5 Baby and Toddler Sleep Myths Busted!
5 Baby and Toddler Sleep Myths Busted!
In today's video I am going to be talking about five of the most common baby and toddler sleep myths that you have no doubt heard at one point or another. I'm going to be setting the record straight and debunking them so that you know what's true and what's not.
Okay, let's talk about the first sleep myth.
#1 is if you keep your baby up all day they'll sleep better at night. Let me dive into this a little bit more. Every baby and toddler has a certain amount of sleep that they need in a 24-hour period. We want the bulk of that to be happening at night time because that's when they get their most restorative sleep. However, if you save all of that sleep for the night time and don't allow your baby or toddler to get the sleep or the rest that they need throughout the day through naps, then they're going to go to bed overtired, which is going to interrupt their night time sleep and usually leads to more frequent night waking. So, this myth is definitely a no-no.
#2 By cuddling your baby you are only making a rod for your own back. Have you heard this one before? I know I have! When I had Ted, who was six weeks old and I was told that by giving him a cuddle I was just making a rod for my own back. Now, the thing here is that you cannot love, or cuddle, or spoil your baby enough. Your baby needs affection from you, they need love, and they need to know that you are there for them. It's particularly pertinent in the first three to four months of your baby's life, the fourth trimester if you like, where they have spent the last 10 months in your tummy being cradled and rocked by you all day long, and so they're still really needing that love and attention and the rocking and the closeness. I will always say that you cannot love your baby enough.
Ongoing, beyond the four months, if you love cuddling your baby to sleep, if you love holding them to sleep, then that is wonderful and continue to do that. I am here to support the parents who have found that this situation for them is now too much and they're looking to make some changes to have some more independent sleep. But if you want to cuddle your baby for every sleep and hold them, then that is wonderful and they will love you for it. On the other hand, it's also okay to want them to have their own sleep space, so you have a bit of freedom around nap and bedtime. But you can't spoil your baby and you can't make a rod for your own back.
#3 You should never wake a sleeping baby. Well, I'm here to tell you that you actually can and you actually should at times. Overnight, when you've got an older baby who's capable of sleeping for longer stretches and doesn't necessarily need feeds overnight, then absolutely, do not wake a sleeping baby at night. But when it comes to things like naps and spacing naps across the day, I do encourage parents to only let their baby sleep for a certain amount of time at each nap so that their total day sleep can be spaced out evenly so that their baby isn't going to bed overtired. So you can wake a sleeping baby if it's going to be to their benefit throughout the rest of the day.
Then there's other scenarios where you might need to wake a sleeping baby. For a baby who's not putting on enough weight, especially in those earlier days, then we actually do say to definitely wake a sleeping baby so they're getting in the calories and the intake that they need. So that's a myth I hope that I have dispelled for you.
#4 If I put my baby or toddler to bed later, they will sleep in. I wish that this was true, I really do, because on those late nights that we sometimes have, and the kids are pushed out past their bedtime, I wish that it looked like it was a nine or ten o’clock sleep in on the other side of the day, but unfortunately that's not how it works. Usually it's just hours lost into their night time sleep and particularly into their most restorative part of their night time sleep. Then they still wake at the same time as they usually do. Sometimes by pushing back their bedtime, they actually wake earlier than they usually do. So sometimes they'll do that early rising where they wake around 5:00, 5:30 a.m. So keeping your baby up longer definitely and unfortunately does not lead to a sleep in the next day.
#5 The only way to improve your baby's sleep is to leave them to cry it out. Now, this one is a myth that probably I hold very close to my heart because as a sleep consultant, there's often a negative connotation that that's what we do, that that's what we teach parents, is to leave their baby to cry until they learn to sort themselves out. Now, I can't speak for every sleep consultant out there, but I can speak for myself in saying that I absolutely do not use cry it out or any modified versions of cry it out to achieve independent sleep.
Every family has different values, parenting styles, and goals, and I work with a family with those different variations to find a plan that suits them, but none of my plans will use any form of cry it out. I believe that every baby can find independent sleep that is developmentally appropriate in a gradual way that supports the parent-infant bond. That's something that I hold really really close to my heart. I always am supporting infant mental health as well as the parents' mental health. I definitely disagree that that's the only way that we can teach babies and toddlers to sleep better. There are so many beautiful, gentle ways that we can achieve the same results.
There you have it, the top five baby and toddler sleep myths that I have certainly heard being thrown around. Let me know in the comments below too if that's something that you have heard. Let me know if there's been any other sleep myths that you’ve heard of that you’d like clarification of or don’t believe in yourself. If you did, then please subscribe to my channel, hit the bell so you're notified of when I release my new videos once a fortnight, and I look forward to seeing you back here in another fortnight. Bye for now.