During the years that I have been practicing pediatrics, I’ve heard many “Old Wives’ Tales” about kids. I’d like to discuss some of these with you.
1. “The earlier a baby talks, the smarter she is.” Or, put another way, a baby who is a late talker is not too bright. This is not true. As a matter of fact, some of the most intelligent people around didn’t start talking until a relatively late age. What is related to intelligence is the age at which understanding begins. The younger a baby when she understands, the smarter she is.
2. “A child must have one quart of milk per day to stay healthy.” The dairy industry would like you to think so, but it’s just not true. Two glasses of milk per day is enough to satisfy a toddler’s calcium requirements.
3. “Taking a little child outside during a cold winter day can lead to pneumonia.” Wrong. There’s no relationship between pneumonia and the weather.
4. “A child who is not toilet trained on time is emotionally insecure, or just nasty and stubborn.” Neither is true. There is no relationship between the time a child toilet trains and his emotional security or personality.
5. “Fever convulsions, common in the one- to three-year-old, cause brain damage.” This is simply not so. Simple fever convulsions do not cause any permanent problems.
6. “It’s not healthy for a toddler to play in dirt.” Ridiculous. I believe it’s perfectly acceptable. There is no health hazard in dirt, unless your child eats it in large quantities. All that’s needed after a hard day’s play in the dirt is a good bath.
7. “A toddler who masturbates has some deep-seated emotional problem, or maybe is oversexed.” Both are untrue. It’s normal for a toddler to masturbate and shouldn’t cause you any concern. It will stop in time.
Dr. Alvin Eden is chairman of the department of pediatrics at Wyckoff Heights Hospital in Brooklyn and associate clinical professor of pediatrics at Cornell University Medical Center. Dr. Eden has authored several books including “Positive Parenting” and “Healthy Kids”.