Myth busters: Baby Sleep

Myth busters: Baby Sleep

Keeping your baby up longer at night/between naps will encourage her to fall asleep faster and sleep better.

This is definitely a myth. Keeping your baby up longer at night/between naps will result in an overtired child. An overtired child will be fussy, cranky, have trouble feeding and take much longer to settle into sleep. They will also be more likely to wake during the night and earlier in the mornings, and will only have very short naps the following day.

Your baby will sleep through the night when she is three months of age.

It is possible, if you have set the foundations for healthy sleep skills early and your child is developing good self-soothing strategies. In this instance, you can usually expect babies to start sleeping through the night between three and six months of age (providing they are healthy and developing well). However children that still rely on “props” to fall asleep, such as feeding/rocking/patting, etc. will more than likely continue to wake through the night. This is because they have never learned the ability to put themselves to sleep so they are unable to consolidate sleep cycles through the night. They will often rouse after a sleep cycle and instead of using their own skills to return quickly to sleep they will cry out for their “prop” before they are able to go back to sleep.

Letting your baby fall asleep while being held is a bad thing; you should never wake a sleeping baby.

It is very difficult to always put your baby in their cot/bassinet while awake and allow them to use their own skills to fall asleep when they are newborns, as they need to sleep often. Parents will sometimes be out and about and need to put their baby to sleep in the pram/car or carrier. However it is important to be respectful of your child’s sleep needs and whenever possible give them the opportunity to attempt to fall asleep in their cot/bassinet. This is the place where they are going to get the best quality sleep. Remember how challenging and disturbed your own sleep is if you have to sleep in the car, or even when staying in a hotel room as opposed to your own bed at home. If you always let your baby fall asleep in your arms they are never going to develop their own self-soothing skills. Just remember that as your child grows, they get heavier and while you may find it easy to rock a newborn to sleep in your arms it will not be as easy to do this with your one, two or even three year old. It is never enjoyable to have to wake a sleeping baby, and the only reason I would suggest doing this would be to preserve a bedtime. As children get older their sleep needs change and sometimes too much daytime sleep (for an older baby or child) can have a negative effect on bedtime and sleeping through the night. However the opposite is also true and overtiredness will also negatively impact night time sleep so it’s best to err on the side of more sleep as opposed to less.

Daytime naps aren’t always needed.

Most children will usually drop their daytime nap around three or four years of age (providing they are getting their 11-12hrs of night time sleep). However, it is possible that children as young as 2 ½ years of age drop their daytime naps. Before this age, a daytime nap or naps are very important to prevent overtiredness and recharge their little bodies for the remainder of the day.

Filling your baby up by putting infant cereal in her bottle will help her sleep.

This is a myth. For very young babies, the length of time for which they are able to sleep is largely determined by how quickly their little bellies empty after a feed. However, as your baby reaches the three to six  month age, it is healthy sleep habits and good self-soothing skills (that can be introduced gently from birth) that will help your baby sleep for longer periods. It is always very important to ensure your baby is well fed and developing properly, but the addition of good nutrition throughout the entire day is more important than adding infant cereal to their bedtime bottle.

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