Mother and baby sleeping

Let's get real

Parenting myths and controversies abound. We don't have time to discredit all of the terrible advice you'll get as a parent, but here's a little teaser — complete with debunking — of some of the silly words of wisdom you'll hear in the coming months and years.

Sleep when the baby sleeps!

This advice is only good if you have the means to hire a maid, a cook and someone to magically take your showers for you. To get your precious sleep, consider enlisting your husband, a friend or family member, or a babysitter to watch the baby so you can rest for an hour or two midday.

Rice cereal will help the baby sleep!

This practice is a big no-no, but it is surprisingly common. The thinking is that if a mom fills a bottle with a mix of milk and rice cereal, then the baby will sleep longer at night with a full tummy. But babies are not good at swallowing thick milk, and even a little bit of cereal additive puts a baby at risk for aspiration (and possible health problems later on). If you must fill your little one's tummy at night to get some shut-eye, formula is always an option for nighttime feedings because it digests more slowly than breast milk.

Don't worry about cleaning!

Depending on how highly a new mom values cleanliness, this little piece of advice can make a woman crazy. Helpful people often tell moms to savor their time with the baby rather than picking up messes. But do you know what would actually make this advice helpful? If they picked up a broom. Even if a mom isn't a clean freak, stacks of laundry and dirty clothes can start to chip away at a psyche that is already challenged by brain upheaval, hormones and lack of sleep. So if you need to clean to maintain your sanity, go ahead and do so.

Get your body back fast!

Heidi Klum may have appeared in a lingerie fashion show shortly after giving birth, but she also had a team of trainers and makeup artists to help her with her quest. For most women, a recovery that fast is unattainable and probably inadvisable. Breastfeeding moms need plenty of food so they don't lose their milk supply, and moms should only resume vigorous exercise at six weeks postpartum. (Don't believe us? How does a prolapsed uterus sound? It happens.) It took nine months to grow a beautiful new life and new body, so be kind to your body as it returns to its shape over time.

Developmental classes are important!

They're not. Infants develop properly by receiving enough milk, sleep and love from their caregivers. Babies absorb the world beautifully by just taking it all in. You'll know when it's time to enroll your wee one in an activity when it feels more exhausting to stay stuck in the house with him or her than it does to venture out with 35 pounds of baby gear, milk and diapers for an hour-long tambourine class.

Don't rely on "crutches!"

A crutch is any practice that solves a problem in the short-term but might create a problem in the long-term. Absolutely, positively, you must rely on "crutches" for your sanity in those first few months. When someone tells you not to drive around the block 137 times to put her to sleep (lest you interfere with her own self-soothing), or not to supplement breast milk with formula because your nipples hurt (because breast is best), you must ignore them. Remember that your sanity is worth something too.

More on surviving as a new mom

How to document your baby's first six months
Showers optional! What I wish someone had told me about being a new mom
The best new-mom advice I ever heard

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