Don’t Swim on a Full Stomach and 7 Other Mom Myths

posted: 05/05/15
by: Blythe Copeland
kids jumping in pool
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Kids can safely jump in the pool as soon as they finish eating!

Moms are full of wisdom and smart reminders that you can carry into adulthood--but not all of their repeated warnings are ones you should follow. We found that some of the most popular mom-isms turn out to be, well, wrong. Here are eight you can disregard (just don't be surprised if you hear yourself repeating these to your kids one day).

1. Wait 30 minutes after you eat before you go swimming.

This rule is the most frustrating for kids trying to squeeze in every possible moment in the pool or ocean: First mom made you get out to eat lunch, and now she won't let you back in?! The theory is that swimming while your body is also trying to digest could give you cramps that make it impossible to stay afloat. Luckily, that's not true--so feel free to eat that PB&J and dive back in.

2. Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis.

Doubtful. Occasional knuckle cracking will most likely not cause you any serious long-term problems, although some studies have indicated that "insatiable" cracking could add to wear and tear on the joints. An article from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center points out that many older adults get osteoarthritis regardless of whether they crack their knuckles, which means Mom probably just told you this so she didn't have to hear that grating cracking noise anymore.

3. Sitting too close to the TV is bad for your eyes.

According to Scientific American, this myth got its start in the 1960s when GE recalled televisions that were giving off excessive radiation--so sitting away from the set wasn't so much about your vision as about avoiding those emissions. But modern televisions don't emit radiation, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology says that sitting up close won't result in "physical damage" to your kids' eyes.

4. If you go out with wet hair, you'll catch a cold.

A 2003 study in Pediatrics found that 40 percent of mothers still believe that going outside with wet hair will make you sick. Sorry, mom: A cold is a virus that you can catch even when you're all bundled up and your hair is dry. You may be more likely to catch a cold in the winter because humidity is lower, but wet hair has nothing to do with it.

5. Coffee will stunt your growth.

You can thank food maker C.W Post for this one: To boost sales of coffee alternative Postum in the early 20th century, ads claimed that coffee would interfere with "proper development and growth" (among many other terrible side effects). But there's been no research to back that up, says Smithsonian--and even studies on the effects of caffeine haven't come up with any correlation.

6. Feed a cold, starve a fever.

This makes sense, right? When your body is working to fight a cold, it needs fuel; when you're fasting, your body temperature drops (helping you battle a fever). But according to Prevention, only the first part is right: A nutritious diet will give you the energy your immune system needs to stay healthy, but you still need that boost when you have a fever. (And regardless of which category your illness falls into, drink plenty of water.)

7. When you shave, hair grows back thicker.

Not exactly. The ends of unshaven hair are smoother and more tapered, so when you cut them you're exposing the coarser hair that was under the skin. This means that your hair might feel a little thicker as it grows back in, but it hasn't actually changed in size. And according to Lifehacker, shaving won't make hair grow back faster, either.

8. Eat carrots to see in the dark.

During WWII, the British military started a rumor that their pilots' incredible ability to find targets in the dark was due to a love of carrots (it was actually radar, a then-new technology that the British didn't want the Germans to hear about). The orange veggies developed a reputation for improving eyesight, and while they are filled with good-for-you beta carotene and vitamin A, they won't help you see in the dark.