Baby Care Myths De-Bunked

How to identify Fact from Fiction in the crazy world of parenting

Parents all over the world are eager to share their parenting insight and past experiences with anyone raising children or expecting a child. Today, with the widespread availability of the internet, we are bombarded with more information than ever before. How do we navigate through the wealth of misinformation to find the truth?
Well, here are real doctor’s answers to some of the most common baby care myths.

Myth: Breastfeeding moms should eat a bland diet.

Truth: Some moms believe they should only eat plain rice, pasta, etc. with no spices or strong flavors, but that is not true, says Christine Wood, MD, a pediatrician at El Camino Pediatrics in San Diego. “Babies actually get the flavors of foods the mom eats through her breast milk, and research shows that those flavors may help babies develop their palate.”

Myth: Babies can be held too much.

Truth: There is no such thing as “spoiling” your baby by holding him too much, says Laura Jana, MD. “During those first few months, holding your baby and responding to his cries is helping him form a secure feeling about the world.”

Myth: Babies need pacifiers

Truth: Babies use pacifiers as a calming tool just as they do their finger, thumbs, or wrist, says Dr. Marc Tanenbaum, head of Atlanta’s Priority Pediatrics. “Once you help your baby learn that a calming tool is at the end of the arm, with any luck he will put it in his mouth long before he learns to put a pacifier in his mouth.”

Myth: Babies pull on their ears when they have an ear infection.

Truth: It is totally normal for babies to pull on their ears, says Alan Greene, MD. “Studies show there’s no correlation between ear tugging and ear infections.” It’s probably quite the opposite actually; if a baby’s ear did hurt they would most likely not tug on it.

Myth: Thumb-sucking leads to buck teeth

Truth: The only way thumb-sucking could lead to flaring of teeth is if the child is still sucking his thumb once permanent teeth begin coming in, says Dr. Ketan Sukkawala of Brazos Valley Pediatric Dentistry. According to Dr. Sukkawala a child could experience flaring of teeth while they are young if they have a particularly bad digit or pacifier habit, “but once the habit is eliminated the flared teeth will naturally reposition because we’ve eliminated the source of the flaring.”

Myth: A baby will choke if you put him to sleep on his back

Truth: In the past this was the common view held by parents and doctors all over. However, in 1996 the American Academy of Pediatrics came out with the recommendation that babies should sleep only on their backs. Since then, “Incidences of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in the U.S. have fallen by more than 50 percent,” says Dr. Marc Tanenbaum, head of Atlanta’s Priority Pediatrics. “Healthy babies don’t choke on spit-up lying on their backs; they die in their sleep lying on their stomachs.”

Myth: Put a tea bag in a baby’s diaper to get rid of diaper rash

Truth: Not only will a tea bag in your baby’s diaper not help rid your baby of diaper rash, but it will probably cause a rash, says Dr. Tanenbaum. “A dry tea bag is also unlikely to help, and I bet it won’t stay dry long.”

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