DEALING with sleepless nights is part and parcel of being a parent.
But there's so much parenting information and advice out there that it can sometimes be hard to know what to believe.
So, with World Sleep Day on Saturday, we spoke to Stokke sleep expert Heidi Skudder – aka The Parent and Baby Coach – about the sleep myths to take notice of, and those you need to ignore.
YES: Children love routine
"The word routine has been somewhat demonised in recent years and most new parents now dread even using the word, as they have been made to feel that all it encompasses is a baby who is not listened to, fed only when the routine says and has to be in their cot every day from 12-2pm," Heidi said.
"This is simply not the truth, and a 'loose routine' can benefit even the most disorganised of us when it comes to knowing what baby
"Whilst a few approaches are still fairly rigid in their routine approach, most modern day sleep coaches will work a pattern for your baby around your lifestyle.
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"Not only that, but being aware of awake windows is probably one of the most game changing and crucial bits of information that you will ever come across as a new parent!"
YES: Babies love connection
"When very small, babies can struggle with the transition from
being on you to in a cot," Heidi said.
"Connection is so important for you and your baby, so enjoy the newborn snuggles, but then practise putting them down by lowering their feet into the cot first, followed by their head.
"If they stir or look upset, hold them on their side whilst patting
and soothing them, and once calm then putting them onto their backs to finally sleep.
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"This gentle way of lowering baby into their cot is a game changer for those babies who struggle to be put down."
YES: Don't be afraid to ask for help
"You shouldn’t be afraid to ask – or invest, in help," Heidi continued.
"I’m not saying that you have to spend ALL your money on snazzy sleep products and gadgets to have a baby that sleeps well, far from
"As a busy sleep coach, I see many parents who have done exactly this, only to then realise that baby sleep is about so much more than a rocking crib.
"Rather than spend thousands on gadgets, I would advise new parents to rather spend less than half of that money (not even!)
on chatting through their concerns with a reputable sleep coach.
"There are so many brilliant bits of advice that new parents are not told about, which can simply change their baby’s sleep for good, rather than needing to rely on external products.
"From a sleep coach perspective, it is about helping shape sleep slowly from the beginning, rather than spending lots of money on things that only help sleep for a short duration, and need to be taken away once baby gets bigger."
NO: You don't have to choose to be a 'gentle parent' or not
"With lots of sleep coaches now practising what is described as gentle parenting – it can feel uneasy and uncomfortable to feel as though you are anything other than that," Heidi said.
"By creating an image of what a 'gentle' parent does and doesn’t do with their baby’s sleep, this can leave new parents feeling overwhelmed if their instincts around sleep don’t sit in this “gentle” arena.
"The reality is, all loving and responsive parenting is gentle and seeking help with your baby’s sleep and wanting to do more than just label it as normal, is in no way not gentle – in fact we could even argue that it is showing ultimate compassion for both yourself and your baby."
NO: Babies are made to not sleep
"At a time where maternal mental health issues are on the rise, new
parents are being sold this idea that broken nights are normal and that parents need to bring in what help they can to survive them, rather than expect solid nights," Heidi continued.
"Not only is this common myth untrue, but also damaging to so many parents who are struggling on, with sleep being one of the biggest scientifically researched predictors of postnatal depression.
"Whilst we understand that babies wake frequently for night time feeds at a young age, not getting a decent stretch of sleep as a mother and just being told to survive those early months and years is totally unrealistic – leaving many new mothers doubting their decision to become a mother, when in fact nights could actually be much improved with a little support and a loving approach."
NO: You must sleep train your baby
"In a society that likes to try and be very black and white, the common rhetoric right now is that sleep training is 'bad'," Heidi explained.
"The phrase sleep training actually encompasses a whole range of different methods and techniques and really isn’t just about crying AT all – do not be fooled into thinking that any sort of work on your babies sleep is going to cause them any harm, this simply isn’t the case.
"Many sleep coaches will work with methods that include never leaving your baby on their own, but still improving their sleep in the process.
"Other parents will still want to achieve quicker results with a cry type approach, but with crying split into small intervals where you
go in and calm and reassure baby as and when you feel you need to (often at timed intervals).
"Both of these approaches can improve sleep for both baby and parents alike, yet the amount of judgement that exists around them can be massive.
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"There is no research to suggest that a very short term cry sleep intervention is negative for baby and more that every parent should choose to do whatever they feel is best, when it comes to their baby."
Heidi was writing on behalf of Stokke®, experts in baby furniture including the Stokke® Sleepi™ Bed V3 – the crib that grows with your child, suitable from newborn until the age of 5.
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