Much of yesterday’s baby wisdom has been proven untrue today. We checked in with Parents advisor Ari Brown, M.D., author of Baby 411, to get the scoop on why these old-school parenting facts have become fiction.
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Myth: Babies sleep best in a room that’s silent and dark.
The truth While some children really are light sleepers, most do fine with background noise and a little light. Plus, if your little one gets used to some activity around him when he’s sleeping, he’ll be more willing to snooze in a variety of situations.
Myth: When infants are running a high temperature, rub them down with alcohol to lower their fever.
The truth Rubbing your baby with alcohol won’t actually bring down her fever–plus it’s unsafe, since alcohol can be absorbed through her skin.
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Myth: Letting your little one stand or bounce in your lap can cause bowlegs later on.
The truth He won’t become bowlegged; that’s just an old wives’ tale. Moreover, young babies are learning how to bear weight on their legs and find their center of gravity, so letting your child stand or bounce is both fun and developmentally stimulating for him.
Myth: Listening to classical music will raise your baby’s IQ.
The truth Music can enrich a little one’s life, but no conclusive research has found that having a baby listen to classical music in particular can result in significant brain-boosting benefits.
Myth: Let your baby cry it out; if you pick her up whenever she’s wailing, you’ll spoil her.
The truth Babies under 4 months of age have few self-soothing strategies; they know how to suck to soothe and like being swaddled, but that’s about it. Picking infants up when they cry helps them learn that parents will always be there to take care of them.
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Myth: Babies should be woken up in the night to have a wet diaper changed.
The truth Urine is sterile, and today’s diapers are highly absorbent, so it’s fine to leave a baby in a wet diaper overnight. However, staying in poopy diaper for too long can cause a UTI or a bladder infection, especially for baby girls–so if you smell one, change it out.
Myth: It’s dangerous to immunize your infant if he has a cold or a low-grade fever.
The truth A minor illness won’t lower your baby’s immune-system response to a vaccination–or increase his risk of any nasty reactions from a shot.
Myth: Never apply sunscreen to an infant under 6 months of age.
The truth The risk of skin cancer down the road from sun exposure is greater than the risk of your baby having a reaction to sunscreen. It’s best to keep her away from dangerous UV rays as much as possible from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M., but put on sunscreen with at least 15 SPF if she’ll be in the sun. The AAP says that it’s fine to apply a minimal amount of sunscreen to small areas, such as a baby’s face and the back of the hands.
Myth: During the first month of a baby’s life, it’s critical that all baby bottles and nipples be sterilized.
The truth Sterilize bottles and nipples when you first take them out of the package–but after that, washing with soap and water is fine. Babies are exposed to many more germs than those that remain on a well-scrubbed bottle or nipple.
Myth: The safest way to put an infant to sleep is on her stomach.
The truth The safest sleep position for a baby is on its back. In the past, doctors worried that babies might choke on any spit-up if they weren’t lying on their tummy or side, but studies ultimately linked these positions to higher rates of SIDS.
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Myth: Putting rice cereal in your infant’s bottle will help him sleep.
The truth Hold off on introducing solids until 4 to 6 months. Research suggests that babies who are given solids before 4 months are actually worse sleepers than their formula-fed counterparts–an studies have revealed a link between the early introduction of solids and obesity later in life.
Myth: It’s critical to keep your baby on a strict feeding schedule.
The truth It’s better to feed on demand, as infants’ internal hunger cues will tell them when they’re hungry and when they’re full. By putting your child on a feeding schedule, you may negatively affect your little one’s inborn healthy-eating habits.
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Myth: Infants need hard-soled shoes to protect their delicate toes and keep their feet properly aligned.
The truth Babies use their toes to grip the surfaces that they’re walking on, so they should actually go shoeless indoors. To keep tiny tootsies safe outside, get a shoe with a good grip on the sole–hard-soled shoes can be too slippery.
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