Our expert pediatricians weigh in on these smart-sounding (but wrong) ideas.
Myth 1: Babies need to poop at least once a day.
Parents often think a baby is constipated when he's not, says Andrew Adesman, M.D., chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Schneider Children's Hospital in New York. Newborns often have several bowel movements a day, but they may poop as little as every three to four days at about 2 months to 3 months of age, he says.If bowel movements are very hard and infrequent, or you see blood in the diaper, however, call your pediatrician.
Myth 2: Babies should be bathed daily.
The truth is, bathing removes moisture from your baby's delicate skin, which can make it dry and irritated. Plus, sitting in soapy bathwater can irritate a girl's urethra and potentially lead to urinary tract infections. As long as you keep your baby's diaper area, neck and other skin creases debris-free, you can do full baths just two to three times a week, Adesman says. If your baby enjoys nightly tub time, splash away—just skip the soap.
Myth 3: Babies who achieve milestones early are gifted.
When a child first walks or talks has little or no bearing on his later successes, research shows. "Many parents support the idea of giftedness at birth, but this is not supported by the evidence," says Adesman. In fact, in some cases, early "achievements" may indicate a potential problem—for example,showing an inclination to be left- or right-handed before 18 months of age (children should use both hands equally until this age).
Related: New Mom Milestones
The Soft Spot
The Soft Spot
Myth 4: Touching your baby's soft spot can hurt his brain.
The fontanel, or soft spot, at the front of your baby's head is a skin-covered opening in the skull that pulsates, frightening some parents. "There's a presumption of vulnerability, but the brain is actually quite well protected," Adesman says. The front fontanel typically closes at about 1 year of age, while the smaller soft spot in the back of the head usually closes at 2 months to 3 months.