Sleep training is one of the most difficult things as a parent that you will go through in your child’s young life. While the journey is frustrating, the end result is basically magic. Finally having a child who sleeps through the night after months of late night feedings and diaper changes may feel like an unreachable goal. With persistence and the right knowledge there is no reason why you can’t successfully get your little one to sleep peacefully through the night.
Imagine finally getting a full eight hours of sleep. While there is plenty of helpful information on how to sleep train, there is an equal amount of garbage. It should be noted that every child is different and what worked for one parent may not work for you and your child. There are also just some ridiculous myths about ways to sleep train your child is a short amount of time. So, how do you know what’s real? Debunking myths about sleeping through the night is the first step toward victory. Here are some things to keep in mind and something’s to completely forget about when it comes to your child and their sleep.
Ask Your Doctor
The first thing you need to do when sleep training your child is to check with their doctor first. This is because your child may just simply not be ready to sleep a full six hours in a row. This has a lot to do with your child’s development and size. Some babies need more substance and food than others which means that you may have to put your sleep training dreams on the back burner for the time being. You should also know that sleeping through the night doesn’t always mean that your child will be getting a solid 10 hours of sleep a night. Sometimes sleeping in blocks of four to five hours is considered a serious win in the sleep battle.
While you should be able to start the sleep training process at 6-9 months old, you don’t want to push your child if they are not ready. Some children are more sensitive than others which can make sleeping through the night very difficult. With the right tools, however, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be to start implementing healthy sleeping habits from this age on. This also means that you shouldn’t feel like you have failed if your child doesn’t take to sleeping as well as you may have hoped. Sleep training takes patience and resilience. So gear up and prepare for the worst. The end results will be totally worth it!
Common Myths about Sleeping Through the Night
The first step in winning the sleeping battle is to know what not to do. While yes, some people may have had a positive experience from using some of these methods when it comes to sleep training, these myths have been proven not to be a good tool to use for various reasons. So when you and your baby are both ready for more sleep in through the night, avoid trying these.
- The later they stay up, the longer they will sleep
When debunking myths about sleeping through the night, the first myth that most people face is the one that requires keeping your child up past their bedtime. This is simply not true. There is nothing that shows that there can be success from keeping your baby up late in hopes of keeping them in bed longer. You may hear most parents laugh when they hear this. This is because most parents know the truth about this ridiculous myth. In fact, keeping your child up later in the night will actually do the reverse of what you actually want to achieve.
When a baby is staying up too late they get overtired really quickly. This isn’t a new concept either! Have you ever stayed up late to finish work or binge watch a show only to find when the time comes to finally let your head hit the pillow that you can’t actually turn your brain off. Something very similar will happen with your baby. They will feel over stimulated and overtired which is a dangerous combination which is sure to keep your child from falling asleep. This is one sure way to send your child spiraling into sleep regression. Unfortunately, when your child is too tired to fall asleep, they will instead be sometimes too cranky for comfort. So save yourself the major headache and stick to a bedtime that is appropriate.
- There is something wrong with your baby
While it is important to be optimistic about sleep training, don’t be worried when things don’t go according to plan. Every child is different and that even means each of your children is different. It is natural to think that there must be something wrong when your first child sleep trained like a champ yet your second child wants nothing to do with it. Some babies have different emotional responses than others which can be one of the main reasons why you may be having a harder time getting one of your children to sleep through the night. This means that maybe your child needs that extra bit of emotional support that comes from a midnight feeding and this has nothing to do with the overall health of your child.
It is sometimes easier to admit that there must be a healthy problem with your baby instead of facing the fact that your child just may be difficult. Don’t feel ashamed by this, every child is equally as difficult in their own way. While one child may not like to sleep through the night, the other may only demand to eat green foods. There is a natural balance that will work itself out to help you be equally frustrated and also smitten with each child. Obviously, if you really suspect that there is a health concern with your child, the only way to calm that feat is to see their doctor for that clean bill of health. It should help you to be reassured to know that every parent goes through this and that some children just need a little more time to take to sleeping soundly.
- Newborns should be sleeping through the night
When it comes to debunking myths about sleeping through the night, the next one is almost too silly to talk about. It is important to live in reality when it comes to parenting. Parenting is not a television show or even those neat little laundry detergent commercials where everything is quiet and clean. Parenting is messy and expecting a newborn to learn how to adjust their sleeping patterns by four months old is literally impossible. We have all heard those wonderful stories about that mother at yoga who got her three month old to sleep perfectly 6-8 hours each night with very little effort. Well, either she is lying to you or she just happens to be the luckiest woman in the whole world. Before you let the jealously sink in, just know that there is no baby better than yours!
Listening to the water cooler parenting talk is one of the most damaging things you can do, especially when you are trying to help your baby with a big milestone like night sleeping. While there are some positives that can come from taking advice, some advice is better taken with a grain of salt. It isn’t impossible to have your four month old sleep through the night but it is highly unlikely. Some babies even don’t start sleeping through the night until a year old. So keep your expectations reasonable and save yourself some heartache and frustration.
- Double up on diapers
One of the craziest myths that you may hear along the ways is that doubling up on diapers helps your child stay dry which will help them sleep through the night. When it comes to debunking myths about sleeping through the night, this one takes the whole cake. There are a lot of flaws about this crazy theory, the first one being that is doesn’t actually work this way. The only thing that doubling up on diapers will do is make your child extremely uncomfortable which will not be doing them any favors when it comes to falling asleep. Also, wearing two diapers does not mean that your child will not have leaks. Leaks do not happen through the center of the diaper but on the sides. With that much pressure on the waist and leg openings of the diapers you may actually be hurting your child by doubling up.
This makes you wonder, how do myths like this even happen? The truth behind this myth is that people who use reusable diapers have found that their child can stay drier when they double up on the bamboo lining or cloth inserts in the cloth diapers. While this method does work to keep little one’s dry throughout the night, the same theory does not apply to disposable diapers. This also doesn’t mean that you should switch from disposable to reusable diapers just for sleep training either! This is especially true if you have a sensitive baby who doesn’t like change.
- Fill your baby’s tummy to help them stay asleep
While there is a little bit of truth to this common sleeping myth, there is also a great deal of misconceptions about it. Letting your baby go to bed on a nice full tummy from an appropriate amount of food is not the same as deliberately trying to overfeed your child in hopes that this makes them sleepy enough to sleep a solid eight hours. To know how to properly use this tool, you must first know how much milk your child generally needs before bedtime and sticking with it. If this has always worked for your child, don’t change it. Many parents will try to supplement their child’s formula with a little bit of oatmeal or baby cereal in hopes of giving them a fuller tummy. While this okay, as long as your child’s doctor has said that they need that those extra nutrients, you certainly do not want to start feeding your child solids before they are ready for them.
Sometimes giving your child too much food can have the opposite effect. Too much food can lead to your child having an upset tummy come bedtime and no one likes to sleep with stomach discomfort, especially not babies. This is something you really want to avoid if your child already has digestive problems or acid reflux. This can not only make their problems worse, but you could actually be putting them in a dangerous situation. Most likely, if your baby has overeaten before bedtime you will find that you are up all night with them trying to help their tummies settle down.
Some Healthy Ways to Sleep Train your Baby
While debunking myths about sleeping through the night is one way to know what to avoid doing, you also should have the right tools for a successful night’s sleep. Just remember that each child is different and that maybe a combination of a few tips will be what works best for your little one. Here are some helpful things to try.
- No screen time before bedtime
Too much television is a sure way to over stimulate your baby before bedtime. This means that instead of having a baby who is sleepy enough to take to sleeping like a champ, you will instead have a baby who is ready to play and giggle or even throw a tantrum. While the giggles may be cute, they mean that your child is not ready to sleep through the night which is counterproductive.
- Try using music to calm them
There has been some amazing research that has been done showing that music is a great tool to use when it comes to sleep training. While some children can easily be swayed by the soft tunes that play on their crib’s mobile, other babies need a little bit more. Try using a phone or a music player to play a soft continuous stream of music for your little one to sleep to.
- Stick to that routine
One of the most important things you can do when sleep training your baby is to always have a plan and stick to it. Bath time and story time should be at the same time each night. The same could be said for the last time they eat before bed. Get them in their pajamas or sleep sack each night at the same time and eventually they will pick up on the cues. In no time you will find that your baby is more likely to sleep a solid 5 hours in a row when they know what the routine is.
- Go for a walk
Fresh air works wonders for fussy babies. If after a few weeks of trying all of the normal things to help get your baby to sleep through the night, it might be time to think outside of the box or at least, outside of the house. If the weather allows it, take your baby for a nice stroll around the block before bedtime. Fresh air is a proven science when it comes to sleep. Everybody, even adults, get tired after a nice long day out in the breeze. If it is too cold out and your child is still too fussy to go right to bed, try taking them on a nice car ride around town. Babies love car rides. They slight humming and vibration mixed with the warmth of heater may be just what your child needs to have a perfectly sleeping night.
- Keep them in their room and out of your bed
The number one piece of advice you can get about how to help your baby learn to sleep through the night is to never give in. This is a head verse head battle and even though you both are on the same side, your child needs to know that you are in charge, in a gentle way of course. When they wake up in the middle of the night, don’t play with them and try to avoid even taking them out of their rooms. Above all things do not let them sleep in your bed with you. This is just asking for a bad habit to form. In fact, this is one of the hardest habits to break so do yourself a big favor and keep them in their rooms during late night crying calls.
By debunking myths about sleeping through the night you are one step closer to sleeping perfection. It is important to remember that not everything has to be perfect and that even though you may have successful sleep trained your baby, there will be nights where they just don’t want to sleep. This is perfectly normal. Just stay the course and try not to get too frustrated, this too will pass. Good luck and take care.