Debunking a few baby Myths

1.  If you don’t hold/nurse your baby in the first few hours after delivery, you won’t bond adequately.

Bonding with your baby can happen instantaneously or it can take a little time to develop. Everybody’s maternal bond kicks in differently. I personally didn’t see or have contact with my son for 24hrs. But, when I did hold him for the first time it was pure love! He nestled into me and was happy to nurse! On the other hand I worked with a mom who stayed with her baby every precious second for the first 4 days in the hospital, but the moment she got home her severe post partum kicked in and she rejected her baby for the first year (this was an extremely bad case of post partum depression and not normal at all). Some Dads take a little longer to bond with their babies also, especially the first child, simply because it is such a dramatic change in your life to go from being an adult to being a parent. The reality can take a little while to sink in!  The amazing thing about a baby is they will love the people caring for them, it’s a survival instinct as they are reliant on the adult to care for and feed them.

2.  Never wake a sleeping baby

Babies are born nocturnal. They have just spent 9 months of being rocked to sleep through the mom’s movement by the day and wake up when mom relaxes at night. This is when you typically feel them kicking.  Now because of this, if you don’t gently guide your babies sleep habits, you will have a baby who sleeps well through the day and wakes constantly at night. So we need to wake the baby for feeds during the day. There is no harm in doing this, you are teaching your baby when to sleep and when to eat. Remember being a parent means guiding and teaching your child and this starts from day one!!

3.  Babies’ cries are always distinguishable.

This is something that I see parents struggle with a lot. They feel they should understand their baby’s cry from the beginning and they desperately try to interpret what their baby needs. As a consequence they end up mis-interpreting what the baby needs and feed the baby when the baby is simply sleepy and trying to settle. So don’t pull your hair out trying to distinguish your baby’s cry, just know that through a routine and a little time you will understand what your baby is saying to you. The average amount of time I stay with a family is about 3 months, and most parents have learnt at that point what the different cries mean.

4. Newborn babies just eat and sleep all the time.

Not quite! Yes your baby will be very sleepy, but they can also be a little restless from gas, from needing to poop, from not knowing quite how to settle, from needing to learn to sleep at night instead of during the day.  The average newborn will sleep anywhere from 15 to 18 hours a day and when you take into consideration feeding and changing there isn’t a whole lot of time in between. The problem is the sleep is in short little spurts in the beginning, so it doesn’t feel like the baby is asleep that much!

5. Breastfeeding is easy.

It can be, and it is the most amazing feeling and bonding time with mother and child. Not to say that the bonding is less strong when you bottle-feed. However, breast-feeding can have it’s challenges, it doesn’t always go so smoothly. The size and shape of your nipple can make it a little more difficult, inverted nipples also make it a little harder. When your milk first comes in, the engorgement can be quite uncomfortable. Considering we would assume it would just happen naturally, there is a learning process by both mom and baby. But once you have both learnt, it is simply fantastic.

6. How do I know my baby is getting enough to eat?

This is an issue most breast feeding moms worry about. The most obvious clues that your baby is eating enough is when they have frequent wet and poopy diapers, and they aren’t waking every hour to eat again. Remember every cry does not mean your child is hungry, so don’t presume it is. The ability to settle to sleep is also a guide to the fact your baby is content and has eaten enough. A baby instinctively will let you know when they are hungry, it’s a survival mechanism

7. It is good to talk “baby talk” to the baby.

No no no no no!!!! I haven’t quite figured out why people have a need to resort to a bizarre baby language when they come in contact with a baby. Remember your baby will learn to talk by hearing you talk, do they really need to earn that baba is not the real name for a bottle, The clearer you talk to your baby the quicker your baby will learn language. Even repeating simple sounds like “Oooo” and “Aah” and over emphasizing your lip movement will help them.

8. Babies cannot talk.

Absolutely not true. Babies will try to communicate with you from day one. Their language is limited to crying initially, then vocalizing. But that is your baby talking to you. It really is the cutest thing ever to watch them vocalize.

9. You should wait till your baby is 4 months old to start sleep training!

This drives me crazy!! I hear pediatricians giving this advice over and over again. They tell the parents to not worry about how many times their baby wakes up at night, because when they are 4 months old you can then just let them cry it out till they sleep! So basically what they are saying is cater to your babies every little whim right now, then when they get to 4months old just let them cry themselves to sleep!! Why do this when you can gently encourage a good sleep routine and habits before this and have them sleeping through the night by 3 months!! Who wants to listen to their child screaming because you suddenly won’t go into them when they are asking? To me that seems so much nastier then gentle encouragement from the beginning.

10. My baby doesn’t like being swaddled!

This is a common misunderstanding I see frequently. A baby is born with an immature nervous system, and so they constantly startle themselves. We swaddle to help control this startle, so they have more restful sleep. Some babies wiggle more than others and will often squirm their way out of a swaddle if you don’t wrap them securely or correctly. This doesn’t mean they don’t like the swaddle!! It just means you have an active healthy baby. By the time you remove the swaddle at around 4 months the baby’s nervous system has matured and the startle reflex has subsided, so they baby is able to have a restful sleep without the aid of the swaddle.

11. You can”t  spoil your baby in the first 6 months?

I once read a quote by a doctor who said you couldn’t spoil a baby in the first 6 months, as a baby doesn’t have the ability to manipulate their parents at such a young age! I had to chuckle, that the concept of spoiling your baby meant you had a manipulative baby who screams when he doesn’t get what he wants. What it really means to spoil a baby is to create bad habits. Rocking your baby to sleep, using a pacifier to get him/her to sleep, bouncing your baby to settle them and get them to sleep. Putting them in a swing to sleep, driving them around in your car till they go to sleep.  The so called “spoiling” is based on the habits and routines you create with your baby.

12. Breastfed babies will not sleep through the night.

Not true, a breastfed baby can sleep just as well at night as a bottle-fed baby. It’s a common belief that as formula is heavier and slower to be digested that a baby will sleep better. Even though sleep is related to your baby eating well, it doesn’t matter if it’s breast milk or formula. It’s simply learning when to feed your baby and also teaching them to put themselves to sleep.