With so much information available on how to care for your baby, it can be difficult for new moms to decide what’s best. Sister Cynthia van Rooyen from the Well Baby and Mother Clinic at Ubuntu Family Health Centre helps us bust seven common baby myths that could be harmful to your baby’s health.
Myth: Babies need to bath every day
Truth: There is no need to bath your newborn every day. Three times a week is enough until your baby is more mobile. If you thoroughly clean your baby’s nappy area, face, hands and in between the folds of her neck, you have already cleaned the necessary areas. Bathing your baby too much can dry out her delicate skin.
The World Health Organization recommends you delay your baby’s first bath for 24 hours after birth. A report done through the Department of Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and the Boston Medical Center in the US found a delayed newborn bath was associated with increased likelihood of breastfeeding initiation.
Babies can’t regulate their own temperature very well, so remember to keep her warm immediately after a bath.
Myth: Picking up a crying baby will spoil her
Truth: You should always pick up your newborn when she cries. Remember, she is still new to
this world and may feel overwhelmed by her surroundings. When you pick up your crying baby, you let her know she is safe, not alone and that you love her.
A recent study from the University of Notre Dame in the US, found it’s impossible to spoil your baby by holding or cuddling her when she cries, and that letting her “cry it out” can impact her development. “What parents do in those early months and years is really affecting the way their baby’s brain is going to grow the rest of their lives, so lots of holding, touching and rocking is what babies expect,” says lead researcher, Professor Darcia Narvaez.
Myth: I don’t have enough breast milk to feed my baby
Truth: It’s estimated that only between five and 15% of mothers who breastfeed have low milk supply. You can’t see the amount of breast milk you produce, so there’s uncertainty about whether your baby is getting enough milk or not. Rest assured, your little one will let you know if she’s not getting enough.
If you can hear her swallowing, she produces at least six wet nappies a day, gains weight and seems relaxed, she’s getting enough milk. If your breasts feel softer after breastfeeding, it’s also an indication that your baby is getting enough milk during feeds. Between birth and six weeks, a newborn baby will nurse as often as every two to three hours. When your baby is between eight and 20 weeks, this stretches to every three hours, and from six months on your baby will feed every five to six hours.
Myth: A baby walker will help your baby walk
Truth: Studies have shown babies who use a walker actually walk about a month later than those who don’t. Walkers help babies move around before they’re physically ready for this milestone, which can cause unusual movement patterns and delayed muscle control.
Walkers can be dangerous as parents may think their baby is mobile and can control their actions, when they actually aren’t ready to go at it alone. While walkers strengthen the lower leg muscles, they don’t do anything for the upper legs and hips, which help with walking. Encourage your little one to walk by allowing her to pull herself up onto the furniture in your house and “cruise” from one point to the next.
Myth: Babies need to poo every day
Truth: Your baby doesn’t have to have a bowel movement every day. For breast-fed babies, frequency can vary from a stool after every feed to going days without one. In the beginning, breastfed babies can poo frequently, because colostrum (your first milk) is a natural laxative.
Breast milk is perfectly made for the human body and is easily digested. Formula milk is harder to digest, so formula-fed babies can have three to five stools a day. After about six weeks, formula-fed babies will have one bowel movement once a day or every other day. Powdered formula can cause your baby’s stools to be firm and bulky − especially if you have the wrong ratio of powder to water.
Myth: Back-sleeping will give my baby a flat head
Truth: Yes, this can happen. The most common cause of a flattened head is the baby’s sleeping position. Your baby will spend a significant amount of time sleeping on her back as this is considered safest, so her head can flatten in one spot.
This doesn’t harm brain development or cause any lasting appearance problems. Simple practices like changing your baby’s sleeping position, holding your baby and ensuring she spends plenty of awake time on her tummy can help.
Leaving your little one in her car seat, carrier, pram or bouncer for long periods of time during the day can also lead to a flat head. Premature babies are more likely to have a flattened head, because their skulls are softer than those of full-term babies. They also spend a lot of time on their backs without being moved or picked up because of their medical needs and extreme fragility after birth.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.