10 Myths About Babies
You’ll be hearing a lot of advice and opinions. Some of it will be really helpful and some will be just plain wrong. Here are the most common things people say about babies that aren’t true.
Myth #1: You’ll instantly fall in love with your baby.
Truth: You’re probably expecting love at first sight, but it’s totally normal if you don’t feel this instant, gushing love. “Bonding is a process that happens over time,” says clinical psychologist Shoshana Bennett, PhD. “Some mothers do feel the instantaneous closeness — but there’s nothing wrong or ‘different’ about those who don’t. The closeness will come.” It takes time to get to know each other, like it does with anyone else you meet.
Myth #2: Babies don’t have kneecaps.
Truth: Babies just don’t have hard kneecaps. Pediatric occupational therapist Anne Zachry, PhD, explains that an infant’s kneecaps are made of soft cartilage, allowing for early growth spurts. The kneecaps get firmer throughout childhood as it forms into bone.
Myth #3: Newborns can’t see.
Truth: Newborns have blurry vision, but they can definitely see. The myth may be based on the weird way newborns’ eyes tend to move. “Parents may notice that their newborn’s eyes move in a jerky way at times, but that’s normal because baby doesn’t have full control of the eye muscles yet,” Zachry says. Recent research reveals that as early as two weeks old, babies see in color and can differentiate red from green — before that, everything’s in black and white.
Myth #4: Baby walkers help infants learn to walk.
Truth: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, walkers are actually dangerous. Since newborns can’t see their feet, it’s easy for them to have an accident (falling down stairs can happen – eek!). Plus, they give mobility to infants who aren’t necessarily ready for it, which means the muscles are working in a way they wouldn’t normally. This can lead to problems. Another strike against walkers: They help baby reach things that are normally, and should be, out of their reach (double eek!).
Myth #5: There are good and bad baby bottles and nipples.
Truth: Sorry, but there’s no secret list of perfect bottles you can buy that will help every baby transition from breast to bottle, or that always prevents leaking or gas. That’s because every baby really is different and has her own preferences. “They’re unique little beings from the beginning, and a lot of learning what works great depends on getting to know them,” says Ali Wing, founder and CEO of Giggle. “Some parents complain about constant leaking from bottles and nipples, but this likely has as much to do with the baby, her style of sucking and the reality of their different mouths.” It’s probably not what you want to hear, but your best bet is to buy a few different bottle and nipple types and experiment with what baby takes to most. Whether you’re looking to combat colic or mix and store formula, our bottle roundup can help point you in the right direction.
Myth #6: Nipple confusion is a huge issue.
Truth: Worried that one bottle-feeding will mean the end of your breastfeeding days because baby will be confused by it? It’s not that baby “doesn’t get” what’s happening when you switch, explains certified lactation consultant Leigh Anne O’Connor. Some babies just prefer the faster flow of certain bottle nipples. “If a bottle is too easy, then baby may have a hard time going back and forth between breast and bottle,” she explains. “Some babies are pickier than others. The important thing is to make sure baby doesn’t gulp down bottles, and that there’s not too much in the bottle.” So if you do use the occasional bottle, choose one with a slower flow.
Myth #7: Bouncing baby will cause him to be bowlegged.
Truth: This one falls into the old wives’ tale category. “If anything, bouncing will lead to straighter legs,” says pediatrician Vicki Papadeas, MD. “Legs are often bowed by the in-utero position and straighten when baby starts to stand and walk.” So baby just needs some normal stretching and movement to straighten out what are bowed legs at birth. “We don't see as much bowing now that babies sleep on their backs,” Papadeas adds.
Myth #8: Excessive crying means something is definitely wrong.
Truth: When babies cry (and cry and cry), it usually doesn’t mean they’re sick or in pain. Sounds counterintuitive, right? Think of it this way: It takes healthy energy to fuel a loud cry. “Ill babies are usually limp and listless, breathing fast, febrile and generally more passive,” says Papadeas. Crying is one of the main ways baby communicates. It usually means he’s uncomfortable or wants something. “If baby has no fever, is not breathing fast or struggling, is pink in color —not bluish — has no visible injuries, is moving all arms and legs, ate well and had normal bowel movements, then he most likely is not sick.”
Papadeas recommends checking for “hidden” sources of pain, like a scratched eye. But other than that, you’re probably worrying for no reason. “I tell parents of crying babies that after checking the diaper, trying to feed, and soothing for 10 to 15 minutes, they need to switch gears.” There’s no problem, so don’t try to fix it anymore — instead, concentrate on helping baby through her stress. “Darken the room and just sit there and cuddle. Babies respond to parental stress, so calm yourself down and just help him through it.”
Myth #9: Attachment to the nanny is a bad thing you should prevent.
Truth: You’re leaving baby in someone else’s care, and your maternal instincts scream, “Please don’t let him think she’s his mom!” It’s true baby will see the nanny as a parental figure, but attachment to a nanny is a good thing, says Lindsay Heller, “The Nanny Doctor.” “If your child has a strong affinity for your nanny, then be proud of your child for having the capacity to love someone so much.” And be proud of yourself for choosing someone who takes such good care of him. Remind yourself that you can never, ever be replaced, and spend plenty of quality time with baby in the evenings and weekends to keep up your bond.
Myth #10: All baby cries sound the same.
Truth: Baby is developing a whole language of cries to communicate with you. “Cries for needing food, sleep, and diaper changes will sound different if you listen closely,” says Heller. “You will notice a pattern.” It takes time, but pay attention and you’ll learn to decode those cries. Heller notes parents say that an “owh” sound may mean baby’s tired (the o-shape of the mouth mimics yawning), “eh” means “burp me” (tightening chest muscles makes this sound) and “neh” means baby’s hungry (it just does!).
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