Sleeping through the night: Know the myths

Everyone has their own opinion about when babies should be sleeping through the night but be aware of the well-meaning myths

Myths and facts you’ll want to know about sleeping through the night

A parents’ guide to getting through the baby sleep myths

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Once you have a baby, you’ll be inundated with well-intentioned advice from family, friends and even complete strangers. Everyone has an opinion on the ‘best’ way to do things and you you’ll find yourself quickly learning to smile, say a polite thank you and let it wash over you.

There’s often a lot of unprovoked interest in your baby’s sleeping pattern. Are they sleeping through? No? Oh you should try this then. Don’t give a dummy/bottle/cuddle during the night - you’ll only spoil them. Let them cry/don’t let it cry - the advice can be confusing and overwhelming for a new parent. You will need to follow your own instincts - and learn to separate fact from fiction. So what are the myths?

Common baby sleep myths

1. Babies should sleep through

‘Sleeping through’, which we generally take to mean around 8 hours if interrupted sleep, this often happens around 4 months: Yes, some babies do manage an eight-hour stretch from 16 weeks (or even earlier) but it’s perfectly possible that your baby wakes for a night feed up to 12 months old. It’s the luck of the draw and parents shouldn’t feel guilty or envious if their little one is still waking for a feed while Junior down the road has been sleeping through since he got home from hospital!

2. Cut out the naps 

Then they’ll sleep longer at night: Babies need to nap and if they are cranky and overtired when going to bed it will not help anyone’s quality of sleep. If you find the baby is sleeping too much during the day, then it is OK to wake them earlier from a long daytime nap but don’t cut them out altogether.

3. Put cereal or rice into their bedtime feed and they’ll sleep longer

There is no evidence to suggest that it makes a baby sleep longer. More importantly, it is not safe, and doctors do not advise this as it could increase your baby’s risk of choking. Don’t be sucked in and stick to the recommended weaning advice.

4. You’re spoiling the baby

This is a common one. There’s a school of thought that says we should let the baby cry it out and it will learn to sleep through. Babies are not machines - if they wake, there is usually a reason and ignoring their cries will not enhance a longer slumber.

Sleeping through the night: Know the myths