Having a baby is exciting—and watching your bundle of joy grow into a little being with their personality is fun, wonderful, and stressful. While fulfilling, parenting is a job that doesn’t come with a manual, and new moms and dads often turn to friends and family for sage advice.
Here, we debunk some common myths about babies with straight-up facts—and let you know when you can expect certain behaviors in your baby’s development.
MYTH: EXCESSIVE CRYING IS BAD.
FACT: No, excessive crying isn’t bad. Babies cry—a lot, especially at the newborn stage when it’s their primary way of communicating. On average, newborns cry for about two hours each day (not consecutively).
Crying may signal the baby is hungry, tired, overstimulated, too hot or cold, or needs to be burped or changed.
During the first months, parents may begin to identify different cries for different needs: a “nah” cry for hunger and a “wah” cry for a dirty diaper, for example.
MILESTONE: Most newborns reach a crying peak at about six weeks, and then it decreases. By three months, they usually only cry for about an hour daily. Keep cool; you can do this!
MYTH: BABY WALKERS HELP A BABY LEARN TO WALK SOONER.
FACT: Although many people grew up in baby walkers, there’s no indication that they help a baby learn to walk sooner. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that baby walkers eliminate the desire to walk and even classifies them as a safety risk.
To encourage walking and strengthen foot and leg muscles, opt for a stationary exercise saucer, activity center with no wheels, or a sturdy wagon or kiddie push car that your baby can use for balance as they walk.
MILESTONE: Not so fast! Babies become more mobile at about eight months old. They may begin “cruising,” or holding onto furniture as they walk, between 8-18 months.
MYTH: YOUR BABY SHOULD SLEEP ON THEIR BELLY SO THEY WON’T CHOKE.
FACT: Since 1992, the AAP has recommended that babies always be placed on their backs to minimize the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) while they sleep.
Back sleep ensures a baby’s upper airways are free from obstruction, reduces the probability that the baby rebreathes their exhaled breath, and promotes proper body heat dissipation.
MILESTONE: A baby’s risk of SIDS decreases significantly after six months of age. However, it’s important to continue to monitor your baby’s sleep during their first year.
MYTH: HOLDING YOUR BABY TOO MUCH WILL SPOIL THEM.
FACT: There’s no such thing as too much cuddling! Doctors and pediatricians recommend skin-to-skin contact between babies and parents as soon as they’re stable outside the womb—and still after you take them home.
Practicing skin-to-skin contact and holding or cuddling your baby helps them control their emotions.
It also provides many other benefits to your baby: warmth, stability of heartbeat and breathing, reduced crying, increased weight gain, and increased time spent in quiet alert and deep sleep states.
MILESTONE: Get those snuggles in while you can! A baby’s first signs of mobility may start as early as six months, when they might begin backward-crawling—and exploring their independence.
FUN HACKS FOR FIRST-TIME PARENTS
Practical tips that make every day just a little easier:
Why do some babies not cry a lot?
For the first two weeks of their lives, some babies are likely still getting used to living outside the womb. They tend to be sleepy at first and slowly become awake and alert. Often, they may cry more to let you know what they need.
Is it true babies can see things we can’t?
According to the Independent, babies aged three to four months can see more detailed differences in pictures than the average adult. They can see colors and objects in a way we adults will never be able to see them.
Are babies born knowing certain things?
Some researchers say that babies may be born with intuitive physics. They’re born with expectations about the objects around them, though nobody ever taught them that skill.
What happens if I put my newborn in front of a mirror?
If you place your newborn in front of a mirror, they may only recognize their reflection once they are a few months old. At first, they may show curiosity or confusion, but they will eventually learn to recognize themselves as they develop self-awareness.