Baby Feeding Myths Every Parent Should Know

Baby Facts by Andrew Adesman, M.D.
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.
Jason Todd
Jason Todd

Allergic to Mom's Milk?

Myth: Some babies are allergic to their mother's milk.

Reality: No baby is allergic to its mother's milk.

Dr. Adesman Explains: "It's easy to misinterpret signs like spitting up as a signal there is a problem, but the fact is, it is biologically impossible. Some babies can have allergic reactions to the foods Mom is eating during breastfeeding, including cow's milk, but, in general, women should feel good about nursing."

Fancy Photography/ Veer
Fancy Photography/ Veer

Water for Breastfed Babies

Myth: Breastfed infants need water too.

Reality: Breast milk is the only fluid your child needs.

Dr. Adesman Explains: "Breast is best when possible, and women shouldn't feel the need to supplement with water or anything else. Unless your baby develops a medical condition in which your pediatrician recommends introducing other fluids, a breastfed baby shouldn't be drinking water until he is eating solid food -- usually at 4 - 6 months. Mothers of formula-fed babies should check with their pediatrician."

Kathryn Gamble
Kathryn Gamble

Pregnancy While Breastfeeding

Myth: You can't get pregnant while you breastfeed.

Reality: Breastfeeding is not a reliable source of birth control.

Dr. Adesman Explains: "Sometimes myths thrive because there is a kernel of truth to them. If a woman is exclusively breastfeeding -- no supplementary liquids, no solids, regular feedings, or pumping -- then it is highly improbable she will conceive in the first few months following delivery. However, she can still become vulnerable to conception after a few months, and when menses resume, she is at a risk."

Alexandra Grablewski
Alexandra Grablewski

Skim Milk vs. Whole Milk

Myth: Children under the age of 1 should not be switched to low-fat or skim milk until school age.

Reality: You can usually switch to lower-fat cow's milk at age 2.

Dr. Adesman Explains: "In the past, whole milk was recommended for all young toddlers. This rule has been revised to reduce the risk of childhood obesity. Babies at risk for being overweight should be started on 2% milk after their first birthday, and switched to 1% milk when they turn 2. If there is a family history of heart disease or cholesterol problems, check with your pediatrician. Parents must remember that babies should not be given cow's milk until their first birthday."

Alexandra Grablewski
Alexandra Grablewski

Food Allergy Must-Knows

Myth: If you have food allergies, your baby will too.

Reality: Your trigger foods may not cause a reaction in your baby's diet.

Dr. Adesman Explains: "Certain kinds of allergies run in families, but it is not necessarily true that if Mom or Dad is -- or isn't -- allergic to something, that their child will follow suit. It's really just a matter of better education and being in tune to potential triggers."

Fancy Photography/Veer
Fancy Photography/Veer

Sugar = Hyperactivity

Myth: Sugars cause hyperactivity in children.

Reality: It's the birthday party, not the birthday cake, that makes your child "hyper."

Dr. Adesman Explains: "This is a myth that is especially hard to squash. All the studies on sugar prove time and again that it does not cause hyperactivity in children. There are good grounds to limit sugar, such as dental reasons, but behavior should not be one."

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.

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