Baby Development Myths Every Parent Should Know

Grandparents, friends, and society flood parents with well-meaning advice, but how can Mom and Dad be sure they are receiving accurate information? With help from Dr. Andrew Adesman and his book "Baby Facts", we separate baby myths from reality.

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    Toys Can Make Baby Smarter

    Myth: Baby needs sophisticated toys for maximum brain stimulation.

    Reality: There's no evidence that a particular toy will make your baby smarter.

    Dr. Adesman Explains: "As babies learn to explore their environments, a stimulating environment will help, but sophisticated toys are not necessary. Likewise, although it's true that babies seem to have a visual preference for contrasting black-and-white images, parents shouldn't have false expectations that surrounding a child with these images will increase their baby's intelligence."

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    The Truth About Speech Delays

    Myth: If your child has a speech or language delay, it's nothing to be concerned about, as children usually overcome these problems with age.

    Reality: Get help early if your child is showing signs of delays in these areas.

    Dr. Adesman Explains: "Parents need to recognize the differences between speech (quality of sound) and language (content of communication) and take any delays seriously. Early intervention can help determine if the child may have autism or other cognitive problems. All parents should know that their children have legal rights to a free evaluation, and if they are concerned, they don't even need their physician to recommend a developmental evaluation."

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    Family Baby = Late Talker

    Myth: The youngest child in a large family will be a late talker.

    Reality: Birth order can play a role in speech and language but is not always a deciding factor.

    Dr. Adesman Explains: "Parents have to be wary of rationalizing language delays in any child. Birth order can have a small impact, but every family is different. Be careful not to ignore a possible problem because you are assuming the baby of the family will be a late talker."

  • Christa Renee

    Reading Must-Knows

    Myth: Holding books too close to her eyes will damage your child's vision.

    Reality: It won't damage her vision, although it may indicate nearsightedness.

    Dr. Adesman Explains: "Holding a book close or sitting close to the television won't hurt a child's vision, but it may suggest a problem if the child insists the book or TV needs to be closer. Discuss this with your child's pediatrician. If it is just her personal preference, it's OK."

  • Aimee Herring

    Understand Baby's Height

    Myth: A baby's length at birth is a predictor of adult height.

    Reality: Length at birth is not a predictor, but later measurements may be.

    Dr. Adesman Explains: "There is a natural tendency, if a baby is long, to say, 'Oh, she's going to grow to be a tall girl!.' But parental height is a much better predictor of a child's adult height. Another approximate height predictor is to double the child's height at age 2."

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    Will She Have Allergies?

    Myth: If you have respiratory allergies, your child will eventually contract them too; if you don't, your child will never get them.

    Reality: Heredity plays a part in who gets allergies, but other factors also play a role.

    Dr. Adesman Explains: "There may be some predispositions, but families should not assume that if they are allergic to something, then their children will be too. Likewise, allergies can come out of the blue even if Mom and Dad don't have them. When it comes to kids and allergies, genetics do not dictate their destiny."

  • About Dr. Andrew Adesman

    Dr. Adesman is Chief of the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Schneider Children's Hospital in New York and an associate professor in the Pediatrics Department at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. His book Baby Facts reveals more than 200 startling myths and facts about babies' and young children's health, growth, care, and more.

    Copyright © 2009 Meredith Corporation.