When it comes to babies, everyone seems to think they know best. The funny thing about all the advice you’re going to get is that some of it is just not true. There are rumors, myths and Old Wives’ Tales surrounding babies and pregnancy that keep getting passed down from generation to generation. So as a parent or parent-to-be, how do you make sense of all the myths and sort the facts from the fiction?
Here are some common baby myths busted and the actual truth revealed.
Myth: Extra Feedings before Bed Make Baby Sleep Longer
There is an old saying about newborns that extra feedings before bed will make your baby sleep longer. I even heard my family say that you should give some cereal in a feeding just before bed to make the baby sleep through the night. Most sleep-deprived new parents will do anything to get a good night’s sleep but before you fall victim to this common feeding myth, learn the facts.
Pediatrician William Sears, MD, author of The Baby Sleep Book: The Complete Guide to a Good Night’s Rest for the Whole Family (Little Brown, 2005) says that there is no evidence to support this as true. In fact, he says you could have the opposite effect since indigestion is a common reason for babies waking up in the night. If you put your baby to bed with a fully tummy, he might wake up gassy or bloated.
Babies are much more responsive to routine. So if you want your baby to sleep at certain times, be consistent with this each night. Create a soothing bedtime routine that helps your baby know it’s time for bed and be sure he’s fed, dry and comfortable (not too hot or too cold) and you will set the stage for a good night’s sleep for you and baby.
Myth: You Can Predict the Baby’s Gender By ___
There are probably more baby gender myths than anything else in babydom. Everyone seems to have a trick or method for telling the sex of your baby. One of the most common lies in how you carry the baby: If you carry in front, it’s a boy; if you’re wide at the middle, it’s a girl. Low is a boy and high is a girl.
Another involves stringing an item (such as your wedding ring) from a strand of the father’s hair over your belly. If the ring goes in a circle, your baby is a girl. If it goes back and forth, your baby is a boy.
If you have morning sickness all day, it’s a girl.
If the heartbeat is faster than 140bpm, it’s a girl. But less than 130bpm means a boy.
I tried all of these with five different children and they were wrong more often than they were right. They can be fun to do at your baby shower but don’t start buying pink layettes just yet. The only definitive way to know the sex of your unborn baby is through an ultrasound or amniocentesis.
Myth: Too Many Daily Naps Will Keep Baby Awake at Night
Some people say that if you let your baby sleep too much during the day, she won’t sleep at night. This is only partly true. When it comes to naps, there is a sweet spot for most infants and babies. No nap at all and your baby will be so overtired, she cannot sleep at night. She will be cranky, fidgety and restless when bedtime comes.
But too much sleep during the day and she might think nighttime is the time to play. So you want to allow naps but you also want to give your baby interaction, play time with mom and dad and tummy time that starts at birth. If your baby is already rolling or crawling, be sure she has some time on the floor in a safe location to do this every day. Make sure she has toys for learning and stimulating her brain. When nighttime comes, if she’s fed, dry and comfortable, she will sleep well for you.
Myth: Newborn Babies Do Nothing but Eat and Sleep
Anyone who has ever had a newborn probably already knows that this one is not true, yet people still stay it a lot. While they do sleep a lot, newborn babies do not just eat and sleep all the time. Janet Doman, director of The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential says, “Newborn babies are not the happy little bundles that we like to imagine that they are.” She adds, “Instead they are very intent human beings struggling against very difficult circumstances to overcome blindness, deafness, and immobility…the sensory and motor pathways grow and develop based upon stimulation.”
Be ready to play and interact with your baby, to sing and dance, to read books and to provide stimulation and the building blocks of learning. There is more to having a baby than just feedings and changing.
Myth: You Should Talk “Baby Talk” To Your Baby
It is good to talk “baby talk” to your little bundle of joy? I’ve heard people say that baby loves it and that it’s good for the baby. I’ve heard others say that babies cannot really understand what we say anyway. The truth? Skip the baby talk!
Doman says, “Baby talk is essentially disrespectful of the intellectual ability of the tiny baby,” she says. “The baby has the right to hear his native tongue spoken properly, not in a degraded fashion that the baby will have to unlearn later.”
Each day the baby’s understanding grows in more and you are your baby’s first teacher. So take your time when talking to baby, use proper vocabulary and help her learn from the earliest age how to express herself.
Myth: Babies Can’t Talk
They myth that babies cannot talk goes right in line with the previous myth. The truth is that while babies may not be capable of speaking our language right from birth, they can definitely talk. He makes sounds that we do not understand yet as words but these are the beginnings of language and they definitely mean something. You should welcome the enthusiasm and energy that your baby spends on talking and be sure to respond to him. This will encourage him to continue to communicate, especially when he needs something. You will raise a child with the confidence to express his needs and feel secure that they will be met.
Myth: Heartburn in Pregnancy Means Your Baby will be Born with a Full Head of Hair
Surprise! This one is actually true. I thought it was complete coincidence when my three boys were each born with full heads of hair after I had terrible heartburn in my pregnancies. No heartburn with my girls and they were born bald as can be.
Still, I was shocked to learn that there was some truth to this common myth. In July 2007, researchers at Johns Hopkins released a study showing that a connection between heartburn and newborn hair does exist.
So there you go- some baby myths turn out to be true but if you’re ever in doubt, you should talk to your pediatrician or OB. Don’t put a lot of weight into the things that your friends and family will tell you. Even the best intentions will often steer you wrong.
What are some wacky baby myths you’ve heard over the years?