Old Wives’ Tales About Childcare

There is knowledge in parenting that has been passed down through the generations. Some of this is good advice, sound, common sensical wisdom handed down from grandmother to mother to child and treasured as a gift. Some of it, however, is nonsense. Let’s talk about some things your grandmother may have passed along that are not quite right. Which as much scientific knowledge as we have in the modern era, there’s no need to cling to old wives’ tales about childcare.

  • Many myths persist on the topics of standing and walking. For instance, many people believe that wearing shoes will help babies learn to walk sooner, when going barefoot is actually better. Soft-soled shoes that look like moccasins are wonderful for babies learning to walk, because they are flexible and help the baby feel the ground. Children who are walking need comfortable, flexible shoes. Another walking myth is that babies learn to walk sooner when they use a walker. Actually, baby walkers slow down a child’s progression into sitting, crawling, and walking, and are, in fact, dangerous. The American Academy of Pediatrics has even suggested a ban on walkers. A better alternative is an exersaucer.
  • Let’s look at some myths about the mouth. It is commonly thought that thumb sucking causes buck teeth, but that is, in reality, not the case. Thumb sucking is natural, and often begins before birth. As long as children stop sucking their thumbs by about age four, it should not cause a problem. Thumb sucking over age five can cause buck teeth, but peer pressure usually discourages this behavior. Another common myth is that teething can cause a child to run a fever, or have diaper rash, a fever, or a runny nose. Other problems attributed to teething include sleep issues and lowered resistance to infection, but teething does not really cause any of these things. When a teething baby has some of these other symptoms, it usually indicates a virus; babies who are teething are also building immunity at the same stage.
  • Myths about milestones can make new parents nervous. No, you don’t need to worry that something is wrong with a baby who gets teeth late, and feeding babies solid food early won’t help them sleep through the night. Babies who are late talkers do not necessarily have autism, and babies who are nervous about strangers when they are four to six months old are not insecure and unloved, they are going through a perfectly normal stage of development.
  • We know more about environmental concerns than we did when most of these myths were started. Some people worry that taking a picture of a baby using flash photography is dangerous, but that is not true. There is also an old wives’ tale that air conditioning is bad for a baby, and another that says cats are dangerous to infants because they will steal the baby’s breath. Think about some of these concerns logically, and you will see there’s no need to worry.
  • There are far too many myths about medical care. Let’s get the weirdest one out of the way first: people used to think blowing smoke into a baby’s ear would cure an ear infection by warming the ear canal. As we now know, second hand smoke raises a baby’s risk of respiratory infections and ear infections. That’s far from the only myth about taking care of a sick baby, though. Many grandparents still believe that you should treat a fever by plunging a child into a cold bath to lower the temperature or piling on blankets to “sweat the fever out.” Neither of these are good ideas, and both could actually exacerbate the illness. Treat a child’s fever with acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and see a doctor if it goes above 100.5°F in a very young baby or 104°F in an older child. Another myth is that wounds should be allowed to “air out,” but it is recommended to cover a cut or scrape to prevent exposure to contaminants. Never put butter or ice on a burn, but put the affected area under cool water to bring down the temperature and numb the area. Similarly, don’t put alcohol on a teething baby’s gums, but relieve teething pain with teething gel, teething toys, or a cool washcloth. One final old wives’ tale: that you should tilt a child’s head back if he or she is experiencing a nosebleed. A more effective option is to tilt the head forward while pinching the soft part of a child’s nose, below the bridge. This will allow blood to flow out of the nose instead of into the throat, and the nose-pinching will eventually stop the flow of blood.

At the Center for Vasectomy Reversal, we love making the world better by helping people grow their families and offering good advice to new parents. We pride ourselves on helping men improve their fertility through uncompromising, concierge-level patient care. Under the direction of Dr. Joshua Green, our team provides state-of-the-art treatment for men who need a reversal of their vasectomy or have other fertility concerns. To learn more, contact us through our website or call 941-894-6428.