We are not given blueprints on how to parent. We are learning that much of the advice we’ve been given about parenting might just be plain wrong, or even questionable. So here are some common parenting myths with some science facts to guide us.
1. Sugar makes kids hyper.
Many parents have said that cookies, candy, and cake have the power to morph the well-behaved child into the sticky mess that resembles a hollering gargoyle who behaves erratically. Anyone can agree that the hypothesis sounds reasonable, except for the fact that it is completely false.
A 1994 research study proves that sugar doesn’t change kids’ behavior. A sugary diet has no affect on behavior or cognitive skills, reports the researcher. However, during this study it did find that sugar, does in fact, change one thing; parent’s expectations. The study found that after hearing their children had just consumed sugar, parents were more likely to say their child was “hyperactive”, even though the sugar fix was a placebo.
Of course, there are plenty of good reasons not to feed your kids sugar, but the fear of a crazy sugar goblin shouldn’t be one of them.
2. Listening to Mozart and classical music makes babies smarter.
Rachel Ehrenberg, a Vermont Alum Scientist busted this “Mozart Effect” myth in a 2010 article. The idea that 10 minutes of classical music produces collegiate students and boosts academic performance became exaggerated to such an extent that a governor from Georgia used tax money to buy classical music CDs for every baby born in the state.
Babies love music and there is evidence that suggests music may help to soothe a baby’s temperament. There is also evidence that playing an instrument might be beneficial to brain development; however, scientists haven’t found anything supporting that classical music will make your baby smarter.
3. Feeding a baby solid food will help them sleep through the night.
Is your baby waking up in the night? “Just put some rice or oat cereal in the last bottle before bed.” The well-intentioned person says. The solid food will further fill the baby’s tummy and keep them satisfied longer, translating into fewer wakeups. You guessed it! False.
Studies found that babies fed solids before bedtime slept no better than babies fed only liquids. In actuality, early introduction to solid food (before 4 months) has been associated with worse, not better infant sleep. The magical sleep cure for infant care sounds awesome but is entirely fiction. And specifically for rice cereal…
Rice/oat cereal is an ideal first food for babies.
Lots of people assume that plain rice cereal should be introduced first. Doctor’s assure that there’s no reason to choose it over fruits or veggies such as, bananas or green beans. Real foods not only taste better, then the starchy rice cereal, but they have some good nutrients and fat, too. Strive to venture beyond rice cereal and explore more creative first food options.
4. You’ll spoil your baby if you pick them up.
People used to advise that holding your baby for an extended amount of time will spoil your child and cause them to be needier. Ph. D. and author, Maurice Elias, says “if your baby calms down when you pick them up then they needed to be picked up. More importantly, your child will gain the confidence that you will respond to them when they need.” Moreover, in the first six months of a baby’s life it is their job to seek your tender loving care and be held. Elias states, “the critical task of this stage is to develop a sense of trust that the world around will care for them.” If a parent were unresponsive to the cries and alerts of a child, trust goes undeveloped. After the 6-month mark parents can then choose to pull-back attention and allow their baby to learn to self soothe. They will survive and learn to be self-reliant. Don’t worry, they’ll cry, but deep down they know you’ll be back.
5. Sippy cups cause speech problems.
When you Google topics like, which cup should I buy? Or, are ‘Sippy’s’ good for my child?.. you will find erroneous websites. Some state that the sippy cup will encourage “immature mouth and tongue movement” which will stunt normal development of muscles needed for clear speech.
Problem: there is no supportive evidence or studies that back that claim. Sippy cups may contribute to cavities, if a baby or toddler constantly drinks from them, and sippy cups can cause injury if a fall occurs while drinking. But there remains no supportive evidence to state moderate sippy cup usage will get in the way of normal speech.
Whoop! There-it-is. A non-comprehensive list for Parenting Myths and supportive reasoning.