7 Myths Doctors Can't Believe Parents Still Believe
Learn the truth behind these medical parenting myths and why doctors want you to abandon them ASAP!
Advancements in the medical community have brought forth a wide array of changes, understandings, and beliefs in the medical community. Unfortunately, there is still a myriad of myths that linger on in the collective conscious of parents everywhere. David L. Hill, M.D., paediatrician, author, speaker, and dad recently shared a list of the top myths that parents still believe that—as a doctor—he simply can’t believe are still thought to be fact.
Check out Dr. Hill’s list of parenting myths that parents still believe and the truth behind these fabrications!
1. Walkers help babies learn how to walk
According to Dr. Hill, “Pediatricians don’t think babies should ever be in walkers for two reasons. First, the best data show that compared with children without walkers, those who use them are slower to sit, crawl, and walk on their own. Second—and even more important—babies in walkers could easily ‘walk’ to a staircase and fall right down the steps.”
As a matter of fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has worked diligently to discontinue the production and distribution of walkers with wheels for decades. Of course, they’re still available, but with so many experts warning of the negatives of such a product it’s hard to imagine a reason to seek one. Parents are better off sticking to a stationary activity centre for their babies.
2. Juice is good for your children
“[T]here can be a place for 100% fruit juice in a child’s diet after age 6 months, overconsumption of juice—which is full of sugar—can lead to tooth decay, excessive flatulence, and obesity, says Dr. Hill. “Plus, when juice is offered before or during meals, it can discourage children from eating real food, which could lead them to become underweight.”
Most doctors–Dr. Hill included–believe that kids ages 1 to 6 should be limiting their intake of juice to about 6 ounces a day. Children over the age of 6 should drink no more than 12 ounces a day. In general, the preferred beverage of doctors is water. If you want to spruce up the water, try adding a dash of freshly squeezed lemon juice or fruit wedges!
3. The B.R.A.T. diet can help your child’s diarrheal problems
Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. That’s the B.R.A.T. diet and the idea is that it can alleviate a kid’s diarrhoea. For decades doctors believed this myth as well, but as times change, so do ideas.
“The BRAT diet,” Dr. Hill claims, “provides limited nutritional value, making it harder to fight off infection and gain strength, and there’s no evidence to suggest that it’s better than anything else at resolving diarrhoea (although the pectin in bananas may be helpful). More modern thinking on diarrhoea recovery emphasises keeping a child on her usual diet unless vomiting prohibits her having solid foods.”
“Just avoid sugary foods—like soda, cookies, and candy—which can make your kid feel worse,” he adds.
4. Adding cereal to your baby’s bottle will help them sleep
The general idea behind this age-old myth was that infants wake up hungry at night, so, feeding your baby cereal before bedtime will keep them full for longer…and asleep for longer. Well, Dr. Hill and other specialists believe now that feeding your baby cereal at too young of an age can have a number of adverse health effects on your baby!
“An infant’s digestive system is not ready for solid foods, including baby cereal, until about 6 months of age. Feeding solids earlier can lead to gagging, inhaling food into the lungs, choking, obesity, and food allergies,” claims Dr. Hill.
However, “There is one exception: Doctors will sometimes advise parents to thicken formula or breast milk as a treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD),” he adds. “If your baby is seeing a doctor for reflux, make sure you get specific directions before you alter his bottles. In all other cases, be patient: Your baby will be sleeping better before you know it.”
5. Teething can result in fever or diarrhoea
This old parenting myth has been around longer than you may know. Apparently, records going back more than 5,000 years show that healers once assumed teething caused seizures, vomiting, paralysis, and even childhood death!
Teething-which occurs around 6-months and ends at around age 3–does cause some problems for babies. Among them: drooling, chewing, gum-rubbing, and some irritability, decreased appetite for solid foods, and a mild temperature. However, no evidence points to severe fevers or diarrhoea occurring as a direct result of teething.
“When those symptoms occur in a child, we have to look for a cause other than teething and treat it if necessary,” Hill suggests.
6. Parents should turn the car seat forward when their child is a year old
Hill reports that “[o]f the 1,500 children a year who die in traffic accidents in the United States, half are neither in a car seat nor wearing a seat belt.”
A few years back, the AAP updated its guidelines to recommend that children face rear until age 2 or until they reach their seat’s maximum height and weight limit (usually 40 to 50 pounds). Research has shown that rear-facing toddlers are five times safer than ones facing forward, possibly because of the protection the seats offer a child’s head, neck, and spine. Rather than switching to a forward-facing seat at age 1, the AAP now lists age 2 as the minimum age.
Using a child car restraint is an absolute necessity, however, they have to be used the right way to ensure maximum safety. Don’t take any dangerous risks with this parenting myth, parents.
7. Vaccines can cause autism
This has been one of the most debated theories in the medical community and the realm of parenting for years. The claim is those common vaccinations for sicknesses like measles and mumps can result in children developing autism. The problem is that these claims have never been proven and are often perpetuated by overly-cautious parents who’ve yet to conduct any research to support their theories.
Dr. Hill claims that more and more parents are straying away from the vaccine-hesitant mentality. In fact, he even endorses parents to do their own research if they wish: “I’m always happy to refer them to the more than 20 articles showing that the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR) doesn’t cause autism—as well as the one retracted and highly discredited article that had erroneously suggested that it might. To save time, they could also look at a recent report that analyzed 20,478 articles on vaccine safety and still didn’t find any vaccine-autism link. Now that’s what I call good research!” he claims.