#4. Babies should learn to eat on a schedule. Myth or Science?
Comments: Routines can enhance security for older babies and toddlers, as long as parents are flexible. But human needs should not be sacrificed to schedules; humans are not designed to be slaves to a clock. Strict feeding schedules not only force babies to suffer the discomfort/pain of hunger, they make it impossible for parents to have the attuned, responsive relationship so necessary for children’s positive emotional and social development. Rigid feeding schedules interfere with the milk supply of breastfeeding mothers, often leading to early weaning and to early return of fertility. Widely-spaced feedings often deprive babies of the full complement of nutrients and calories they need, stunting their growth. “Scheduled” babies have even had to get medical treatment for dehydration and failure-to-thrive.
The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) and organizations such as La Leche League International recommend that babies be fed whenever they indicate they are hungry. Allowing babies and older children to eat when they’re hungry and to refuse food if they’re not teaches them that food is for satisfying hunger, not for pleasing parents, managing feelings, or obeying the clock. In this way power struggles are avoided and eating disorders are often prevented.
Answer: Statement #4 is a MYTH.
Comments: If your 5-year-old were calling you from another room, you wouldn’t wait till he or she STOPPED calling you to go see what the problem was, would you? Yet that’s what many “experts” recommend you do to your baby: ignore him so you don’t “teach” him to cry more. Crying is not a random, meaningless behavior that you will “reinforce” if you respond to it. It’s a way to communicate. Responding to babies’ communications teaches them that someone is listening, that someone cares. Responding quickly to crying teaches babies that they are not powerless, that they can bring about a response from the world and the people in it. It inoculates them against depression, which involves feeling powerless and hopeless. Babies who are consistently responded to learn they can trust their parents to “be there” for them….Toddlers and older children CAN learn to be manipulative if parents give in to demands for candy or toys when they throw a fit. But babies don’t have the cognitive ability to manipulate, or to “self-soothe” either, so parents should take their communications seriously, and respond to them with sensitivity.
Answer: Statement #5 is a MYTH.
#6. Babies should be able to sleep through the night by the time they’re about 4 months old. Myth or Science?
Comments: This belief has resulted in many unfortunate babies being given sedative medication and/or being “sleep-trained,” which means they are left alone to “cry it out.” But it is normal for babies to wake up during the night throughout the first year and beyond. Night waking is not a problem that needs to be treated, and it is not a hardship for parents if their babies sleep within arm’s reach, especially if they’re breastfed. In fact, being aware of infant night waking because the baby was within arm's reach has led to many lives being saved. Parents have reported awakening to silent seizures, fevers and babies who had stopped breathing, and were able to take action in time to save them.
Answer: Statement #6 is a MYTH.
#7. Good parents know instinctively what to do in every situation. Myth or Science?
Comments: Having good role models is definitely helpful, since we tend to “go with what we know.” However, it can be hard to judge what “good parenting” is, since people often think “I turned out well, so what my parents did must’ve been right.” Maybe we turned out well in spite of some of the things our parents did, or maybe we didn’t turn out as well as we’d like to think. Either way, it’s time for the importance of preparing our citizens for parenthood to be acknowledged. Raising children to be decent adults who are emotionally and physically healthy is the most important and challenging job a person can ever have, yet our society does nothing to prepare its citizens for it. We are not systematically preparing parents or parents-to-be with scientifically supported information. So many parents continue to follow the advice of the so-called “experts” who for decades have been telling us to leave our babies alone to “cry it out” so they will become “independent.” This counter-productive “independence-training” has contributed to the extremely high rates in our culture of depression and addictions of all kinds, to the widespread lack of empathy and human connectedness that results in corporate and “street” sociopathy, as well as problems such as chronic fatigue, headaches, digestive problems and high blood pressure. It is time to make sure that every parent learns about the scientific findings that support a respectful, responsive and relationship-oriented parenting approach. No one expects a teacher to “just know” what to do. Why do we expect parents to “just know” what to do? We should learn as much as we can about the science and art of parenting, and find good support for the most important and challenging job we’ll ever have.
Answer: Statement # 7 is a MYTH.
How did you do?
Don’t be surprised if much of what you believed turned out to be a myth. Many parents and professionals are still not aware of these findings, and many of those who are aware do not want to admit they were "wrong," so they pass on their old, mistaken beliefs.
But if you completed this quiz, that means you have an open mind and are willing to change your beliefs and infant-rearing practices if presented with good evidence and with good reasons for doing so. You and your whole family will benefit!
Parenting for a Caring World
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#5. Picking up babies every time they cry results in them becoming spoiled and manipulative. Myth or Science?
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