Friendly advice abounds when you bring home a baby—sometimes you ask for it, a lot of the time it’s unsolicited; and in both instances, it’s not always good advice, no matter the intention. Baby sleep is an especial favourite of folks who like to bequeath their anecdotal wisdom; here are the three myths you’re likely to hear when your newborn has you up all night.
Myth #1: To stop early wake-ups, keep baby up for longer.
Contrary to what seems logical, keeping a baby up past their usual bedtime won’t push their wake-up time forward. Babies need sleep when they need it, and their circadian rhythms work according to specific times, not necessarily just the amount of hours available for sleep—and they need a lot of sleep. Keeping your bubs up late will only get them wired, as their bodies will produce extra cortisol to counteract the overtiredness; the effect being a difficult to settle baby when you eventually hit the lights.
Myth #2: Load baby up on food to make her sleep longer.
It’s a common practice to fill bottles with rice cereal to bulk up babies’ bellies in an effort to keep them sated for longer, but the fact is that this is both unhealthy and unsafe, leading to potential gagging and overfeeding. The key is to manage your expectations; newborns have tiny stomachs, and so they are only capable of digesting small amounts of milk, and quickly—and so they’ll wake frequently for feeds. When it comes to older babies, waking usually isn’t about rumbling bellies, it’s often about natural brain development. Either way, overfeeding isn’t a helpful solution.
Myth #3: Let sleeping babies lie.
Babies—especially newbies—will spend the majority of their time asleep, which is both normal and natural. But sometimes, it’s okay to wake them, especially when long naps are encroaching on bedtime, and particularly when your tot is a little older. Ending naps by 4 to 5 pm is usually a good rule of thumb to keep the sanctity of night sleep (and your sanity) at least semi-intact.