Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Aliza Pressman: "Baby walkers help babies walk." Baby walkers do not help babies walk. Blair Hammond: "Picking up a crying baby will spoil them." Pressman: Picking up a crying baby will not spoil them. Hammond: "Putting honey on a dummy," aka a pacifier, "will help with teething." This is a dangerous myth, actually. "Teething can cause fevers." I get paged about this myth all the time. Hi and welcome. I'm Dr. Blair Hammond. I'm a general pediatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital. Pressman: And I'm Dr. Aliza Pressman. I'm a developmental psychologist and cofounder of the Mount Sinai Parenting Center. The other cofounder. Hammond: The other. We did it together. Today we're going to be actually talking about debunking myths with babies. Ready, Aliza? Pressman: Let's do it. Hammond: All right! First myth. Pressman: "Babies who walk and talk early are the brightest of their peer group." Even though an early talker may tend to do better in language skills later in life, it doesn't mean that children who are not early talkers aren't going to equal or rise above those talkers. And with walkers, which is a different thing, that's motor development. Motor development is better at predicting delays and associations with other issues that may arise. So if you notice there's a delay in walking, that's an important thing to talk to your pediatrician about. But it is not necessarily true or likely true that an early walker is going to get you into Harvard. Hammond: "Never wake a sleeping baby." And this is a myth in particular in the first few weeks of life. So, newborn babies really need to feed frequently, and if you happen to have a sleepy baby, you would actually wake them every three to four hours to feed at that time. Pressman: That's right. Between five and six weeks of age, day and night sleep is organized. So if they're sleeping more than three, three and a half hours during the day, at that point, you really want to give them a little nudge so that you can get them nice, consolidated sleep in the nighttime. Hammond: As children get older, you can let them sleep longer periods of time. Pressman: "Lullabies help babies sleep." [laughs] This one is actually sort of a myth, but not completely, because the act of singing a lullaby, that calming music, can calm both you and your baby. But it isn't a magic pill that is going to make sure that your baby falls asleep. Finding ways to soothe your infant, especially using music and touch is, of course, going to relax them and induce a sleepier state. Hammond: "Naps aren't necessary." Pressman: Oh. Hammond: In young children and babies, naps are necessary. Pressman: Very. Hammond: I always say that people who are like, "I'm gonna keep my baby up all day so they sleep all night in that first year of life," you're going to have an angry baby, and that is not going to be a fun baby to take care of. And, in fact, in this young age, especially that first year of life, we really do focus on naps to help your baby actually learn better, control their behavior, and fall asleep better. Because an overly tired baby is actually going to sleep worse. Pressman: You really need to keep even one nap. You don't want your infant or toddler awake more than about five hours at a time. So, up until three years of age, naps are really important for daytime behavior, emotional development, and nighttime organized, consolidated sleep. "Babies should be sleeping through the night by three months." Hammond: We all hope for that. Every mother wishes that. Pressman: If your baby isn't sleeping through the night because they need to have a feeding or two feedings, that's OK. Up until four months, you really want to let your infant direct how that's going to go. And then, starting after four months, between four and six months, you can think about your influence on their nighttime sleep. Hammond: And you might lose your friends if you keep bragging about your 3-month-old who's sleeping through the night and they have a 3-month-old who's not. Oh, this is a good one. Pressman: "Certain toys will make babies smarter." Hammond: Right? Pressman: Myth. Hammond: Myth. Pressman: The myth is that it's the toy making the baby smarter. What helps your baby grow smarter is the interaction between you and your baby while playing with a toy. If you just stick a baby down with a bunch of blocks, your baby is not growing smarter from those toys. The best way to grow your baby's brain in that first year of life is through interaction with a caregiver, and you can then talk about the toy, describe the toy, support your infant's discovery of the toy through language and descriptions, but the toys itself are never going to make your baby smarter. Another thing to keep in mind is that when you are playing with your baby, you might find yourself using a singsong voice with high-pitch sounds and, like, a big, exaggerated face. And some people might even think you're talking baby talk. The truth is that that is called "parentese," and it is one of the most important uses of language. When you use that voice and you say, like: "[gasps] Look at that block you're playing with! Is that a brown block? Are you putting that on top of a blue block?" The important part of that is that your language is so engaging that parentese actually is associated with such boosts in language development later in life. Now, baby talk, where you're saying "goo goo gaa gaa goo goo gaa gaa," that is not useful for anyone, except if it gives you tremendous delight and you just can't help yourself and you really just need to just get in there with that baby. It's your language and your interaction and your use of parentese that's gonna really get you that boost in intellectual development that you are hoping to get from the toy. Hammond: "Bouncing babies will cause them to be bowlegged." I hear this all the time. In fact, I have lots of parents say to me right after a baby's born, "Oh, no, he's bowlegged!" And the interesting thing is it's because when a baby is in the womb, most babies actually have their legs crossed. So they come out a little bowed-looking, and it is normal for the legs to actually have that appearance. And many babies have that instinct to want to stand and bear weight on their legs, and that is actually fantastic for their motor development. You're socially engaging with them, but you're also helping them develop muscle strength and control. So this is absolutely a myth. Many grandparents are into it. They're also like, "Don't let your baby sit till they're ready, 'cause it's gonna ruin their back." That is another myth. Pressman: I would only add: You don't need a contraption. So, a jumper is not a good way to help a baby develop. Hammond: Yep. Because they go more on the toes, and that's something that's not recommended by most developmental specialists. Pressman: "Excessive crying means something is wrong." If you're feeling like your infant is excessively crying, the first thing that you want to do is talk to your pediatrician to make sure that there isn't anything wrong medically. Hammond: You sort of do a one-over on your whole baby to make sure, "All right, my baby seems OK, my baby's fed, my baby's peed and pooped, whatever, what's going on here?" And then often it's just, they're so awake and frazzled, they can't calm their body down at this young age. The most fussy period is between three to six weeks of life. And there is something called infant colic, which people have probably heard about. And the definition of colic is crying at least three hours a day, at least three days of the week, for at least three weeks. A good thing I tell parents is if the baby calms down when you're shaking them in a gentle rocking way, shushing them, and you're like, "Oh, if I hold the baby, they stop crying, but every time I put them down, they cry." That's reassuring to me that there's not some real painful issue going on and that the baby is comforted by you and just needs that help. In general, I say to people, if the baby cries more than an hour straight and nothing is calming them down, check in with your pediatrician. Pressman: And you could be doing everything right and it's not going to stop the baby from crying in the short term, but again, you will be helping their long-term development. Hammond: "Picking up a crying baby will spoil them." Pressman: Picking up a crying baby will not spoil them. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. Hammond: People are often very worried about spoiling young infants. Pressman: Please spoil your young infants. Hammond: Yes, fall in love. I say my job as a pediatrician is to help you fall in love with your baby. I want you to touch that baby. I want you to snuggle the baby. And the feeling a baby has of being upset and crying and stressed, and then when they calm with you, that actually teaches their brain to go from upset to calm, and that is a life skill. Now, as your child gets older, can you spoil a baby or a child who's crying and saying, "I need lollipops for dinner"? Pressman: Yes, you can. Hammond: Obviously! Do not then just pick them up and give them the lollipop. That is a totally different thing. In these first months of life, comforting your baby and calming their body down actually helps them be calmer humans long-term. Oh. "Putting honey on a dummy," aka a pacifier, "will help with teething." This is a dangerous myth, actually. Some myths are just like, your friends are talking about that, don't believe it. This one is actually dangerous. Babies should not have honey in the first year of life.