Parents’ Wisdom: Separating myth from fact about babies’ sleep

July 18, 2013 Linda Rosenkrantz

By Catie Bielecki from Parents Magazine

Grandparents, friends, and society flood parents with well-meaning advice, but how can Mom and Dad be sure they are receiving accurate information? With help from Dr. Andrew Adesman and his book Baby Facts,  we separate baby myths from reality.

Baby’s Sleep Position

Myth: It’s OK to put your baby to sleep on his side.

Reality: To reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, healthy babies should always be put to sleep on their back — not their stomach or sides.

Dr. Adesman explains: “Part of the reason for the confusion is that when the government first came out with its ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign, it said side or back, but just a couple years later, it modified this recommendation because sometimes babies roll from their side onto their belly. The safest sleep position for babies is on their back. Unfortunately, some pediatricians are still giving parents misinformation.”

Sleep Control

Myth: You can control when and how long your newborn sleeps.

Reality: Newborn babies fall asleep when they’re ready and wake up when they’re hungry, wet, or upset or because of some other normal cue.

Dr. Adesman explains: “The key word here is ‘newborn.’ A lot of parents will try to create a schedule, but when babies are very young, Mom and Dad really need to respond to baby’s cues.”

Swaddling Realities

Myth: Swaddling is an outdated method for comforting a fussy baby.

Reality: Swaddling, when done properly, can be an effective and soothing technique.

Dr. Adesman explains: “Swaddling is a very helpful technique when it comes to comforting. Some parents worry about their baby overheating, but if she’s dressed properly, that’s not an issue. Positioning is important, so ask your pediatrician or someone experienced to show you the right technique.”

Nap = Soundly Sleeping Baby

Myth: A nap in a car seat or stroller doesn’t count.

Reality: If your child is sleeping soundly, it counts.

Dr. Adesman explains: “Kids are pretty versatile when it comes to where they sleep. If a baby falls asleep somewhere other than his crib, there’s really no reason to transfer him. Also, remember that although beautiful nurseries might be created with the best intentions, crib bumpers, mobiles, and other decorations can pose a safety risk to infants.”

Rice Cereal at Bedtime

Myth: Adding rice cereal to a bedtime bottle helps babies sleep through the night.

Reality: There’s no proof that this method has any impact on baby’s sleep.

Dr. Adesman explains“In fact, it can even go the other way. Introducing rice cereal too early can be unsafe. Babies might not be able to digest rice cereal before four months of age. Parents often try to rush the natural process and push the milestones, but this practice is really not recommended.”

With thanks to our partners at for sharing this story. Check out some of their other sleep-issue info here. 




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