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By Andrew J. Carlson, MD
September 04, 2013
Category: Parenting
Tags: infant sleep   newborn   sleep  

Common Sleep Myths

As we parent our children in regards to sleep, there is a myriad of information, recommendations, myths, rules and even legends! It can be tough to sort through and make sense of it all. In this article I will respond to 5 of the most common Sleep Myths.
  1. Putting Rice Cereal in a Babies Bottle will help them Sleep Longer-

This one has been around for decades! Many studies have proven that babies who were given rice cereal in their bottle did not sleep any longer than those who did. Some parents have even found the opposite to be true….that babies who were given too much rice cereal or were given rice cereal at a young age suffered from indigestion and tummy upset.

  1. Keeping a baby/child up later at night will make them sleep in.

This one couldn’t be further from the truth. While on the surface this makes sense, we must think biologically not logically when it comes to our child’s sleep. If we allow our children to become overtired they release a hormone called Cortisol, which is similar to adrenaline. This hormone makes it very hard for them to fall and stay asleep. Babies sleep better, longer, and cry less if they are put to bed early in the evening. Babies who go to sleep late in the evening are often "over tired", even though they seem to have energy. A typical and healthy bedtime, depending on how they napped during the day is between 6-8 pm.

  1. A Baby should sleep through the night at 12 weeks-

While this would be nice, and does happen in some cases with some babies, it can be an unrealistic expectation and just cause stress if it doesn’t happen for you. It isn’t unreasonable for a baby to “need” a feeding during the night till around 9 months of age.

  1. My child doesn’t need as much sleep as other children-

I hear this one a lot in my profession and while this might make a parent feel better about how little their child sleeps, it really isn’t true. It is true that some kids need/love sleep more than others but usually this varies by only an hour or two, not huge amounts that I tend to see. It is not uncommon for children to fight sleep but that doesn’t mean they don’t need it. I am confident that all children can be taught to be good sleepers…..and isn’t that what we want?!

  1. You can sleep train a newborn-

In all reality you can’t sleep train or schedule a newborn. Sometimes an infant might appear to be on a schedule until it suddenly changes. This is because our babies Circadian Rythmn or body clock is not biologically mature yet. This maturing starts around 4-5 months of age and this is when we can start scheduling naps, etc.

Most basic baby sleep myths can be busted by remembering to think biologically instead of logically in regards to our children’s sleep. Respecting and encouraging our children’s need for sleep is something every baby deserves!

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