Pediatrician Dr. Dina Kulik debunks eight age-old parenting misconceptions. Don’t worry, you’re doing a great job.
Myth #1: Pacifiers make babies refuse the breast.
Reality: Many babies like to suck as this is a natural reflex. If your baby seems hungry, is rooting or fussy, offer your breast or a bottle. If baby drinks and seems satisfied, but still wants to suck, offering a soother or pacifier is OK with me. Regular wellness checks will ensure baby is growing well.
Myth #2: Babies can be sleep-trained in the first months to sleep through the night.
Reality: When I was a mom of a four-month-old, I wished this was the case! Until four to five months of age most babies require nighttime feeds every three to five hours. Some babies can sleep longer if they are well fed. For this reason, I don’t recommend ‘sleep training’ until after four months. You can still offer one feed during the night until baby reaches seven or eight months.
Myth #3: Kids need constant monitoring because the world is not safe.
Reality: There is some truth to this of course. Children need boundaries and monitoring. But I suggest a gentle approach. Give your child some space and independence, while keeping a watchful eye. Take a deep breath, get some fresh air and give your kid some freedom to explore the wide world out there.
Myth #4: You can spoil a baby.
Reality: Many research studies show that you cannot spoil newborns and infants by responding to their cries. Babies communicate by crying. If your baby cries, respond and check that they are well fed, changed and not experiencing pain. In fact, parents who respond quickly and consistently to crying in the first months of life are rewarded with kids who cry less and who are more independent toddlers.
Myth #5: Fancy toys are crucial to good brain development.
Reality: There is no evidence that expensive toys make our kids smarter. Babies want to see variety, faces and things that move. A walk with your child to people watch is likely better for brain development than staying inside playing with toys.
Myth #6: Sleeping with your baby is safe.
Reality: Bed sharing can help with breastfeeding and help babies sleep. But this can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and suffocation. Similarly, sleeping with a baby in a chair or couch is risky as the baby may become lodged between the couch cushions, or fall. The best way for your baby to sleep is in a bassinet or crib in your bedroom, with no pillows, bedding, or stuffed toys that may pose a suffocation hazard.
Myth #7: Once you have kids, you’ll never sleep soundly again.
Reality: Once children are old enough, they can be ‘trained’ to sleep well, and through the night. My children go to bed at 7 p.m., and stay in their beds until 8 a.m. My four-month-old does get one ‘dream feed’ a night, but otherwise all sleep and stay in their respective rooms. This is doable.
Myth #8: Green baby poop is a sign that your baby is sick.
Reality: As long as you are breastfeeding for 10 minutes or longer per feed, green poop doesn’t likely mean anything. However, If your baby has excessive vomiting, vomit that is green or bloody, or a bloated stomach, see your doctor.
Dr. Dina M. Kulik (drdina.ca) is an Assistant Professor in Pediatrics at the University of Toronto and a staff physician at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, July/August 2015.