New Parent Myths

Here's the truth behind these three common baby health beliefs.

New parents are easy targets for all kinds of advice -- good and bad -- whether it comes from the checkout lady at the grocery store or well-meaning relatives. But as it turns out, a lot of common "wisdom" isn't so wise after all. Here are three myths most new parents hear at one time or another:

MYTH: When babies pull on their ears, it means they have an ear infection.
TRUTH:
"It's normal for kids to tug on ears! They're floppy, fun things to grab onto, and babies are very curious and interested in ears," says Alan Greene, MD. "Studies show there's no correlation between ear tugging and ear infections." In fact, he points out, if an ear hurts, the baby probably won't want to tug on it.

MYTH: Breastfeeding moms have to eat a totally bland diet.
TRUTH:
"Sometimes nursing moms think they can only eat rice and pasta, no citrus or anything spicy," says Christine Wood, MD, a pediatrician at El Camino Pediatrics in San Diego. "But babies actually get the flavors of foods the mom eats through her breast milk, and research shows that those flavors may help babies develop their palate." While most nursing moms can eat anything without a problem, highly allergenic foods like dairy, soy, and wheat can be troublesome. Many pediatricians say they sometimes cause colicky symptoms in babies. The jury is still out about whether eating "gassy" vegetables like broccoli or onions can cause your baby digestive distress, but it's worth talking to your doctor if you're concerned.

MYTH Babies can be spoiled if held too much.
TRUTH:
"During those first few months, holding your baby and responding to his cries is helping him form a secure feeling about the world," says Laura Jana, MD, so babies can't be "spoiled." But, she says, you can take advantage of times when your baby is quiet and calm to let him entertain himself or fall asleep on his own. "It's common for parents to be so wrapped up in our babies that we forget to put them down, which can mean they learn not to be able to fall asleep alone or soothe themselves."

Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the February 2008 issue of American Baby magazine.

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