Thursday, May 2, 2013
Debunking Old Wives Tales
If you are a follower of my blog you should know that I am not one to criticize parenting techniques. I firmly believe that every parent knows what is best for their child and what works best with their family. I never say "wow you should not do that" or things like that. However, the more I am out in the parenting world the more I see and well, sometimes I see things that are just wrong. I do not think that the parents who do them are bad, but misinformed or still listening to moms and grandmother's advice. Which while some of it is wonderful, some of it is just plain not safe to do anymore. These are five very common old wives tales that I personally see in my life everyday and I am sure you do as well or even may do one of these things. I am posting this because all five of these old wives tales are very unsafe and in some cases dangerous! Not only is this advice unsafe and dangerous but I have debunked it with the backing of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations. All of these myths are wrong according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and in some cases very dangerous. Please, send this blog post to those in your life who have children or are caregivers for children it is very important for them to see this and make the necessary changes if they follow any of these old wives tales.
1) Give water to your babies to "curb" their appetite
- As a fully breastfeeding mom to an infant. I heard this a ton! Instead of putting my son on my breast or giving him a bottle at like three months every two hours (as he was a good eater) people would always tell me to give him a bottle of water instead. That way he feels full and does not need to eat as often.
That is very bad advice especially if your child is under six months old. Before your child is six months old they get all the nutrition and hydration that they need from breastmilk or formula, even in very hot weather.
If you give your child water before the age of six months it can interfere with the body's ability to absorb nutrients in the breastmilk or formula. It can also cause their tummy to feel full which curbs their desire to feed and messes up them taking in the much needed nutrients in the breastmilk or formula they get. Worst of all if you feed your baby too much water it can upset the electrolyte balance and cause tissues to swell.
Best Practice Technique
- The best idea with water is to give them some in a sippy cup with meals AFTER six months of age (see point #3). Then, after your child's first birthday they can drink as much water as they want.
2) Putting Bumpers in your baby's crib
- I know way too many moms that have these. I even know expectant moms who already have these in their baby's crib. BUMPERS ARE NOT SAFE IN A CRIB AT ALL! NOT THE SMALL ONES, NOT THE ONES WITHOUT TIES, NOT EVEN THE BREATHABLE ONES. Why risk the death of your child because that bumper looks adorably cute in the crib? I'm sure it does look cute, but it is NOT worth the risk.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics you should never use anything in a crib except a sheet and a light blanket or sleep sack. It is for safe sleep and SIDS prevention. Cribs are not made with the giant gap in the slats like they used to have, so bumpers are no longer necessary. Your child may get an arm or leg in a slat once in a while but they cannot break a limb anymore by being stuck in a crib slat. Cribs are not made like that anymore. Bumpers DO NOT PROTECT AGAINST ANY INJURY! Instead they give the potential risk of suffocation, strangulation or entrapment because infants lack the motor skills or strength to turn their heads should they roll into something that obstructs their breathing. Also, when a bumper is in a crib your child does not get a good fresh air flow. They have the bumper blocking and preventing a fresh air flow and a cool environment which are good sleep habits and a good way to prevent SIDS.
Best Practice Technique
- No bumpers of any kind need to go in the crib. If you want cute, look for an adorable sheet and crib skirts. Many sheets now even have extra designs on the sides to see through the crib as opposed to a bumper. Also, be aware of bassinets, pack and plays and cradles that have bumpers or too much material for your baby to sleep in.
3) Solids Before Six Months of Age
- I can recite this one over and over. Usually the baby is around four months and the parent thinks "oh they keep reaching for my food", "they are still waking up at night", "they are advanced and ready for solids", so they give their child solids before the age of six months. Your child is NOT READY FOR SOLIDS UNTIL THE AGE OF SIX MONTHS. Despite what you think your child just likes to copy everything you do including eating, they wake up at night because they are a baby and there are a ton of reasons why they do and no matter how advanced your baby is their digestive system is not. If you give your baby solids before the age of six months you are putting them at a much greater risk for developing a chronic disease such as diabetes, obesity, eczema and celiac disease. The solids you are feeding your baby are taking the place of the much needed nutrients in the breastmilk or formula that they should be getting. (very similar to #1). According to the American Academy of Pediatrics you are intentionally diluting your child's nutritional intake. Sure, they are getting more calories but they are getting less of the nutrients that your baby needs to grow.
Best Practice Technique
- Absolutely no solids before the age of six months. Only breastmilk or formula. This also includes adding cereal to your baby's bedtime bottle (yes, I caught you there too). NO SOLID FOOD! I know that no parent wants to intentionally take away essential nutrients that their child needs to grow during their first six months of life, so make sure your child sticks to breastmilk and formula for six months. Trust me, your grocery bill will thank you for waiting the six months as well as your child's digestive system!
4) Using facing-front carseats
- This is a new guideline from the American Academy of Pediatrics that actually has happened in the last year. So for many of you I am sure you just have not heard, or do not have the full knowledge. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics your child needs to stay in a rear-facing carseat until the age of two or they exceed the height or weight limit on the seat which is usually around 35 pounds. If your child (who is under 2) is in a rear-facing carseat and you are in a car accident your child is 75% LESS LIKELY to die or be severely injured. Seventy five percent, that is a huge difference! The rear-facing carseat is five times safer than the front facing for children under two years of age, because it distributes the force of a collision over the entire body.
Best Practice Technique
- Get a rear-facing carseat NOW and keep your kid in it until they are two or exceed 35 pounds or the height limit on the seat. Please note, it is perfectly fine and safe if your child's feet touch the seat back or their legs are even bent against the seat back. That is still much safer than facing forward. If you have already switched your child forward, and your child is under two or under thirty five pounds, switch them to a rear-facing seat. Most carseats that are sold right now have to be rear-facing for that size child. Remember that the protection and safety of your child is more important than how comfortable it is.
5) Giving Your Toddler Milk and Juice
- This is not an all bad myth. Of course you can and should give your toddler milk and juice. However, the amount that parents give their toddlers are off the charts. Please note this is for children over one year of age. First of all, you know your child is growing and needs calcium so you give them milk at every meal. Sometimes even with snacks. Sometimes even at bedtime. This is not good for your child or their digestive system. Children over a year old only need four servings of dairy a day. That is it! A half of a cup of whole milk or yogurt or one slice of cheese is one serving. Meaning that sixteen ounces a day of whole milk is all your child needs and that is if they do not get any other dairy. Too much dairy can lead to dairy intolerance, excess gas, and even constipation. Be sure to watch how much dairy you are feeding your toddler and do not over do it. Too much dairy also messes up your child's absorption of Iron and can make them anemic.
As for juice, first of all you should only give your child juice that is 100% natural. Juicy Juice is a 100% natural juice and comes in many fun flavors. If that is not in your budget you can also get many types of Apple, Cranberry, and Orange juices, just remember to read the labels and make sure they say 100% juice. Your child only needs two servings of fruit a day. That is two tablespoons of chopped fruit or two ounces of 100% fruit juice. So you should never give your child more then four ounces of 100% fruit juice in one day, especially if they are eating other fruit as well. Too much fruit can lead to diarrhea and sometimes bad diaper rash (See Culprits of Diaper Rash).
Best Practice Technique
- For milk no more then sixteen ounces a day of whole milk, or four dairy servings a day. As for fruit juice, make sure it is 100% juice ONLY. Also, no more then four ounces a day of 100% fruit juice or two servings of fruit per day. (This is based on the American Academy of Pediatrics and the WIC nutritional informational for children from one year to two years old, please double check the recommendations if your child is older).
I hope that these are eye openers for some parents and really make you think of the situation you are putting your child in. A good practice of mine when thinking about things with Xavier is thinking "what is the worst that can happen?". I too, bought the adorable bumper to put in his crib before he was born and quite frankly without the bumper his crib sheet and skirt are boring and I was bummed but I thought "what is the worst that can happen?" and when I realized that my child could potentially suffocate over my own vanity of his room it was definitely NOT worth the cuteness of it. Please be sure to pass this blog post along to the other parents and caregivers in your life to make sure that we all have our children's best interest at heart!