Every new parent is inundated with information about his or her child’s sleep. Here I debunk 5 common sleep myths.
Myth #1: Keeping babies up later helps them sleep longer.
Truth: The longer babies are kept awake the more tired they become. This is not necessarily a good thing! Overtired children can have a really hard time falling asleep and remaining asleep. They may wake through the night often and the wake ups can happen quickly and be very loud. An overtired child will need a lot of help falling asleep as well as falling back asleep.
Myth #2: Good sleepers are born, not made.
Truth: There is actually a tiny bit of truth in this myth. Some children do have an easier time falling asleep than others. Studies have been done which prove that children who have a more spirited or intense temperament do need more help learning to fall asleep independently.
All children can be taught to fall asleep independently (and without having to leave them to cry – it – out). When a child can get itself to sleep without help, they can get themselves back to sleep when they wake during the night without help. Though babies may still wake for a feed or two during the night.
Myth #3:Never wake a sleeping baby.
Truth: If it’s taken you 40 minutes to get the baby to sleep, why on earth would you want to wake it up?
If your child sleeps too much through the day, they have more of a chance of being awake for longer periods through the night. You also run the risk of having your child sleep through feeds if they nap too long. Your child will need a set amount of milk each 24 hours; if they miss a feed through the day they will get that feed during the night.
A 3 month old should nap for between 4 and 5 hours each day. Between the ages of 6 months and 12 months, your child should nap around 3 hours each day. Please note that these totals differ between each child. If your child gets much more of much less than these totals, talk with your Doctor.
Myth # 4: Giving Rice cereal will make my child sleep longer.
Truth: This is one of the biggest myths. Rice cereal given to your baby before they are 4 months old does not help them sleep any longer. In fact a study found that children under 4 months who were given rice cereal in a bottle actually slept less!
Rice cereal digests very quickly and doesn’t sit in the stomach for very long.
Introduce solid foods (including rice cereal) when your child is nearer to 6 months. Consult your child’s Doctor before you plan on introducing solid foods
Myth #5: Sleep training means leaving my child to cry themselves to sleep.
Truth: There are lots of different sleep training methods out there. Ranging from non-cry, some cry and all the way up to cry – it – out. There is a lot of information on different techniques available online as well as in books.
Knowing what technique will work for your child all depends on their temperament. If your child is more intense or spirited you want to choose a ‘some cry’ technique. More sensitive children do better with non-cry techniques. Laid back and easygoing children have no problems. Any technique will work well.
Did you know I answer your sleep questions every Friday on Facebook? Head on over to Facebook, ‘like me’ and on Friday’s you can ask me your questions.