing commercial infant formula, which is carefully balanced to avoid overwhelming infant kidneys and liver (it’s not a good idea to mix up your own for these reasons). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends an iron-fortified formula for infants; for infants with special dietary needs, specialized formulas are available.

The end goal is a fed, growing and healthy baby, and either breastmilk or formula feeding will get your baby there.

The other frequent feeding-related concern is timing: How often should you feed the baby and how much? Formula feedings can be pretty standardized in volume, so the timing tends to be more predictable. But the space between breastfeeding sessions can vary widely from day to day, so expect anything from cluster feedings, grouped every half hour, to stretches of time up to four hours or more. An infant will often signal hunger by becoming restless before progressing to the crying stage. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waking a breastfed newborn every three to four hours if she isn’t waking on her own.

5. Bonding

Sometimes a relationship has a spark right away.

And sometimes it grows slowly over time as two people gradually learn one another’s rhythms and ways of communication.

At the beginning, your developing relationship with baby may be sparky, slow or somewhere in between.

Give it time and don’t carry around an extra burden of guilt if you didn’t experience the sparky version of baby bonding. You have a completely new human being living in your home who has just entered a strange new world of light, color, strange shapes and loud sounds. There’s no window that’s going to close while you navigate this new relationship structure and learn more about one another.

It’s a myth that if there’s no bonding at first sight or soon after, it’s an early sign of failure to thrive.

While you settle in with your new person and she settles in with you, engage in some face gazing with a little chat… just like we do when we’re establishing a relationship with any human being.

For more myths and truths about modern parenting, check out The Informed Parent, which offers even more research-based information on topics mamas can’t help but worry about, such as sleep training, pacifiers, postpartum depression and more.

Join Motherly

In This Article

    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


    It’s science: Vacations make your kids happy long after they’re over

    Whether you're planning a quick trip to the lake or flying the fam to a resort, the results are the same: A happier, more connected family.

    Whether you're looking for hotels or a rental home for a safe family getaway, or just punching in your credit card number to reserve a spot in a campground a couple of states over, the cost of vacation plans can make a mom wince. And while price is definitely something to consider when planning a family vacation, science suggests we should consider these trips—and their benefits—priceless.

    Research indicates that family vacations are essential. They make our, kids (and us) happier and build bonds and memories.

    Keep reading Show less

    Mama, all I see is you

    A love letter from your baby.


    I can't see past you right now, I'm so small and everything's a little blurry.

    All I see is you.

    When you feel alone, like the walls are closing in, remember I'm here too. I know your world has changed and the days feel a little lonely. But they aren't lonely for me.

    You are my everything.

    When you feel like you don't know what you're doing, you're making it look easy to me. Even though we're still getting to know each other, you know me better than anyone.

    I trust you.

    Keep reading Show less