Navigating through the minefield of new parenthood can be tricky, especially when everyone has a different opinion on what is right. You are going to be faced with plenty of conflicting advice, depending on who you talk to.
While everyone is entitled to their own opinion about what’s best when it comes to your baby, here are 11 pieces of parenting advice that you can happily ignore. Why? Because they are based on outdated beliefs that doctors and parenting experts have officially deemed untrue.
1. Baby needs dark and quiet to sleep.
Sure, it’s nice to have a nursery that is dark and quiet for night time but babies don’t need complete quiet or dark to sleep. In fact, using white noise to help bub sleep is actually recommended.
After all, the womb was always buzzing with sounds (your heart beating, your tummy rumbling). Complete quiet may actually make it harder for bub to fall asleep.
2. Bath baby every day.
Babies aren’t actually that dirty and experts now agree that babies do not require a bath every day. However, if bath time is part of your baby’s bedtime routine, then, by all means, lather up.
3. Use alcohol to lower a fever.
Alcohol was once considered a cure-all for all sorts of problems – teething, fever, poor sleep habits. But these days it’s not recommended to use alcohol for any baby-related ailment. Leave the rubbing alcohol on the shelf if fever strikes and don’t even think about dabbing a bit of whiskey on sore teething gums.
Stick to baby paracetamol (for infants over one month) or baby ibuprofen (for infants over three months) for fever and use a cold teething toy to ease teething pain.
4. Wake baby to change a wet nappy
Babies pee. A lot. But experts agree that it’s not necessary to wake bub up from a sleep just because a nappy is wet.
Sure, it’s probably not a good idea to let your newborn sleep in a nappy that is full of wee, but use a good quality absorbent nappy and you can save the changing session until bub wakes up for a feed rather than disturbing their slumber (and yours) for a change.
5. Don’t immunise if bub has a cold.
The belief that is is dangerous to give bub his shots when he has a cold has now been squashed by experts. Even if bub is a bit stuffed up, you can still go ahead with his scheduled immunisations, as long as there is no fever.
6. Feed every three to four hours.
Most babies don’t care what the clock says. If they are hungry, if they need comforting or if they want to suck, then it’s time for a feed. This may be every three to four hours. Or it may be every 30 to 45 minutes.
The general consensus these days is that the best way to keep baby healthy and well fed is to demand feed your infant, at least for the first couple of months.
7. Sterilise EVERYTHING.
When you first pick up a package of dummies, bottles, teats or anything else that will end up in little mouths, yes, you should sterilise them with boiling water (or the dishwasher).
When baby turns into a toddler, soap and hot water is fine.
8. Add rice cereal to bottles.
Sorry, but no amount of rice cereal is going to help your newborn sleep through the night. Plus, feeding an infant younger than four months anything other than breast milk or formula can lead to digestive issues.
9. Supplement with formula if bub is fussing.
Just because your newborn is fussy and wants to cluster feed doesn’t mean he’s not getting the nutrients he needs. In most cases, the reason he wants to constantly feed is because breast milk provides comfort as well as nutrition.
However, in some cases it may be recommended to add formula to your infant’s diet – ask your doctor about whether this is the case for you.
10. Let newborns cry it out.
The ever-controversial cry-it-out method is still highly debated among parenting experts. While many professionals do believe letting your older baby learn to fall asleep on their own (by not responding to cries right away) is essential for a healthy sleep routine, no expert recommends this for newborns.
It’s important not to even consider this method until bub is at least six months old.
11. Don’t hold babies too much.
It was once thought that babies need to learn that they are not the centre of the universe by not responding to their every whim. This theory has been highly disregarded. As it turns out, you cannot spoil a newborn by feeding him, holding him, cuddling him or rocking him too much.
Babies need to know that you are there … and that you always will be. Sure, bub may not be the centre of the universe, but he is the centre of your universe.
So, for now, cuddle, rock and feed away. And save the lessons in independence for later.
If you are entering the wonderful world of new baby bliss, have a look at these 7 important things to know about life with a newborn.