Is That Baby Sleep Advice Really True?
Sleep can feel like one of the most confusing topics for new parents. Information on how to help your baby sleep better seems to be everywhere! While they may have good intentions, the sleep advice you receive from family and friends will not necessarily set you on the right path. In fact, it may only lead you further from your goal of getting everyone in the family sleeping again! So, how do you weed through every sleep tip being thrown at you and still make the best decision for your little one?
Top Baby Sleep Myths Busted
Let’s walk though some common baby sleep myths to find out which ones are actually true and which ones are best left ignored.
My baby should sleep through the night.
Sleeping through the night – the most overused and confusing term in the entire sleep training world! Here’s the thing – we all wake throughout the night, sometimes partially and sometimes fully. You don’t sleep straight through the night and neither does your baby. Instead of believing that the term “sleeping through the night” means your baby sleeps a full 10-12 straight hours without waking, let’s redefine it. It should refer to your baby sleeping UNASSISTED throughout the night. The true goal is getting your baby to be able to transition between sleep cycles without crying and without needing you to help them fall back asleep.
My baby will work around my schedule and lifestyle.
Before having children, this is what people often think, isn’t it? And in the first few months, when your newborn is more portable, you certainly still have more flexibility. But when parents start hoping that their baby will have better sleep habits, they’ll need to realign their active social life and focus on a more consistent sleep routine for their little one. Babies thrive with set nap times and bedtimes, as well as having a consistent sleep environment.
If I keep my baby up all day, they will sleep better at night.
If you’ve done any sleep training research at all, you know that most books will tell you sleep equals sleep, and that is no word of a lie. The better rested your baby is throughout the day and at bedtime, they easier they will fall asleep at night and sleep more restfully. Focus on better naps and earlier bedtimes. That alone can help your baby sleep better at night.
My baby will sleep better…eventually.
Maybe. What parents need to understand is that while we are all born with the ability to sleep, falling asleep unassisted is a learned skill that we need to give our babies the opportunity to learn. Incorporating healthy sleep habits right from the start can save you the headache of trying to teach your toddler or preschooler to sleep better at night.
My baby just doesn’t need that much sleep.
Nap struggles and bedtime battles are the two most common issues I hear from parents with babies. At some point, parents just decide that their baby just doesn’t need to nap and can stay up late. I’m here to tell you that your baby needs much more sleep in a 24-hour period than you do. Babies need up to 14-15 hours of sleep per day up to 1 year of age, and up to 12 hours a day for toddlers. It’s important to offer the quantity of sleep that your baby needs to promote better cognitive ability, hand-eye coordination, better behavior, mood, and a stronger immune system.
My baby is teething so I can’t sleep train.
Teething shouldn’t affect your child’s sleep, or ability to sleep too much. I’m not saying there isn’t any pain associated with teething, there can be, and every child is different. But it doesn’t mean that you have to throw all your sleep rules out the window and resort to helping your child fall asleep. If you’ve been dealing with sleep struggles for a long time, chances are it’s not teething that’s the issue.
My baby can’t be sleep trained.
While certain medical issues can be an obstacle for sleep training, for the most part we need to remember that our children are 100% capable of putting themselves to sleep. If you continue to do it for them, like rocking and nursing to sleep, sleep training seems like an impossible feat. This is why creating the right plan for you and your partner and having proper support to keep you consistent throughout the process is key. If you want something to be different, you have to be prepared to make changes.
My baby wakes up because she’s hungry.
By 4-6 months of age, provided your baby is thriving, and there are no medical concerns, nutritionally your baby no longer needs feeds throughout the night. If your baby is having a full feed throughout the night, it’s because they need that feed to fall back to sleep. This is the habit that has been created. Once we remove that feed, they can learn how to fall back to sleep without it, and they will readjust to take in those calories throughout the day.
Sleep training will damage my baby’s psyche.
Allowing your baby to learn how to fall asleep on their own does not mean that they will feel abandoned and unloved. First of all, sleep training isn’t only choosing the method. There are other tools within the sleep training tool kit that need to be implemented to teach your little one to sleep better. Can I promise no tears at all when you take on sleep training? No. No matter what method you choose, change will result in some tears. But I can promise that your baby will still wake up feeling your love and attachment, and that is a guarantee. You will have to keep sleep training over and over again. Remember, to be able to fall asleep independently your child must learn the skill of independent sleep. This skill is no different than any other skill they will learn throughout their life. Those skills aren’t forgotten but do need to be brushed off every now and then. For example, when your child gets sick or you travel, you may have to brush off the independent sleep cobwebs once things return to your regular routine.
Bringing It All Together
When you stick with a consistent and age appropriate sleep plan, you’ll be amazed at what your child can accomplish when it comes to sleep. In the end, it’s actually pretty simple. You need to trust that your child is capable of learning how to sleep on their own, and then give them the chance to learn it. We promise that their sleep will change once the skill is there. The skill to sleep.