As a sleep coach, I hear it all.
“My grandma told me if I put rice cereal in my baby’s bottle she’ll sleep longer.”
“Won’t I spoil my baby if I hold her all the time?”
“I want my baby to sleep later and longer, so I plan to give her a really late bedtime.”
Here’s the thing, mama. Everyone has opinions and anecdotes about baby sleep, but I’m a believer in science and evidence-based practices.
And while every baby, family, and caretaker is different, there are a few sleep truths that hold true in just about every situation.
So today, I’m debunking 3 common newborn sleep myths that you’ve probably heard at least once.
Keep reading to learn what the myths are and the facts behind newborn sleep.
Myth 1: If I Hold My Newborn to Sleep, She’ll Never Sleep on Her Own
To be honest, I understand this myth. There is such a thing as a sleep crutch, and past a certain age, it is possible to create habits that don’t promote independent sleep.
But look at it this way: the first three months of your baby’s life are considered the “fourth trimester.”
According to The Happiest Baby, newborn babies are essentially “fetuses outside the womb.” They aren’t ready for the world yet and need lots of cuddling–yes, even to fall asleep.
From The Happiest Baby:
“A fourth trimester (the first 3 months of a baby’s life) of cuddling is the birthday present your baby really wants! You may think your peaceful nursery offers your new baby the perfect environment, but from her point of view, your home feels like it’s part wild Las Vegas casino…and part dark closet!”
If you’re worried your baby isn’t sleeping well because you hold her to sleep, take heart:
A newborn’s circadian rhythm (aka their sleep cycle) doesn’t develop until at least 11 weeks of age, according to this research:
“The newborn infant develops the components of circadian rhythm postnatally. A rhythm of cortisol develops at 8 weeks of age, melatonin and sleep efficiency develop at approximately 9 weeks, and body temperature rhythm and that of circadian genes develop at 11 weeks.”
Bottom line: don’t worry too much about how much you hold your baby during the first three months of their life. Enjoy that time snuggling your baby!
Myth #2: A Newborn Should Sleep in Their Own Room
This is a BIG myth!
Newborns should sleep in their own crib or bassinet in their caregiver’s room.
Not only is this easier on caregivers who often have to wake up multiple times a night to care for their baby, but it also helps prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
“Recommendations for a safe sleep environment include supine positioning, the use of a firm sleep surface, room-sharing without bed-sharing, and the avoidance of soft bedding and overheating.”
Bottom line: A newborn should sleep in their caregiver’s room for at least the first 6 months of their life.
Myth 3: If I Keep My Newborn Awake More During the Day, They’ll Sleep Longer at Night
Did you know that newborns should get between 14-17 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period?
That’s a lot of sleep!
And since newborn babies don’t develop their circadian rhythm until at least 11 weeks, they don’t really know the difference between day and nighttime sleep.
That’s why you should definitely let your newborn sleep during the day.
Because if they don’t get enough daytime sleep, they’ll become overtired at night. And an overtired newborn doesn’t sleep better.
In fact, overtired-ness, more often than not, results in a more alert and grumpier baby.
Bottom line: Let your newborn sleep during the day.
To Sum It Up
There are a lot of myths when it comes to newborn sleep. But I value science and evidence-based practices!
- Don’t worry too much about how much you hold your baby during the first three months of their life. Enjoy that time snuggling your baby!
- A newborn should sleep in their caregiver’s room for at least the first 6 months of their life.
- Let your newborn sleep during the day.
Still lost when it comes to newborn sleep? You’re not alone! And that’s why I created my Newborn 101 Guide.
This 30+ page extensive guide will give you some understanding as to what you can expect during the first four months of your infant’s life.