Common Sleep Myths

Rice cereal will help baby sleep longer. 
Research has proved this time and time again to not be true. But you keep hearing moms say it worked for them. Maybe it did. Maybe it was just the placebo effect. Either way, I don't think it is worth the stress to baby's digestive track and the possible increased incidence of things like diabetes, obesity and allergies*. And I can almost guarantee you that if you make a few changes to how you do things you can get baby to sleep longer--without the rice.

Switching to formula will make baby sleep longer
If your breastfeeding you baby and waking up all hours at the night to feed, you may start to consider if all this waking is due to your quick-to-digest breastmilk. Fill up baby's tummy more and for longer and she'll sleep longer, right? Well, probably not.

Not only is there a possibility of formula making sleep worse (tummy ache, constipation, sensitivity), but sleep is a lot more complicated than just food. A baby doesn't just wake up at night because she is hungry. There are lots of reasons a baby wakes at night (can't fall asleep on her own, rolling, unswaddled, overtired etc), and more often than not, food is not the cause of excessive night wakings.

Plus, if for some reason formula does make baby sleep a little bit longer, most likely it won't really impact your sleep. For example, if baby is sleeping 4 hour stretches and moves to 5 hours stretches, you are still having to get up and feed her twice at night.

If you feel like you are having supply issues while breastfeeding which could be causing excessive night wakings, talk to your doctor. Rarely is this the case, though.

My baby doesn't need as much sleep as other babies. 

Despite the many moms that claim this to be true, it rarely is. Most likely they just have a baby that would rather play than sleep or has difficulty learning to fall asleep peacefully.

Someone knows what they are doing more than you because their baby slept through the night at an earlier age. 
Maybe, but maybe not. Baby's all have their own internal clocks and some are naturally better sleepers than others. Some will sleep through the night at 1 week of age regardless of how you do things. For others, it will take several months to happen even if you do everything "right".

Keeping my baby up during the day will make him sleep longer at night. 
The truth is that most babies will sleep better at night if they nap better during the day. There are some exceptions to this rule. 1) If a baby has his nights and days switched, or he is taking very long (3-4 hour) naps during the day, he will likely have a hard time sleeping at night. 2) Another exception is the extremely overtired baby. Take the baby that doesn't nap at all during the day (eek, the thought makes me cringe--poor, tired baby). He might sleep long stretches at night. 3) Then there's the older babies that might start waking if they are napping too much during the day even though their nights and days aren't switched, but this isn't as common. 4) Lastly, there is the baby that will sleep all night regardless of what you do or don't do. They are just good sleepers. I'm still praying for one of these!

SOME THINGS THAT I, ALONG WITH SOME EXPERTS, CONSIDER MYTHS (they are not scientifically proven either way, that I know of):

You should not wake a sleeping baby. 
I hate waking sleeping babies. I really do. But I've thought about it a lot and I can't see any way around it at times if you want your baby to get the most healthy sleep possible. You can get away not waking some babies, but with others (like my 3 year old that wants to sleep all day and stay up until midnight if left to himself), you have to intervene to help them get healthy sleep. That's just how it is.

You should follow a baby's routine and not implement one of your own. 
This is a really common  way of thinking that I do not agree with. Does this mean I think you should totally ignore baby's internal routine? No. You work with it and what works for your family. You help him with this just as you help him with everything else. He is just a day old, you know. Who says he's an expert on what he's doing? He can't even figure out how to fart for heaven's sakes!  Yes, babies are amazing creatures. And yes, they are born with some amazing abilities. But no, I do not think they are 100% capable of figuring out, from the moment they are born, what is always best for them (not to mention the family they have come into--you have to consider this--life does go on once a baby is born).

You can't help a baby sleep through the night. They will do so when they are ready. 
You only need to look at my blog for a few moments to know I disagree with this one. While I do think babies won't do it until they are physically and developmentally capable, I don't think that means you can't do anything to help it along. Trust me, there is MUCH you can (even very gently) do to help move this process along. And, contrary to some popular opinions, baby isn't a mutant after, either ;)

*Most people say 6 months is best to begin solids, but I'll say 4 months here since some new research says this is an ok age to begin solids in regards to allergies and some other things. But whether baby and his gut are truly ready at this age might be a different thing. This is a controversial subject with no exact answers.

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