Sleep Advice You Can Throw Out The Window
There’s something magical about becoming a new mom. The incredible anticipation of meeting your new little person, being matched with a child that will be unequivocally yours, or feeling life inside you dance. It’s all so special.
With all of those wonderful, mushy feelings, also comes the advice. As a new mom, advice can be a wonderful thing. Tips from seasoned parents can save you from a lot of frustration and “What in the world do I do?” moments. It can be great, and help create the village you’ll need. However, it can also be a fine line to walk when you’re getting a lot of advice. It can be exhausting, confusing, contradictory, or sometimes straight up unwanted. This “advice” can start as early as trying to conceive, and goes right up to how well (or not!) your baby is sleeping.
Since you’re here, I’ll assume you’re open to a little baby sleep advice from an expert. I was no stranger to odd sleep advice when I became a new mom, and I am certainly no stranger to it as a Certified Sleep Consultant. I’ve heard it all, and clients have come to me with terrible sleep advice they’ve been given. So I’m here to set the record straight.
Here’s sleep advice you’ve probably received (or it’s still coming!), that you can completely forget about.
1. Never wake a sleeping baby. Au contraire. This advice should be “Rarely wake a sleeping baby”, but unfortunately it isn’t. There are a handful of times when waking a sleeping baby is an absolute must! If their naps are running long, it can be better to wake them so they actually nap again later or go to bed on time. Too much daytime sleep can ruin the night. If you have a newborn, you’ll know that feeds are extremely important. So you definitely don’t want them going more than 3 hours between feeds - even if that means waking them up.
Not to mention, sometimes you’ve gotta pick up an older sibling or run an important errand and your little sidekick is coming with you.
2. “Good” sleepers won’t wake in the night. Nope! I’m not sure where this narrative came from, but it’s setting parents up for disappointment. Little ones are designed to wake in the night, the difference is their ability to put themselves back to sleep, so they don’t need your involvement.
3. Feed your child more so they sleep better. Obviously nobody sleeps well when they’re hungry, but usually the root of your problem is that they don’t know how to sleep independently - not because they’re hungry. If your babe is properly fed, but still waking frequently in the night, consider teaching some independent sleep skills. Not sure how? Book your free call!
4. Babies can’t self-soothe. You’ll probably see this argument online, but here’s the thing; I’ve worked with over 500 families and have yet to meet a baby that hasn’t learned to self-soothe. If you’re introducing a sleep training method consistently, you’ll usually start seeing results in the first 3 nights. Why? Because your little cutie is learning how to put themselves to sleep (AKA self-soothe) in a way that works for them. They just need the space to practice.
5. Put rice cereal in their bottle before bed. This advice is downright terrifying, and I can’t believe it’s still in circulation. Not only is it a scary choking hazard, it also doesn’t work. There’s no upside here.
I’ve also heard people suggest giving a breastfed baby a bottle of formula before bed. If your babe doesn’t need to be supplemented, don’t do it. It’s not necessary, and will mess with your milk supply.
6. Drowsy but awake. Okay, this advice isn’t technically bad, but the follow up that never seems to be included is that this advice only works for newborns. Once they go through the 4 month sleep regression, the “drowsy but awake” stage is now a baby’s first stage of actual sleep. Even with newborns, sometimes this advice just doesn’t do the trick. If it’s not working for you, there’s no shame in letting it go.
7. Sleep is a skill babies learn on their own. Whenever you’re learning something new, you need the foundations before getting to the next step, right? The same goes for sleep. I’ve worked with families with 10 year olds to get sleep issues worked out because their child was missing foundational sleep skills. Don’t suffer through sleep struggles “Hoping they’ll grow out of it”. They can’t if they’re not taught.
8. Don’t start sleep training until you’ve cut all night feeds. Nooooo! Don’t do this! Sleep training and night feeds can totally coexist, and you definitely don’t want to be cutting night feeds earlier than your little one is ready for. It’s about teaching them to fall asleep after the feed instead of relying on that feed to get back to sleep.
Have you been given any of this advice? It’s meant well, but it’s not actually helpful. The key is to lean in to actual sleep experts that you trust, and if you’re stuck, get the support to arrive at your goals! DIYing your child’s sleep rarely turns out like you’d hope. I’m honoured to have been the trusted go-to by hundreds of families, and I can’t wait to be yours too! Reach out if sleep support sounds like a dream come true.