For most parents, baby sleep has always been, and will likely continue to be, a bit of a mystery. Some babies are naturally gifted sleepers and unfortunately, some are not. Here are some of the most common myths on baby sleep.
5 Common Sleep Myths
1. Sleeping too much during the day will keep baby up at night
Not likely, except in extreme cases. Unless your little one is sleeping practically all day and up all night, you probably don’t need to concern yourself with the length of their naps. Newborns especially need a ton of sleep. In fact, up until about 5 months, it’s not recommended to be awake for more than about 2 – 2 1/2 hours at a time. For newborns, that number is more around 45 minutes to an hour.
What keeps babies awake at night, more than anything else, is overtiredness. You might think that an exhausted baby is more likely to sack out for a full night than one who slept all day, but it’s actually just the opposite. The reason it’s referred to as being “overtired” is because baby has missed the “tired” phase and their bodies start to kick back into gear, which keeps them from falling asleep and staying asleep. A baby who has gotten a decent amount of sleep during the day is far less likely to miss the sleep window.
2. Sleeping is a natural development and can’t be taught
Sleeping is natural, absolutely. Everybody wakes up and falls back to sleep multiple times a night, regardless of their age. No, you can’t teach a child to be sleepy. However, what can be taught is the ability to fall back to sleep independently. The typical “bad sleeper” of a baby isn’t less in need of sleep, or more prone to waking up. They’ve just learned to depend on outside assistance to get back to sleep when they wake up. Once your little one has figured out how to get to sleep without assistance from outside sources, they start stringing those sleep cycles together, and that’s the secret to “sleeping through the night” as most parents refer to it.
3. Babies will naturally dictate their own sleep schedule
Babies need extensive care and help in their development, and their sleep cycles are unbelievably erratic if left unregulated. If they miss their natural sleep cycle by as little as a half hour, their cortisol production can increase which causes a surge in energy, and things quickly spiral out of control. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t respond to their cues, but you shouldn’t rely exclusively on them.
4. Babies are not “designed” to sleep through the night.
Is a toddler designed to eat three pounds of gummy bears? Surely not. Will they if no one intervenes? Without a doubt! Children need our expertise and authority to guide them through their early years. For babies it’s especially true when it comes to their sleep.
5. Sleep is a luxury
There is no such thing as a casual parent. It’s a full-time gig. No matter if you’re a stay-at-home-parent, working parent, or somewhere in between, sleep is important and it’s certainly not a luxury. Not for the baby nor for the parents. If your baby is not sleeping, address it. It’s not selfish, it’s not unrealistic, it’s necessary, and the benefits are prolific.
There are plenty more myths and misconceptions surrounding babies and their sleep habits, but these are some important ones to get the facts on. Learn more from Easy Baby Consulting.
Written by: Louise Williams
Easy Baby Consulting
Photo: Adam Trujillo Photography