Old wives' tales

There are many old wives tales about how to care for a baby. What are they and why shouldn't you pay any attention to them?

"Red bottom: use a cloth nappy"

Nappy rash is a very common condition and it is usually caused by moisture trapped between the baby's skin and the nappy, the corrosive action of the ammonia in their wee and the microorganisms and enzymes that are present in their poo.

The old remedy: Change disposable nappies for cloth ones (linen or cotton).

Why not?: These materials quickly become impregnated with wee and tend to stick to the skin, increasing local wetness and favouring the growth of microorganisms, including Candida albicans, the main cause of dermatitis.

"Don't bathe them until the umbilical cord stump drops off"

What is left of the umbilical cord remains attached for a week or two after birth. However, it will take a few days longer for it to heal completely.

The old remedy: Until recently, it was recommended that babies should not be bathed until the umbilical cord stump had fallen off, for fear of the contact with water somehow slowing down the process and favouring infections.

Why not?: Nowadays, it has been shown that bathing does not cause any problems, even if the cord has not yet fallen off. The important thing is to make it a quick bath and then dry the cord stump carefully and wrap it with a sterile gauze to keep it dry.

"Dip the soother in honey to keep them calm"

The soother is an undeniably effective way of calming your baby down and helping them get to sleep. It satisfies their need to suck and enables them to release any tension.

The old remedy: Dipping the soother in honey was a strategy that grandmothers used to use to make it more "appealing".

Why not?: Honey, like sugar, must not be offered to a baby. Firstly, because it increases the risk of tooth decay once their teeth have come through. It also gives the little one a sweet tooth, which paves the way to incorrect attitudes towards food in the future.