Traditional parenting beliefs will sometimes contradict modern parenting and it doesn’t matter where you’re from. You will often hear:”this is how you were raised!”, usually, this line carries a lot of influence, but are these myths that raised us always right?
Science and technology have drastically improved over the years and many of the traditional parenting concepts have been proven inefficient, or to even have negative effects! We summarized some of these outdated parenting concepts so when the grandparents try to correct you with their experience, remember to let them know that they might not be right anymore!
X Newborns sneeze because they’re cold.
Newborns often sneeze, but it doesn’t always mean that they’re cold or sick. They have narrow nasal cavities so their nose are easily clogged with dust or mucus, and sneezing is how the body naturally clears up the nasal passages. The capillaries in their nasal cavities are also extremely sensitive, so if the air is too dry or contains stimulants (such as smoke, or perfume) it may also lead to sneezing. Try to make sure the room is well ventilated and if the air gets too dry, try using a humidifier.
X Newborn Jaundice curable with glucose water.
Jaundice occurs when there is a high level of bilirubin in the blood, most newborns will have some yellowing of the skin but it’s perfectly normal and will not require special treatments. Feeding the baby often (8 to 12 times a day) to encourage frequent bowel movements is usually enough to help reduce the level of bilirubin. The best treatment is plenty of fluids with breastmilk or formula. Water (glucose or regular) will not help with recovery because it does not encourage bowel movement as much as breastmilk or formula does. Infact, it might make the symptoms worse because it would lower their appetite and allow for the bilirubin to build up. The symptoms will usually go away within 2 weeks. If a newborn is suffering from severe jaundice or still showing symptoms after a long period of time, please consult with your doctors.
X Newborns should be woken up during the day so they can fall asleep at night.
A newborn’s sleep cycle shouldn’t be disturbed. They need a lot of sleep in order to grow, typically around 15 to 18 hours a day. The development of the brain and central nervous system are most active when they’re asleep. With this in mind, parents shouldn’t keep their baby awake during the day just to prevent them from waking up in the middle of the night. Their sleeping cycle should be established gradually, and their circadian rhythm should be set naturally. Create an appropriate environment for their brain to naturally adjust. Pull up the curtains during the day and speak with your natural volume; at night, keep the lights dim and keeping all noise level to a minimal.
X Excessive eye mucus are caused by eye infections.
Excessive eye mucus are not always caused by eye infections, it’s usually because of a clogged tear duct. When the tear duct gets clogged it may lead to a mild inflammation which can cause the eye to secrete more mucus. It’s a very common symptom for newborns because their tear ducts are a lot narrower. The problem tends to go away as they grow older and their tear ducts finish developing. Parents can try to gently massage the area between the corner of the eyes and the bridge of the nose to try to help clear the clogged ducts. Do not give your baby eye drops without a doctor’s instruction.
X Newborns needs to sleep on a pillow to get a beautiful head shape.
It’s actually very dangerous for newborns to sleep on pillows. The risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) increases with the use of pillows and it actually doesn’t help to shape the head. If you want your baby to have a beautiful head shape, have more “Tummy Times” with them instead.
About Breast Feeding
X The mother can’t breastfeed when they’re sick.
It’s a popular misconception that the mother shouldn’t breastfeed if they’re sick. It doesn’t matter whether you have a cold, flu, stomach-ache or fever, you should continue to breastfeed. By the time the symptoms shows up and you realized you were sick, your child would have already come in contact with the virus. Breastfeeding will not only not transmit the illness to your baby, but it actually contains antibodies to protect them from it.
X Lacking breast milk for newborns? Just use formula instead.
Breastmilk is the best source of nutrient for a newborn. While it’s fine for moms to supplement formula along with breastfeeding, some might feel pressured to using it. They feel they don’t produce enough breastmilk, but even if you only produce a little bit, you should always try to breastfeed anyways. Breastfeeding is the best way to increase lactation, so the less you breastfeed, the less milk you will end up producing.
About Nutritional Supplement
X Babies should sunbathe through a window for Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is essential for the growth of a healthy baby, it helps their body absorb calcium so they can develop strong bones and teeths. However, sunbathing through a window will not actually help the body produce any Vitamin D. The window actually acts a lot like a sunscreen; although it allows almost 100% of the light rays to pass through, most of the UV rays (specifically UVB which is required to convert 7-Dehydrocholesterol in the skin to Vitamin D3) that helps to produce vitamin D are actually blocked by glass. If you did want to sunbathe, a few minutes under the sun outdoors are enough, but babies have tender skin and should avoid over-exposure to direct UV rays. Pediatricians have suggested the use of Vitamin D supplements instead (around 400IU per day).
X You should give your baby water/juice to quench their thirst.
Breast and formula milk already contains enough fluid that babies shouldn’t need any water to hydrate. Only when they start eating solid food should you feed them water.
About Medical Issue
X Have your baby take Tylenol as soon as they have a fever.
When you find out your baby has a fever, it can be scary and daunting, but a fever by itself actually causes no harm and may actually be a good thing. Fevers are the way their immune system naturally fights against infections, and not all fevers need to be treated. Tylenol provides temporary pain relief, but it will not speed up the recovery. So if there are no signs of discomfort (loss of appetite, energy and dehydration), there is actually no need to take any medicine. However, if the fever persists for 3 days or more, then you should take them to see a doctor.
X If your child has a fever: use cold baths, ice packs, or rubbing alcohol to lower body temperature / use blankets to “sweat out the fever”.
There is no denying that ice packs and cold baths are extremely effective at lowering body temperature, and it does alleviate some of the discomforts from a fever. However, those methods tend to cause the body temperature to drop too drastically. It will actually fool the body into working harder to heat up, effectively making the fever worse! Rubbing alcohol, like the ice pack and cold bath, will cause body temperature to drop too drastically. On top of this alcohol poisoning is also a concern when using rubbing alcohol, as it can be absorbed through the skin (or inhaled because of the fumes). It’s a common belief that you should try to “sweat out a fever” to recover faster, but this belief is unfounded. When your baby has a fever, piling on more blankets will not make the recovery faster, it’ll just make them uncomfortable. If they’re shivering and cold then wrapping them in blankets is fine.
The proper ways to reduce body temperature are with warm baths, and wiping the body with a warm towel. Also, removing extra pieces of clothing and proper room ventilation will help as well. Allowing the body to naturally dissipate excess heat is ideal.
X The baby’s hands and feet are cold, they should wear another layer of clothing.
The circulatory system is important in helping our body to maintain temperature. Blood flows all throughout the body, and transfers heat as it travels; that’s why if you were warm, your hands would be warm as well. A baby’s circulatory system are not fully developed yet, so you should not judge whether or not they feels cold based on their hands or feet. If you want to know whether they are cold or not, the best method is to touch their chest or back.
X Potty training should start at 1 year old.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests parents to start potty training when their baby is around 2 years old. Toddlers younger than 2 years old will have a hard time because their bladder and excretory system would not be fully developed.
American Academy of Pediatrics. 2011. Reversing day-night reversal. Availale from: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/Reversing-Day-Night-Reversal.aspx
American Academy of Pediatrics. 1998. Toilet Training. Guidelines for Parents. Elk Grove Village, Il: AAP
Kaplan M, Wong RJ, Sibley E, Stevenson DK. Neonatal jaundice and liver diseases. In: Martin RJ, Fanaroff AA, Walsh MC, eds. Fanaroff and Martin's Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Diseases of the Fetus and Infant. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 100.
La Leche League International. 2016. Can I breast feed my baby if I am sick? Available from :http://www.llli.org/faq/sick.html