Whilst the journey of parenthood will undoubtedly hold many surprises, you probably expected to have a lot on your plate when it comes to your little one’s sleeping habits. It’s a topic which everyone seems to have an opinion on – our own parents, friends and even strangers. We can be overwhelmed with so much baby sleeping advice that sometimes it becomes hard to separate fact from fiction. There are a lot of myths out there that brand certain baby sleeping habits as abnormal when in fact they’re perfectly natural and normal. So, to make every second of your babe’s snoozing count, we’re going to put to rest some common baby sleep myths. Before you know it – you’ll be getting some well-deserved shut-eye as well as peace of mind that your bub’s sleeping habits are far from unusual.
Myth #1: You need to be extra quiet when your baby is snoozing
It’s true that little ones tend to have a lighter sleep during naptime compared to at night. However, tiptoeing when your baby is sleeping may not be needed. Your cherub’s first home was actually pitch black and super noisy. In the womb, they will have experienced all sorts of noises, and many of those can be just as comforting now. In fact, white noise can in some instances help lull your little one into a peaceful slumber. The more your bub gets used to the common sounds around your house, the more likely it is for them to sleep through them. However, our experts advise keeping tabs on whether your baby becomes too reliant on a sound device. This is because it could stop them from becoming familiar with everyday sounds.
Myth #2: Weaning early means your baby will sleep better
This is a big no! Weaning early doesn’t equate to your little one sleeping better. The guideline is to begin weaning when your baby is around six months old, unless a paediatrician/dietician recommends differently. For example, babies with reflux are normally advised to be weaned earlier. However, in normal circumstances, if your bub isn’t sleeping well, or often wakes during the night – weaning early isn’t a good solution.
Myth #3: Less sleep during the day means your baby will sleep more at night
How many times have you heard this? From friends to mother in laws – this is a common one we’ve seen be advised to parents. However, it’s actually a very bad piece of advice, and we recommend steering clear from it. The truth of the matter is if your little one sleeps less in the day, it’ll only make them overtired. Whilst they’ll fall into a deep sleep during the first part of the night, this will then be followed by more frequent night waking.
A little one that’s not getting enough sleep during the day can also take longer to doze off at bedtime as they’ll be overstimulated. Your bub will be wide awake for lengthier periods during the night as they struggle to get back to snoozing. No one wants an overtired or grumpy baby on their hands, so make sure they’re well-rested during the day.
Myth #4: Letting your baby cry it out is always a bad thing
There’s nothing worse than hearing your sweet angel crying. Naturally, as parents, we want to respond quickly to soothe our babe’s weeping. Therefore, we understand sleep-training methods where a baby is left alone to cry may seem unbearable. However, you need to remember that it’s virtually impossible to teach your little one to sleep through the night without a few tears shed here and there. It’s natural – changing your baby’s sleeping habits will likely cause them to get frustrated and start crying. However, the good news is that the “cry it out” sleep-training method has no long-lasting negative effects. As your bub gets older, it’s important they learn the essential life skills of self-soothing and falling asleep on their own.
Myth #5: Adding cereal to a baby’s bedtime bottle (or formula) will help them sleep through the night
Filling your little one’s bedtime bottle with additional calories may keep their belly full until sunrise, however that won’t do them any good nor their sleep. A good way to think about it is like this – how would you feel going to bed after a hefty meal? Of course, you’ll feel full but at the same time your body ends up working harder to digest. This fires up your metabolism which then makes it harder to doze off and stay asleep. The same applies to your cherub. Giving your baby more food to process right before bedtime won’t help them to sleep, it’ll do the opposite and disturb their slumber. If you want some peace and quiet, trust us, you won’t want to do this!
Myth #6: You should never wake a sleeping baby
Little ones always look so peaceful when they’re snoozing, so why would you ever want to disrupt that? Well, for several reasons, however, the most important one being is that babies (especially if they’re a newborn) need to eat and gain weight. You may also want to cut naptime short if your little one’s night slumbers are inconsistent and disrupted. The key thing to remember here is – what makes your bub cranky has more to do with how you disturb their sleep rather than the disturbance itself. As adults, waking up on your own accord is the best way, and babies are the same. Therefore, we want their teeny tiny bodies to naturally wake up – or at least trick them into thinking they do. We recommend doing this by using the space and environmental signals around you. For example, open the blinds to let the light stream in, or gently remove their sock to boost your babe’s body temperature. If your find your little one is still snoozing away after that, take their barefoot and give it a little light tickle.
Myth #7: I can sleep train my baby as soon as they’re born
Little ones are too biologically immature to be sleep trained straight after birth. We recommend teaching your bub to begin sleeping through the night at around 4 months old. Before that, a sleeping pattern or schedule will be pretty much non-existent. Therefore, until then, your only goal should be to love, snuggle and bond with your bundle of joy. The dependence formed with each other in those first few special months, will allow you to help guide your little one to snooze all night long later down the line.
With all the information out there with regards to your little one’s sleep, and the expectations placed on new mums and dads, it can feel like a complete minefield. However, we hope after reading these baby sleep myths, you feel reassured and more aware of the fibs floating around regarding your cherub’s snoozing habits. The truth is that every baby and family is different, and what works for some may not work so well for others – but remember that’s ok! Whilst there may not be a magic quick fix or one-size-fits-all approach, you will find the perfect solution for your babe in the end.