5 Top Baby Sleep Myths Every Parent Should Know (Part Two)

5 Top Baby Sleep Myths Every Parent Should Know (Part Two)

So last week, I began with 5 Top Baby Sleep Myths Every Parent Should Know (Part One), so it’s no surprise that this week is all about part two! As I was writing last weeks post, more baby sleep myths kept popping into my head, hence the reason to split them into two posts. So without further ado, let’s crack on with 5 Top Baby Sleep Myths Every Parent Should Know (Part Two). As always, any questions concerns or further info, just DM me here or email me here or arrange a FREE chat here. I’m all over the place! But always here when you need me! If you missed last weeks post, you can read it here…

5 Top Baby Sleep Myths Every Parent Should Know (Part One)

Myth 1 “Minimising babies day sleep will help them sleep better at night”

This is such a classic myth that somehow, through misinformed (and often well-meaning!) advice and the internet era, creates all kinds of problems. Science tells us that babies and toddlers (as well as adults) need an optimum amount of sleep per 24 hours. This helps keep us healthy and allows babies to do all the behind the scenes developing that goes on for them. Did you know that a babies brain will double in size in their first year! (Why Love Matters, Sue Gerdhart). That’s a heck of a lot of growing and a reason why babies sleep so much. Growing is hard work!

Circadian rhythm

Our circadian rhythm, which isn’t present in newborns, is something that develops over the coming months, is regulated, among other things by the sun and the moon. Day and night. Light and dark. We have many hormones for many functions in our body that regulate our existence. Cortisol and melatonin are the key hormones that govern sleep.  So by minimising your babies sleep, often in the hope they will sleep better at night, is actually the opposite. As well as not giving your baby the chance to have all the healthy sleep they need for growth and development, it can cause overtiredness.

Overtired Baby

Yep, the dreaded overtired baby. Let’s talk about what happens. In normal healthy sleep, a young baby has two main types of sleep. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement). A baby up to four months old will spend 50% of their sleep in REM sleep, or ‘active sleep’ (it is about 20% for adults). This is the sleep stage of dreaming and rapid brain growth with constant neural connections being made which are essential to help babies develop normally. Young babies will fall into this sleep stage first. This means they can be easily awakened but usually, after about 20 minutes of falling asleep, they will go floppy and means they have moved into a different, deeper sleep stage (NREM) or ‘quiet sleep’ which is when cells in the body can grow and repair.
If your baby becomes overtired and misses their sleep window, to compensate for being awake, cortisol will flood their body in a bid to stay awake. This can then make it harder for them to settle when they do go to sleep and they will fall into the REM sleep, the lighter, dreaming sleep, which causes them to wake more frequently. This also means they miss the NREM sleep which is also important!
Being overtired can also mean one of two things. Either your baby will fall asleep super quickly and you think ‘woohoo, job done”. But chances are, if they were overtired, they’ll wake more often through the night. Secondly, they may suddenly seem alert and ready to play! Then settling them becomes even harder (and sometimes parents read this as they don’t need to sleep). Then extra sleep cues and support can be needed for them.
The moral of the story is to make sure your baby has well spaced, timely naps throughout the day. Ensure the same with their feeds. Make sure they are stimulated and have a little play after feeds and before sleep to help reduce feed to sleep associations.


Myth 2 “Leaving my baby to cry is ok if it’s controlled crying”

There’s lots of research out there nowadays that simply wasn’t around years ago. The scientific understanding of a developing baby’s brain is so much clearer. The growth and development of a baby, especially in the first year, is more than at any other time of their lives. We now know how important bonding to develop healthy attachments is. How holding, snuggling, cuddling and skin on skin naps with your baby are great (and lovely!) ways to help to bond and offers your baby ways to feel secure and safe.
I think it’s really important to be clear about the difference between your baby crying while you are present to help them be comforted and reassured to your baby crying and being left alone. I think it’s also important to establish a difference between giving your baby space to settle and sleep contentedly which may include some noises, gurgling and even some crying. But learning to understand your baby’s cries so you can recognise a distressed or hungry cry from a ‘just give me a few minutes to figure this sleeping thing out and I’ll really cry if I’m struggling’ type of cry. Often rushing in at the first noise, either when settling at night or night wakings, can actually interrupt their learning to put themselves back to sleep. There are lots of gentle, respectful ways to support your baby and child to sleep. Gentle sleep coaching is real. It gets results! If you’re struggling with your baby’s sleep, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
And always remember, as strange as it sounds, a baby is not born knowing how to sleep! It is a skill they must learn. They had a heck of a lot of help in the womb (it was very secure and loud and there was nearly always movement)! When your baby learns to walk or feed themselves, they take a tumble, drop the spoon, make a mess. And that’s ok. You’re there to guide them. And it’a the same for sleep. You wouldn’t leave your baby to cry alone in the day time so why should it be any different at night? If you establish good, healthy sleep habits from day one then you’ll be heading the right way to a super sleeper! Check out my other 2 posts about sleep shaping in the early months here…

 

5 Easy Steps to Teach your Baby Sleep Skills

Top Baby Sleep Tips

Myth 3 “Creating a routine for my baby is really restrictive and means we can’t go out”

I’d like to explain the difference between a gentle routine and a restrictive routine. Both very different!

Gentle Routine vs Restrictive Routine

A gentle routine involves working out your family lifestyle. Do you have older kids to get to school? Is your baby at nursery or other childcare? What is your parenting style? Once you have an idea about these kinds of things, you can work out a sensible time to aim for your baby being up every morning. Then you can work back to how much sleep they need per night and day. You can find this info in your FREE Ultimate Infant Sleep Guide. Grab it here…

 

Then you can look at their feeding times and plan the day accordingly. Add in a bedtime routine and already, you’re creating a flexible day for your baby that fits around their needs but always with wiggle room and the ability to plan outings, playdates and classes. If you’re not sure about the timings of their naps and feeds, keep a food and sleep diary for a few days to keep a track. Then you can build their routine around their existing pattern. It may be that you don’t need to do too much. Your baby might already have developed a natural one. If not, don’t worry. A little bit of tweaking and you can put one in place for them. I love creating routines for little ones so if you feel you need a helping hand with this, reach out and we can schedule in a sleep package that’s right for you and your family.
On the other hand, a restrictive routine means you schedule timings to the point where it’s on the dot and irrelevant of your babies needs. It may keep you on track in the short term with knowing what’s what but really not helpful in learning your babies natural hunger or sleep cues. By taking over and doing what you are told (by said restrive routine), it impacts your ability to be responsive and in tune with your baby. This option may work for some families and as the old saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’ however, the truth is that often these types of intense, by the minute schedules cause stress and anxiety for parents and miss your baby’s true needs.
The motto here is simple. Be guided by your baby and add a dash of your own understanding of their feed and sleep needs will equal a more contented baby and more contented parents! A gentle routine isn’t restrictive or stressful, it’s simply about doing the same rituals in the same order each day.

Myth 4 “Giving my baby a dummy means I’m creating problems for later on”

Safe sleep guidelines by the Lullaby Trust suggest a dummy from when your baby has established feeding well (around 4 weeks) can reduce the risk of SIDS. While, of course, this is a great positive for a dummy, many parents worry they will cause problems later on.
This isn’t actually true. There are many tricks to help remove any stress (for you or your little one) with dummy removal. Often the problems kick in when your baby is now a toddler and still has a dummy. This can be a problem as they’ve become well attached and will most likely be using it as a sleep prop. If this is you, check out my My Stress-Free Way of How to Ditch the Dummy. Or there is the losing it in the night common scenario. You can get around this issue in several ways. Get a glow in the dark one. Have lots in their cot. Or remove their dummy as soon as they are asleep. If you do this from when they are small, you will likely find they not only need it less but come to not need it at all.
There are some schools of thought that want to avoid a dummy at all costs –  the idea being that if your baby is well fed, stimulated and rested, they won’t need a dummy. The truth is that all babies love something in their mouth. Be it a nipple, a dummy, a toy, a thumb, even your finger. It’s nature. Some babies don’t take to a dummy and some do. And it’s your choice as to whether you offer a dummy to your baby. Making an informed choice is your choice as a parent.
If you are considering a dummy, I highly recommend these. MAM has always been the best, in my years of experience.

Myth 5 “Sleep regressions are real and unavoidable”

Firstly, let’s be clear about one thing. The word regression is actually a progression. I know! It implies your baby is taking a step back when actually, their development is pushing forward and things are changing for them, hence the sleep disruptions. It niggles me they are named regressions as it feels negative when it’s really quite a positive thing (I know and I’m sorry if you’re a sleep-deprived parent but it’s true!). So while they do exist, it’s a developmental phase rather than a regression. And there are things you can do to help avoid them; right from the beginning.
Usually, the first one to hit is around the 4-month mark. At this age, your baby is likely to start to roll, laugh and become more active with their surroundings. Exhausting work for a baby! Behind the scenes, their sleep pattern is maturing. So rather than just REM and NREM sleep like we talked about earlier, they begin to have stages of NREM which go from light to deep. As they start to need more NREM sleep, they will be in lighter sleep more often for a while. This is what the new frequent waking is about.
If you encourage healthy sleep habits and sleep shaping from day one, then the chances are, these first (and future) sleep regressions will be minimised. This will be because a baby who has learnt to settle themselves and not associated feed to sleep needs will likely be able to resettle during these light sleep phases. A baby who has been helped to sleep with rocking, feeding, will often look for those same ways as they got to sleep at night.
These phases can vary greatly for each and every baby but rest assured, by maintaining a gentle routine and lots of healthy sleep habits, these ‘sleep progressions’ as I like to call them, can be dealt with more easily for everyone!

5 Top Baby Sleep Myths Every Parent Should Know (Part Two) including sleep regressions, giving my baby a dummy, creating a routine for my baby, why you should avoid controlled crying, how to prevent an overtired Baby. Written by a gentle holistic sleep coach. Helping families everywhere have a calmer, more contented home. Together, let’s get sleep sorted.

Conclusion

So there we have it. 5 Top Baby Sleep Myths Every Parent Should Know (Part Two). I hope you’ve found them useful and just to recap:
• Avoid overtiredness and sleep debt by ensuring your baby has all the sleep they need.
• Research and science tell us leaving a baby to cry is not good for bonding, attachment and their development. Focusing on gentle, respectful ways to help your baby sleep well instead.
• Creating a gentle routine around your baby’s needs can help with their sleep and ensure you both know what’s coming (rest and grown-up jobs can get done) and enable times for outings, classes and playdates!
• A dummy can be safely given and removed at the right ages. And it’s your choice as a parent.
• Sleep regressions are actually ‘progressions’ and by helping your baby develop healthy sleep habits, you can minimise their effects.
P.S. Just so you know, I always add in a couple of affiliate links with each post. This always includes a great offer that I think might be of interest to you as a parent. Clicking one of my links and making a purchase on that really cool new item (for you or your baby!) is at NO EXTRA COST to you. I receive a small commission from the retailer.  That helps me with the running costs of my website, business and blog. Thanks for all your AMAZING support! xx


Top Baby Sleep Tips

Top Baby Sleep Tips


It can be hard to know what to do or not do when you have a new baby, so here’s some top baby sleep tips to help guide you in those early weeks and months.  The truth is, it’s tough for little ones and they have so much to learn. For a moment, think about your baby in terms of their feeding and sleep needs in the early weeks and months; their digestive system is not mature like ours and they cannot wind themselves up until about 12 weeks. Ensuring they are well fed and well winded is so important. This can really help their sleep. Secondly, offering them a little stimulating playtime after a feed is really important. Then read through all the tips below see what might work for you and your baby and you’ll be on your way to better sleep!
If you’re finding things hard, I want to tell you that it’s ok to not feel ok too. Please don’t suffer alone. Reach out for support to help you and your baby. Whether that’s talking to your partner, family, friends, GP, midwife, health visitor, calling a helpline such as Pandas Foundation. And remember, I offer a complimentary 10 minute chat to talk through sleep struggles too so please do reach out for a discovery call if you think it’d be helpful. Whatever you’re going through, you are not alone. Here’s my top baby sleep tips for you. And remember, there are a lot of tips here, some will work for you and your baby, some may not. So be kind, gentle and patient on yourself and to your baby as you both figure out what works to help their sleep.

My top baby sleep tips including winding your sleepy baby, playtime, swaddle, sleep cues, start a bedtime routine, dream feed, white noise. By a gentle infant sleep coach. Together, let's get sleep sorted Mama!

 

Create a nest

Do not their cover head to avoid overheating. You can buy a nest or make one with rolled up towels. Always be sure you put the towels under a sheet in their cot, away from their head and begin the nest at the bottom of the cot, so their feet are at the bottom too. Imagine a rolled up sausage shape that curls around your baby but stops before their head.

Swaddle

This can be a helpful way to minimise the Moro reflex (the startle reflex that can cause your baby arms to jerk up and often disturb them and scratch themselves). If you decide to swaddle, ensure it’s a light stretchy material and not too tight to minimise overheating risk.

Sheepskin

Research has shown that sheepskin can help regulate body temperature so keeping baby warm in winter and cool in summer. Strange but true! Here’s gorgeous one for the car seat or buggy.

White noise

Good for up to six months. This can help minimise background noises that might disturb your baby. Don’t forget just how loud it was in your womb! Here’s a good option for a white noise machine. Remember that’s it’s most helpful to have it consistently on all night but do be guided by what seems to be working for your baby!

Multi-Sensory

Stroking down baby’s nose, patting, rocking, shushing can all help settle your baby, just remember to mix them up. By offering these multi-sensory reassurances, your baby is much less likely to become dependent on one.

Dress baby in cotton clothing

Always think layers rather than one or two thick layers.

Socks

Putting socks on your baby is a great way to regulate their body temperature.

 

Temperature

Ensure their room is not too warm. Ideally about 18 degrees. We all sleep better in a cooler environment and babies are no different! Try this great thermometer to ensure your baby’s room is at its optimal temperature.

Scent

Leave the essence of mum – I sometimes suggest mum wears her babies night-time clothes under her own clothes for a while to get her smell onto them for her baby.  It can be really reassuring for your baby. I don’t advise offering a comforter before the age of six months and even then make sure it’s something soft and breathable like a muslin cloth.

Warm their cot

Laying your baby into a lightly warmed cot can help them settle better in their own cot. If you have the struggle of getting them to settle in their cot or waking once you settle them there (both SO common!) trying to mimic all the things they need can help them settle better.

Have skin on skin naps

I recommend having a cuddly cosy skin on skin nap once a day for the first 8 weeks. This is great for bonding but also helps stimulate your milk supply. This can alsp help mum get a nap in too!

Elevate head end of the cot

This can especially help with digestion issues. Popping a towel for example, under the mattress can be all it needs.

Safe sleeping space

Always settle your baby where they are going to sleep. It’s really important to create a calm sleeping space for your baby and help them feel safe within it. It’s also really important to have an understanding of The Lullaby Trust’s Safe Sleep Guidelines too.

Don’t be silent

Don’t minimise household noise. Have a little radio, chatter, washing machine on. It’s ok!

Ensure baby’s feeds are effective

This means draining each breast if possible. This will help your baby feel full, sleep better and encourage more milk production for you. If possible, try to express after a feed if the breast isn’t fully emptied. This can be helpful in the night when your supply will be at its lowest. Also, if breastfeeding, look out for a wide open mouth and visible swallowing in your baby. It’s really useful to learn when they are simply sucking for comfort or not feeding well.

Let them sleep at night

I don’t suggest waking your baby for night feeds. Of course, feed them when they wake but allow them to sleep as they wish in the night. This is 7.00pm to 7.00am for babies.

Put them down once asleep

If rocked or fed to sleep (it’s ok sometimes!) put your baby down when asleep. Often this can feel like holding loaded dynamite that will go off the moment you lay them down! They may wake and cry. Just be aware of your responses and potential anxiety if this happens. Usually, if your baby does this once, you are less inclined to try it again then it becomes something you don’t try and you end up holding your baby for the whole nap. It’s ok for sometimes and when they are small but not something you might want to establish as a habit! Often they will wake as you move them as they are still in a light sleep. Either wait a bit longer (approx 20 minutes after faling asleep) until they are floppy, usually a good sign they have moved into a deeper sleep. Or, better still, encourage settling in their safe sleeping space using all of some of the tips in this post!

Sleep cue words

Creating some keywords that you say for all periods of sleep to help your baby learn it’s sleep time. Something like ‘sleepytime, time to sleep’. I used to sing it to all the babies I‘ve looked after and it always helps!

Sleep Cues

Put baby down at first sign of tiredness. This could be looking away, yawning, grizzling. Don’t wait!

Overlay sleep associations when trying to wean off one

To try to avoid your baby becoming attached to one way of falling asleep, add in other ways to help them and mix them up so it minimises their dependence on always being fed or rocked or cuddled to sleep.

Wean them off you

Place objects between yourself and your baby to wean them off you. Also, press under baby’s chin when removing breast/bottle/dummy. And putting gentle pressure on their tummy to wean off tummy sleeping or falling asleep on you can be helpful.

 

Start a bedtime routine

This can be simply a feed, bath, massage, nappy, dressed, top-up feed if needed, story, cuddle, bed. The same rituals in the same order is an important part.

Night and day

Day clothes in the day and pyjamas at night. They might not know but it helps establish the difference between day and night.

Allow them space

Do not rush in at the first sound baby makes. Allowing your baby a few minutes to gurgle and make noises can really help them learn to settle themselves. It might be that going in too soon actually rouses them from their sleep.

Frequent day feeding

Wake baby for frequent daytime feeds.

Don’t snooze feeding

Try not to let your baby fall asleep feeding – try a burp or a change.

The difference between day and night

Help your baby to learn day is bright and noisy, the night is dark & quiet.

Preparation is the key

For night time, get all the things you’ll need for feeding and changing close by. Nappies, muslins, bottles, etc. Going into a brightly lit room with your baby to prepare a night bottle can have a huge impact on them being able to get back to sleep.

Get outdoors

Expose to broad-spectrum daylight, get out and about for fresh air & walks. I know it can be a huge challenge in those early weeks to even leave the house so I’m not talking about a stressful social event where you have to be somewhere at a certain time, more a walk to the park, shops, friends for a cuppa. Good for you. Good for your baby.

Creating a routine

Think timings over technique as you establish a routine for them. If they have a snooze in the buggy, sling or car, that’s fine of course; it’s more about getting them to settle at the same times each day. This helps develop their circadian rhythm and become sleepy and ready for naps. Also, start and end their day at the same time every day.

Winding your baby

Ensure your baby is winded really well during a feed. Before 12 weeks old, ensure you burp your baby every 10 minutes of being on the breast or every half oz of formula. Good digestion really aids good sleep.

Winding your sleepy baby

If your baby is getting sleepy and falling asleep with feeding, it’s important to still wind them as it can affect their sleep. Sit them on your lap, support their chest and head as you cup and gently pat or rub their back with your other hand, avoiding their spine. This position tends to keep them awake more than over the shoulder which can send them to sleep!

Playtime

Encourage a little playtime after a feed and before sleep. This not only helps gives them a structure to their day and create the beginnings of a routine, but it also minimises the feed to sleep association which, for a super sleeper, we don’t want to create! Offering some tummy time, laying under their playmat, or sitting with them and enjoying a few toys for a little while can be all is needed.

Conclusion

So there you have it, 34 top baby sleep tips for you to consider. Remember that your baby is constantly developing and growing (usually, the first major growth is around 4 weeks) so just go with the flow in those early weeks. It’s never too early to use some of these tips I’ve outlined and see what works for you both. Good luck mamas and believe me when I say, you’re doing great!
Together, let’s get sleep sorted
Caroline x
P.S. In case you’re a newbie to my blog (in that case a very warm welcome!), I always add in a couple of affiliate links with a great offer to each post that I think might be of interest to you as a parent. If you choose to click a link and make a purchase on that really cool new item (for you or your baby!) then it’s at NO EXTRA COST to you. I receive a small commission from the retailer and that helps me with the running costs of my website, business and blog. Thanks for all your AMAZING support! xx