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  • Besides the 5 common myths discussed in another article, I wanted to share 4 more misconceptions that your friends and relatives might try to convince you about: MYTH 5: Toddlers should give up their pacifiers, especially at night. FACT: It’s normal and very comforting to toddlers to suck. In most basic cultures, kids still suckle at the breast until they’re three or four years old. Pacifiers can promote a child’s confidence and ability to self-soothe in the middle of the night. Furthermore, many toddlers have a strong genetic tendency to suck. And it’s definitely preferable for your tot to suck a pacifier rather than to get into the habit of thumb sucking, which is much more likely to cause long-term orthodontic problems. MYTH 6: Kids naturally fall asleep when they’re tired. FACT: While most of us (little kids included) fall asleep when we get exhausted, some toddlers actually get more awake! They become giddy and start running in circles. In fact, these tots can look like kids with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). And this problem can escalate: the more tired your child get, the harder it is for her to fall asleep, and the more times she may wake up during the night. MYTH 7: A night-light can hurt your baby’s vision. FACT: Nope! Generations of parents have used dim night-lights (four watts) in their infants’ bedrooms. Night-lights let us make a quick assessment of our child’s well-being without needing to turn on a bright flashlight or room light. Plus, many babies feel safer if they can see familiar surroundings when they wake at 2 a.m. . . . not just a gulf of darkness. But a 1999 study from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia scared many parents into switching the night-lights off. Researchers said 34 percent of children who used a night-light later became near­sighted. Fortunately, two newer studies debunked this claim. Ohio scientists found that only 16.8 percent of the children in their study exposed to night-lights for the first two years became nearsighted, compared with 20 percent of children who slept in darkness. Boston scientists also confirmed there was absolutely no association between night-lights and vision problems. MYTH 8: Putting a TV in your tot’s room can make bedtime better. FACT: TVs are a huge problem! Nearly a third of preschoolers have a TV in their room. (And 20% of infants do, too . . . yikes!) In addition, nearly a fifth of parents use the TV or DVD as part of their children’s bedtime routine. But using this “electronic pacifier” as your child’s bedtime lovey is a bad idea that can set up very bad lifelong habits. Kids with a TV in the bedroom:
    • Watch more TV (that means more violent programming and junk food commercials)
    • Go to bed twenty to thirty minutes later
    • Resist sleep (they’re twice as likely to fall asleep after 10:00 p.m.)
    • Sleep less (they’re twice as likely to have trouble waking up in the morning)
    • Exercise less
    • Have more mental stress (and perhaps more nightmares)
    • Have a higher risk of becoming overweight and obese!
    • Can get seriously hurt by pulling the TV set on top of themselves!
    Now, I am not a total prude about the boob tube. It can be a real help as a short-term babysitter . . . and sometimes we all need that. But use TV sparingly (picking gentle shows like Sesame Street and nature videos for 20-30 minutes), and turn it off well before bedtime. Better yet, save TV time for special occasions . . . like weekend mornings when it will be a special treat for your little bub, and it may let you snooze an extra thirty minutes.  For more about toddler sleep, see pages 219-222 in The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep.

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