Baby Sleep Myths Busted

To make every minute of sleep count, we’re busting 7 baby sleep myths.

Baby Sleep Myths Busted

I was told that children don't come with manuals. Yet, everywhere I turn, I get, “Don't do this, do that.” When it comes to baby’s sleep, everyone seems to have something to say: our mothers, our best friends, even our coffee barista can hand us a macchiato with a side of bedtime tips. Baby sleep advice comes so fast and furious that myths can get the best of us (and our ZZZs). So let’s clear the clutter, shall we?

To make every minute of sleep count, we’re busting 7 baby sleep myths.

Myth 1: I should never wake up a sleeping baby.

Babies look so peaceful when they sleep. Why on earth would you ever want to wake them? Well, for many reasons, but the most important one is that babies, especially if they’re brand new, need to eat and gain weight. You may also want to put a cap to naps if baby's nighttime slumbers are inconsistent and interrupted. What makes wee ones cranky has more to do with how you interrupt their sleep than the interruption itself. I don’t know about you, but I love when I wake up on my own. Babies are the same way, so we want their bodies to naturally wake up – or at least trick them into thinking they do. The best way to do that is by using the space and environmental cues around you: open the blinds to let the light in; or take a layer or a sock off gently to boost baby’s body temperature. If he is still sleeping, take that bare foot and tickle it lightly.

Myth 2: If I add cereal to baby’s bedtime bottle (or give him formula at bedtime), it will help him sleep through the night.

Loading baby’s bedtime bottle with extra calories may keep him full until sunrise, but that won’t do him and his sleep any good. Think of it this way: What happens when you go to bed right after a copious meal? You feel full, sure, but your body ends up working harder to digest, firing up your metabolism and making it hard to fall and stay asleep. The same goes with baby. Giving him more food to process right before bed won’t induce sleep, it will likely disrupt it.

Myth 3: Baby should be sleeping through the night at 3 months old.

This is an interesting statement because there isn’t really a "sleeping through the night." Human beings are wired to have a light wakening to make sure their surroundings are safe and they aren't in any harm or danger. As adults, we wake and may move our pillow or shift our body without even realizing or remembering it. When a baby wakes during the light stage of his sleep cycle, if he doesn’t know how to place himself back to sleep, he will look for "props" to assist them. Usually the parent becomes the human soothing prop. If baby knows how to self soothe, you may not even notice that he wakes up. That said, a 3-month old child should be sleeping a nice 3- to 5-hour stretch at night. If not, I would (re)evaluate nap patterns and baby’s sleep environment.

Myth 4: I need to be extra quiet when baby is sleeping.

Your baby’s first home was actually pitch black and loud as can be. In the womb, he can hear a lot, including your growling stomach and the whooshing from the blood pulsing through the uterine arteries. And all of it is actually pretty loud – as loud as a vacuum. So a little noise (or a lot of it) may actually help make baby feel “at home” again.

Myth 5: If I put baby down late, he will wake up late.

There needs to be a balance of quantity and quality of sleep. When the quality is off, the quantity will be off too. For example, if naps are too short and bedtime is too late, that inconsistency or imbalance will automatically guarantee night waking. Most infants fall asleep more easily and sleep longer if they’re put down before they get tired. A bedtime that is off will make them overtired and take away the sleep their bodies need to reenergize and function, and it will likely make them wake up in the middle of the night or really early, ready to party at 5 am. If your bedtime is too late, take it slow: move the bedtime routine forward by 15 minutes every two to three days. This should guarantee an earlier bedtime for baby and longer sleep for all in a week or two.

Myth 6: Baby shouldn't sleep with a pacifier.

The use of a pacifier during sleep can actually be beneficial. Offering a pacifier at nap and bedtime has been associated with lowering the risks of SIDS, especially during the first several months of life. The sucking keeps the airway passage open, amongst other things. Some babies take them, some don’t; and that’s okay. If your wee one doesn’t take to the pacifier, don’t freak out. You don’t need to force it on him. If it falls out of his mouth while he sleeps, don’t place it back in. If you are breastfeeding baby, some experts suggest waiting 3 to 4 weeks to introduce a pacifier, or until you settle to a good nursing routine.

Myth 7: I can sleep train baby right away.

Newborns are too biologically immature to be sleep trained right after birth. In fact, the best time to start teaching baby to sleep through the night is around 4 months old (from the actual birthday – not the due date). Prior to that, we cannot create a sleep pattern or schedule. So until then, your only goal is to love and bond with baby. The reliance that you will create with one another in those first few months will end up helping you guide baby to sleep all night long.

Original photography by Desiree Walters for Well Rounded NY.

These are the best bath time products you can get for under $20

These budget-friendly products really make a splash.

With babies and toddlers, bath time is about so much more than washing off: It's an opportunity for fun, sensory play and sweet bonding moments—with the added benefit of a cuddly, clean baby afterward.

Because bathing your baby is part business, part playtime, you're going to want products that can help with both of those activities. After countless bath times, here are the products that our editors think really make a splash. (Better yet, each item is less than $20!)

Comforts Bath Wash & Shampoo

Comforts Baby Wash & Shampoo

Made with oat extract, this bath wash and shampoo combo is designed to leave delicate skin cleansed and nourished. You and your baby will both appreciate the tear-free formula—so you can really focus on the bath time fun.

Munckin Soft Spot Bath Mat

Munchkin slip mat

When your little one is splish-splashing in the bath, help keep them from also sliding around with a soft, anti-slip bath mat. With strong suction cups to keep it in place and extra cushion to make bath time even more comfortable for your little one, this is an essential in our books.

Comforts Baby Lotion

Comforts baby lotion

For most of us, the bath time ritual continues when your baby is out of the tub when you want to moisturize their freshly cleaned skin. We look for lotions that are hypoallergenic, nourishing and designed to protect their skin.

The First Years Stack Up Cups

First year stack cups

When it comes to bath toys, nothing beats the classic set of stackable cups: Sort them by size, practice pouring water, pile them high—your little one will have fun with these every single bath time.

Comforts Baby Oil

Comforts baby oil

For dry skin that needs a little extra TLC, our team loves Comforts' fast-absorbing baby oil aloe vera and vitamin E. Pro tip: When applied right after drying off your baby, the absorption is even more effective.

KidCo Bath Toy Organizer

KidCo Bath Organizer

Between bathing supplies, wash rags, toys and more, the tub sure can get crowded in a hurry. We like that this organizer gives your little one space to play and bathe while still keeping everything you need within reach.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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