5 Common sleep myths de-bunked!

common sleep myths

When you are a new parent, there is a lot of advice given about baby sleep. Karen from Nurture Parenting, a baby sleep expert and midwife is here to de-bunk some sleep myths.

As a baby sleep expert and midwife I hear so many urban myths surrounding sleep and I think it’s time to put them to bed – literally! Here are my top five diamonds.

1.  Never wake a sleeping baby

Mums with baby number two or three tend to get caught out with this one in particular and are very happy their new baby is sleeping so well. They’ve met the needs of child number one and got through so much housework. Night-time falls and suddenly baby is waking 1-2 hourly all night. The next day mum feels shattered. I agree with never waking a thriving baby at night-time. However if you leave your new baby to sleep all day and only feed a few times then you will most likely be up all night. Babies need feeds to thrive and grow and if these are not regular then supply can be affected. A newborn breast-fed baby, needs on average 6-8 feeds in 24 hours (some need a lot more). A formula-fed baby 6, 7 or 8 feeds depending on their birthweight and gestation i.e. full term or premature. So… if you only feed once or twice in the day it stands to reason your baby will make up the feeds they didn’t get in the day, at night-time. To encourage a good feeding pattern, I’d suggest waking baby gently after 2 hours of constant sleep in the day. A normal breast feeding pattern in the day is 2-4 hourly whilst a formula fed baby will probably feed 3-4 hourly as a newborn and by 3 months may move to every 4 hours.

2.  Catnaps are the stealer of good night sleeps

If your baby cannot do long sleeps in the day (and I’m talking about 1-2 hours at a time and can only manage 30 minute sleeps), he is a cat-napper and it probably means he isn’t self-settling or resettling. This is directly leading to a stressed baby at bedtime and poor night time sleep. Yes… it’s important to address night waking after 6 months however I’d also look at the quantity and quality of day naps too. Good quality day-naps promote good night sleeps and it’s generally well known that sleep promotes sleep.

3.  Starting solids will make your baby sleep better

One of the classic parenting myths! Sleep is one of those things driving mums of young babies to distraction. They never get enough sleep and want a quick fix and they will try anything. Putting babies onto solids before 4 months can lead to constipation and gut issues. Baby’s gut is immature and doesn’t have the enzymes to digest food properly. It can also cause immune system issues as the body isn’t ready for possible allergens. Early solids can lead to childhood obesity and kidney problems as they’re not getting enough fluids. If we feed babies too much, too quickly and weight gain is rapid it can also lead to diabetes, obesity and other health conditions. Sleeping through the night is something most babies do after 6 months of age. I wouldn’t expect a young baby to sleep through. Dribbling saliva and hands constantly in the mouth are often misread as hunger. Instead these are normal developmental signs and stages. At 4-6 months babies can start solids as per ASCIA guidelines. The NHMRC suggests around 6 months.

4.  Baby should be sleeping through the night at 3 months

It is possible but only if you teach baby how to self-settle. However it’s something that shouldn’t be forced by the parent. Most breast-fed babies need night feeds until 6 months or as long as you feel like doing them. By 6 months old sleeping through can happen naturally as babies nutritionally do not require a night feed.

5.  Putting baby to bed later will encourage a later morning wake-up

Some parents try a later bedtime hoping to get a lie-in, however the opposite is true. Stretching baby out to a later bedtime creates stress and increases cortisol. A stressed baby will sleep fitfully and often wake a lot during the night and will often lead to early morning waking. Babies of 4-12 months old need between 12-15 hours of sleep in 24 hours.

Karen established Nurture Parenting in 2011 with the aim to assist and support parents with baby and toddler sleep and behaviour issues. She is a Registered Midwife, Child & Family Health Nurse, Registered Baby Sleep Consultant and holds a degree in Psychology.  Karen’s approach is unique, focusing on baby sleep learning® rather than sleep training, meaning her methods are cue-based and gentle. She combines evidence-based research, formal medical training and 19 years of practice. Visit Nurture Parenting page here.

Facebook Live Session – Every Tuesday at 2:30pm AEDT, where Karen will answer her followers’ questions about baby sleep and behaviour. www.facebook.com/NurtureParenting.BabySleepGuru




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