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One unexpected offshoot of becoming a parent is the endless advice offered by well-meaning relatives and friends (and occasionally strangers).
Some of the advice will be helpful. Other tips will seem, well, suspect. And they probably are. However well-intentioned these tips may be, some of them can have serious consequences if they're followed.
Dr. Rachel Vreeman, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, has co-authored two books "Don't Swallow Your Gum!" (St. Martin's Press, 2009) and "Don't Cross Your Eyes...They'll Get Stuck That Way!" (St. Martin's Press, 2011) that explore and debunk myths about health at all ages.
Not all health myths are created equal, she said. Some, like the two that have served as the titles of her books, are things parents say, and are pretty harmless. That isn't always the case. "There are a few myths that might cause harm," she said.
There are plenty of products on the market that can present problems, too.
"You see them advertised all the time...so you think, well, if they've got it in the baby store it must be safe," said Dr. Sarah Denny, an emergency medicine physician and faculty member of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. "Because of the way they're marketed, people think they're safe. In actuality, they're not safe at all."
Between bad advice and questionable products, what's a parent to do? Here, our experts debunk seven common baby myths.
Babies need water when it's hotSlide 2 of 15
Babies need water when it's hot
Not true. Babies, like children and adults, need to stay hydrated. In some instances, a pediatrician may recommend giving a baby an oral rehydration solution. But most of the time, a baby's fluids should come from breast milk or formula.
Since a baby doesn't yet have fully functioning kidneys, her body isn't prepared to excrete water. As a result, it can cause an imbalance of electrolytes and sodium. A baby can start sipping water occasionally around six months, but check with the doctor first. After age 1, she can sip it more regularly.Slide 3 of 15
Small doses of adult medicines are safe for childrenSlide 4 of 15
Small doses of adult medicines are safe for children
A number of medications that help adults can be harmful for children even when the dosage is downsized.
Cough medicines even those designed for children aren't a good idea for babies or children under age 4, Denny said. She lists agitation, elevated heart rate and respiratory depression among the side effects babies and young children might develop if they're given cough medicine.
Medications, which ease congestion and sinus problems in adults, are also a no-no for babies and children. For example, Denny said, antihistamines or antibiotics might be given to adults who are congested or have a sinus infection. But a child whose sinuses are still developing should not expect the same result, and treatment might have a downside in the form of an upset stomach, a rash or diarrhea.
"Not only is there not a benefit, but children are more likely to have the bad side effects," Vreeman said. "You're essentially getting all the risk of the side effect ... and no benefit."Slide 5 of 15
Teething can cause fevers in babiesSlide 6 of 15
Teething can cause fevers in babies
The danger in some myths is that parents may ignore a problem. "Parents will often attribute fevers in babies and toddlers to teething," Vreeman said.
However, research has not shown a strong relationship between the two. What this means for parents, Vreeman said, is that a fever in a teething baby shouldn't be written off and medical attention should be sought to determine if something else might be causing the spike in temperature.Slide 7 of 15
Certain videos can help babies learn soonerSlide 8 of 15