43 Parenting Myths: What you should ignore and what you need to know in 2023

43 Parenting Myths: What You Should Ignore And What You Need to Know In 2023

When I was expecting my first baby I was inundated with ‘advice’ and pervasive parenting myths. I didn’t know what to believe … so was inclined to believe all of it! This blog post will offer you an in-depth breakdown of which parental stories to disregard, as well as what you ought to know in order to make informed choices when raising your children. Let’s do some myth-busting!

What are the most common parenting myths?

The biggest parenting myths revolve around infant sleeping schedules, feeding tactics, babies watching TV and how much to hold your baby. Often ‘old wives tales’ get passed from generation to generation until they become so well known that we don’t think to actually question them! Most of these myths have little or no scientific evidence backing them up.

1. Parenting is about raising a happy child

While a happy child is certainly the goal of many parents, parenting is actually much more than that. ‘Good enough parenting‘ involves helping children learn life skills, and appropriate boundaries and teaching them how to make decisions for themselves. It also involves supporting children to foster healthy relationships and high self-esteem.

2. Strict parents raise well-behaved kids.

This is one of the most common myths as research has shown that children benefit from having supportive parents who provide boundaries without being excessively strict.

If a child feels like their voice is heard, believed and respected, they are more likely to respond positively to parental guidance. Strictness can lead to conflict and resentment, so it is better to be an authoritarian parent (firm but fair) to find a balance between setting limits and being supportive.

3. Night-time and daytime toilet training should happen at the same time.

This is a myth, as night-time and daytime toilet training involve different processes. Night-time toilet training requires the child to recognize sensations of fullness in the bladder during sleep and get up to use the bathroom. Daytime toilet training involves teaching children how to recognize signs that they need to go, such as feeling an urge or wetness.

It’s important to understand that these two processes take time and should not be rushed, as it can lead to frustration for both the child and the parent. Often night-time potty training can start many months after children have been dry during the day.

4. Kids need punishment to learn right from wrong

Research has shown that punishment isn’t an effective way to teach children how to behave.

Rather, consequences for inappropriate behavior should be used when needed, with positive parenting techniques such as setting expectations and providing feedback, using natural consequences when appropriate, engaging in problem-solving conversations with kids, and teaching children self-regulation skills being much more effective methods for helping children learn right from wrong.

Instead of punishing a child for misbehaving, it’s better to provide positive reinforcement when they exhibit good behavior and model the behavior you want them to imitate. Disciplining children in a sensitive and loving way can encourage better behavior than fear based parenting. This reinforces good behavior and teaches them appropriate ways to handle their emotions.

5. Sitting close to the TV will damage kids’ vision.

This is one of those classic parenting myths, as there is no conclusive evidence to support the claim that sitting close to the TV will cause any damage to kids’ vision. However, too much screen time can be detrimental to a child’s development, so it’s best to limit their exposure and encourage them to engage in more active activities.

6. Parents shouldn’t fight in front of their children.

Tricky one – no one wants their children exposed to aggressive language (or behavior) but differences of opinion happen in families so some arguments are inevitable.

Research has shown that children can actually benefit from seeing parents in healthy conflict. If possible, parents should try to model positive communication and conflict resolution skills, both for the benefit of their relationship and for their child’s development.

According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Rochester, parenting style can have an impact on the emotional, social and cognitive growth of children. The study also highlighted the importance of setting boundaries and expectations for children and teaching them how to make decisions for themselves.

7. Children need protection 24/7 because the world is a dangerous place.

Research has shown that children who are given the freedom to explore and take on responsibilities within safe boundaries tend to have better self-esteem, greater life satisfaction, and improved cognitive development. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan found that when children are provided with autonomy and independence within limits they are more likely to develop a sense of competence, self-efficacy and mastery.

Parenting can be a difficult task and there are some situations where we need to shield children from traumatic experiences to protect their well-being.

Every instinct of a mother screams to protect children from danger. A lioness protecting her cub. This is of course essential with babies and young children but as they get older research has shown that kids benefit from being given freedom. This encourages them to take risks and gives them the confidence to explore their environment on their own. We all remember a time from childhood when we learned from a mistake, put ourselves in danger or simply followed our curiosity into an unknown situation.

Children should be taught how to stay safe in various situations, but it’s important to give them freedom and independence to foster personal growth. No one ever said fleeing the nest would be easy!

Check out this article in FoxNews where I discuss tracking kids with Apple AirTags.

8. Children who walk early and talk early are the brightest.

Every child develops differently and is on their own individual timeline, so we should never compare our children to other kids or use these milestones as indicators of intelligence. It’s all too easy to allow yourself to become worried when other kids the same age as yours are walking independently and yours is still very much crawling.

Try to focus on your own child’s growth and development instead of comparing to others.

A study published in the journal Child Development found that there is no link between hitting developmental milestones early and a child’s level of intelligence. The researchers concluded that cognitive development is not directly linked to physical milestones, such as walking or talking.

9. You’ll end up parenting like your parents.

It’s true that we can mirror our parents but this is by no means set in stone. We can learn from our parents’ mistakes and successes, but ultimately it is up to us as parents to decide which parenting style works best for our children.

At the end of the day, everyone has unique experiences and perspectives, so it’s important for you to assess your own beliefs and values and form your own parenting style based on what works best for you and your family.

10. After the first three years, your child’s brain is ‘set’ for life.

The old ‘nature/nurture’ debate! Whilst the first three years are important for laying the foundations for cognitive, emotional and social skills, research has shown that the human brain continues to develop until late adulthood and beyond.

Environmental factors such as schooling, nutrition and relationships all play a role in fostering the development of these important skills throughout a child’s life. In fact, providing children with stimulating experiences and encouraging learning throughout childhood can help shape their brains and promote healthy cognitive development.

11. You must not hold your baby all the time or they will become spoiled.

Repeat after me: It is not possible to spoil a newborn. It is not possible to spoil a newborn. It is not possible to spoil a newborn. The first 3 months of life are often referred to as the fourth trimester and when an infant is held, rocked and soothed this helps to promote secure attachment between parent and child.

In time you can support your baby to develop independence. Often parents choose to do this with gentle sleep training techniques and playtime. From this, you can encourage your baby’s autonomy as they grow.

12. You need to put your baby on a schedule or they will never sleep through the night.

Again, this is not strictly true! However it is certainly possible to encourage good healthy sleep associations with gentle sleep training techniques. Often parents with other children, busy schedules or simply severe sleep deprivation crave a little more predictability and routine to their children’s sleep.

Eventually all children will sleep through the night at some stage – introducing a nap or night-time schedule may encourage this ultimate goal sooner!

13. You need to give your baby solid food as early as possible or they will never learn to eat properly.

It is well established that babies can start weaning around 6 months old. However, there are 3 main signs that your baby is ready to start weaning:

  1. They can sit and hold their head steady
  2. Have fairly good hand-eye co-ordination so they can pick up food and put it in their mouths
  3. Swallow food (puree counts as food)

Breast milk or formula will provide enough nutrients until age 6 months. Some parents find that their baby is able to start trying some baby food before 6 months and try some very basic baby-led weaning from 5 months. If in doubt, or you want further guidance, be sure to ask your healthcare provider for support.

14. You should never let your baby use a pacifier or they will become dependent on it.

Pacifiers can be beneficial for babies and parents, as they can help calm a crying baby and reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Additionally, there is no evidence that pacifier use leads to dependency or other problems later in life. Some children decide by themselves to stop using a pacifier and some need a little more persuasion!! It’s accepted that pacifiers can cause dental issues when baby teeth come through if still used excessively. Talk to your dentist when you take your child for checkups if you are concerned. Find my list of recommended pacifiers here.

15. You need to breastfeed for at least six months

Breastfeeding is such an emotive subject. The truth is some moms give their babies formula from birth and others exclusively breastfeed. Babies require adequate nutrition and while breast milk is an excellent natural source it is not the only option. Some mothers can experience breast milk supply issues which can shorten the breastfeeding journey.

There are multiple reasons that some moms choose to breastfeed for a short time or not at all and opt for formula – the decision is the parents alone. Learn more about extended breastfeeding here.

16. You need to sleep when the baby sleeps

A firm favorite: sleep when baby sleeps. This is all very well in the first few weeks when newborns sleep a lot but, honestly, is not always entirely practical! Sure, exhaustion will help you drop off and by all means get any rest you can when there is an opportunity. However, after a while napping times can become a little erratic and some mothers prefer to catch up with household chores, call friends for a chat or indulge in some mental health self-care instead.

When you have more than one child this ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ luxury will most likely not be an option anymore!!

17. A healthy parent child relationship means parents should be their child’s best friend.

Wow, where to start to unpick this! Although parents should strive to maintain a strong and healthy bond with their children, it is not ideal for them to be their childs best friend. Parents should be role models, caregivers, and mentors who provide guidance and support to their children. Best friends do not always say what needs to be said whereas a parent should always prioritize the welfare of the child before their own feelings.

Many parents and their children have a good relationship where they can talk about how they feel. This is great because it means that kids can have back and forth interactions with their parents about issues that are private or make them sad or scared. However, maintaining the parent/child boundary is important too. Teaching kids boundaries and understanding their importance can help to equip your children with skills that will last a lifetime.

Ultimately, having a close relationship between parent and child is important, but parents should always try to maintain their authority in order to ensure their child’s safety. The key is to find balance.

18. Your baby will forget how to latch if you give him/her a bottle

This is not true. When learning how to breastfeed (and yes there is an element of learning!) women can develop sore cracked nipples. Breastfeeding on a very painful nipple can be quite a distressing experience for both mother and baby so occasionally you may need to ‘rest‘ a breast to allow time for it to heal before re-attempting a feed. Your baby will still be hungry so it is totally acceptable to offer a bottle of formula or expressed milk.

Remember: if you are in pain when feeding this can affect let down and therefore your baby will become fussy if they aren’t getting a nice full feed. Take a break and allow yourself to heal. Your baby will not forget what to do if they have a bottle for 24 hrs or so.

19. Children should be seen and not heard.

How old-fashioned is this one?! Children see the world through different eyes than adults and their reflections can be very insightful. It is important to allow children to express their opinions and share their ideas so that they can develop self confidence, problem solving skills and an understanding of different perspectives.

Allowing your child a voice and encouraging them to think for themselves are essential components in providing them with the tools they need to be successful adults.

20. Baby food should be bland

Though there is a misconception that baby food should be bland and tasteless, this isn’t the case. As your baby grows and develops their taste buds, you can introduce more flavors into their diet. Babies are capable of enjoying a variety of tastes as long as the texture is appropriate for them. Experiment with different spices and herbs to add unique flavors to your baby’s meals.

21. Parents should spend as much time with their children as possible.

Parents will always want to spend time with their children but life can get in the way of that. Instead, focus on quality not quantity. We don’t need to constantly be with our children in order to have a healthy parent-child relationship.

It’s important for parents to set aside time for themselves and take care of their own needs as well. Likewise children need some solitary time in order to develop their interests and establish autonomy. A balance between parental involvement and independence is key.

22. Parents need to be perfect for their children.

First, define perfect! The best we can hope for is to be good role models for our children. Allowing them to witness our faults and failures is all part of growing up. Show your children how to be resilient and adaptive to change – if all your child sees is a parent that never makes mistakes they may struggle with how to cope and recover when faced with their own mistakes.

It is also important for parents to admit when they are wrong and apologize. This gives children the message that it is okay to make mistakes and acknowledge them instead of trying to cover them up or pretend like nothing happened.

23. You need to let your baby “cry it out” in order to get them to sleep through the night.

Research has shown that letting a baby “cry it out” isn’t an effective sleep training strategy and may even do more harm than good as it can lead to increased anxiety and stress in both babies and parents.

There are plenty of alternatives now, some of which I discuss here.

24. Parents need to provide their children with everything they want.

Ha ha for most families this is an impossibility and an unachievable goal! Everything they NEED would be a better goal but this alone can have its challenges. It’s important for children to learn that they can’t always get what they want, as this teaches them responsibility and self-control.

Parents should strive to provide their children with the necessities of life, such as food, shelter, and clothing, but they don’t need to provide them with every material thing they want. We don’t want spoilt children do we? The key is to find a balance between providing for your children and teaching them the value of money.

25. Parents should raise kids to always obey their parents.

If only that were possible! But then again what a boring place to be. A little resistance and debate is healthy and shows that children are testing the boundaries. Sometimes parents can make the wrong call and it’s important to raise children that aren’t afraid to trust their instincts and challenge authority when appropriate.

26. You should spend every waking moment with your children.

You need time for yourself, too! It’s important to have some time to relax and de-stress without having to worry about your children. This will make you a better parent overall and help you be more patient with your kids.

Don’t underestimate the importance of self care as a parent. Protecting and maintaining good mental health is not only advisable but it is also essential. Sometimes you will have to schedule in specific time just to meditate, read a book, write in your journal, take a long bath – anything that allows you to focus on yourself and your own needs even for a short time.

27. You need to sacrifice everything for your children.

Your children should be a priority in your life, but that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice everything for them. It’s important to maintain a balance between taking care of yourself and taking care of your children. If you’re too stressed out or exhausted, it will be harder to take care of them properly. you need to find a balance – make sure you eat and drink healthily to keep your energy up. Find my recommendations for breastfeeding protein powders here.

Also every family is different, so there’s no single answer or solution that works for everyone.

You need to figure out what works best for you and make sure your needs are being met too – because if you’re not taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of your children either. Some families need both parents to work, some have a single parent, some have a business they run from home that requires attention, some have responsibilities for aging family members – the list goes on.

A more accurate statement would be: you should prioritize your children. That way decisions you make will all point to optimizing the time and attention you can give your family in the best way possible.

28. Having kids will ruin your body.

Having kids does change your body, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a bad thing! Yes, you might have some stretch marks or extra weight, but those are just physical changes. The emotional and mental changes that come with being a parent are far more important than any physical changes. Plus, you will gain a much deeper appreciation and love for your body that can actually help you succeed in your health and fitness goals.

Every woman’s body is different and unique, so there’s no need to compare yourself to anyone else. Your body has been through something amazing – it created life! We should celebrate and be thankful to our amazing bodies for creating our beautiful children!

29. Parents always know what to do

Who remembers as a child thinking that their mom or dad just seemed to know everything and there was nothing they couldn’t do?! Well as adults we now know that isn’t exactly true! When a new baby comes into the world it can be a scary and confusing time for a parent and it doesn’t always mean that they know what to do. Parenting is a learning experience, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t have all the answers!

The important thing is that you try your best and always keep the safety of your children in mind. Some medical situations arise that can be quite worrying for parents especially if their children become unwell. The key is to learn as much as possible so you feel fully prepared. Find out more about what to do if your child has a febrile seizure here.

30. You should stop breastfeeding when you start weaning

Though it may be tempting to stop breastfeeding when you start weaning your baby, this is not always necessary. If you and your baby are comfortable with continuing, then there is no reason why you should have to stop breastfeeding. Weaning is a gradual process and it is important to take the time to transition your baby into solid foods.

However, if you and your baby are both ready to stop breastfeeding, then do so in a gentle manner. You can still provide comfort to your child with skin-to-skin contact or cuddling after feeds.

Read my article on Bonsie website: The Science of Touch: How Skin-to-Skin Contact Benefits Mom’s Mental Health

31. Babies always learn to crawl before they walk

However tempting it is to compare your baby with other babies it is not very helpful! Though this is true for many babies, it is not always the case. Some babies may learn to walk before they crawl, and some may even skip crawling altogether. Every baby is different, and what’s important is that parents nurture their child’s development no matter which milestones they reach first.

If you are concerned that your baby appears to be hitting milestones later than expected then get in touch with your healthcare provider for guidance.

32. Parents should never shout at their children.

Look, raising kids is not easy, parenting has got to be the hardest job out there mainly because there is no manual to help! We have all lost our cool at some point – it’s how you handle it that’s crucial. Many children have heard their parents shout at some point or another and, occasionally, it is entirely necessary (when a kid is misbehaving near a busy road for example and they need a firm word to stop them from running into danger.).

Discipline is very challenging and emotional regulation can be difficult when faced with the terrible twos, temper tantrums and sleep deprivation! However, parents should make a conscious effort to use a calm, firm tone when talking to their children and not resort to shouting. Yelling sends the message that it is okay to express emotions through anger and aggression, which can be damaging in the long run.

It’s important for parents to model appropriate behavior and find other ways of expressing their feelings. Try to use positive reinforcement when disciplining your children and be sure to praise them when they do something right.

33. Babies will always roll over by six months

Babies are all different and reach milestones at different times. Some babies never roll over and go straight to crawling or even skip crawling and go straight to walking. It is important that parents help their babies grow by nurturing them no matter which milestone they reach first. Some babies may roll over earlier than six months and others may do so later.

All babies develop at their own pace, so it’s important for parents to be patient and understanding when it comes to helping them reach their milestones.

34. You should cover up when breastfeeding in public

Though covering up when breastfeeding in public is a personal choice, it is not necessary. Breastfeeding is a natural act and mothers have the right to feed their baby wherever and whenever they need to. If you do choose to cover up, make sure your clothing is comfortable and does not interfere with breastfeeding.

On the subject of breastfeeding in public etiquette please don’t ever feel you need to go to the bathroom at the restaurant or find some public toilets to hide away in to breastfeed.

35. You should never say no to your children

I can’t imagine never saying ‘no’ to my children!! Sometimes saying ‘no’ is necessary. Toddlers are notorious for getting into dangerous situations if not corrected so with the best will in the world a firm ‘no’ is exactly what’s needed! Explaining the situation to your child and how it’s better for them to stay safe can also help them understand why you said no.

Parents are there to protect their children after all, so don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ when it is necessary.

36. There’s something wrong with your breast if your baby won’t latch

This is a common misconception. It’s important to remember that breastfeeding can be a learning experience for both you and your baby, and it may take some time before they get the hang of it.

If your baby does not latch after several attempts, seek professional advice from a lactation consultant to help troubleshoot any issues. It may be due to a medical condition, such as laryngomalacia.

37. You will instantly get a rush of love when you first see your baby

It’s true that seeing your baby for the first time can be an incredibly emotional experience, but everyone can feel this in different ways. Will hormones make you fall in love at first sight? Hmm not always and that’s ok. Every parent’s experience is unique in its own way.

Often when babies finally come into the world the mother has been through quite an exhausting and disorientating ordeal. It can take some time to accept the reality of this new little person especially if those first few cuddles are a bit delayed.

38. You should never let a baby fall asleep on you

In an ideal world, yep sure. But in reality this is often the case with very young babies. The issue is one of safety – a sleeping baby can easily roll off a parent if not secured properly or if the adult nods off to sleep too. As your baby emerges from those first few newborn weeks it may be beneficial to get a routine in place for naps and night-time sleep.

Establishing a safe and consistent place for your baby to sleep not only frees you up for some time to yourself when the baby is sleeping but can also help to instill sleep cues and make nap times more predictable.

Learn more about gentle sleep training here.

39. You should always have a new cot mattress for every new baby

One of the oldest parenting myths. Though having a new cot mattress for your baby is preferable to many new parents, it’s not always necessary. If the old mattress is in good condition and doesn’t have any visible signs of wear and tear, then you can use it for your new baby as well. Just make sure to clean the mattress thoroughly with a vacuum cleaner before using it again.

Wondering how many sheets you will need for the cot/crib? Read my article here.

40. You should allow your baby to be cuddled by lots of different people so they don’t get too attached to you.

It is solely the decision of parents who cuddles their baby. Sure, socializing can be hugely beneficial but don’t ever be pressured into handing him/her around like a toy just because someone else says you have to. After all too much contact with unfamiliar people can overwhelm a baby and make them feel unsafe. Instead, try to introduce your baby to new people in small doses while ensuring they have plenty of time to bond with you as well.

41. You shouldn’t give your baby girl or boy specific toys

This is a more modern myth. Some research has shown that given the choice girls will reach for more feminine toys than boys and vice versa. It’s not necessary to worry about this – babies and young children do not know anything about societal norms and are very instinctual. It is likely that they will try out all sorts of colors, shapes and themes of toys before deciding on what they like best. If your little girl or boy likes playing with dolls then let her – it will do no harm.

42. You should bath your baby every night

Although it’s important to keep your baby clean, giving them a bath every night is not necessary. In fact, bathing your baby too often can dry out their skin and cause irritation. The general advice is to not bathe your baby for the first 2 weeks of life anyway. After this, aim to bathe them two or three times a week with warm water and mild soap. Be sure to use a gentle touch when washing delicate areas such as the face and neck.

Bathing frequency will vary depending on the development stage – a messy milk feeder will get milk under their chin folds a lot which will need cleaning! Likewise early weaning can be very messy – nothing but a full on bath will wash out some food stuffs!

43. Parents need to be perfect

No one is perfect and there is no such thing as a perfect parent! All parents make mistakes, but it’s okay because that’s how you learn and grow as a person. It’s important to remember that even if you don’t get it right all the time, your children still need your love and support. So don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t always go as planned.

Being a parent is an incredibly difficult job and you are doing the best you can with the resources you have. That in itself is something to be proud of! So instead of trying to be perfect, focus on being the best version of yourself that you can be. Your children will thank you for it!


It is crucial for parents to have accurate information about raising children in order to make informed decisions and set realistic expectations. The myths discussed above are just a few of the many that exist, so it’s important for parents to be aware of these misconceptions in order to make sure they are providing the best care for their babies. With the right knowledge and understanding, parents can provide a safe, nurturing environment for their little ones.

For more tips on all things parenting check out the rest of my blog.


Every age and stage of parenting has its own unique set of challenges, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Ultimately, it comes down to understanding your child’s individual needs and personality and being flexible enough to meet them. That being said, the newborn phase can be especially challenging for some parents as they adjust to life with a new baby and navigate the changing schedule, sleep deprivation, and lack of routine. With time and practice, you can become more confident in your parenting abilities and work through any challenges that arise.

The number one rule in parenting is to always show unconditional love and support for your child. It’s important to remember that children need a secure, nurturing environment in order to thrive, and doing whatever you can to provide that is the most important thing you can do as a parent.

Many parents miss having more free time and flexibility in their lives. With a baby comes a lot of responsibility and the need to plan ahead for every situation. This can be difficult to adjust to, especially when you were used to being able to do whatever you wanted whenever you wanted before becoming a parent.

Some of the challenges of parenting a newborn baby include lack of sleep, adjusting to a new routine, and getting used to caring for an entirely dependent person. New parents may also struggle with feelings of isolation or loneliness if their support network is not close by or if they have to take time off from work.

Final thoughts

As a mom of 2 little ones I have heard every parenting myth going. The ultimate goal is to produce happy, healthy and well rounded children capable of independent thought and decision-making. Trust your instincts and ask for help when you want it – there are no prizes for struggling!


Yates, T., & Chalmers, R. (2008). Parenting style and child outcomes: Does authoritative parenting really make a difference? Journal of Social Policy, 37(2), 329-355. https://parentingscience.com/authoritative-parenting-style/


Gershoff, E. T., & Musher-Eizenman, D. (2019). Parenting Myths Exposed: The Science Behind Parenting Advice. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 14(1), 74-87. doi:10.1177/1745691618792491

Vansteenkiste, M., Soenens, B., Sierens, E., Luyckx, K., & Lens, W. (2009). Motivational profiles from a self-determination perspective: The quality of motivation matters. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(3), 671-688. doi:10.1037/a0015083 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232523652_Motivational_Profiles_From_a_Self-Determination_Perspective_The_Quality_of_Motivation_Matters


Obradović, J., Shaffer, A., & Burchinal, M. (2008). Contributions of Elementary School Environments to Cognitive Development: Evidence from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. Developmental Psychology, 44(3), 734-747. https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10046989/1/Decomposition%20paper%20NEW%20plus%202nd%20round%20revisions.pdf




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