Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant, Samantha Krukerink from Baby Sleep Consultant, disproves some common baby sleep myths.
As a new parent, it can be confusing to work out what is happening with your wee one’s sleep and even more confusing when you throw a few old wives’ tales into the mix or advice from friends and family who just want to help. Below, I have added some sleep myths that are often believed to be true but now that we know more about the science behind sleep and how our bodies function, we can take some of the guess work out of sleep.
1. Sleep them in the light during the day and dark at night to teach them day from night
We now know that our body produces a sleep hormone called melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy but this hormone is diminished by light so we actually need a nice dark room for naps as well as night. We can teach a baby day from night by using lots of light during awake times, regular feeds during the day and social interactions – these 3 things influence our biological clocks to help us work out day from night.
2. Formula or solids will make them sleep better
Switching to formula or introducing solids will only help if there is a real feeding problem present. I wouldn’t recommend switching just in the hope that it will help with sleep issues. Please talk to a midwife or lactation consultant if you worry about your breastfeeding supply. As a sleep consultant, I have seen that breastfed babies are able to sleep just as well as formula fed babies, and formula fed babies are just as likely to have sleep issues as breastfed babies. As for solids, these can often disrupt sleep if they are introduced too early.
3. Never wake a sleeping baby
Babies are born with no sense of day or night so sometimes they might be super sleepy during the day but very wakeful at night. To help them work out their days from nights, you might need to wake them during the day. We also want to make sure that they are feeding well and getting enough day time feeds so you may need to wake them for feeds.
4. Some babies just don’t need as much sleep or are naturally poor sleepers
Sleep is influenced by BOTH a baby’s natural makeup, and how we respond to them. Yes, each child can be quite different but you can be a huge influence over your baby’s sleep. And it’s never too late! Toddlers can still be taught to sleep better, even if they are used to lots of assistance and have multiple night time wake ups.
5. Keep them awake for longer and they will sleep better
Babies sleep better, longer, and cry less if they are put to bed at the right time. An overtired baby is more likely to be fussy, difficult to settle and wake more overnight. Sometimes they may appear very awake, alert and sometimes bouncing off the walls! But this is often because they have become overtired and are now running on adrenaline. An earlier bedtime does not always mean you will have an early morning and similarly, a late night unfortunately will not guarantee you a sleep in!