SLEEP MYTHS BUSTED

The sub­ject of baby sleep might seem like an un­solved mys­tery to most, but by un­cov­er­ing a few com­mon myths, we can all sleep easy. Baby sleep con­sul­tant EMMA PUR­DUE ex­plains

Little Treasures - - CONTENTS -

Baby sleep con­sul­tant Emma Pur­due ex­plains some com­mon sleep myths

MYTH ONE: THE ONLY WAY TO TEACH YOUR BABY TO SELF-SET­TLE IS CIO

This is a com­mon one and many peo­ple be­lieve self-set­tling and ‘cry it out’ are syn­ony­mous. But teach­ing your child to self­set­tle doesn’t have to in­volve cry it out, es­pe­cially if you are not com­fort­able with this. You can work on putting your baby into bed drowsy but awake in the first 12 weeks. This can some­times lead to a baby nat­u­rally de­vel­op­ing those self-set­tling skills, es­pe­cially with a good sleep en­vi­ron­ment, a steady nap rou­tine and lots of pos­i­tive sleep as­so­ci­a­tions. Or if you get to 4-6 months and want to try some sleep train­ing and cry it out isn’t for you, there are lots of gen­tle op­tions where you can stay and sup­port your baby both phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally as they learn to self-set­tle.

MYTH TWO: BA­BIES NEED FORMULA TO SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT

Be­liev­ing that ba­bies need formula to sleep bet­ter is a myth that has been around since the 1940s when ad­ver­tis­ing meant in­fant formula gained im­mense pop­u­lar­ity. The re­al­ity is that we have just as many breast­feed­ing ba­bies on our books who sleep through the night as we do formula fed. The ma­jor­ity of night sleep is­sues in older ba­bies are due to sleep as­so­ci­a­tions as op­posed to how they are fed.

MYTH THREE: PUT YOUR BABY TO BED LATER SO THEY SLEEP LATER

If your baby or tod­dler is wak­ing early in the morn­ing, chances are you are des­per­ate for a so­lu­tion! Un­like us adults who love to sleep in when we have a late night, ba­bies and tod­dlers tend to wake ear­lier the more over-tired they are. So mov­ing their bed time will prob­a­bly give you an even ear­lier start to the day! In­stead, try a much ear­lier bed time, even 30 min­utes ear­lier than usual. Con­sider in­vest­ing in some black out blinds.

MYTH FOUR: SLEEP YOUR BABY IN THE LIGHT SO THEY KNOW THE DIF­FER­ENCE BE­TWEEN DAY AND NIGHT

Your baby’s cir­ca­dian rhythm doesn’t fully de­velop un­til 3-4 months; the cir­ca­dian rhythm is the sys­tem that lets us hu­mans know what time of day it is. It is true that new­born ba­bies don’t un­der­stand the dif­fer­ence be­tween day and night. To help them learn and help the cir­ca­dian rhythm de­velop, ex­pose your baby to nat­u­ral light­ing when they are awake dur­ing the day, and keep the lights off when you are feed­ing at night. You will find try­ing to set­tle your baby for a nap in the light be­comes in­creas­ingly more dif­fi­cult as the weeks tick over. This is be­cause the light in­ter­feres with their sleep hor­mones needed to fall asleep, and can be very dis­tract­ing! Try a dark sleep space for naps and night sleep.

MYTH FIVE: NEVER LET YOUR BABY FALL ASLEEP AT THE BREAST, AS THEY WILL DE­VELOP A FEED-TOSLEEP AS­SO­CI­A­TION

Of­ten in the late evening your baby will be so drowsy from their long day, they will be fight­ing the urge to fall asleep as they take their last feed. Their body tem­per­a­ture is drop­ping; their mela­tonin lev­els are ris­ing and the drive to sleep is mas­sive! So, when you throw in some skin-on-skin as you breast­feed your baby, chances are they fall asleep feed­ing. This will not re­sult in a feedto-sleep as­so­ci­a­tion, I promise you! For a sleep as­so­ci­a­tion to take root, you need to set­tle your baby that way vir­tu­ally ev­ery time they go to sleep. Re­lax and en­joy your snug­gly sleepy evening feed.

MYTH SIX: YOUR BABY HATES THEIR SWADDLE; THIS IS WHY THEY FIGHT IT

Lots of ba­bies cry and fight you when you try to swaddle them for a nap. It can ap­pear that they don’t want to be wrapped up, but then you prob­a­bly no­tice they sleep worse with­out it. You can’t win! They don’t hate their swaddle; they are prob­a­bly just a smidgen over-tired at the time. Try swad­dling your baby sooner in the set­tling process, and make sure you then pick them up to set­tle be­fore pop­ping them into bed to sleep. This will help build a pos­i­tive as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween the swaddle and cud­dles with you, mean­ing less tears in the long run! 

Emma Pur­due is a cer­ti­fied in­fant and child sleep con­sul­tant, Hap­pi­est Baby on the Block ed­u­ca­tor, di­rec­tor and founder of Baby Sleep Con­sul­tant Ltd and mother of three.

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