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5 pieces of bad advice about parenting your 6-month old

Everybody and their (and your) mother has an opinion and advice when you’re pregnant, and it only kicks up several hundred notches once Baby starts smiling and yelling and babbling and just generally being on this side of the womb. Some advice is good, and some advice is bad, so part of being a parent is learning to weed out the few really useful tips. Most bad advice is completely innocent, but there are some pieces of advice that could be harmful to Baby if you followed them.

  1. “How about some water?”
    This is a common one, especially in the summer – lots of would-be advisers will tell you that you should be giving Baby water to drink as well as breast milk or formula, to ward off dehydration. While it’s not nearly as dangerous to give Baby water as it would have been a few months, or even a few weeks ago, it’s also not necessary. At this point, a couple of ounces won’t hurt Baby, especially if you’ve started to introduce solid food in addition to formula or breast milk, but he is still getting all the hydration he needs from the breast or bottle.
  2. “It’s never too early to set boundaries.”
    It is, in fact, too early to start expecting Baby to follow a specific set of rules. He is still developing his memory and comprehension, and at this point, it’s more effective just to redirect Baby’s attention when he, say, pulls your hair than it is to try to teach him to stop once and for all.
  3. “He’s just manipulating you!”
    This one goes along with everyone’s favorite ‘you’ll spoil him if you pick him up too much,’ line that has roots in baby advice tracing back to the 1800s. While it’s true that when Baby cries, he generally wants your attention for one reason or another, he is highly unlikely to have underhanded, ‘manipulative’ motivations beyond wanting a bottle, to be burped, or maybe a quick cuddle – unless, of course, you’re one of the few who happens to be raising a supervillain. And even if you are raising a supervillain, going to him and picking him up when he cries won’t spoil him, it’ll just help to make him a happier, more well-adjusted little supervillain.
  4. “You’ll catch more flies with honey…”
    You can totally feel free to tell the people who advise you to dip Baby’s pacifier or bottle nipple in honey, sugar water or jelly that Baby isn’t a fly. They might give you a kind of funny look, sure, but they also might stop trying to give you advice.

    Baby
    is already getting all of the nutrients he needs from breast milk or formula, and if he is eating solids already, he is starting to form an attachment to the flavors in his life. He is sure to get a taste for sweets soon, but there’s no need to rush it. And a serious note here: raw honey, specifically, is not safe for babies under one year old as it has been associated with infant botulism.
  5. “Hair of the dog.”
    A suspicious number of traditional teething pain remedies involve rubbing babies’ gums with different types of hard liquor. Alcohol for teething relief is a bad idea, no matter what so-and-so’s grandmother says. When Baby starts teething, try applying light pressure, cool compresses, or any number of other potential remedies – different things work for different babies, it’s true, but liquor on the gums is a pretty universal one to steer clear of.
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