Newborn care advice evolves over the years, and while there’s no shortage of baby books and websites, there are still myths and misinformation out there about caring for little ones.
Here are our Top 5 baby care myths and their corresponding facts to help new parents:
MYTH: Putting rice cereal in baby’s bottle helps them sleep longer.
This advice stays popular because conventional wisdom says that “tanking up” baby before bed with thicker milk or formula will help baby sleep longer. This is untrue and actually often leads to more gastric distress, keeping baby awake longer or fussy in the morning.
Parents usually try the rice cereal trick when baby is about 12 weeks old. They think the thicker formula is what’s making baby restful, but at this age baby is naturally sleeping longer anyway, creating a false positive.
A better option to help baby sleep longer stretches through the night is to feed baby slowly, with lots of time to burp and digest before being laid back down. Parents can also try to add a little more milk or formula during each daytime feed to set the stage for fewer and shorter feeds overnight.
MYTH: Gas Drops like Mylicon help baby’s tummy
Every parent buys gas drops in an effort to help baby’s fussy tummy. Sadly though, study after study shows that gas drops such a Mylicon have the same effect on baby’s gas as a placebo.
A better option is to feed baby *before* s/he gets into an agitated state of hunger. Learn what baby looks in the early stages of hunger so you can be ready to feed before the crying starts. It’s the crying that forces baby to take in excess air which leads to gas.
It’s important to also remember that fussiness is natural for babies and sometimes the only course of action is to do your best to soothe baby and put gassiness in the “this too shall pass” category.
Myth: Put baby to sleep later at night and s/he’ll sleep later in the morning.
Fact: We wish this was true but it’s not. The fact is that the internal clock is a powerful force that typically wakes children up at the same time every morning, so all we’re doing is robbing them of sleep they should be getting when we put them to bed later. Staying up late actually makes babies even more fussy.
A good solution to early wake ups is to take turns with your partner if you can so one of you isn’t always on early wake-up duty. That and caffeine.
MYTH: Feed baby as much as possible so they can gain weight!
Fact: A newborn’s stomach is only the size of a small cherry on day one of life and even after a month, baby’s belly is about the size of an egg! Don’t let even the tiniest bottle sway you – baby should not be overfed or s/he’ll end up uncomfortable, possibly spitting up and crying. (Think of how you’d feel being stuffed even after you’re full!).
A better option in the early weeks of baby’s life is to feed baby frequently and on-demand. For nursing moms, it might feel like baby is always on the breast and this is normal. For bottle feeding parents, 25-45ml (a little less than an ounce, then gradually moving up to an ounce and half) is a good rule of thumb for the first month.
Of course, your pediatrician is the best and final word on feeding but these guidelines can help.
MYTH: Baby Must Be Given a Sponge Bath Before the Umbilical Cord Falls Off
New parents are sometimes instructed to give baby a sponge bath while the umbilical cord is still attached to minimize the possibility of infection. Recent research however shows that there’s no difference between tub bathing and sponge bathing in these early weeks and in fact, “tub bathing is a safe and pleasurable alternative to sponge bathing in healthy, term newborns.”
Even with articles like this, it’s easy to go into infant information overload, so your own decisions and the pediatrician’s advice are always the final word on the care of your child. There are many baby experts out there, but remember that only you are the expert on your baby.
Written By Denise Stern and the Registered Nurses of Let Mommy Sleep