When someone is a new mother, sometimes the newborn seems like a mythical creature. Moms can become entranced by their little miracles, who somehow grew within her and made it into the world safely and somehow continue to draw breath and grow and amaze her.
It's no wonder that people end up believing the myths about newborns, since parents are so taken by the wonder of it all. But just like there is a biological basis to the way the baby grows and develops, doctors and researchers have discovered scientific truths about how to care for the newborn. We want to inform women the truths about their babies, so we've looked into the myths that still persist.
For example, moms hear that babies only cry for a reason, and that just isn't the case — at the same time they expect the baby to cry when they are hungry, and that can be an issue since newborns don't necessarily make a peep when they are ready to be fed. We've got some information about other myths about milestones and spit and breastfeeding and so much more, so that moms can know the real truth.
Here are 20 myths about newborns that everyone still believes for some reason.
20 Babies Only Cry For A Reason
There is a myth that babies only cry for a reason, and with the notion that moms should be able to decipher their baby's cry, this can make moms go through a lot of guilt. But it isn't true, and we hope that helps moms to feel a bit more complicated when they can't make their little one happy.
The truth is that sometimes the baby can cry for no reason at all. The mom can change the diaper and try to feed him. She can check on if the baby is hot or cold, but there is just nothing she can do to help him stop. That's especially true if the baby has colic. Moms shouldn't feel guilty if the baby has a hard time being soothed — it's enough to try. And if they need to take a break, it's OK to leave the baby in a safe place for a few moments and return again once mom has her composure.
19 Newborns See In Black And White
There are some people who swear by black and white mobiles. They think that the baby can't see colors, so the best thing to use in the nursery is monochromatic. But that is just a myth. The truth is that newborns can't see very far in the distance, and a lot of their vision is a blur, but they can see in color.
Doctors say that newborns are most able to distinguish images if there are contrasting colors. The ultimate contrast in black and white, so that is where people got the idea of using that as their color scheme, but any big contrasts will work. It'll take a while before the baby can distinguish their favorite color, but they can see them all along.
18 Babies Need A Routine From Day 1
We don't want to detract from the idea that a routine can be good for families, but the myth that moms need to set a routine on the baby's first day of life is an extreme that moms don't need to worry about in the midst of the chaos of becoming a mom. The only truth to that myth is that moms need to make sure that the newborn doesn't go more than two hours without a feeding at the very beginning. That time stretches after a couple of weeks, but if you are too strict for a schedule otherwise, you aren't doing anyone any favors.
For women who are breastfeeding, doctors recommend that moms feed on demand. They should wake up the baby after two hours, but if the baby wants to nurse an hour later, so be it. Routines are great, but moms need to listen to the bay and be flexible when it makes sense.
17 All Babies Spit Up And There Isn't Anything You Can Do About It
There is a little bit of truth to this myth as well. Spit up happens for just about every baby. But there is spit up and there is reflex, and it's important for moms to know the difference and get help if the baby needs it. Just about every baby occasionally lets a little milk come back out, but if mom gets soaked after every feeding, she should talk to the doctor.
Babies have premature digestive systems at birth, and that can account for the occasional dribble, especially if the baby doesn't get burped. But for some little ones, reflux can cause the baby to lose half of her lunch. It can make it difficult to get enough food for the baby to grow. But those moms aren't alone. The doctor can provide some tips and maybe some medications to help the baby with her digestion. Most babies grow out of reflux, but it can take time — and a lot of laundry to get through it.
16 Babies Should Be Walking By Their First Birthday
Baby milestones are very useful for moms to make sure that their little one is on track, but unfortunately they can also make babyhood feel like a competition. One big myth is that babies should be walking by their first birthday, but that isn't always accurate, and it can make some moms worry about their babies even when there is nothing to be anxious about.
The walking milestone is very broad. Research has proven that some babies walk as early as nine months and some take their steps at 18 months, and both are just as healthy and smart. Some babies just don't walk as soon, for a variety of reasons. But doctors only worry if they miss they 18-month mark. At that point, the baby might need some therapy for gross motor skills, but it's not a big deal if the baby isn't walking at her first birthday party.
15 Newborns Are Too Fragile And Have To Be Kept In The House
All moms worry about germs, but while newborns might have trouble fighting off sickness, that doesn't mean that they are too fragile to take out of the house. Some moms would benefit from the opportunity to spend time out and about, so as long as a mom uses precautions, it's OK to still remain in the world.
Newborns get their immunities from their mom, and that remains for about six months, longer if the mom is nursing. But if new bugs go around, they could get sick. It's especially problematic during flu season and RSV season, so doctors encourage moms to avoid large crowds with a newborn, especially in those first few months. But a walk in the park or even a trip to Target can be perfectly safe. Just try to keep strangers from touching the baby, and be sure to wash hands or use hand sanitizer.
14 Holding The Baby Too Much Will Spoil Him
For those first few days or so, moms can't resist holding their newborns as much as possible. But pretty soon they start to want to use their arms for other things. And people start to tell them that they are spoiling the baby by responding to every cry right away and holding the baby all the time. This is an old myth, but that doesn't make it true.
Research has proven that it's impossible to spoil a newborn, especially in the first six months. The baby isn't crying because she feels beholden to a cuddle or just missing mom. People who babywear get a lot of flack these days, but at least they understand the truth — holding the baby won't spoil her at all.
13 Learning Toys Will Give My Baby A Better Start
All moms want their little one to have an edge in life — but these days the worry begins long before college applications are due. In fact, many moms want to help their child be smarter before they even start talking, so that means that they do their best to invest in learning toys.
Those wooden toys are a big business these days, but it's just a myth that they will make your baby smarter. The electronics are just as iffy, although sometimes a lot more expensive. Research shows that play can help children learn, but it's more about imagination than fancy toys. Moms don't need to stress — they can help their children learn in other ways later on.
12 Peanut Butter Needs To Be Avoided
Allergies are major fears these days. That's because the rates of allergy-related incidents have gone up, and there have been a lot of scary stories of children dying within minutes of eating a cookie made in a plant that had peanut contaminants. So moms are understandably anxious, and often they try to avoid allergens as much as possible. Not long ago, doctors recommended keeping newborns away from peanuts, but that isn't the case any more.
Research shows that introducing a newborn to peanuts as early as four to six old can help babies to avoid an allergy. That means that peanut butter (babies can't exactly chew peanuts) should be one of the first foods introduced to the little one. It's important to watch the baby closely any time you introduce a new food in case they are allergic, but the early introduction could mean a lot to avoid a serious peanut allergy.
11 Babies Are Naturals At Breastfeeding
One of the hardest tasks for new mothers is figuring out the feedings, especially if she chooses to breastfeed. And many of them believe that babies are naturals at nursing, which makes them feel like any issues have to be their own. But that's just a myth — some newborns struggle with figuring out breastfeeding just as much as their moms can.
There are a few reasons while little ones can struggle to nurse. That includes a tongue tie or lip tie that can make it hard to latch. And at the beginning newborns are so weak that it's hard to stay awake for an entire nursing session. They have to get the suck, swallow, breathe pattern down, and without it, they might have trouble getting enough milk. The baby has to learn how to latch, just as the mom is getting the hang of holds. It's not anyone's fault if things aren't coming together right away, but moms don't need to take on the entire blame. Instead, they should talk to a lactation consultant and get help in figuring out how to help mom and baby get better at breastfeeding.
10 Newborns Have To Be Wrapped Up All The Time
Just after the baby's birth, after a little bit of snuggle time with mom and dad, most of the time, the nurse will wrap up the baby like a burrito, and most parents think that the little one has to stay that way pretty much for weeks. That's because there is a big concern that the baby won't keep his temperature up. No mom wants her baby to be cold, but it's just a myth that the baby has to be wrapped up at all times.
The first point we need to make is that it is possible for a baby to get overheated. Parents have to be cognizant of the temperature in the room and outside, and the newborn only needs a little bit more clothing to be comfortable than his parents. Also, keeping the baby swaddled can mean that there isn't as much skin-to-skin contact, and doctors have determined that the practice is really great for the baby's bodily functions, including heartbeat, and the baby can keep his own heat (although it's nice to put a blanket over his back). Use common sense and keep the baby warm, but remember that it's a myth that the newborn has to be swaddled all the time.
9 A Long Baby Will Be Tall Later In Life
Getting the baby weighed and measured is the highlight of every doctor's appointment. It's very exciting for moms to see how their little one has grown, but the growth charts are just to track whether the baby is growing properly, and it isn't necessarily an indication that the baby will be tall or short later in life. That's especially true with the height and weight at birth, since a lot of that depends on if the baby was born early or late.
Doctors can look at genetics to try to figure out of the baby is likely to be tall or short later on in life, but the length at birth isn't always an indication. If the baby is always at the 10th percentile, that's OK, as long as the growth continues and the doctor can see a rise in the numbers over time. Some kids might start off small but shoot up during puberty, and others might seem to be tall early on only to level off later. It's a myth to trust that starting number.
8 Birthmarks Will Be With The Baby Forever
Babies don't always look their best from the very beginning. Most moms know that their little conehead will have a better shaped head in the weeks after the birth, but many worry that the baby's birthmarks will remain with him forever. That can be a concern if there are large red marks on the baby's face, but luckily it's just a myth that birthmarks will always be there.
Of course, there are some birthmarks that stay with a baby. But about 80 percent of newborns have some kind of marks and most of them will lose those over time. The majority of birthmarks are vascular in nature, and they tend to fade by the time the baby reaches the age of 2. There are some brown spots, port-wine stains and hemangiomas that can remain for the rest of their lives, although some can be lessened with treatments. But most birthmarks will fade over time.
7 A Fever Is Always a big problem
Mom life with newborns can be stressful, especially if the baby gets sick. But women need to know that it is a myth that a fever is a bad thing. Of course, it can be serious in the first month of life, but there are times when you don't need to worry. A low-grade fever can be a symptom of teething, which might mean the baby is cranky, but he's not sick and it's not a serious situation.
In fact, pediatricians say that a low-grade fever is a sign that when the baby is sick, the body is working to fight an infection. As long as the fever doesn't get too high, it can help the illness to pass. The younger the newborn is, the more a fever can be a worry. Don't worry about calling the pediatricians office, but if the baby is six months old or older and the fever is below 102, it's not a big deal.
6 Walkers Can Help The Baby Get Moving
Baby toys have come a long way in the past few generations, so many parents are tricked into thinking that the toys are actually good for the baby. They think that walkers are great at practice for their little one, but that is just a myth. It's really just a way to make the baby mobile without actually practicing the right muscles to make the walk.
Pediatricians have been against walkers and discourage moms from keeping the baby in bouncy chairs too much. They don't encourage the baby to learn balance, and they can actually mean that it could take longer for the baby to walk — although, as we mentioned earlier, moms shouldn't panic if the baby isn't walking by their first birthday.
5 The Newborn Will Cry When He's Hungry
When you are expecting a baby, you worry about knowing what to do and when to do it. But most moms think that they can rest their worries about when the baby is hungry, since the baby will cry to let them know. But that is just a myth. Moms shouldn't depend on the baby's cry to know when the next feeding is due.
In the first couple of weeks, especially, a newborn might be tempted to sleep through feedings, but moms need to wake the baby every two hours to make sure he gets the nourishment he needs. After that, the mom can watch for rooting and other clues that the baby is hungry, since it's hard to calm the baby down once he is so famished he is crying. It's better to get started early, and not wait until baby starts crying.
4 Babies Need Baths Every Day
Bath time is a big deal when you have a newborn. At the beginning, it's a bit scary, since most babies don't enjoy the water and you have to make sure that you keep the water warm but not too hot and have all the supplies and have to worry about whether the baby goes No. 1 or No. 2 in the water. Luckily, the myth that the baby needs a bath every day isn't true.
Doctors say that parents can skip daily baths with a newborn, as long as they keep the baby clean with wipes and such. In fact, it can dry out the baby's skin to have it every day, especially in the winter. Some parents like to establish a daily routine, and later on it might help establish a bedtime. But in the beginning, it's OK to skip the bath and instead do it every other day or two.
3 Losing Hair And Flat Head Means The Baby Is Never Held
A few decades ago, it was rare to see a baby with a helmet on his head, but these days, it's fairly common. A lot of moms can get judgy that if they see a baby with a helmet or with a patch of no hair on the back of their heads; that's because there is a myth that it only happens if you ignore your baby and never hold him. But that's just not true.
More children are experiencing flat head syndrome and losing hair on the back of their head because of the back to sleep campaign. Pediatricians have stressed the need for newborns to sleep on their backs for more than a decade now, and the campaign has greatly reduced risk. A parent would much rather deal with a helmet for a few months than have to worry about the baby dying, so it's not something that people should judge — especially since the myth isn't true.
2 If The Newborn Doesn't Do No. 2 Every Day, Something Is Wrong
One thing is certain for new parents — they are going to have to change a lot of diapers. Moms expect to change as many as a dozen a day in the first few months of their baby's life, with the number dropping off a little after that. And they expect that at least three or four of them will be stinky. But our perceptions of baby's bowel movements are a myth — it's possible that the baby might not have a No. 2 every day, and still be perfectly healthy.
This is especially true of breastfed babies. For some reason, some babies poo five or six times a day and others only go every other day or even once a week. That single movement is likely to be a blowout, but it doesn't mean that the baby is constipated. If you are worried, talk to the doctor, but don't be surprised if you learn that your baby is defying the myth.
1 Moms And Babies Always Bond Right Away
Our final myth is another one that can make moms feel a lot of stress and worry. Moms think that they should feel an instant bond with their baby, especially since they have been carrying their little one inside their bodies for nine months. But it's just a myth that moms and babies have magical, instant connections. For a good portion of women, it can take a while.
Babies instantly know their mothers, as they can recognize their voice and their smell right away. But moms don't have the ability to instantly recognize their child. On top of that, many end up going through traumatic experiences with their labor and delivery or even an emergency C-section. It is hard to feel a rush of love when you are exhausted. But for most moms that feeling comes eventually. It might take time, and it doesn't make you a bad mom, but moms should know it will happen eventually.