Like a time-tested family recipe, some lore about our health—especially home remedies for kids’ ailments—gets passed down through the generations. Trouble is, those pearls of wisdom aren’t always true. Dr. Andrew Adesman tackles some of those myths in his book Baby Facts: The Truth About Your Child’s Health From Newborn Through Preschool. We’ve excerpted five of the most common here.
Myth: Loading up kids with multivitamins can help them ward off colds.
Reality: Multivitamins do serve a purpose when a baby or a young child is deficient in a particular nutrient or requires extra vitamins or minerals for a certain period of growth. But study after study shows that mega-doses of multivitamins or vitamin C do not reduce the risk of catching a cold.
Myth: Eating carrots improves your child’s vision.
Reality: Carrots are low in calories and are one of the few vegetables kids may eat with no fuss, but feasting on them won’t give your child super-human vision. True, carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, an important nutrient for good eyesight. Unless your child suffers from a deficiency in that vitamin, though, eating carrots (or other beta-carotene rich foods) won’t improve her sight.
Myth: Looking at books in dim light will damage your child’s eyes.
Reality: Reading in low light, staring at a computer screen, crossing his eyes or squinting may fatigue your child’s peepers, but those activities won’t damage his baby blues—he just may not realize that turning on more lights will make it easier to see his book or work on the picture he’s drawing.
Myth: It’s OK for your baby to sleep on his side.
Reality: To reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), healthy babies should always be put to sleep on their backs—not on their stomachs or sides. Babies placed on their sides are less stable; they can roll over from a side position onto their stomachs quite easily (or fall over when they¨Ìre too young to roll). You can safely give your baby daily supervised “tummy time” when she’s awake. Letting her experience the world from this position helps her strengthen muscles in her neck, arms and upper body, which she’ll need for pushing up, rolling over and crawling.
Myth: Cuts and scrapes need fresh air to heal.
Reality: Actually, a covered wound will heal faster, with less scarring, than an uncovered one—in both kids and adults. An ordinary bandage holds in the moisture, which prevents the skin from drying out and scabbing over, and that’s a good thing. Although scabs are thought of as natural wound protection, a scab actually slows down the healing process because it creates a barrier between healthy cells and the damaged cells that need repair. Scabs also lead to an increased risk of scarring; and of course, if your child falls again on the unbandaged area, he may reopen and re-injure the wound.