You’ve heard it all before - never wake a sleeping baby, your baby just doesn’t need to nap, formula fed babies sleep better than breastfed babies - but is that all true?! We’re here to break down all of those popular “baby guru" lines once and for all.
1. Never Wake a Sleeping Baby - MYTH!
This is a popular one! You’ve done all of the hard work to finally get your baby to sleep and their bodies know how much sleep they need, right?! Wrong! We need to teach our babies
when it is time to sleep and when it is time to be awake. While some babies may naturally fall into these patterns a bit easier than others, we have to help set their body clock. This is especially true for newborns. Newborns should be eating every two to three hours during the day. They are so sleepy from being in the comfort of your warm, cozy belly for so long that they may just continue to sleep and sleep…and sleep. Wake them up! Establish that set feeding pattern from the start and teach them when it is time to eat.
Having your little ones on a set schedule during the day will help tremendously. Their bodies will come to predict what is next which also allows them to sleep when it is time to sleep! So, when do you wake a sleeping baby? You’ll want to wake them for their next scheduled feeding. You’ll also want to wake them after they’ve been sleeping for a set
amount of time so you don’t interfere with their next feeding, nap, or their bedtime. In the morning, wake baby at their scheduled wake up time. Otherwise, you’ll find it almost impossible to stay consistent - which means a lack of consistency for their daytime and nighttime sleep as well!
2. My Baby is Scared of the Dark - MYTH!
We hear it all of the time, “My baby is scared of the dark and doesn’t like to be in their room alone.” If you think about it, being scared or having a fear is a learned state of mind. Babies, specifically, have no concept of fear. In reality, your baby just wants YOU and you are not in their room so they may fight being in there.
What is the solution? Sleep training! If you sleep train your baby to sleep in their own environment, on their own, they will learn that is the only option. Their rooms should be as dark as possible (it should be hard for you to see your hand in front of your face) to create the perfect sleep environment.
3. The Toys in My Baby’s Crib Soothes Them - MYTH!
“My baby likes the toys in their crib so they don’t feel alone and can occupy themselves when they wake early.” You know the toys - the stars on the ceiling, the fish aquariums attached to the crib, etc. What happens when they wake and see those toys? They play with them! We want little ones to know that their cribs/beds are for sleep. If we put toys in there with them, it will cause added stimulation, hindering the chance of them going back to sleep.
Instead, sleep train your little ones to go back to sleep on their own so they get those extra hours of much needed sleep.
4. If I Put My Baby to Bed Later, They’ll Sleep Later - MYTH!
Have you ever tried this? Do you know what usually ends up happening?! They wake up even earlier!! Talk about a plan backfiring, right? This does not work because you end up missing your little one’s ideal sleep window when you keep them up later. They are then overtired which causes more frequent middle of the night wakings, early morning wakings, and crankiness all around (from us parents, too!).
What should you do instead? Get them to bed earlier!
If your goal is getting your baby to sleep a bit later, chances are they are overtired (causing the early morning wake ups). Get them to bed as early as you need to, to make up for any lost daytime sleep. Sleep train them through those early morning wake ups until the scheduled/desired morning wake time. This will eventually readjust their body clocks to a later time, if you are keeping them in there until that desired time! Another way to combat those early morning wake ups is by using the Wake to Sleep approach: WAKE TO SLEEP APPROACH.
5. Baby Needs a Quiet Room - MYTH!
Do you tiptoe around your house when baby is finally asleep to prevent any chance of waking them up? Are you on edge every time FedEx rings your bell to deliver your Amazon Prime packages (no, just me?!)? Doesn’t everybody know we have sleeping babies around here?!
Truth be told, if this sounds like a typical day in your house, chances are YOU are the one training your baby to be bothered by those noises. If your little one is already used to sleeping through noise, they will continue to do so as they grow. Use a white noise machine and turn it up as loud as you have to! This will not only help drown out those background noises you are so worried about but will also help your little one sleep through any noises they may hear.
6. If My Baby Naps Less During the Day, They’ll Sleep Better at Night - MYTH!
Can you see me right now?! I’m standing outside of my house yelling “NOOOO!!!!!” so you can hear me all the way across the country. THIS. IS. NOT. TRUE. At all! It’s actually the exact opposite. This is the same concept as Myth #4 above.
If your little one is not getting enough daytime sleep, it is going to make for a much more difficult night. Babies and toddlers actually overcompensate for lost sleep by appearing more alert while they are awake. Don’t be fooled! View our chart to see what your baby’s daytime wake windows should look like: NAP CHART.
7. My Baby Just Doesn't Need as Much Sleep as Other Babies - MYTH!
While it is true that some babies are naturally “better” sleepers than others, 9 times out of 10 we have to teach our babies how to sleep. You play a bigger role in your baby’s sleep than you think - they only know what you have taught them. If that involves rocking them to sleep, they will think that is the only way they are able to fall asleep. They then wake in the middle of the night and are unable to put themselves back to sleep because they think they need that rocking in order to get back to sleep.
From the time your baby is at an age or weight where they are capable of being sleep trained (4 months or 12 pounds), start teaching them how to do all of these things on their own! The biggest part of that is putting your baby into their crib while awake! Find a sleep training method you are comfortable with and stick to it until they are able to put themselves to sleep. Your goal should be 10-12 hours of overnight sleep (most babies and toddlers are capable of getting pretty close to the 12 hour mark) and naps will vary based on their age.
8. My Baby Wakes at Night because They’re Hungry - MYTH!
I have good news for you - this isn’t necessarily true! Once a baby is over 4 months of age, they are most likely not waking out of hunger (unless they are not getting enough of their caloric intake during their daytime feedings). Instead, they are waking because they need to learn better soothing techniques to learn how to put themselves back to sleep.
How do you handle that? At 4 months of age (or 12 pounds), a baby is capable of being sleep trained. The most important part of sleep training is making sure your baby is going into their sleep space while they are still awake. This will teach them how to put themselves to sleep so they are not “calling” for you every time they wake in the night. A lot of parent’s typical response is to offer a feeding. It then becomes more of a habit than an actual need to eat in the middle of the night.
9. My Child just Doesn’t Like Their Bed/Crib/Room - MYTH!
We hear this a lot! A child does not dislike their crib, their bed, or their room. They do, however, prefer to sleep with you in your bed if they have been given the option before! Who wouldn’t prefer that?! If you are not a fan of co-sleeping (or have no desire to), don’t bring your child into your bed. It’s that simple. They’ll never know they have the choice to sleep with you, in your bed, unless you have given them that option. If their bed is the only option they have for sleep, it’s all they’ll know!
10. Formula Fed Babies Sleep Better Than Breastfed Babies - MYTH!
A fed baby will sleep, as long as they have foundation for healthy sleep habits! A breastfeeding baby will not sleep any better or worse than a formula fed baby who has the same soothing techniques. Young babies wake because their nervous system is still immature and their sleep cycles are not yet fully developed. Older babies wake because they are unable to soothe themselves back to sleep.
Again, it all comes back to teaching our little ones how to sleep on their own! As long as they have the skills to sleep on their own and to soothe themselves, they will sleep (and only wake for a middle of the night feeding if they are still too young to sleep through the night) regardless of whether they are formula or breast fed.
11. Teething Causes Baby to be a Poor Sleeper - MYTH!
While teething can absolutely be an uncomfortable experience for some babies, it should not affect sleep as much as parents like to think it does. When babies are up all night, it is related more to them not having the proper soothing techniques than it is from the discomfort of teething.
If your baby is sleep trained prior to when they start teething, you will most likely escape any sleep disruptions when those pearly whites start to pop through!
What are some other things you hear that you want us to get to the bottom of? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Mythbusters” to find out if the things you’ve been told or have read are true.