Are you smarter than a pediatrician? Find out by checking your answers against these, based on the book Babyfacts (Wiley, $15.95) by Andrew Adesman.
1. Answer: False. Numerous studies have found no significant evidence that there's a link between sugar consumption and hyperactivity. In one study, half the moms were told their children had a drink with added sugar, while the other moms were told the kids' drinks were sugar free. The "added sugar" parents rated their children's behavior as hyperactive, while the "sugar free" moms thought the behavior was normal.
2. Answer: False. Napping and nighttime rest are two different things, and should be kept separate. You can't "tire out" a young baby by not letting him nap; you simply make him miserable, and your day will seem a lot longer.
3. Answer: False. Babies don't need daily baths, nor is it good for their skin. A baby doesn't need to be bathed any more than two to three times a week for the first year, unless he is truly dirty. Bathing removes moisture from the skin, so if you're overbathing your child, his skin can become dry and irritated.
4. Answer: False. A covered wound heals more quickly and is less likely to leave a scar. A scab actually slows down the healing process and increases the risk of scarring. An ordinary plastic bandage is enough to keep a boo-boo moist and healing.
5. Answer: False. No child under the age of 2 should be given an over-the-counter cough or cold remedy, and many pediatricians say they should not be used in children under 6. Children have been seriously sickened by accidental overdosing with OTC cold medication, and there is very little evidence that these medications actually relieve symptoms such as coughing and runny or stuffy noses in children or adults. Instead, use saline nose drops or spray to wash away mucus, and take your child into a steamy bathroom to loosen phlegm and ease coughing. One study found that honey reduced nighttime cough in children over age 1.
6. Answer: True. Carrot eaters wear glasses, too. Carrots are rich in beta carotene, but unless your child actually suffers from Vitamin A deficiency, consuming lots of carrots won't improve her eyesight. People with night blindness often suffer from Vitamin A deficiency, which may be why we associate carrots with better vision. Still, carrots are low in calories and rich in an important nutrient, so eat up!
7. Answer: True. A fever can go a few degrees beyond 104 degrees before a baby or young child is at risk for brain damage. Fevers that accompany an illness are usually beneficial. They are the body's response to fighting infection.
8. Answer: False. Tipping the head back can make blood flow into the throat, causing choking or vomiting. Instead, keep the head up or slightly forward, and pinch the nostrils just below the bony ridge of the nose. Apply firm pressure for a full 10 minutes without stopping, and repeat for another 10 minutes if the bleeding hasn't stopped. If the nose is still bleeding after 20 minutes, call a doctor immediately.
9. Answer: False. Unless your baby has highly sensitive skin, atopic dermatitis, or allergies, you can wash his clothing with regular laundry detergent, and with the rest of your family's laundry. You can test this by washing one item of clothing in regular laundry detergent to see if it causes any reaction. One exception: Cloth diapers should always be washed separately from clothes.
10. Answer: True. There are many reasons to move your child away from the television, but the reason your mother gave you isn't one of them. Your child's young eyes can handle up-close focusing without the strain you might feel. There is no scientific or medical evidence to suggest a television screen emits any vision-damaging lights or electric rays. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 2 not watch television at all, saying this is a time for parent-child bonding, but the reality is that 75 percent of all children that age watch some TV.
11. Answer: False. It's physically impossible to swallow one's tongue, and turning the person to lie on her side is a safer way to make sure she doesn't choke.
12. Answer: False. Putting ice on delicate skin can cause frostbite, and butter or any oil-based substance traps heat. Instead, hold the burn under cool running water for about five minutes to relieve pain and swelling.
13. Answer: False. It's actually possible to walk on a broken ankle or leg. If you're not sure if it's a sprain or a break, get to the doctor as soon as possible for an X-ray. Signs of a possible break include a grinding or snapping noise when the injury occurred; it's painful for your child to move or put weight on the area; it's extremely painful to move; there is redness or swelling around the area; the area looks abnormal.
14. Answer: False. Remove the stinger as quickly as possible, by scraping with a fingernail, a credit card, or the edge of a knife. Additional venom can be pumped into the skin for 30 seconds or more after the bee has flown away.
15. Answer: False. More than 24,000 children were treated in emergency rooms for head and neck injuries associated with shopping carts in 2005. Belting a child into the seat is not enough to keep him safe. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends not placing children in carts at all, but rather using a stroller, wagon, or Snugli-type baby sling.
16. Answer: True. You can have a beer with your enchiladas. Unless your infant is truly sensitive or colicky, she can handle a varied diet. Very little alcohol makes it into the breast supply, especially if you consume food with the alcohol. If you remain concerned, breast-feed before having a drink. By the time your baby is ready for his next feeding, you will have metabolized the alcohol. In a 120-pound woman consuming an average drink, this takes 2.5 hours.
17. Answer: Usually false. These symptoms don't always signal a bacterial infection, which is what antibiotics are designed for. Green mucus and a cough are usually symptoms of the common cold, a viral infection that will not respond to bacteria-killing antibiotics. Most babies and children will get better on their own, as adults routinely do. If your child has a cold that lingers for more than 10 days, he may have a bacterial infection. But usually he will recover on his own.
18. Answer: False. You can heat bottles in a microwave, but be careful. Start with the lowest possible setting, and be sure to shake the bottle to distribute the heat. Then test the temperature by shaking a few drops of liquid on the back of your hand or your wrist. Lukewarm or room-temperature liquid is ideal for most babies; milk straight out of the refrigerator is fine, too. Choose BPA-free containers for microwave use; BPA has been known to harm lab animals when ingested in large doses.
19. Answer: False. Co-sleeping, if practiced safely, is an ideal arrangement for some families. Some earlier studies associated co-sleeping with SIDS, but a study for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found that the causes of 515 accidental deaths over seven years included accidental smothering by an adult or by bedding; getting trapped between a mattress and a headboard; or suffocation on a waterbed, couch, or other inappropriate surface for an infant. There is plenty of evidence that co-sleeping when done right lessens sleep disruption for babies and parents, and even lowers the risk of SIDS, because co-sleeping babies are more likely to sleep on their backs, not their stomachs.
20. Answer: False. It used to be thought that using a night-light caused nearsightedness, since the eyes would strain to see in the dimness, but this idea has been discounted by the medical profession. A night-light can be a great comfort to a young child going through an "afraid of the dark" phase.