When you struggle with sleep issues, everyone has an opinion about how you should manage your baby’s sleep schedule. Because parents have been dealing with sleepless nights since the beginning of time, some solutions you hear might be unusual and even dangerously outdated.
In your sleep-deprived state, it might be hard to wade through the suggestions to accept the ones that make sense for you and your baby. It’s okay – I understand how fuzzy and unfocused you feel when you’re tired. That’s why I’m taking the guess-work out of old wives’ tales. I’ve compiled some of the most popular sleep myths here and added relevant and accurate information that sets the record straight.
It’s common for babies to mix up their days and nights – especially during those early newborn days. Whether this tendency comes from time spent in utero or it’s the continual round-the-clock feeds, babies often like to hang out with eyes wide open during the overnight hours.
A common old wives’ tale persists that involves flipping a baby over to reset a sleeping schedule. According to this sleep solution, you simply lift your baby and flip her forward, head over heels. The belief is that this physical flip will reset the baby’s internal schedule so the little one will magically sleep during the nighttime hours and remain more wakeful during the daytime hours.
While you won’t do any harm if you decide to try this old-fashioned sleep remedy, do use care as you maneuver your baby.
Flipping is not something I would recommend! You will likely have more luck with nighttime sleeping if you focus on feeding your baby frequently during the day, stimulating her with light, spending time talking to her and playing with her and wake her every 2-3 hours during the day. During the night, keep activity low-key, dark and quiet to encourage sleep.
Extending Awake Periods
Your mother might advise you to try to keep your baby awake throughout the day to encourage better sleep habits at night. While this tends to make sense in theory, you might run into some unpleasant side-effects from a baby who has been awake all day.
When a baby doesn’t get the regular naps he needs throughout the day, he will become overtired and overstimulated. An overtired baby usually becomes frantic, which can make it difficult for him to settle into sleep and can cause sleep disturbances. You might even find that your baby fights sleep and wakes more quickly when he’s overstimulated.
Instead of creating a situation that involves overstimulation and an overtired infant, strive to create a regular schedule of napping and nighttime sleeping. Your little one will eventually acclimate to the schedule and his body will embrace the expected sleep more readily. It’s usually best to put your baby to bed before yawning and eye-rubbing begins because this avoids overtiredness.
At one time, mothers were urged to put a few tablespoons of rice cereal into a bottle of formula or breast milk to help a baby sleep longer at night. The conventional wisdom stated that the rice cereal would keep the baby full for longer, which would lead to longer sleep periods.
The problem with adding rice cereal to a bottle is that it can begin cycle of overeating at a very young age. Your baby’s body won’t realize that he’s taking in higher calories with the same volume of liquid. Although this might sound harmless, adding cereal to a bottle can disrupt a baby’s natural ability to stop eating when full.
Scientific evidence doesn’t support the notion that adding rice cereal to a bottle will increase sleep time or decrease crying, either.
Mom might urge you to rock your baby to sleep or use a moving swing or vibrating infant seat. While most babies enjoy motion immensely, a problem can occur if a little one becomes overly dependent on motion. If a baby becomes so accustomed to motion that he will not sleep without it, you’ve created a negative sleep association that could be difficult to break.
Instead of relying on motion 100 percent of the time, use it to calm your baby and ready him for sleep, but don’t allow him to sleep with motion all of the time.
By thinking carefully about sleep and the way you approach it with your baby, you can make wise decisions that will lead to positive sleep habits.
– The main image above is by EveryStockPhoto.