Over the last month, I've been bombarded with all sorts of advice about how to care for Zara - to the point where my mind is quite boggled with plenty of Do's and Dont's.
I suppose it is quite natural for people to want to offer tips when they come across a first time mother, even if some of those tips seem rather strange.
The question is, how many of these tips are proven, and how many are simply Old Wives' Tales? I did a bit of research to find out for myself, but for those I could not prove, can anyone out there share their own experiences on whether they have any basis?
Babies should not sleep on their backs because their heads will become "leper" (flat).
According to people I've spoken to, there is no real basis for this claim. Some flat-headed family members say they were made to sleep on their stomachs as babies and still ended up flat-headed (flat-headed genes, perhaps?). And according to The American Academy of Pediatrics, it is recommended for babies to sleep on their backs or sides. More importantly, putting your baby to sleep on her back reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Pinching your baby's nose will make it sharper.
The jury's out on this one. Here are a couple of things I found on the net but nothing close to a medical explanation for this theory.
Keeping babies up during the day will help them sleep throughout the night.
The jury is also out on this one as different websites have different answers. But I'm more inclined to believe Jo Ryan, a paediatric nurse and author of the parenting book "Baby Bliss". Ryan refutes this claim, calling it a 'complete fallacy' and saying instead that 'sleep begets sleep'. Newborns should not be awake for more than an hour at a time, she says, and an overtired baby is more likely to end up being restless and unable to get fitfully back to sleep.
Babies need to be fed water.
Not true. Breastfed babies get all the hydration they need from breast milk, which changes consistency according to the weather. If it's a particularly hot day, breast milk becomes more watery to ensure your baby gets enough hydration (Isn't that amazing? Allahuakbar!). Formula-fed babies can be fed water (after all, milk formula is mixed with water anyway) but it is highly recommended that you avoid giving babies water on its own. This is a good article to read if you have doubts.
Breastfed babies should feed from the right breast first ("Nasi") and only then from the left ("Air").
Not true. Lactation consultants advise that you feed on alternate breasts to ensure you don't suffer from engorgement, hence you don't necessarily have to start on the right all the time. Some women believe that you need to feed a baby for a maximum of 20 minutes on one breast and then switch to the other to ensure you don't get lopsided breasts. This is also a fallacy. Make sure that you empty whichever breast you start from before you offer the baby the other breast. If the baby is full on one breast, express the remainder in that breast (if any) as well as from the other.
Cutting babies' eyelashes makes them grow longer and thicker.
I have no idea, but if the responses from these websites are any indication, I guess it doesn't make any difference, and only puts your baby at risk of having her eyes poked with a pair of scissors! Not good!
Sticking a small square of wet tissue on a baby's forehead can cure her of hiccups.
True! This is one tip I actually tried on my baby and believe it or not - for some unfathomable reason - it works! It has also worked on all the other babies in my extended family. Give it about 3-5 minutes to take effect.
Holding your baby often or in a sling will cause your baby to 'berkepit' (become clingy).
Now I don't really care whether this is true or not, because I feel there's absolutely nothing wrong with holding your baby. Contrary to belief that this results in a clingy baby, a lot of recent research is showing that babies need to be held and that this makes them happier and more secure as they mature. Plus, methinks a sling is an excellent way to cart your baby around because it leaves your hands free to do other things!
I'm sure there are many, many other "tips" out there - many of them unwanted - from well-meaning friends, family and in-laws. I think the best thing to do when offered such advice is to do what I'm learning to do... smile, nod, be polite and then do exactly what you feel is best for both you and your baby (and it helps to do your research too!).
Good luck to all of us!