At Arm's Reach we have the privilege of consulting with some of the world's most influential infant specialists. Today, we chat with Rebecca Michi. Rebecca is a British Children's Sleep Consultant based in Seattle. Rebecca loves working with families all over the globe and gently turning drama into dreamland.
Read below as Rebecca tackles 7 common myth's about children's sleep.
Every new parent is overwhelmed with information about their child’s sleep; you can read pages and pages online, and most of the information is contradictory. So here we debunk some common sleep myths.
Myth #1: Keeping babies up later helps them sleep longer.
Truth: The longer babies are kept awake, the more tired they become. This is not necessarily a good thing! Overtired children can have a tough time falling asleep and remaining asleep. They may wake through the night often, and the wakeups can happen quickly and be very loud. An overtired child will need lots of help falling asleep as well as falling back asleep.
Myth #2: Good sleepers are born, not made.
Truth: There is a tiny bit of truth in this myth. Some children do have an easier time falling asleep than others. Studies show that children who have a more spirited or intense temperament do need more help learning to fall asleep independently.
All children can be taught to fall asleep independently (and without having to leave them to cry – it – out). When a child can get themselves to sleep without help, they can get themselves back to sleep when they wake during the night without help though babies may still wake for a feed or two during the night.
Myth #3: Never wake a sleeping baby.
Truth: If it’s taken you 40 minutes to get the baby to sleep, why on earth would you want to wake it up?
If your child sleeps too much through the day, they have more of a chance of being awake for more extended periods through the night. You also run the risk of having your child sleep through feeds if they nap too long. Your child will need a set amount of milk every 24 hours; if they miss a feed through the day, they will wake for that feed during the night.
A 3-month-old should nap for between 4 and 5 hours each day. Between the ages of 6 months and 12 months, your child should nap around 3 hours each day. Please note that these totals differ between each child. If your child gets much more of much less than these totals, talk with your Doctor.
Myth # 4: Giving Rice cereal will make my child sleep longer.
Truth: This is one of the biggest myths. Rice cereal given to your baby before they are four months old does not help them sleep any longer. In fact, a study found that children under 4 months who were given rice cereal in a bottle actually slept less!
Rice cereal digests very quickly and doesn’t sit in the stomach for very long.
Introduce solid foods (including rice cereal) when your child is nearer to 6 months. Consult your child’s Doctor before you plan on introducing solid foods
Myth #5: ALL babies should sleep through the night by 4 months old*
What utter nonsense! How on earth does your baby know that it is now time to ‘sleep through’? Let’s not even get started on what ‘sleeping through’ is. Let’s talk instead about YOUR baby.
Only you know your baby, and what makes her who she is. Moreover, she is a unique individual, so don’t expect her to ‘conform’ to standards other people have set for her. She might sleep through by 4 months. She may have already started! Or she might need to continue waking for night feeds a little longer yet. That’s up to her. She won’t be aware of any expected schedules, so the best thing you can do is ignore this common sleep myth.
*While we’re at it, your baby’s weight also has very little influence on when she will sleep through the night too. That magical 12lb marker? Yep- that’s a myth.
Myth #6: Baby number one slept through at two months old, so there’s no reason why baby number two won’t be the same
The immortal last words! Again, your baby is a unique individual, whether she has a sibling or not. Also, unique individuals have their own personalities and temperaments that are reflected in their sleep. So how on earth does your baby knows how well her sister slept? The fact is, she doesn’t. She might sleep through at two months old, or she might not.
Myth #7: There’s no point worrying about sleep until baby is a toddler.
And with this comes all kinds of problems. Firstly, sleep deprivation that occurs over a long period of time can have extremely detrimental effects on your health and well-being. Secondly, if you wait until your baby is a toddler before you tackle the issue of poor sleeping, you are likely to make things a lot harder!
Toddlers come with a whole different set of rules and persistence to challenge your sleep training techniques. Toddlers can get out of bed. Toddlers can throw tantrums. Toddlers are more likely to resist your attempts at making sleep a priority.