Anyone raising kids will tell you that parenting is no easy feat. However, it’s not just tantrums, calculus homework, and getting this year’s must-have toy in time for the holidays that moms and dads are up against. Countless caregivers find themselves battling a rising tide of misinformation, from how often to snuggle their babies to how their own marriage might affect their kids down the line. With the help of pediatricians, psychiatrists, and other experts, we’ve broken down some of the most pervasive parenting myths. So read on if you need help making the hardest job in the world just a little bit easier.
Your child is better able to learn things before they’re five
Little kids are capable of learning and retaining a wealth of information—typically even more so than their adult counterparts. That said, if your kid hasn’t learned a second language or mastered Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto Number 2 by their fourth birthday, that doesn’t mean they never will, as some claim.
Holding your baby too much spoils them
Worried that all that time spent holding and snuggling with your adorable newborn is going to make them a difficult—or downright spoiled—child? Don’t be, says Posner. “This definitely doesn’t happen in the beginning. When they’re newborns, there’s no such thing as being snuggled too much.
They need that snuggle time—they’ve just spent nine months being cozily held in utero.”
Every bad behavior requires strong consequences
Even the easiest kids are prone to misbehaving from time to time. That said, the idea that you need to dole out punishments or rescind privileges every time your kid does something you don’t like—or risk that behavior becoming permanent—is misguided, at best.
Easy babies turn into difficult children
Countless people will tell you—with great gusto, no less—that your smiley, happy baby who slept through the night at six weeks is destined to become a terror as they get older. But “that’s not true at all,” says Posner. “Some kids just have really easy personalities, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be harder older on.
There are plenty that are super easy at the beginning and stay super easy.”
Babies only cry because they’re tired, hungry, sick, or injured
While it’s nice to believe that there’s a magical checklist of things that could be making your baby cry, that’s rarely the case. “Babies will cry randomly over a lot of different things and a lot of the time, you can’t find out why they’re crying,” Posner says. “Sometimes they just cry for no reason that you can really explain.”
If you love your kids, parenting is easy
Loving your kids may be easy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean parenting them will be. “Parenting is not a naturally easy thing to do,” says Mendez. “You can love your kids, but every child is different, and the challenge of parenting is learning how to work with and relate to each individual child—and that is a task.
It doesn’t have to be unpleasant, but it is a task.”
Your instincts are always reliable when it comes to your children
You may know your child better than the doctor they see once a year does, but that doesn’t mean your instincts are always accurate regarding their care—especially when it comes to medical issues. “Sometimes a kid just has a cold and parents insist they have an infection because they know their child,” Posner says. “I understand that a parent does know their kid better than a provider, but a medical provider will know better when there’s something truly wrong.”
Being too loving toward your children will make them codependent
Plenty of people say being too kind, gentle, or affectionate with your kids will only cause problems in the long run—but experts insist otherwise.
Giving a baby solids earlier will make them sleep better
According to countless well-meaning individuals, if you want to get your baby to finally relent and go to sleep, all it takes is the introduction of some solids. But in reality, giving your kids solids too early may actually backfire. “That’s definitely an old wives’ tale.
Babies sometimes aren’t ready for [food] and get gassier and have a lot of pain,” says Posner. “Parents will feed them solids and then they’re up all night because their babies are screaming in agony.”
Kids should always be rewarded for good behavior
Rewarding your kid for everything they do right, according to Mendez, “does not allow a child to internalize the value of what they’re working towards… It ends up curtailing the child’s capacity to take information, process that information, and do something with it from an internal values system.”