Frequently asked questions

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends nursing for 12 months, exclusively for the first six. “But a mom should stop breastfeeding if she realizes that she’s no longer enjoying it, even though it has myriad benefits,”says Erica Brody, M.D., director of pediatric breastfeeding medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City. On the other hand, there’s no need to wean as soon as your child turns 1, if prolonged breastfeeding makes you both happy.

In a perfect world, yes. “But since that’s not realistic for many parents, we recommend washing bottles with soap and water after every feeding, and sterilizing them overnight,” says pediatrician Esther Krych, M.D., editor of the Mayo Clinic Guide to Your Baby’s First Year. This kills the bacteria and viruses that caregivers can pass on to a baby. Keep in mind that frequent hand-washing and good hygiene are just as important as sterilizing. Also, you should never “clean” your child’s dirty Binky by putting it in your mouth. “A human’s mouth is the germiest one on the planet—even worse than a dog’s!” says Dr. Krych.

Nope. “Evolutionarily speaking, babies are meant to be held. That’s why they’re so cuddly and irresistible,” says Dr. Brody. While it’s fine to have your infant attached to you (via a wrap or a baby carrier) during the day, nighttime is a different story. Babies who are used to being held or rocked to sleep have a hard time drifting off independently—and soothing themselves back to sleep when they awaken during the night. Put your child in the crib drowsy but awake, on his back, and let him learn to do it himself.