Holding a newborn in your arms for the very first time can be the most delicious feeling in the world—and also the most terrifying. If you have never done this before, you will be bombarded with rules and advice from older, more experienced mothers. Instead of blindly taking each suggestion to heart, learn the truth behind these beliefs and make the call yourself.
Myth #1: Colic is kabag. Fact: Colic is unexplained fussiness in a healthy baby. Experts weigh in: According to pediatrician Joy Ty-Sy, M.D., “Colic is a behavioral issue most frequently seen in babies ages one to three months. It is characterized by attacks of fussiness or crying occuring three or more hours per day for three or more days a week.”
Anna Lopez-Gabriel, M.D., head of the department of Pediatrics at Makati Medical Center and owner of MommyDepotOnline, agrees: “[Colic happens when] baby’s cries are overwhelming, he is inconsolable, and his legs are bent at the knee and folded in towards the chest.”
At the same time, the baby passes gas—this is why people believe colic is kabag. She continues, “It is believed that colic is caused by a still immature digestive system, where movement is still sluggish and uncoordinated, so gas easily builds up. The pain is felt when the intestines are so stretched out.” Dr. Lopez-Gabriel suggests ruling out other possible causes such as milk allergy or lactose intolerance before diagnosing colic.
Myth #2: You must use a bigkis to cover the umbilical stump. Fact: The umbilical stump must dry up in order to fall out on its own. Putting a bigkis will keep the area moist. Experts weigh in: “Babies are abdominal breathers,” says Dr. Lopez-Gabriel. “They use more of their abdominal muscles than their chest muscles to breathe, which are also still underdeveloped. If you use a bigkis, you are actually restricting proper breathing.”
Some reasons why parents use a bigkis on their baby’s umbilical stump include: to keep baby’s belly button from protruding, to prevent colic, and to help baby girls develop a narrow waist. According to our experts, the last two are unrelated to wearing a bigkis. The protrusion of the belly button is actually caused by umbilical hernia. “This occurs when part of the intestine protrudes through an opening in the abdominal muscles,” says Dr. Ty-Sy. “Umbilical hernia is common and usually harmless. Most hernias close on their own even without the use of bigkis.”
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Myth #3: The safest way for a baby to sleep is on her stomach to prevent her from choking on spit-ups. Fact: It is dangerous for babies to sleep on their tummies because it has been directly linked to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Experts weigh in: “Babies who sleep on their tummies inhale less oxygen and exhale less carbon dioxide because their faces are so close to the bedding,” explains Dr. Lopez-Gabriel. “They re-breathe their exhaled breath. It is also more difficult for them to move in that position. If they get buried under a blanket or a pillow, they cannot easily kick it off and their cries might get muffled.” This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that babies sleep on their backs.
Take note, also, to always make sure you burp your baby before putting him to bed. “When an infant regurgitates while lying in bed, it poses a risk for aspiration pneumonia and choking, which can be fatal,” adds Dr. Ty-Sy.