The Sleep Myths

Brenda - posted on 09/11/2009 ( 23 moms have responded )

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I was thinking we could also list the things that are generally thought of as true, and come up with reasons they are not. This would eventually become a sticky for everyone to read as they join, but lets come up with the ideas and evidence as to why they are not true. For example, the myth, "Babies need to CIO because they will never sleep correctly without it." The reason it isn't true: "Not true! Blah blah blah!"



Okay, well lets see what we've heard. And if you have heard something, and don't know how to dispell it, post it and we'll see if we can come up with the evidence together. After all, that's what this group is all about!

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Minnie - posted on 09/23/2009

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You know what? I think it all boils down to parents not seeing babies as people. Human, yes, but not people.

[deleted account]

The myth that I hear most is that my baby will never learn to be independent because he sleeps with us. Research shows this not to be true, in fact, babies who co-sleep actually become more independent and more self-confident than those that do not.

Another myth is that babies should not be nursed to sleep. I am often told that they should nurse after they wake up from sleep, not before. From a biological perspective, it does not make sense as there are sleep inducing hormones that are released during nursing for baby and mother. I don't think mother nature screwed that up.

The other thing I hear is that it's just not normal for a baby to sleep with it's parents. What? In the history of man, it has only been in the past 100 or so years in western culture that babies sleep on their own. Babies bed share in Africa, Japan, and many other cultures. Our ancestors certainly did not put their baby in a crib in another room every night.

Johnny - posted on 09/11/2009

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My least favorite sleep myth is that a baby needs to learn to "self-sooth". This is apparently supposed to be done by letting them cry until they either pass out, puke, or just give up on mommy ever coming back. To me, evidence that it is not true is just following basic common sense and being slightly self-aware. Who feels "soothed" by being left to cry alone? Who feels "soothed" when they don't know whether or not they are ever going to be held ever again? I think we forget sometimes that babies are just small humans, not some sort of alien being that needs to be trained to behave like adults. They have the same fears and feelings that we do, but they are not able to reason answers and have no experiences that will help them to understand what is happening to them. Babies do not learn to self-sooth from crying it out, they learn to give up because no one cares.



Learning how to self-soothe comes from having soothing behaviour modeled by a care giver. Children whose parents sing to them to calm them may learn to sing to themselves. Children who are snuggled may learn that snuggling up with someone or a teddy or blanket can calm them down. My daughter never received cry-it-out sleep training, and despite a difficult first few months, now, at 13 months, she is an excellent sleeper who is easy to put down at night and a very independent, happy little girl.

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Petra - posted on 08/28/2010

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I just have an interesting anecdote to share about co-sleeping vs. crib sleeping for infants... I live in Canada and within a few days of bringing your baby home from the hospital, a public health nurse will come to your house and go over a number of things with you. She asked us if he would be sleeping in his own room in a crib/basinette and I advised that we would be co-sleeping with him - in our bed, not just in our room. She winked at me and advised that Public Health's official position was that the safest place for a baby is in his own crib, but then shared that she co-slept with all 4 of her own children. She simply stressed that if my partner or I had indulged in any alcohol that evening we put the little guy in his basinette or have the intoxicated parent sleep in another bed as this is the main danger co-sleeping represents to babies. If you're passed-out drunk, you're not going to realize that you've rolled onto your baby, and Public Health therefore has to take the stance that co-sleeping represents a danger to infants. This made me laugh - IMO its common sense not to get into bed with your baby when you're wasted... but this apparently a concept that is waaaay over some parents' heads.

Justine - posted on 11/05/2009

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The myth that drives me crazy is feed them before bed or put formula in the nighttime bottle and they will sleep better. Well, I tried that. Actually, I have tried everything. EVERYTHING. I even tried CIO for a few nights. I was at my wits end, sick, behind with schoolwork, and he just would not settle down. He cried for about 15 mins before finally tiring himself out. I cried for about 2 hours. The next night i let him cry for a few min, went in and comforted him, got him settled, left the room and when he started crying again waited a few mins etc. Those were the worst 2 nights of my life. He was up every hour, and it took hours to get him back to sleep, because he was afraid I was going to leave him again. I hadnt done it before and I havnt done it since. I can tell you first hand that CIO doesnt work. Feeding right before bed just gave him a tummy ache when I layed him down (he has a bit of acid reflux). Giving him water instead of nursing at night (according to my usually smart mother, they eventually figure its not worth waking up for water) and he just cried and fought me. Ive tried bathing him before bed (which i do regardless, but it has never made a difference, its just a good time to do it). Ive tried baby massage, which he tolerates, but it doesnt help him sleep. hes actually not bad during the night unless he is going through something like a cold or teething or something, but i have the hardest time getting him to sleep. when i finally get him to sleep, he is now in the past week down to 1-2 times down from 4-5 or more. I figure he has never been a crier, he is a good eater (he eats anything from asperagus to Chinese food and hes 9 months old), he has never made strange, he gets along with everyone, doesnt use a soother or suck his thumb, he is ahead of his developmental age in most aspects, hes independant, he can play with other kids or by himself, hes an all-around well-adjusted kid. which is really helpful seeing as how im a single mother. if the only problem we have is with the sleeping thing, i count myself lucky and drink lots of coffee when hes in daycare.

Lesley - posted on 10/07/2009

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I'm with you ladies all the way! My Isabella will be 1 next week - we still nurse to sleep occassionally, we co-sleep, we don't CIO and we are both happy with our lives with each other! Her pediatrician never has anything to say to us when we go other than "keep doing what you're doing". Isabella responds well to other kids, she's not afraid of other people, she can play both independantly or with me, she loves hugs and cuddles and gives them back, she laughs from her belly, she smiles. Overall - she is HEALTHY. So why is it so many people around me feel it's necessary to tell me to "nip the sleeping in the bud now" - "you're still co-sleeping?", etc.??? What business is it of theirs? Am I disrupting their lives with how I'm raising my daughter? Am I abusing her by raising her this way? I've also had these people gasp when I tell them we are not on a schedule - I let Isabella lead the way. Eventually, I learned when she wanted to sleep before she got too tired, I fed her on demand and I am always there when she needs me. I get a shake of the head and a "tsk tsk - we know who the boss is of that family - time to let her CIO". First off - no - she's not the boss - but she is a very important member who has her own personality, her own wants and her own mind - why should I force her to sleep when she doesn't want to or eat when she doesn't want or not let her eat when she wants to just so that it suits my wants??? And 2nd - why would I let her CIO until she feels so abandoned and lonely and wonder what she did to not make mommy come anymore? I wish people were more supportive and stop thinking I'm raising my daughter wrong. Thank goodness for you ladies - our children will thank us one day! xox

Brenda - posted on 09/24/2009

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We've got a helpful, nice, funny and encouraging flag for posts, now why can't we have a "Damn Straight!" or "You got that right!" flag! Even "Agree" or something.... :)

Brenda - posted on 09/24/2009

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What I don't get is that SIDS rates are through the roof in countries that believe in this bunk, yet countries that don't, have nearly non existant SIDS rates. I'm more and more coming to think that these methods of making babies sleep more are at fault. I like Dr. Sears and how he said he feels it is an arousal issue, where they can't wake up. I sometimes feel like its broken hearts, you know. I don't know, I just know that babies have feelings too, and why is it so far fetched to think that a baby could give up on life if they feel scared and abandoned? I just think we've taken this whole idea of independence and "safety" so far it is causing harm to babies, and no one seems to want to admit it, because then all those furniture manufacturers that provide most of the SIDS sleep information to hospitals and doctors would go out of business.

Johnny - posted on 09/23/2009

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I've read a couple CIO books, Sleepeasy Solution and Dr. Ferber. Both of those books perpetuate the myth that babies need at least 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. I think that is where most moms get it from. I actually had quite a bit of luck with the Sleepeasy Solution's bedtime routine plan. It transformed our nights. I just didn't bother with the part where they allow the baby to cry. I ignored that part of the book and I still had great success with it. If we don't want her in bed with us for whatever reason, usually because she's being way too restless, I use our own version of shh-pat instead (the specialty Baby Beluga-pat). But I digress, the CIO books all talk about how babies need a certain amount of uninterrupted sleep to develop properly. Complete and utter crap if you ask me. As long as they get enough hours, it doesn't matter if it is in 1 hour increments or 12 hours at a time. They clearly don't understand the concept of sleep cycles.

Minnie - posted on 09/23/2009

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You know, Kylie, I'm reading When Breasts are Bad for Business (one of the eight books I'm currently reading, lol) and there was a bit in there about how as a species, our bodies aren't designed to sleep for long periods, even as adults. That it's not natural, and doesn't flow well with how our hormones work, etc.

I think the Spanish and Italians have a good idea with their mid-day siestas.

I mean, anyone can look in a book and learn that the average adults' sleep cycle length is 90 minutes, and an infant's is about 50 minutes- NO ONE gets 11 hours straight.

Kylie - posted on 09/23/2009

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There's a myth going around COM's that if babies don't get a full 11-12 hour sleep without interruption then they cannot grow and develop correctly. I've seen CIO supporters say teaching your child to self soothe is the greatest gift you can give them because they need to be able to sleep through the night to be develop because sleeping = brain food. where do they come up with this crap?

Johnny - posted on 09/20/2009

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Another myth: "If you've fed them, burped them, changed them, etc, then they are crying for no reason." That is sooo wrong. There is always a reason why they are crying. It may be because something hurts (growing fast can be hard), it may be because they are lonely, it may be because it's dark and they don't know where they are. There is ALWAYS a reason for a baby to cry. Just because it isn't immediately apparent what the problem is, or you (the parent) don't think it is a real problem, doesn't mean that the baby does not need attending to. A baby's emotional needs are equally important as their physical needs, I'm not sure why that fact escapes so many people.

[deleted account]

Right, Right, Right! You're all right!!



I co-sleep with my baby as he is still feeding often during the night (sometimes, i think, more than during the day when there are so many distractions and other fun things to do). I love that we sleep together and sometimes when he is a bit grumpy during the day i use that as an excuse to cuddle up with him and have a nanna nap as he sleeps longer this way.



And as i type this my beautifull baby is sleeping peacefully on my lap - another excuse just to sit here and relax and not wash the dishers.



I can't stand to hear my baby cry for even a moment let alone 4 hours!!! What are people thinking when they do that ?? It's beyond me.



But as far as sleep myths go i can't think of any that you ladies haven't already covered. I think any advice that encourages us to ignore our maternal instincts should be disregarded, as we were given these instincts for a reason...

Johnny - posted on 09/19/2009

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Quoting Sinead:

I think it's a lot less natural for a mother to not respond to her baby crying in anguish than it is for a mother to cuddle and nurse her baby in the night. I usually get my daughter (nearly 12 months) to sleep sitting at the computer and nursing her on the left so I can use the mouse with my right hand! When she's sound asleep I put her in her cot in her bedroom... and then I spend the next few hours missing her until she wakes up for a feed and a cuddle in my bed!
Being cruel to be kind just isn't fair on a young baby who can't possibly understand what's going on and does a lot more to serve parents' needs than baby's.


LOL.  It's nice to know I'm not the only one who puts my daughter to sleep at the computer.  I find that having something to distract me while she slowly falls asleep helps me to be more patient and not rush her.  I don't do it when she goes down for the first time, but if she wakes before I go to bed (we co-sleep if she's restless), I get her back down in her crib by sitting with her while I surf the net.  It works better than sitting in my creaky rocking chair counting sheep.  I'm more relaxed and I think that relaxes her. 



 



And Mandy... YES!  4 hours of crying is very definitely abusive.  She needs a shot of reality.  I don't think that would even qualify as CIO method in most momma's books.  That's just cruel and unthinking.

Mandy - posted on 09/17/2009

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i have just read a mum give advice for sleep problems, saying that a baby can cry for 4 hours and he fine....4 HOURS!!!!!

is it just me, or is that abuse?

Peggy - posted on 09/16/2009

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Forgot to say I also don't agree with the whole "he/she will sleep better when you feed solids, or start formula". What? my kid eats ALOT and he still wakes up, and generally doesn't nap during the day, and he is perfectly happy. I think his personality is he just doesn't need much sleep (got it from his grandpa, who only needs 4 hours a night!) AND, i don't plan on giving him formula, we still nurse and I don't think there is any reason right now to supplement, and I don't think substituting formula for breast milk is going to help him sleep any better. and neither is "tanking him up". I can't force feed my baby. He eats what he wants, and stops when he wants. If he only wants to drink 2 oz at a time, I can't shove his face onto the bottle or my breast to make him drink more... I wouldn't like that! I think he has healthy eating habits, he knows when he's full, and I don't want to override his bodies signals.

Peggy - posted on 09/16/2009

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I agree with all you ladies here. Especially the comment about babies being smaller humans that have the same emotions (even if they don't quite understand them yet), and I always ask myself how I would feel before ever subjecting my son to any "methods". I don't like it when I wake up expecting my husband to be next to me, or for someone to at least be in the house and I'm all of a sudden alone. Why would my baby like that? I don't enjoy it when I am trying to call someone and they don't answer me or respond in some way.... And yes, most other cultures bed share or at least room share, b/c most people can't afford big houses where everyone gets their own room!! That's a luxury, and I know many families even here in the US can't afford that, espeically in today's economy. It's normal and natural and wonderful to be able to snuggle with your children. My mom is from the Phillippines, and she always tells me about how she shared a bed with her siblings or cousins and it helped them all to have such a strong family bond, and they are all independent and successful adults now.
In addition to just common sense and motherly instinct of not letting our babies cry, there is scientific evidence that shows that w/ repeated stress and negative feelings, there are actual electrical pathways created in the brain, and it takes work to reroute those pathways to something more positive once established.

[deleted account]

I think it's a lot less natural for a mother to not respond to her baby crying in anguish than it is for a mother to cuddle and nurse her baby in the night. I usually get my daughter (nearly 12 months) to sleep sitting at the computer and nursing her on the left so I can use the mouse with my right hand! When she's sound asleep I put her in her cot in her bedroom... and then I spend the next few hours missing her until she wakes up for a feed and a cuddle in my bed!

Being cruel to be kind just isn't fair on a young baby who can't possibly understand what's going on and does a lot more to serve parents' needs than baby's.

Brenda - posted on 09/15/2009

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Quoting Kristi:

The myth that I hear most is that my baby will never learn to be independent because he sleeps with us. Research shows this not to be true, in fact, babies who co-sleep actually become more independent and more self-confident than those that do not.

Another myth is that babies should not be nursed to sleep. I am often told that they should nurse after they wake up from sleep, not before. From a biological perspective, it does not make sense as there are sleep inducing hormones that are released during nursing for baby and mother. I don't think mother nature screwed that up.

The other thing I hear is that it's just not normal for a baby to sleep with it's parents. What? In the history of man, it has only been in the past 100 or so years in western culture that babies sleep on their own. Babies bed share in Africa, Japan, and many other cultures. Our ancestors certainly did not put their baby in a crib in another room every night.



You are so very right on all three accounts.  Now why can't other people out there realize that?  You mean, western culture got it right in the last one hundred or so years, and for the last few thousand everyone else was wrong?  Wow, glad we could get that straighted out....  *drips more sarcasm than her sarcasm bucket can hold today* LOL

Aleks - posted on 09/14/2009

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Hmm... what an interesting fact re sleep inducing hormones released during nursing. I know babies like to nod off during feed times, but I now know why I feel like taking a nap during and after nursing my little one :o)



Thanks for that info Kristi

Aleks - posted on 09/13/2009

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Quoting Carol:

My least favorite sleep myth is that a baby needs to learn to "self-sooth". This is apparently supposed to be done by letting them cry until they either pass out, puke, or just give up on mommy ever coming back. To me, evidence that it is not true is just following basic common sense and being slightly self-aware. Who feels "soothed" by being left to cry alone? Who feels "soothed" when they don't know whether or not they are ever going to be held ever again? I think we forget sometimes that babies are just small humans, not some sort of alien being that needs to be trained to behave like adults. They have the same fears and feelings that we do, but they are not able to reason answers and have no experiences that will help them to understand what is happening to them. Babies do not learn to self-sooth from crying it out, they learn to give up because no one cares.

Learning how to self-soothe comes from having soothing behaviour modeled by a care giver. Children whose parents sing to them to calm them may learn to sing to themselves. Children who are snuggled may learn that snuggling up with someone or a teddy or blanket can calm them down. My daughter never received cry-it-out sleep training, and despite a difficult first few months, now, at 13 months, she is an excellent sleeper who is easy to put down at night and a very independent, happy little girl.



OMG!  That is pretty much what I post here to some of the mums questioning babies sleeping/waking habbits, especially when there are other mums recommending that babies need to learn to "self-soothe".

Nicole - posted on 09/12/2009

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I my experience with Cara everyone told me that the reason she wasnt sleeping through the night was because she was hungry. I think its a myth because no matter how much they eat its not going to make them sleep better. If their bellys are too full they cant sleep. I believe that some parents think their little ones need to be eating "solids" at 3 or 4 months to get them to sleep. To me this doesnt make sense. I tried it with my baby and she didnt sleep any better or worse because she was eating solids. So I stopped. I also believe that their are some babies that just need that closeness of nursing or being help during the night to make them feel secure. My daughter is 14 months old and sometimes still gets up 3 or 4 times to nurse through the night.



I know every baby is different but, i honestly dont think that solids make a difference.

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