With the abundance of non-professional information on getting your child to sleep out there, it’s no surprise that there are multiple myths surrounding the topic. While people often share this information with the best intentions, some of it is simply not true. Let’s get to the bottom of these myths, and shed some light on the false sleep tips you may have heard before.
1) The later your child goes to sleep the better
The logic behind this one assumes when your child is more tired they will be able to fall asleep better and also they will be able to sleep further into the morning. While in theory, a sleep-in sounds nice, this isn’t how sleep patterns in babies work. Babies haven’t developed sleep patterns yet as their brains are still developing at a rapid pace. They often will not know the difference between day and night in the first months of their life. Waiting until late for your child to go to sleep will cause them to be overtired and release more cortisol which actually makes it harder for them to fall asleep.
If they are going to bed later at night it is more likely they will wake early too. Pushing their bedtime later disrupts sleep patterns and they’ll often undersleep. If you want them to try to sleep in you’re better to move their sleep time forwards.
2) Feeding solids will help with sleep training
You might’ve heard the tale before that feeding solids early will help them develop good sleeping patterns. One myth even suggests that adding crushed baby cookies in their bottle will help. Starting solids early before 4-6 months can be more harmful than helpful. There is evidence to suggest that starting solids too early can trigger food allergies and their undeveloped digestive systems will struggle with this early introduction.
It’s considered normal for under 4-month-old babies to not be able to sleep through the night, and should still be on liquids to this point. Make your baby’s feeding time a part of the routine of being put down to sleep.
3) Your child will sleep when they are tired
Any parent will probably be able to see through this one. Just like us grown-ups, sometimes falling asleep when you need it doesn’t always happen easily. No routine and a ‘my child will fall asleep when tired’ attitude won’t get you very far, developing brains need help in determining when the right times to fall asleep are. Having nap times and bedtimes in place will ensure your child is getting the right hours of sleep. As sleep is crucial to children’s development you want to be hitting these markers as best you can. As mentioned before, when your child is overtired their bodies produce more cortisol making it harder to fall asleep, so your child could be overtired and struggling to hit the hay.
4) Naps aren’t needed
You might have heard naps aren’t needed, to let your child fall asleep when they are tired at night. This is disproved by the same information as the last point. Your child will need between 12-15 hours of sleep if an infant or 11-14 hours if a toddler. Achieving these hours if they are waking up in the night simply isn’t possible. By introducing naps at a regular time each day, your child will be getting the right amount of hours of sleep for development. These regular naps will help with falling asleep too as their brains will know what happens at each point in the day.
5) Your baby must be sleeping overnight
While we can dream, babies in the early phase of their lives simply won’t be able to sleep through the night. They’ll need to wake up for feeding to not be hungry throughout the night. It’s important to be checking in with your doctor about if they’re on track with their feeding and what this feeding overnight schedule should be.
6) Your baby has to hit all the sleep markers for age
Some say babies should be sleeping through the night at three months, but this isn’t always the case for everyone. Your child should be sleeping more than a few hours at a time, which was likely the case in the first few weeks but 5-6 hours per time might be a more realistic expectation. Every child has individual needs and struggles so don’t compare yours to the markers. If there are major problems, consulting with a professional is needed but don’t worry yourself too much about how everyone else’s baby is sleeping.
7) Not having a bedtime routine once they’re not a baby
It might seem easy to throw the bedtime routine away once they’re sleeping through the night or past the baby phase. However this is not advised, having a good sleep routine is crucial for children of any age, even for us adults it can help if we struggle with sleep! This bedtime routine isn’t going away anytime soon so might as well make it enjoyable – adding fun bonding like a bath or bedtime story can make it all worthwhile.
8) Once they’re sleeping through the night, they will forever
Hate to break it to you but sleeping problems can arise even after your baby has nailed sleeping through the night. Sleep patterns and development are ever-changing. By keeping your sleep routine dialled in, you’ll stand a better chance at keeping them sleeping through the night.
With these baby sleep myths busted, you can start focusing on proven methods. Sleep is important for development, being energized and in a good mood throughout the day. By avoiding these baby sleep myths and instead establishing a good bedtime routine, having a nice dark room, aiming for the same time each night and getting professional advice are all going to help the sleep training process