There are three things in life you can count on: Death. Taxes. And someone giving you unsolicited parenting advice/pushing some outdated parenting myth or wive’s tale on you once you become a parent. Is it well-meaning? Usually. Does that make it any less annoying and/or often completely useless? Never.
Parenting is a fluid endeavor. Nothing about parenting is set in stone. It changes and evolves and adapts. But that won’t stop people from telling you what worked for their great-grandma’s aunt’s friend’s cousin’s baby. And it won’t stop people from dispensing advice and parenting mythology with authority. To help prepare you for when this happens (because it will!), we’re debunking some of the more pervasive parenting myths you might encounter.
You can sleep when the baby sleeps!
OK, this is straight up BS. We totally understand the sentiment behind it—new parents are woefully sleep deprived and should grab some zzzzz’s whenever and wherever possible. But newborn and infant sleep is patchy, at best. If you’re able to put life on pause and catnap for 20-30 minutes at a time, 19 times a day, then more power to you.
All the parents we know used that time to do stuff like eat, shower, attempt to clean a small section of their house, connect with their other kids or partner, pump, brush their teeth, or honestly, just sit on the couch and stare mindlessly at the TV while they relish the quiet and calm. And that is valid self-care! You should definitely prioritize establishing a sleep schedule for your baby that also works for you. But if you’ve ever been told to sleep when your baby sleeps and are wondering WTF you’re doing wrong that you can’t make that happen, just know that most of us didn’t/couldn’t do that either.
You’ll spoil your baby if you pick them up too much or whenever they cry!
You cannot spoil a newborn or infant. It’s not possible! If your baby is crying, it’s because they have a need, whether it be hunger, discomfort, or just a need to be soothed. Babies cry! That’s what they do—it is the only form of communication they have. You cannot spoil a baby by picking them up too much or picking them up whenever they cry. What you CAN do by not picking them up, however, is undermine their trust and confidence in you, their caregiver. You don’t have to swoop in at the first sign of distress, but you’re not “teaching your baby” a lesson by letting them cry to avoid “spoiling” them.
Sugar will make your kids hyper!
This one will probably be surprising to a lot of parents, but it’s actually a myth! Anecdotally, a lot of parents observe a pretty big surge in energy and/or adrenaline after their kids have candy or sweets or something. But correlation does not equal causation, and there is actually no scientific evidence to support the theory that sugar causes hyperness in kids. Any food that impacts blood sugar, whether it’s from a tomato or an apple or a candy bar, can cause a surge in adrenaline and, in turn, bursts of energy!
If your kid loses their mind after eating a cookie but is calm after an apple, it’s thanks to our friend, fiber. Fiber regulates the pace at which stuff enters the bloodstream, so a fiberful apple is going to impact blood sugar differently than a fiberless cookie. There are plenty of valid reasons to limit how much sugar your kiddos eat (and avoid some types of sugar altogether) but doing so to keep your kid zen isn’t one of them.
Parenting is easy and fun as long as you love your kids!
If only it were that simple! We all love our kids, more than anything. But parenting, no matter how much love you have for them, is not easy. And real talk: a lot of the time, it’s not really all that fun, either. Parenting is challenging and pushes us to limits we never knew existed…and that’s on a good day! Because you can’t love your baby to sleep. You can’t love your infant to stop crying. You can’t love your toddler to cooperate or communicate or stop trying to eat the dog food.
The love we have for our kids has no impact whatsoever on the task of parenting, other than it compels us to keep going even when it feels impossible to do so. This myth is also harmful because it implies that people who struggle as parents don’t love their kids, or don’t love them enough to make their job easier. We love our kids, absolutely. But let’s normalize acknowledging that sometimes parenting is hard, despite all the love we have and give.