When you have a baby, you're usually inundated with advice from well-meaning friends and family members. Although veteran parents can be a great source of tried and true wisdom, they're also sometimes guilty of spreading old wives' tale that are way more harmful than helpful. That being said, not all old wives' tale are nonsense. There are some old wives' tales about baby safety that are true, and actually worth listening to.
You'll probably start hearing old wives' tales the moment you announce you're pregnant. There are tons of these tales about how to tell whether you're expecting a boy or girl, and so far as I can tell none of them are really rooted in fact or science. (Of course, they all have a 50 percent chance of being right, which are pretty good odds.) Then there are the ones you'll hear after your baby is born— like slathering them in rubbing alcohol to lower a fever or bathing them in a bottle of Guinness— that can be downright dangerous. As with all parenting advice, you should never hesitate to run it by your pediatrician if you're having trouble separating fact from fiction.
Here are nine old wives' tales you can safely listen to, and why they're sound advice.
1. Walkers And Bouncers Can Be Dangerous
Moms from older generations might see your baby in a walker and gasp with horror. And it turns out, they're right to be wary of these contraptions. According to The New York Times, walkers can actually cause delays in a baby's motor development. They also have a tendency to lead to accidents, because they can cause your baby to fall down stairs or give them a boost to reach dangerous things like the stove.
2. Cats Can't Always Be Trusted Around Babies
No, your cat isn't going to steal your baby's soul or suck their breath away. That very specific part of the old wives' tale isn't true. But that doesn't mean you should always trust your feline friend around your baby. According to Kids Health, you should always keep a watchful eye on cats and other pets when they're near your baby, and make sure you introduce them to each other gradually so they can both get used to it and avoid any bad behavior.
3. Sterilize Everything
Your mom or grandma may have sterilized any and all baby bottles in a big vat of boiling water, so they may wonder why you're simply tossing yours into the dishwasher. But in turns out there are some cases where you should indeed go back to the old school way of sterilizing everything. According to Parents, you'll want to sterilize your baby bottles before the first use, and continue doing it if you have well water. You might also want to sterilize things any time your child has been sick, to make sure the germs are gone for good.
4. Thumb Sucking Can Mess Up A Little One's Teeth
You don't need to worry about an infant sucking on their thumb, no matter how much people tell you that you should stop ASAP. But you shouldn't ignore the behavior forever, because thumb-sucking can have a negative affect on your child's teeth in the long run according to the University of Utah. If thumb sucking that starts in the baby days is still going on by the time your child's adult teeth are coming in, around age 4 or 5, it might cause buck teeth.
5. Taking A Small Baby Outside Is Dangerous
Stepping foot outside with a newborn isn't dangerous, no matter how much grandma claims. You will, however, want to be mindful about bringing a baby out into crowded public places according to Parenting. The more people they're exposed to, the more germs they can come into contact with.
6. Rocking A Baby To Sleep Can Be A Bad Habit
Older generations sometimes see rocking your baby to sleep as a bad habit that will spoil your child. Although there's nothing really wrong with those nighttime snuggles, you do run the risk of your baby becoming too dependent on you to put them to sleep, according to the Baby Sleep Site. Rocking can become a sleep association and, if they can't fall asleep without being rocked, you might find yourself trapped in the nursery for hours at a time.
7. You Should Feed A Fever
The old saying goes, "Feed a fever, starve a cold." Although you can ignore that last part (because you should obviously never starve your child), the first part is totally true. When your baby has a fever, it's important to keep them hydrated by offering lots of milk and bland solids if they've started eating them, according to Medline Plus.
8. Loud Noises Can Damage A Baby's Hearing
You probably know that things like a loud concert or a fireworks display can hurt your baby's ears, but you might not realize how loud some of your household items are. According to Live Strong, about 80 decibels is considered a safe noise level for babies. But even things like their toys can be much louder than that, especially if your little one is clutching it tightly right near their head. Don't be afraid to take out the batteries or cover up the speaker to make them safer for little ears.
9. Formula Is Just As Good
Moms who happily used formula for their babies a few decades ago are often more than little perplexed by the zealousness of today's "breast is best" crowd. Although breast milk does obviously have its benefits, according to the U.S. News and World Report, a recent study found that by the time children are around 5 or so, there's no real difference between kids who were breastfed and those who were formula fed. Of course, mom's well-being and sanity plays a role, too. If formula is what works for you, then go right ahead.