As a new parent, you will discover an overwhelming amount of advice on newborn sleep. We asked our newborn sleep expert to break down the most common pesky pieces of misinformation—and why they're wrong—about your little one's sleep schedule!
1. It’s ok to let your baby sleep on their side or belly.
A resounding no! In order to ensure your baby’s sleep environment is safe, it’s important you always put your baby on their back to sleep.
2. Adding rice cereal to your baby’s bottle before bedtime will help them sleep for longer stretches at night.
Another no! A newborn’s gut is not developed enough to process solids of any sort. Adding rice cereal to a baby’s bottle is only recommended when needed for severe reflux—and this should always be done under the care of a physician. Furthermore, studies have shown that adding rice cereal does not lead to longer stretches of sleep.
3. Giving a breastfed baby formula at bedtime will help them sleep for longer stretches at night.
Also a no! Sure, there are some babies for whom this may work; however, there is no scientific evidence that formula will help your breastfed baby sleep any longer than normal.
4. You can control your newborn’s sleep schedule.
Nope! A newborn does not have developed circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are what allow our sleep to be organized and predictable. Some babies may fall into what appears to be a fairly set schedule early on, but for the most part, sleep organization does not occur until closer to 12 weeks. As a new parent, it is important to understand the realistic sleep expectations for those first 2 to 3 months, so you can feel better prepared.
5. Putting your baby to bed later at night will help them sleep later in the morning.
Another nope! Babies are biologically predisposed to go to bed for the night sometime between 6 and 8 PM. When a baby is kept awake longer than he should be, their body is filled with cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. These stress hormones make it difficult for babies to fall asleep and stay asleep and often lead to early morning wake-ups—the opposite of what you were hoping for.
For more tips on navigating common sleep issues, check out our class Newborn Sleep: A Guide to the First 12 Weeks
About our Expert
Jennifer D is a certified Sleep Consultant with more than 20 years of hands-on experience in early childhood education. As a Gentle Sleep Coach, Jennifer‘s philosophy serves as an alternative for parents who resist the cry it out method. Her step-by-step method has a 95% success rate when the child is healthy and parents are consistent.