- Some pieces of conventional wisdom on parenting have proven outdated, and range from misinformed to dangerous.
- Kids shouldn’t be told to finish everything on their plate. It’s important to teach them to recognise when they’re full.
- A wide body of research has proven that corporal punishment is both ineffective and harmful.
In an era of mum-shaming, it seems like everyone has an opinion about the “right” way to be a parent. While parents have the right to decide what’s best for their kids in most cases, there are some outdated pieces of conventional wisdom that range from misinformed to dangerous.
Here are five pieces of parenting advice people used to believe that should no longer be heeded.
People used to let their babies sleep on their stomachs. Now we know that can lead to SIDS
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, stomach sleeping is twice as likely to cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). A 1994 public education campaign called “Back-to-Sleep” (now called “Safe to Sleep”) urged parents to put babies to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Over 4,700 infants in the US died from SIDS in 1993. In 2010, when 73% of parents put babies to sleep on their backs, that number had decreased to 2,063.
To soothe babies with teething pain, parents used to give them a teething necklace or rub their gums with whiskey or brandy. Both those things are now known to be dangerous
Teething necklaces have been deemed “a potentially deadly threat to children” after an 18-month-old was recently strangled by his teething necklace. Alcohol is also not safe for babies to consume in any amount.
Rather than use potentially life-threatening objects or substances for teething, the FDA and the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) both recommend parents give babies firm rubber teething rings to help with pain. Parents and caregivers can also gently massage a baby’s gums with a clean finger to help soothe them, according to the FDA.
Baby walkers are often used to help teach babies to move around, but they can actually delay motor and mental development
The truth is that baby walkers can actually delay motor and mental development, according to the AAP.They can also be dangerous, The New York Times reports, because they make babies mobile enough to fall down stairs or reach unsafe objects before they’re old enough to know better. It’s best to let babies learn to take their first steps on their own.
Corporal punishment was believed to be an effective form of discipline, but it’s actually harmful and ineffective
Psychology Today calls physical punishment “a major public health problem” in the US, citing a wide body of research that has proven it both ineffective as a form of discipline and harmful for a child’s development and overall well-being.
A 2015 Pew study found that only 4% of parents say that they spank their children often.
Many parents tell their kids they must finish all of the food on their plate, but children need to learn to stop eating when they are full
It’s important to teach kids to recognise when they’re hungry and when they’re full, and to eat accordingly. The AAP says that “There’s absolutely no reason to provide pressure for children with normal development and health to eat.”
- Read more:
- 5 mistakes I made when I had my second child, and how to avoid them
- The 6 smartest things I did before I had my first child
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- Paying kids for doing chores could teach them to be entitled rather than helpful, says a professor who studies wealth inequality