3 Parenting Tips for the Modern Mama

Caring for your baby is different now than it was 20 years ago. Here, the three most significant changes.

young mother kissing infant in her arms Target

You don't need us to tell you about change (hellooo, new baby, new body, and new motherhood). But parenting advice changes over time, too. Here, three new recommendations for mothers of the 21st century.

White food is out.

Once upon a time, the recommended first food for all babies was bland white-rice cereal, which has little nutrient value. Now pediatricians push whole grains, fruits, veggies and even puréed meats for baby's first bite. Changing early feeding habits allows infants to develop a lifelong taste for the healthy stuff, which is crucial to reversing our nation's childhood obesity crisis.

Related: Can Childhood Obesity Be Predicted at Birth?

Colicky babies (and their parents) find relief.

Created by pediatrician Harvey Karp, M.D., the five S's—swaddling, side/stomach positioning (in your arms), shushing, swinging and sucking—can activate a crying baby's calming reflex during the first three to four months by mimicking experiences in the womb.

"Parents often think that a baby needs a quiet, motionless environment, but this isn't the case," says Bridget Boyd, M.D., director of the newborn nursery at Loyola University Health System and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Shushing reminds them of the noise in the womb, experts say. And because your baby was floating in amniotic fluid, she'll find the swaying motion soothing as well.

Sleep training is in.

Sleep-deprived parents, rejoice: a new Pediatrics study has found that there are no long-term emotional harms to sleep training your baby. Gentle techniques, such as controlled comforting (in which the caregiver spends a short time soothing and then leaves the baby to settle alone), will not hurt a child's emotional development or mental health. "You also need a consistent routine that includes changing into pajamas, reading a book and then singing a short bedtime song," advises Boyd. Bottom line: allowing your baby to cry for short periods of time during sleep training won't do any long-term damage.

Related: New Mom's Survival Guide