Learning to become a mom can be difficult, especially when the moms that came before us have a lot of ideas that have been passed on for generations. Known as old wives' tales, those legends were the things that taught moms a bit about what to expect in pregnancy and parenting when there wasn't a lot of scientific knowledge going around.
The problem is, science has disproven many of those old anecdotes. Just because our grandmothers believed them doesn't mean we should, yet there are a number of the sayings that still get talked about at every baby shower. Women still say that the baby must have a lot of hair if the mom has a lot of heartburn, for example, but the truth is that just about every pregnant woman has heartburn whether the baby has hair or not.
It's hard to figure out the fiction from the fact when everyone's mother is trying to give advice, so we have some of the research that shows that maybe grandma doesn't always know best when it comes from an old wives' tale. Hopefully this will help in telling her to back off.
Here are 15 old wives' tales that moms still believe in 2018.
15 Sugar Makes Kids Hyper
Kids may get excited when they have cake and ice cream at a birthday party, but that doesn't mean that sugar makes them hyper. Moms have thought that sugar was the devil — or it brings out the devil in their kids — for a couple of generations now. But research hasn't proven that point, according to WebMD. In fact, there is no scientific link in sugar and hyperactivity.
Scientists have tested the question with double blind studies and placebos, measuring a kid's sugar intake and comparing the behavior. They couldn't rule out a slight change for young kids but said that the cause and effect do not add up. According to the article, the perception of sugar making kids hyper is probably skewing how people see the effects. Kids may be excited about other things and their diet has nothing to do with it. Overall, though, it might be a good idea to limit sugar intake to special occasions and make sure your children eat a healthy diet in general.
14 You Can't Get Pregnant While Nursing
There is one thing that women think that they can stop worrying about when they have a newborn — they think they don't have to worry about getting pregnant as long as they are breastfeeding. That is an old school belief from back in the day. It can often be true for women who are smaller, although there have been "Irish twins" born for generations. Those are babies who are born within a year of each other — it happened decades ago, so we're not sure why this old wives' tale started.
Anyway, some women don't have a period for a long time after they give birth. The breastfeeding hormones can delay menstruation, but the timing depends on the woman and the situation. The problem is that a mom will ovulate before she has her first period and she could get pregnant without knowing that her cycle has begun again. No matter what the old wives used to say, moms do have to worry about pregnancy while nursing.
13 Babies Need To Drink Water
Everybody needs water, right? These days people walk around with water bottles all day long because one of the latest health trends is to make sure that you have 40 ounces of water a day. And grandmas definitely gave their babies water in bottles in the past. But that's an old wives' tale that isn't true, and it could be detrimental to the baby's health.
The baby gets all the water that he needs in his breastmilk or formula. If he is given water in addition to that, his belly may fill up without the extra nutrients he needs. That's why Baby Center says there is no need to give the baby water before he is 6 months old. After that, the occasional sips of water are fine, but he doesn't need to hydrate until he's eating solids all the time, and even then don't overdo it.
12 Babies Need Hats Because Heat Is Lost Through the Head
There's a joke that babies come with hats when they are born in a hospital. The nurses top their little heads with matching hats when they wrap them up in the sweet little white blanket with pink and blue stripes. That may have contributed to the old wives' tale that babies have to have hats on at all times because most of the heat is lost through the head.
The truth is that only about 10% of body heat is lost through the head — it's proportionally about the same as any other part of the body, according to a Daily Mail article. In the first week or so of life, when the baby is struggling to maintain his body temperature (longer for preemies), then a hat is just as important as a blanket. But if the baby leaves the house without a hat on after that, he'll probably be fine. The general rule of thumb is to add an extra layer for the baby if it's cold out, so a hat in winter is a good idea, but 10 months out of the year, it's probably just fine.
11 Taking A Bath While Pregnant Can Drown The Baby
We don't know where some people came up with the old wives' tales of pregnancy and parenting. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to think that taking a bath while pregnant can drown the baby, but there were a ton of women who thought that a generation ago and some convince their daughters of that today. But let us assure you — water doesn't get into the womb when you take a bath, and in case you didn't know the baby is already surrounded by amniotic fluid so it can't really drown anyway.
There are some dangers of taking a bath when pregnant, especially if the water has broken because there is a concern about infection. Also, hot tubs can be a problem. But taking a bath isn't the nightmare that moms a couple of generations ago thought that they were. The baby certainly won't drown, at least.
10 An Ice Cream Craving Means You Need Calcium
Pregnancy cravings can be a great reason to indulge a little when there is a bun in the oven. Lots of mom love to forget their diet and eat just about anything that they crave for nine months, no matter how many pounds they gain. And a lot of them justify it with the old wives' tale that if they are craving something it means that their body needs the nutrients. Our favorite is that an ice cream craving must mean that the mom needs calcium, so she should definitely finish the entire carton, right?
There isn't any research that proves that pregnancy cravings are a sign that they actually show a need for a certain food or nutrient. In fact, some women suffer from some very strange cravings that they should absolutely not indulge in. There is a thing called pica where some women want to eat charcoal or rocks or other things that they should not put in their mouths. So the old wives' tale is definitely not true — although it is a good excuse to indulge every once in a while.
9 Babies Should Be Chubby To Be Healthy
Every woman loves to pinch a baby's chubby thighs. The little fat rolls on the arms are irresistible, and a chubby belly is definitely so sweet to see. While no one wants to be fat when they are older, they seem to think that a baby has to be fat to be healthy, and so it's become an old wives' tale that grandmas are constantly talking about to their kids.
But we all need to think about this — every baby is different. Some are long and lean and others are shorter and chubbier — either way they might be perfectly healthy. It's really for the doctor to determine if the baby is healthy, and that usually means that the baby is growing in which ever direction it happens. There have been a lot of reports of babies who accidentally starve because moms didn't know that their breastmilk supply was too low, so they may freak out if their baby is skinny. It is good to check with the doctor, but at this age, there are lots of shapes and sizes of babies that are perfectly healthy.
8 Feed A Cold, Starve A Fever
Throughout history, moms have had their own home remedies for when their baby gets sick. One of the oldest adages is to feed a cold and starve a fever — and it's something that grandmas tell their children to do even today when their grandkids get sick. But the thing is, it's not exactly true.
While research studies have shown that there really is something to eating chicken noodle soup when you have a cold, parents should always try to get their child to eat a balanced diet when they are sick, even with a fever, according to WebMD. Foods rich in Vitamin C and E and antioxidants can help the body to heal. Kids who are having a hard time keeping food down should try bland food like bananas, rice and apple sauce, but if they don't eat or drink, they are at risk of dehydration. Starving is never a good idea, no matter what the old wives used to say.
7 It Takes 7 Years To Digest Gum
As much as parents worry about sugar, gum can be one of the scariest treats they find in the Halloween bag or the Easter basket. Not only could it end up in the kid's hair, but the old wives' tale that it takes seven years to digest gum can be pretty frightening for parents. But luckily, that isn't true at all.
According to LiveScience, there is nothing that could get stuck in the gastrointestinal tract for years unless it was too large to get out. The ingredients in gum may take a few days to break down, but most of them past through the system like any other food. It's not that big a cause for concern, although we wouldn't blame parents for banishing gum from their kid's diet except on very special occasions. It can still be a sticky, gooey mess that can end up making a mess outside the body, even if it isn't as bad inside as the old wives used to say.
6 A Sick Baby Needs Medicine
All moms hate it when their baby gets sick. Sometimes, they panic and rush to the emergency room, and other times they can wait to get in to see the doctor. They want to do everything to get their baby better, and that is where things can get tricky. All too often moms think that their baby has to have medicine to get better, and they won't leave the doctor's office without a prescription.
But that sentiment has really gotten all of us in trouble. Antibiotics don't do anything to combat viruses like the common cold, and sometimes moms need to skip a fever reducer for a low-grade fever so that the baby's immune system does its job. But by overmedicating, a lot of diseases have become stronger, and there is a big issue with antibiotic-resistance diseases these days. If the baby's body learns to battle through the small illnesses instead of the mom insisting on giving medications that don't help, the baby would be a lot healthier in the long run.
5 Heartburn Means Your Baby Has A Lot Of Hair
When the baby is growing inside the mom's belly, it's hard to figure out what is actually going on. That was especially true a few generations ago, so a lot of women of older generations tried to surmise what is going on with the baby based on the way things happen in pregnancy compared to how the baby looks after birth — thus, old wives' tales were born. One of the strangest is that if a mom has a lot of heartburn it means the baby will have a lot of hair when they are born.
There really isn't much truth to that. The only shade of fact in there is that women tend to have more heartburn later on in pregnancy, and babies get more hair the farther along they go in terms of gestation — so maybe if the baby is born early it will have less hair and the mom won't have suffered from as much heartburn. But the truth is that most women have heartburn and its because of the way that the digestion is slowed by pregnancy hormones. It happens whether the baby has a lot of hair or not.
4 Drinking Milk Makes Breastmilk
Another huge worry for moms when they have a newborn is producing enough breastmilk for the baby to be healthy and continue growing. There are many old wives' tales about breastmilk and most of them are without an ounce of truth. For some reason, a lot of women of past generations say that you need to drink milk in order to make milk.
That idea is a bit laughable when you think about it — I mean, what kind of milk do cows drink to make their milk? It's important to stay hydrated, for sure, and there are a number of things that are scientifically proven to boost milk supply, but milk is not one of them. There are some great recipes for special oatmeal cookies that can help a mom with her milk worries. She can try some special teas, but the old wives' tale to drink milk is just not going to work.
3 Big Babies Need Cereal In Their Bottle To Sleep Through The Night
Grandmas have lots of advice once the baby is born. They always want to help out with a mom struggling with her newborn. But sometimes their advice is definitely outdated. That is definitely true when it comes to getting the baby to sleep through the night. First of all, grandmas seem to believe that the baby should be sleeping through the night when he is still pretty little. We think that part of it is that they don't remember the sleepless nights and part is that they don't want to see their kids lose sleep because of their grandkids. But it's perfectly normal for a baby to wake up every few hours for the first year of life.
Back in the day, rice cereal was always added to the baby's bottle to try to add calories and get the baby fuller at night in hopes that he would sleep longer. That was especially true for big babies who always seem hungry. But doctors these days aren't as into the idea of rice cereal. It's calories without any real nutrition, and filling the baby up extra could lead to bad eating habits in the future. The old trick of the past generation isn't a good idea at all, doctors say today.
2 Wearing Shoes Helps The Baby Walk
The milestones that a baby reaches in the first year or so of life are all very precious moments. But many women also stress out with worry that their baby may not be on track. Usually most babies reach their milestones in their own time, but most moms treat it like a competition or a report card that will determine the baby's future. That's why they pay attention to all kinds of weird advice and old wives' tales to get the baby walking.
In generations past, moms thought that the baby had to have shoes to walk, and some moms these days still believe it. They think that the flat soles and ankle support will help their baby be more stable, but the truth is that most doctors say its better for the baby to learn to walk with bare feet. The natural pads of the foot are designed for helping the baby get the feel for walking, so he doesn't need any help with footwear, whether he is an early walker or a late walker. Shoes are good for protecting the feet when walking outside, but let the baby go barefoot inside.
1 Watch Out For Labor During A Full Moon
The full moon has a bad reputation. For decades people have blamed the full moon on all kinds of crazy occurrences, and while the phases of the moon does have a say in the pull of the ocean tides, we're not sure it really has anything to do with pregnancy and labor, but the old wives sure thought it did.
There have been a number of research studies looking into the phenomenon, since nurses always say that the maternity ward gets rather crowded during a full moon, but all the studies have contradictory results — there is a 1 percent difference for the week before in one study and another study said its 1 percent more the week after. The largest study in 2001 looked at 20 years of data and found no correlation, according to Baby Center. The baby comes when the baby comes, and the moon doesn't have anything to do with it.
Sources: dailymail.com, babycenter.com, webmd.com, livescience.com, huffingtonpost.com, parenting.com
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