The Myths of Motherhood

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The Myths of Motherhood
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Tea bags in diapers? Whiskey for teething? There is no shortage of strange advice for new mothers, and sorting fact from fiction can be a daunting task. When it comes to mothering, everyone (and their mother) seems to know best but what do the experts say? We enlisted pediatricians to help us determine which of those wives tales are myths.

MYTH: Babies Need Pacifiers
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MYTH: Babies Need Pacifiers

“A pacifier is simply one tool to calm the self; another might be the baby’s wrist, thumb or fingers,” says Dr. Marc Tanenbaum, head of Atlanta’s Priority Pediatrics. “Once you help your baby learn that a calming tool is at the end of the arm, with any luck he will put it in his mouth long before he learns to put a pacifier in his mouth." Keep directing his hand towards his mouth to soothe him. This method of calming will phase out as the toddler ages.

Related: The False and Downright Crazy Things New Parents Are Told

MYTH: Bottles Need to Be Boiled
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MYTH: Bottles Need to Be Boiled

“Although there are parts of the world where this is true, we’re fortunate in the U.S. to have a water supply that is the envy of the world,” Tanenbaum says. “Cleanliness, not sterility, is the goal, so the dishwasher will suffice.”

MYTH: Thumb-sucking Causes Buck Teeth
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MYTH: Thumb-sucking Causes Buck Teeth

“Digit habits or extended pacifier use can cause flaring, or buck teeth, but it depends on the age of the child if it will be temporary or permanent,” says Dr. Ketan Sukkawala of Brazos Valley Pediatric Dentistry in College Station, Texas. “For example, if a 2-year-old child has a digit or pacifier habit and stops by age 4, the flaring will probably be temporary. Once the habit is eliminated, the flared teeth will naturally reposition because we’ve eliminated the source of the flaring."

MYTH: You Don't Have to Worry About Cavities in Baby Teeth
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MYTH: You Don't Have to Worry About Cavities in Baby Teeth

“Primary teeth serve many purposes, including chewing and speech, and they hold the space for permanent teeth," Sukkawala says. "Cavities in baby teeth can lead to pain and infections, which can disrupt school attendance, overall development and self-esteem.” The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children be seen by a dentist six months after they get their first tooth or at 12 months.

MYTH: Use Whiskey On The Gums to Soothe Teething Pain
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MYTH: Use Whiskey On The Gums to Soothe Teething Pain

“There are several options for teething pain," says Sukkawala, who does not recommend using either whiskey or aspirin on gums. "These include teething tabs, cold teething rings and over-the-counter medicines such as baby acetaminophen."

MYTH: Putting Your Baby on Her Back is Bad
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MYTH: Putting Your Baby on Her Back is Bad

In 1996, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that babies sleep only on their backs. Since then, “incidences of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in the U.S. have fallen by more than 50 percent,” Tanenbaum says. "Healthy babies don’t choke on spit-up lying on their backs; they die in their sleep lying on their stomachs."

MYTH: The Soft Spot on a Baby's Head Should Not Be Touched
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MYTH: The Soft Spot on a Baby's Head Should Not Be Touched

Tanenbaum assures parents that “the baby’s skull is not hard bone for a while after birth, but a parent can touch the soft spot in a loving way. Gentle contact to your baby’s body is always appropriate. Any other type of contact never is, regardless of which part of the body we’re talking about. Gently brush the hair, wash the scalp and enjoy parenting."

MYTH: Put a Tea Bag in a Baby's Diaper to Get Rid of Diaper Rash
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MYTH: Put a Tea Bag in a Baby's Diaper to Get Rid of Diaper Rash

“A wet tea bag in a diaper is likely to cause an irritated rash and tea-stained skin," Tanenbaum says. "A dry tea bag is also unlikely to help, and I bet it won’t stay dry long.” Instead, ask your pediatrician what is recommended for diaper rash and take Tanenbaum's advice: “Enjoy that tea bag in your favorite tea cup."

MYTH: Expose Diaper Rash to Sunlight
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MYTH: Expose Diaper Rash to Sunlight

"Exposure to the air on occasion helps the skin dry out and heal," Tanenbaum explains. However, "don’t trade diaper rash for sunburn. Use sunblock with an SPF 15 to 30 on all exposed areas when outside, and avoid the peak sun of the day."

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