Parents use old advice for child's concussion - just one way outdated advice sneaks into raising kids

Posted September 14, 2016

Parents — especially new parents — get a lot of competing but well-meaning advice when it comes raising kids. Often, it's a discussion of what Mom and Dad or Grandma and Grandpa did in a crisis. But sometimes — like when a child has a concussion or it's time to put the baby to bed — that wrong advice could be dangerous.

The point was driven home with recent publication of a national survey, commissioned by UCLA Health, that clearly showed the majority of parents rely on outdated advice about what to do when their child has suffered a concussion.

"This survey really illustrates just how far the pendulum has swung in terms of caring for children with concussions," said Dr. Christopher Giza, pediatric neurologist who directs the UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program, in a written statement. "In the past, there was often a tendency to downplay the significance of concussions. Now some parents go too far the other direction and, despite their best intentions, they can inadvertently complicate their child's recovery."

For instance, three-fourths of parents said they'd wake a child with a concussion up during the night — an old practice — despite the fact that once a concussion has been checked out by a doctor, it's in the child's best interests to get some sleep.

The study noted that doctors look at "things like mood, memory and energy level to gauge how well a child is recovering from a concussion. All of those factors are dramatically altered if a child is awakened every few hours."

And 84 percent of the parents surveyed said they would make certain the injured child was sedentary until he or she healed. In fact, they should be active although not doing activities that are likely to result in further injury, Giza said.

Right after a concussion, kids need lots of rest and should avoid further head injuries. But quite soon, they should be "easing back" into activities, the researchers said.

It's far from the only kind of outdated advice that parents get concerning their children of all ages. For instance, reports that a fair number of folks still stuff their baby's little feet into hard-soled shoes "to protect their delicate toes and keep their feet aligned." But in reality, "babies use their toes to grip the surfaces that they're walking on, so they should actually go shoeless indoors. To keep tiny tootsies safe outside, get a shoe with a good grip on the sole — hard-soled shoes can be too slippery.

Another common bit of parenting advice for those with young kids is they should be started young on solid foods. According to an article on, developmental cues are more accurate than a chronological age, but "The World Health Organization names 6 months as the correct age to start." Some kids are ready a little earlier; the clue is whether they're already trying to grasp food and feed themselves.

Getting babies started on cereal and other foods too early has been linked to increased risk of obesity later, according to other studies. And drinking water even on hot days is not recommended because it can harm their kidneys.

There are conversational bits that linger as well, such as telling a child that someone is a bully "because he (or she) has a crush on you." According to, parents should never give a child the notion that unkindness or aggression is what affection feels like.

Among the most misunderstood notions passed down from one generation to the next is how a baby should sleep. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies should always be put "back to sleep" — as in on their backs, without soft bedding or bumpers or other items nearby.

The exceptions to positioning a baby on his or her back are rare — such as when a baby has had actual back surgery, the group notes. And even then, consult your pediatrician about what's best for the baby, it says.

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