There are many myths around about various things you can do to help your baby sleep better. In truth, sleep is a learned skill for many children so nothing you do “to” them is going to improve their sleep until they learn how to sleep better. Here are some of those myths, debunked.
Rice cereal: Many well-meaning relatives, friends and random strangers with opinions in the grocery store will often suggesting giving babies rice cereal (either in the bottle or spoon feeding it) in order to get babies to sleep longer. Breastmilk and/or formula provide babies with all the nutrition they need in the early months. Solid food is just adding carbs to their diet and doesn’t do anything to improve their sleep. A family I once worked with was adding rice cereal to their 11 month old’s bottles. When I asked her about it, she said her mom had told her that her daughter would sleep longer from the rice cereal. My next question (given the fact that they had hired me to help them with their daughter’s sleep at that point) was “So how is that working out for you?” Didn’t seem like it was J
Formula (for breastfed babies): Many breastfeeding moms hear from their formula feeding mom friends that their babies sleep longer. This may be true briefly but it tends not to be true in the long term. While some say that formula metabolizes in the body more slowly then breastmilk, there are plenty of breastfed babies out there who sleep great. In addition, giving formula to a breastfed babies right before bed can actually lead to tummy troubles in the middle of the night due to the fact that their system isn’t used to it.
Stretching out feeds: Some sleep experts and books claim that if you stretch out your baby’s feedings during the day, then he will be able to go for longer stretches at night. In fact, the opposite is true. While it may be easier for your baby to go for longer stretches during the day because he is distracted and entertained by all the excitement that happens in his day, it is likely that he will want to play “catch up” at night and actually need to eat more. I encourage families to feed more during the day so that your baby is more full at night and can sleep a longer stretch.
Breastfed babies don’t sleep well: A recent study actually shows that breastfed babies and moms sleep better due to the fact that they are often able to nurse quickly laying down and go right back to sleep with minimal disruptions in the middle of the night.
Skipping naps will help your baby sleep longer at night: Nothing could be farther from the truth! Babies (and children up to age 5 in some cases) need day sleep. Newborns need to sleep every 90 minutes. That number only increases to about every two hours as they get closer to 4 and 4½ months (and sometimes there may be points in the day that your baby still can only make it an hour and a half). Skipping naps will lead your baby to be overtired, have a harder time falling asleep at bedtime, more night awakenings and early rising the next day.
So since now you know all the things that won’t help your baby sleep and you understand that this is something your child has to learn, if you need help teaching your little one this MOST valuable skill, contact me. I can help!