When I was young, I loved to sneak up to my sister and smash her nose. It made her squeal! Oh, the delight I got from riling up my little sister. Until my great-aunt made the comment to me one day, "Stop that, her nose will be flat forever." Stunned, I wondered if I had stunted my little sister's nose growth. For years, I watched as her nose grew into a perfectly normal nose, just like mine.
This was a piece of ridiculous advice I received as a child. As an adult and mother, I have received even more ridiculous advice. As a sensible adult, I choose not to follow this advice. Here are some of the highlights.
If you pick up your baby every time he cries, he will cry all the time
A child who receives security, love and an emotional response to her problems will in turn develop confidence and a sense of security. Older children who receive empathy when they get hurt will in turn learn to give it. Empathy is grown, and the world needs more of it. Dr. Dennis Rosen, in an article in "Psychology Today" in 2009, answered this question for us. "Very young children... lack the cognitive faculties to distinguish between being abandoned, and being responded to, albeit without achieving the desired outcome. They are also not really capable of being manipulative, and their crying is the main way in which they express their needs."
You will spoil your baby if you hold her too much
This falls under the same ridiculous category as letting a child cry is good for her. WebMD.com explains in the article, "Why You Can't Spoil a Baby," that a child whose needs are met quickly as an infant grows to be less whiney as an older child. They become secure adults. Although it is important to work with children as they learn to comfort themselves, responding quickly lets them know they are safe and loved. As children grow you can teach them to self-soothe. Encourage them to hold their own blanket when they are old enough or to hold a favorite bear. One of our children has a "stinky bear" that he loved to hold for comfort. The only downside to using blankets, pacifiers and toys is the risk of leaving them behind at a friend or relative's home.
Don't be your child's friend. You need to be tough
You need to be the parent. That, we all agree on. But you can also form relationships of friendship with your children that allow them to trust you. That trust will come in handy when they are hurting, or being bullied. They will turn to you.
Several studies on childhood relationships with parents have concluded that children with a strong relationship who are involved with their children on a daily basis grow up confident, happy, and with more self-esteem than children who don't. It has also been shown that a father's relationship with his daughter is incredibly important. A strong positive male father figure can lead to better experiences dating and a better choice in partners.
The more awake your baby is during the day, the more she'll sleep at night
I tried this one. Boy, was I in for a world of hurt. After speaking with my doctor, I was set straight. The opposite is actually true: the better sleep a baby gets during the day, the better she will sleep at night. I am an advocate of a routine, even with my 12-year-old. The more we stick to the sleep, wake, eating schedule the happier everyone is.
Make sure you don't eat too much when you're pregnant. Or, you're pregnant, eat whatever you want. The first part of this came from a well-meaning friend who was also pregnant and proud of the fact that she was underweight. Please ladies, your body will provide your baby with all it needs, but you have to take care of it. If you lack calcium, there is nowhere for the baby to get it. Now, the opposite can also be true. Gaining too much weight by consuming lots of sugars, etc. can lead to gestational diabetes and other problems, as well. Eat healthy foods and follow your doctor's advice. The same is true for breastfeeding. Dieting during breastfeeding can cause breastfeeding problems.
If your baby bites you while breastfeeding, flick her in the lip
Really? Do I even need to explain this one? Babies are incapable of malicious attacks and manipulation. Infancy is a time to build trust. How shocking and confusing it must be when the person you count on for everything hurts you.
A little rice cereal in the bottle will help your baby sleep through the night
An infant's digestive system is not equipped for rice cereal until she is at least 4 months old. There is even a debate among scientists and doctors that believe we should wait until 6 months. Rice cereal in a bottle too early won't help your baby sleep better. In fact, it may cause bad indigestion and constipation.
These, and other wives' tales, have changed history for many families. Although many of them are based on some fact, every person's body is different. Always consult a physician, not the cashier at the mini mart, when making decisions that impact your health and the rest of your life.
If you are given advice that may seem strange or extreme, check with your doctor or pediatrician before implementing a new routine. While we know that advice-givers mean well and are often our friends and family, use your own good judgment. And remember, what works with one child may not work with another. You are a mother, or father, trust your instincts and your love for your child.