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  • 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.