Old Wives’ Tales: Fact or Fiction?

| July 30, 2013 | 1 Comment

A frogYou already know that going out with wet hair won’t cause pneumonia, despite hearing your grandmother say just the contrary. And although it’s fun to guess the sex of an unborn child before the ultrasound, we now know that dangling a ring over a mama-to-be’s belly isn’t an accurate way of guessing whether to buy pink or blue! Still, some old wives’ tales have lived on, even with increases in scientific understanding and technology. Here are a few that seem to have persisted:

You need to wait an hour after your child has eaten before allowing him to go swimming. This one is false, says the American Red Cross. You’re not any more likely to get a cramp or drown within an hour after eating, than you would be if you’d enforced the “wait an hour” rule. If your kids have eaten a particularly heavy meal, though, it’s a good idea for them to wait before participating in any strenuous activities (like swimming), because an upset tummy and a pool full of swimmers don’t mix well!

Eat your carrots for good night vision. Carrots do contain vitamin A, which is important for good eye health, but eating more carrots won’t directly impact your night vision. During World War II, the British claimed that their soldiers had great night vision due to their high levels of carrot consumption, but this was simply to avoid having the Germans find out that they were using radar. You’ll need to find another incentive to get your kids to eat their orange veggies.

Sitting too close to the television causes eye strain. Although it annoys me to no end to see my kids with their noses three inches from the screen, there is no truth to this tale. Your child is no more or less likely to need glasses if he has the habit of getting too close to the TV. There are potential health ramifications (namely obesity) to watching too much of the boob tube, though, so limit your kids’ viewing no matter how close they sit to the screen.

Cracking knuckles, swallowing gum, touching toads and crossing your eyes can have long-lasting effects. These are all myths. Cracking your knuckles won’t cause arthritis, swallowed gum exits the body in a few days just like anything else, and touching toads does not give you warts; those are caused by a virus. I don’t think anyone actually believes that crossing your eyes might cause them to get stuck that way, but I still hear moms saying it to their kids at times!

Many of our grandmothers’ words of wisdom are actually true, of course! Even before these things were scientifically proven, moms and grandmas have always known that warm milk makes little ones sleepy and that chicken soup can, in fact, treat the common cold. These are good examples to bring up when your own children doubt your knowledge in areas of health and wellness.

What were some of your favorite old wives’ tales from when you were a child? Do you pass on the tradition by telling them to your children?

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  1. This is great lol. I know my mom still thinks if you swallow gum it lasts for 7 years. My son swallows his all the time and he’s a stick! If it was staying in there, I think he’d be quite larger 🙂 And if toads caused warts, I’d have been covered with them as a child! I used to love picking them up. I think so many people still think the cold will give you a cold! I guess maybe being cold could make you more likely to catch one if your immunity is down and you are around someone sick.

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