20 parenting myths that need to get busted—now!

In this age where parenting advice is coming at you from all sides—TV, websites, in-laws, social media—it can be hard to take it all in without hearing the messaging as:

By Shelley White, Espresso

In this age where parenting advice is coming at you from all sides—TV, websites, in-laws, social media—it can be hard to take it all in without hearing the messaging as: “You’re doing it all wrong!” Here, we bust some of the biggest parenting myths that make parents feel insecure, from breastfeeding to sleep training to giving your child a pacifier.

Myth No. 1 – You must sleep-train your child

Getting your infant to sleep at night like a normal human being can be challenging, to say the least. And as soon as you become a parent, at least one person in your life will swear up and down that letting your child cry it out is the only way to get your baby to sleep. But the truth is, sleep training isn’t for everyone.

Myth No. 2 – You shouldn’t rock or nurse your baby to sleep

Closely related to parenting myth No. 1 is this load of baloney: don’t dare rock or nurse your baby to sleep, or else your child will never learn to sleep without it! Fact is, these methods to settle and calm babies have been used by moms and dads for hundreds of years (and probably more). That’s because they work. 

Myth No. 3 – Pacifiers will ruin your children

For some people, pacifiers are the devil. These people will tell you that pacis will ruin a child’s teeth or interfere with breastfeeding or turn your kid into, well, a big baby. But there are benefits to pacifiers. They can be a useful way to soothe a baby and may even reduce SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Plus, unlike sucking a thumb, you can break the habit by having a “Goodbye, Pacifier” party when the child is two or three years old.

Myth No. 4 – You need to be tough on tantrums

Kids freak out sometimes. It’s a known fact. And there will always be someone who shakes their head when your child has a meltdown in a public place, telling you that you should discipline your child for his or her misbehaviour. But yelling at your kid for having a tantrum is the last thing you should do. You won’t spoil your child by staying calm—you’ll actually be helping them calm down themselves. 

Myth No. 5 – Parenting will come naturally when your baby is born

Many moms- and dads-to-be feel apprehensive before baby is born. Diapers, breastfeeding, milestones—it can all seem overwhelming and foreign. There are people who will tell you, “Don’t worry, it will all come naturally once you see that little face.” But that’s not always the way it goes. And that’s okay. As long as you are trying, that’s all that matters. If you’re struggling, calling on a trusted friend, family member or professional for help is always a great idea.

Myth No. 6 – Sleep when the baby sleeps

This one isn’t a bad idea at all. The myth part is that it’s not always so easy to sleep when junior is in dreamland. While some parents can start sawing logs at the drop of a hat, not everyone has the ability to take regular naps like a baby. If you can’t seem to sleep when your baby does, don’t beat yourself up about it. 

Myth No. 7 – Enjoy every moment

When you’re a new parent, there’s always going to be someone who says, “Be sure to enjoy every moment—they grow up so fast.” But not every moment is going to be enjoyable. Parents should be allowed times of frustration, or irritation, or boredom. And they don’t need to be constantly told to savour the moment. Sometimes, it’s okay to be glad a moment is over. (Twins with stomach flu comes to mind.)

Myth No. 8 – You should be making your own baby food

Somewhere down the line, this became a thing we’re all supposed to be doing—mushing up fruits and vegetables into baby-ready goops and purees. But we don’t all have the time or the inclination to do so. Store-bought baby food is healthy and convenient. Yes, the packaging is wasteful, so keep it to recyclable packaging if you can. But purchasing your baby’s meals should not be a source of shame. We already have too many of those.

Myth No. 9 – It gets easier the second time around

This is a myth that many parents would like to believe, especially when baby number two makes an appearance. But the truth is that every baby is different, so even if you think you’ve got this parenting thing down, the challenges of your new kid might throw all your expertise out the window. 

Myth No. 10 – Breastfeeding is the only way

You’ve heard it before: breast is best. And while we’re not going to dispute the many benefits of breastfeeding, it’s very important for parents to know that it’s okay to bottle-feed your child. Too many women have been wracked with guilt and shame after not being able to breastfeed, and it’s just not right. Children can thrive on formula, so don’t let anyone tell you they can’t.

Myth No. 11 – Never wake a sleeping baby

At face value, this concept seems to make a lot of sense. It can be hard to get a baby to sleep. So why would you wake him? Well, there can be very valid reasons. Maybe your baby is napping too late, which could mess with their bedtime. Or maybe you want to occasionally stay late at a friend’s house. It’s perfectly fine to let your babe fall asleep there, and then have to wake her up when you head home. Don’t be a slave to baby’s sleep time ALL the time.

Myth No. 12 – After you have a kid, you’ll never go out again

This is usually said by snarky people who don’t have kids, or sour parents who are going through a rough patch. Sure, it can be tough to make the time for a date night when you’re taking care of a baby. But it can be done. All it takes is a great babysitter (or kind grandparents) and some fun ideas.

Myth No. 13 – Kids need to clean their plates

Parents have probably been telling kids to clean their plates since the dawn of time. After all, we want kids to eat the healthy stuff we give them and not unhealthy snacks later. However, pressuring your kid to eat everything on their plates can lead to overeating and disordered thinking around food. It’s better to let them decide when they are full. And if they want to play with their food—why not? It might even lead to a bite.

Myth No. 14 – Babies need bland food

Ever noticed that the food we usually give babies is super boring? And probably not what we ourselves would be interested in eating? It’s a good idea to introduce babies to different flavours and textures by the time they are nine months, so they’ll be more likely to accept different types of foods later on. Bring on the garlic!

Myth No. 15 – Sugar makes kids hyper

Let’s call it the birthday party myth. Kids get hopped up on sugary cake and juice and candy and it makes them run wild. Sound reasonable? The problem is that science doesn’t support this theory. Research has shown that sugar doesn’t affect behaviour in that way. But parents’ expectations about sugar highs colour how they view their children’s behaviour. In other words, it’s all in your head, so don’t worry about that cotton candy.

Myth No. 16 – Feeding a baby solid food will help her sleep through the night

Are you hoping that adding cereal to your baby’s daily routine will save you a couple of feedings in the night? Maybe, but unfortunately most of the research in this area shows that what a baby eats has nothing to do with how well they sleep. That doesn’t mean solid foods aren’t a good idea, but don’t expect them to work wonders with your little night owl.

Myth No. 17 – Bribing your kids is bad

Well, this one is half-right. Bribing your kids isn’t a great way to change their behaviour. However, there is a right way to bribe your child. A silly rhyme or song can reward a toddler who lets you put her shoes on. Or the promise of a special outing can keep two siblings from fighting in the car. 

Myth No. 18 – You need to be quiet when baby is sleeping

In order to cajole their baby to sleep, many parents will tip-toe around, keeping the environment as quiet as possible. But many babies sleep just fine with noise, music, talking and general hubbub going on. In fact, some children need noise to fall asleep, and that can be a good thing. If your child can fall, and stay, asleep with the sounds of the world going on around him, you won’t need to disconnect your doorbell or beg your dog to stop barking after 7 pm.

Myth No. 19 – You need to buy your children fancy, expensive toys

When cruising through a toy store, it can be dazzling. And not just for the kids. Parents can fall for high-priced, beautifully crafted toys, thinking these objets d’art will both entertain the young ones and also look cute on the sofa. But don’t forget that most toddlers will be more than happy with the run-of-the-mill stuff around your house. Kitchen items like ice cream scoopers, whisks, Tupperware, pots and pans are particularly fun. 

Myth No. 20 – That parent is a better parent than I am

We’ve all felt that way at one time or another. We see images of what look like perfect families on social media or in real life and we think, “Clearly, I suck at this.” But guess what? Perfect is an unattainable illusion. Those people face parenting challenges just like you do. They’re just better at hiding it. Give yourself a high-five, because loving your kids—that’s half the battle.


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Lifestyle Magazine: 20 parenting myths that need to get busted—now!
20 parenting myths that need to get busted—now!
In this age where parenting advice is coming at you from all sides—TV, websites, in-laws, social media—it can be hard to take it all in without hearing the messaging as:
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