Sleep is a basic human need, and yet it remains a controversial topic amongst parents. I believe most parents don’t believe sleep is possible without having to do some sort of “sleep training” or some form of “cry it out” and that these (false) beliefs are what prevent parents from getting the sleep they need to thrive in their lives, both personally and professional.
Over the last several years, I have helped thousands of families achieve consistent nighttime sleep for their little ones. During that time, I have also learned just how many of the accepted infant sleep “norms” aren’t actually normal at all…so I wanted to break down some common infant sleep myths, to help change the idea of what is possible with infant sleep, and get y’all some much needed sleep!
So, here we go:
5 Infant Sleep Myths
1. The only way to get your baby to sleep is to let them cry.
This is not even a little bit true. You NEVER have to let your baby cry to get them to sleep. I repeat, you NEVER have to let your baby cry to get them to sleep. Instead, if you work from birth (or whenever you choose to start) to age-appropriately meet your baby’s food and sleep needs fully, each and every day, they will stop waking at night because their needs are met during the day. Stay on top of meeting their ever changing needs and you keep your sleep, through “regressions” and through the many transitions we face as new parents in those early years.
2. Rocking your baby to sleep creates a “bad habit.”
No, thank you. Don’t let ANYONE tell you that holding and helping your baby will create a bad habit. Your baby is not waking at night because you helped them to sleep. They wake at night when their needs aren’t fully met. So helping your baby to sleep is something you should embrace, because (a) it’s wonderful and (b) it will ensure your baby is best able to follow their age-appropriate routine, which is one of the main ingredients in establishing and maintaining consistent nighttime sleep. So, when you help them, they stop waking at night and there is no “bad habit” to break, because they are happily sleeping! Sounds like a win/win to me!
3. Your baby needs to be able to self-soothe to sleep through the night.
So many parents think their baby “can’t connect sleep cycles” due to an inability to self-soothe. But, think about this…if your baby has ever slept longer than 45 minutes at a time, they CAN CONNECT SLEEP CYCLES and “self-soothe”. I believe babies struggle to consistently connect sleep cycles when their needs aren’t fully met during the daytime. If you want your baby to sleep all night, focus on meeting their age-appropriate needs fully during the daytime and they will easily connect sleep cycles for you ALL NIGHT LONG.
4. Solids will help your baby sleep longer.
This is my favorite myth to debunk, because it’s just simple math. Solids lack the caloric value needed to keep baby full and satiated (and sleeping). Solids typically fill your baby’s belly and often disrupt sleep by preventing you baby from drinking the milk they need to remain full and meet their needs. If you compare the solids your baby can likely consume (i.e. 1/2 of a sweet potato = approx. 28 calories) vs. the milk they can consume (i.e. 6oz of breastmilk/formula = approx. 120 calories) you can easily see why solids will not help your baby sleep longer. Hungry babies don’t sleep well, and solids can actually cause the sleep disruptions you are being told to use them for. Keep milk as your baby’s primary source of nutrition for the first year (and beyond) and you will keep your sleep.
5. Never wake a sleeping baby.
Has your mother (in-law) ever told you this? Well, I can tell you we always wake a sleeping baby. We need to consistently & age-appropriately limit your baby’s daytime sleep, so 12-hours of nighttime sleep are consistently possible. This is a biological function of how long your baby is physically capable of sleeping in a 24-hour period. Either you wake your baby during the day, or they will wake you at night. You pick!!!
Let me help change your mind about what is possible for your baby and your family.
I created The Full Feedings Method to offer parents an alternative to traditional sleep training, with a “no cry-it-out” needs-based approach to infant sleep. The Full Feedings Method is a simple way of life that can be safely implemented from birth and helps parents achieve consistent nighttime sleep by 8 – 12 weeks old, without the “sleep training”. The method is focused on meeting your baby’s food and sleep needs fully, at each and every age, ensuring that your baby is fully fed, not overtired in any period, and not sleeping too much during the day.
When you consistently and age-appropriately manage those 3 infant sleep ingredients each day, the sleep naturally follows.As Dr. Matthew Walker says, “Sleep is a non-negotiable, biological necessity” and I believe it’s time we make infant sleep the “norm” and not the exception. If you want to learn how to prioritize sleep for your family, check out www.fullfeedings.com or @fullfeedings on Instagram, where I share daily tips to help families sleep better!