From the second you announce your pregnancy, it is inevitable that you will become bombarded with tons of advice. Whether it’s you poring through dozens of parenting books or just receiving unsolicited advice from everyone in your life, all of that information can become overwhelming.
How do you determine what advice is relevant and what baby advice you can ignore? Check out these 10 pieces of outdated parenting advice you can definitely leave in the past.
1. Babies should sleep face down
The old advice was to keep your baby sleeping face down. This was said to prevent your baby from choking on inhaled mucus or vomit while sleeping. Not only is this advice now outdated, but it has been proven that sleeping face down actually puts your baby at higher risk for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Putting your baby to sleep face down places pressure on its diaphragm, which cuts down on oxygen intake. Putting your baby to sleep on its back is by far the safest way to spend the night.
2. Give babies aspirin for a fever
A feverish infant can be scary for a parent. Your baby is miserable, and you want to do whatever you can to make him or her feel better. Many people used to reach for aspirin as a remedy for a fever, but that is not the best way to make a baby feel better. Children under 18 years old that take aspirin are at an increased risk for Reye’s syndrome, which is a potentially fatal disorder. If you need something that can take a fever down, try acetaminophen or ibuprofen. It has the same benefits that an aspirin has, but without the risk of Reye’s. (Be sure to always consult your pediatrician regarding medicine and dosage amounts for your children.)
3. Comforting a crying baby will end up spoiling the baby
There is nothing more uncomfortable than sitting idly by while your baby is wailing in the other room. You may have heard that you need to “tough it out” so your baby doesn’t become spoiled. This is yet another irrelevant parenting tip. In the first two years or so of your baby’s life, it’s very hard to do anything that will instantly spoil them. A baby (especially an infant) that is crying does not yet have the mental capacity to understand why they are crying or that crying can get them attention. They are simply feeling pain or unpleasantness and reacting naturally to it. By ignoring a crying baby and letting them “cry it out,” you are making your baby feel abandoned, which is frightening for them. Do what feels natural and comfort your crying baby. Don’t worry about spoiling them until they become a toddler.
4. Babies need total silence in order to sleep
A lot of households live the first few months of a baby’s life in absolute silence in fear of waking up the sleeping infant. But what many parents fail to remember is that before being born, your baby spends 9 months sleeping in the womb. Throughout that time, they slept through all sorts of noise and commotion. It’s good for babies to learn to sleep through some noise, such as vacuuming in the other room or some side conversation. Don’t go crazy and throw a concert in your living room, but don’t be afraid to enjoy some TV after you put your baby to bed.
5. Babies should bathe every day
Many used to believe that babies needed to be bathed once a day, every day. This is no longer the case, as babies are able to go 2-3 days without a full bath. As long as they are being bathed 2-3 times a week and are getting their face, hands, and bottom cleaned every day, then they should be perfectly fine and hygienic. If you prefer to bathe your baby every day, use soap only on the face, hands, and bottom. If you use too much soap all over the body, the baby’s skin will dry out quickly, which can be uncomfortable.
6. Don’t let your child stand and bounce on your lap
There used to be a fear that if you let your baby stand and bounce on your lap, you would be doing real damage to their growing legs. Many believed this would lead to the baby’s legs becoming bent or bowed. However, it has now been shown that quite the opposite will happen. This action is actually good exercise for the baby, and it makes their legs stronger in the process. Just make sure you’re reading your baby’s face when doing it. If he or she seems comfortable and happy, then it’s okay. But if he or she seems upset by it, then you’ll obviously want to stop.
7. Baby walkers help infants learn to walk more quickly
Although at the surface it might seem that a baby walker would help your infant learn to walk more quickly, it actually does the opposite. Mobile walkers increase the risk of injury for your baby, and they can make them too mobile before they are ready. If you want to give your baby a chance to practice standing and balance without hurting him or herself, you have options: stationary walkers, baby gates, and play yards can keep you little one safe while learning to walk.
8. Your baby’s diet should be strict, including the feeding schedule
Much of the old advice used to recommend a strict four-hour feeding schedule beginning at birth. This was recommended in the name of not spoiling your baby by feeding them whenever they seem hungry. It is now advised that you operate on the baby’s schedule for at least the first three months. Feed your baby when he or she is hungry to promote growth and your understanding of your baby’s needs. If your baby wants to eat all the time, extend the time between feedings a little bit each time so they can continue to gain weight while still remaining happy. Your baby will have determined a schedule for itself by the time he or she is four months old.
9. Breastfeeding mothers need to give up spicy food
A common breastfeeding myth is that the mother has to give up spicy foods in order to not ruin the breast milk for the baby. Not only can mothers eat a healthy diet with spice involved, but they are encouraged to. Your baby’s preference in food begins with breastfeeding. Babies adopt their mother’s taste preferences, so the more varied the mother’s diet is during breastfeeding, the more varied your baby’s taste preference will be. Of course, it’s important that your diet remains healthy and that you stick to the other guidelines, but don’t settle for a bland diet when eating spicy foods will not harm your breast milk.
10. You’re a bad mother if you don’t breastfeed
While experts agree that breast milk is the preferred option for babies, many families choose not to breastfeed, and many are even unable to due to a low milk supply or a variety of other reasons. With all the information out there about the benefits of breastfeeding, however, some are left wondering: Are formula fed babies healthy? The good news for these families is that the formula on shelves today is better than it’s ever been. Scientific developments of the 21st century have made formula mimic breast milk in terms of fat, immune system protection, and nutrients. Don’t let the opinions of others stop you from raising your baby the way that works best for you.
There is no right way or wrong way to parent. Throughout this journey, you are going to get advice from everyone. But, at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that parenting is a natural human instinct. Trust your gut when things get tricky and know that you can handle any curveball life throws at you.
One parenting tip that isn’t outdated is that your home needs to be “baby proofed” before your little one arrives. Read our blog on ways to baby proof your house today!