Debunking Some Common Myths of Newborns and Young Children

Dr Jane Lee

 

People often like to give advice to new parents, yet much of this so-called advice is not based on evidence. And it’s challenging in today’s world of technology and social media to judge the truth from the legend.

Dr. Jane Lee, a GP and medical director at Global Healthcare debunks six common baby myths.

# MYTH 1

Picking up a crying baby too promptly will spoil them.

In short, no! Research shows babies whose needs are met quickly as infants become more secure and confident as children. Crying is one of the few ways infants communicate with caregivers. Establishing routines and learning the cues that your baby is giving are useful tools to understand your baby’s needs.

# MYTH 2

A baby’s length at birth will predict their future height.

There is no proven way to predict a child’s height as an adult from birth length. However, height is largely controlled by genetics. In order to optimise a child’s growth, it is important to pay attention to healthy balanced nutrition, good sleep hygiene and regular physical activities.

# MYTH 3

Naps are not necessary.

Naps are an essential part of the daily routine particularly for young children. A little snooze in the afternoon provides rest and recharge in their rapidly developing bodies and minds. There is a myth that children who nap during the daytime may struggle to sleep at night but much research has proven this otherwise. Children who are overly tired may have difficulty falling asleep easily at nighttime.

Newborns may sleep up to 18 hours daily. As they grow, babies can take multiple naps a day and eventually drop down to one nap per day. It is also important to understand that each child is different. In general, toddlers need about 12-14 hours of sleep a day including naps. If your child doesn’t nap but gets a decent night’s sleep and is not restless during the day, there is no cause for concern.

# MYTH 4

Teething causes fever.

Most babies start teething between 4 to 12 months. The usual signs are not difficult to spot. Reduced feeding, irritability, excessive drooling and crankiness. As a pearly little tooth is poking through their gums, the gingival inflammation can increase the body temperature ever so slightly but it doesn’t directly cause fever. Coincidentally, this age group is more susceptible to various infections. If your child has a fever, don’t just put it down to teething. It is perfectly reasonable to manage them at home but if you have any doubt, bring them to a GP or paediatrician for medical attention.

# MYTH 5

Small doses of adult medicine are safe for children.

Never! Children are not just smaller versions of adults. Common adult OTC (over-the-counter) medications can potentially be life-threatening to a child. Not all medicines are safe for children and certain brand names may be sold in different strengths and formulas in another country. This is particularly relevant to many of us living in a diverse expatriated community. It is not uncommon for people to share their over-stocked medications to someone who can make good use of it.

However, this carries risk as many medications with the same name from another country can easily be double the usual dosage in aother person’s region. It is also often written in a different language which complicates the matter. The amount and directions are different for children of different ages and weights. Always read the small print and also learn the active ingredients before administering to your child.#

MYTH 6

If you don’t feel strong affection towards your baby at birth, you will struggle to develop a bond with your child in the future.

We often assume that giving birth automatically triggers unconditional love and joy. But after a long and painful delivery, this red wrinkly person who cried loudly often induces anxiety and frustration. Parenting is never easy especially if this is your first child.

The overwhelming sense of responsibility, a sore and exhausted body coupled with fluctuating hormones can often cause slow bonding and it is OKAY! Not everyone falls in love with their baby at first sight. It will slowly come to you before you know it. If you struggle with low mood, sadness and guilt after having a baby, speak to your GP and get some help.

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Dr Jane Lee is a GP and medical director at Global Healthcare (GHC). She received her Clinical Medicine degree at Oxford University, United Kingdom and was trained in John Radcliffe Hospital.

She is a board-certified General Practitioner with special clinical interests in Child Health, Women’s Health an Dermatology. She is also member of the Royal College of General Practitioners and certified in Advanced Adult Life Support, Child Protection Level 3 and Adult Safeguarding.

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