Baby sleep myths debunked

baby sleep myths debunked

When it comes to baby sleep there is one thing you can expect, the unexpected. Sorry to be the bringers of bad news, but every little human is different and as such, they’ll have different sleeping habits… some more challenging that others. Of course, there is always an array of people around to give you advice on how to send your cherub off to Snoozeville, and while some advice might be useful, there’s a lot of misinformation out there too. Here we set the record straight about some of the more common baby sleep myths.

Baby sleep myths #1: Adding cereal to your baby’s bottle will help them sleep through the night

While a well-fed baby is much more likely to sleep peacefully than a hungry one, there’s no evidence to suggest that adding cereal to your baby’s nighttime bottle will guarantee a quiet night. Sleep is more to do with brain maturity than food or calories and overfeeding can actually cause more frequent wakeups due to increased gas in the baby’s intestine. It’s also worth noting that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you avoid introducing solid food to your baby until around six months [1] because up until this point baby should be getting an adequate amount of nutrients from breast milk or formula.

Baby sleep myths #2: You can’t put a new baby in a routine

As new mums we’re often told to watch out for eye rubbing or yawning as our cues to pop baby into bed. However, if you’ve got to this point, you may well have missed the window opportunity for napping. Instead, use the clock as your gauge for when baby needs to sleep. As a rule, ninety minutes after a newborn baby wakes, she’s likely to be drowsy, so after an hour and 15 minutes of up time, start the settling down process.

Baby sleep myths #3: Waking in the night means hunger

Not necessarily. If your baby is over four months old and waking up at the same time night after night, you may have a habitual waker on your hands. According to Tracy Hogg, author of The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, “Nine times out of ten a child who wakes habitually doesn’t need more food, unless she’s going through a growth spurt?” Instead, Hogg suggests looking out for signals. If baby is happy and playful when she wakes, this usually indicates she’s looking for your company. If she’s grizzly and upset, she may not have had enough sleep. If you’ve ruled out hunger, illness, or discomfort you could try Tracy’s Wake To Sleep Method, which is detailed in Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, to solve your habitual waking problem.

Baby sleep myths #4: Co-sleeping is dangerous

Few parenting methods trigger more debate than co-sleeping, but according to Dr. James McKenna, director of the Mother-Baby Sleep Laboratory and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, co-sleeping holds some major benefits for both mother and child, including a possible reduced risk of SIDS [2]. However, like with anything to do with young babies, it’s important to be armed with the correct information and to be aware that there are safety precautions that apply. According to SIDS and Kids, you should not share a sleep surface if:

  • You are a smoker
  • You are under the influence of alcohol
  • You are excessively tired
  • Other children are sharing the bed with a baby
  • The baby could slip under bedding

NB: Research also shows a clear link between bed sharing and successful breastfeeding. [3]

Baby sleep myths #5: Some babies don’t need much sleep

Categorically not true. While some babies may need a little less sleep than others, all need naps through the day and longer periods of sleep at night. While your baby may look alert, don’t be fooled because this actually a sign of over tiredness. If you’re confused about how much sleep your baby needs, click here.

Sources
1. https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/HALF-Implementation-Guide/Age-Specific-Content/Pages/Infant-Food-and-Feeding.aspx
2. https://cosleeping.nd.edu/assets/33678/mckenna_gettlerangxp.pdf

3. http://cosleeping.nd.edu/assets/135560/emph_2014_mckenna_nightwaking_copy.pdf

For more baby sleep myths debunked, click here.

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