Advice

It’s World Sleep Day and We’re Busting 6 of the Biggest Baby Sleep Myths

It’s 3 am, and your baby won’t get back to sleep. It’s your fifth wake-up tonight. Exhausted from pacing while gently bouncing bub (again), you pull out your phone and desperately search, ‘Why won’t my baby sleep?’

Thousands of articles flood your lit-up screen, all with their ‘tried-and-tested’ methods. But which one will work? Certified sleep consultant and midwife Bianca Burge is here to help. And since it’s World Sleep Day, she has busted six common baby sleep myths that have been keeping you (and your baby!) up at night.


World Sleep Day

March 15 is World Sleep Day, and this year’s theme is Sleep Equity for Global Health. World Sleep Day is an internationally recognised celebration of healthy sleep. It promotes better sleep health for all, and that includes for our bubs!

To find out more about World Sleep Day and its events, visit the World Sleep Day website.

Read on for the 6 common baby sleep myths busted by certified sleep expert, Bianca Burge.


BABY SLEEP MYTH 1:

Put your baby to bed late, and they will wake later in the morning

It’s a fact that an overtired baby can be caused by not getting enough sleep throughout the day.  At around 6 pm, your baby’s melatonin levels start to increase, and, in turn, cortisol levels start to drop. This results in a higher sleep drive, making it easier to put your baby to sleep.

If your baby is fighting sleep, it’s likely due to them not getting enough sleep during the day. Stretching your baby’s bedtime out may cause them to fall asleep quicker, but it may also cause a false start 30-40 minutes after they fall asleep, which is a common situation that happens when a baby is overtired.

Also, they may wake up every 2 to 4 hours overnight and rise early in the morning, which actually defeats the purpose of keeping your baby awake later.

If your baby is fighting sleep, it’s likely due to them not getting enough sleep during the day.

world sleep day baby sleep myths baby yawning
Time for sleep, mum! Source: Bigstock

BABY SLEEP MYTH 2:

Your baby should sleep in a light room throughout the day so they can differentiate day and night.

It’s recommended to keep your baby in a lightly lit room until they are six weeks old because their bodies produce high levels of melatonin. This, coupled with their tendency to sleep deeply, means they can sleep in any environment. However, from six to 12 weeks, the amount of melatonin produced by the mother decreases, and the baby starts producing their own, so you could see them having shorter naps during the day and having difficulty in sleeping at night.

If your baby is experiencing confusion between day and night, regulating their circadian rhythm is important. This can be achieved by waking them at the same time each morning and putting them to bed at the same time each night.

It’s recommended to keep your baby in a lightly lit room until they are six weeks old because their bodies produce high levels of melatonin.

baby sleeping in light filled room
A little daylight in the bedroom isn’t always a bad thing. Source: Bigstock

BABY SLEEP MYTH 3:

Babies don’t need a lot of day sleep if they sleep well at night

A baby’s day and night sleep are interconnected. Initially, lack of day sleep may not affect nights, but over time, it will cause an increase in overtiredness which will cause waking. If a baby doesn’t get enough daytime sleep, they will become overtired, resulting in frequent night-time wake-ups or early rises. To ensure a good night’s sleep, it’s important to prioritise daytime naps.

Although a baby may have multiple catnaps during the day that add up to the total required sleep for their age, if they are not getting restorative sleep, it will eventually impact their nights and early mornings. If a baby gets restorative sleep during the day, they will sleep well at night and wake refreshed.

If a baby gets restorative sleep during the day, they will sleep well at night and wake refreshed. 

Young baby sleeping in bedroom with a little light
Some light during the day is not a bad thing. Source: Bigstock

BABY SLEEP MYTH 4: 

If a baby wakes through the night, it means they are hungry

It is common for babies to wake up hungry during the night, but not all babies do and not all the time. Until a baby starts eating solids, it is considered normal for them to wake up 1-2 times during the night for a feed.

Apart from hunger, there are other reasons why babies and toddlers wake up at night, such as having too much or too little sleep during the day, feeling too hot or cold, being sick or uncomfortable, or not being able to self-settle.

Until a baby starts eating solids, it is considered normal for them to wake up 1-2 times during the night for a feed.

world sleep day baby sleep myths baby swaddled
Sleep time, again? Source: Bigstock

BABY SLEEP MYTH 5: 

Babies don’t like being swaddled

Swaddling newborns until they reach four months of age is crucial in reducing the startle reflex that is commonly seen in newborns. This begins to decrease as they approach four months of age. It is normal for a baby to resist being swaddled or cry when swaddled because this action triggers their response that sleep is approaching. However, if the baby is under four months old and hasn’t started rolling, it is advisable to continue swaddling them to prevent the startle reflex from waking them up if their arms are not tucked in.

It is normal for a baby to resist being swaddled or cry when swaddled because this action triggers their response that sleep is approaching

Swaddled baby ready for sleep
Swaddling babies does help manage the startle reflex. Source: Bigstock

BABY SLEEP MYTH 6:

Babies are scared of the dark

Babies do not experience a fear of the dark as their imagination does not begin to develop until they are about two years old. Since they have spent most of their early life in the darkness of the mother’s womb, they are used to it. As a result, it is generally not recommended to introduce a night light to your baby’s sleeping environment until they reach 2.5 years old when fear of the dark can develop. When choosing a colour, focus more on red and orange to increase melatonin and avoid colours such as blue and white as they suppress melatonin production.

It is generally not recommended to introduce a night light to your baby’s sleeping environment until they reach 2.5 years old when fear of the dark can develop.

 

Newborn baby sleeping
Source: Bigstock

Getting babies to sleep is a process. It may feel like you’ve been working at their sleep routine forever (and you’ll never get a good night’s rest!), but this too shall pass, and you’ll find both of you will be getting regular zzzs soon enough.

You’ve got this mama, we’re right here with you!

If you’re concerned about your baby’s sleep, please speak with your doctor, midwife or certified sleep consultant.


mum centralBianca Burge is a trusted midwife and certified sleep consultant through her business Plan B.

Bianca prides herself on supporting and empowering parents to achieve a restorative night’s sleep. With well-researched science at the core of her sleep and sleep deprivation support, Bianca helped over 3,000 little ones get better sleep.


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Avatar of Kylie Baracz

As a busy writer and mama of two little wildlings, Kylie knows what it's like to juggle All The Things. When she's not politely ushering out small children from her Zoom calls, her favourite place is snuggled on the couch with her family and a (probably lukewarm!) cuppa.

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