Parenting practices related to sleep training, feeding to sleep, and co-sleeping have sparked numerous discussions and controversies among parents, experts, and the general public.
Misconceptions surrounding these topics often arise from misunderstandings, personal beliefs, or misinformation. Below, I, Alyssa from Soothing Small Sleepers will address five common misconceptions associated with sleep training, feeding to sleep, and co-sleeping.
First, we will explore the myth that sleep training involves harmful and neglectful practices, such as leaving a child to cry for extended periods. I will shed light on the various sleep training methods available, emphasising the importance of responsive approaches that focus on gradual learning and parental support.
Next, I will tackle the misconception that feeding a baby to sleep creates bad sleep habits and dependency on nursing or bottle-feeding. We will highlight the natural comfort provided by feeding and explain how most babies naturally transition away from this association as they grow older.
Additionally, I will address concerns about co-sleeping, which often centre on safety issues. While bed-sharing with infants is generally discouraged due to potential suffocation and SIDS risks, I will explore safe co-sleeping practices, such as room-sharing with separate sleep surfaces, to highlight how closeness and attachment can still be fostered while maintaining safety.
Moreover, we will discuss the belief that sleep training is a one-size-fits-all solution for all babies, exploring the individual differences that influence its effectiveness.
#1 Misconception about Sleep Training: "It's harmful and abandoning your child"
First of all, what I want you to do as a mother is ask yourself. What is sleep training? What defines it? One of the biggest misconceptions about "sleep training" is that it involves leaving your child to cry for extended periods. Or putting your baby or toddler to bed, closing the door and saying to yourself, "I'll see you in the morning". However there are various sleep training methods, and not all of them involve leaving a baby or toddler to cry alone. Many approaches focus on gentle responsive methods, where parents offer comfort and support while helping their child learn to "self-soothe" and fall asleep independently.
#2 Misconception about feeding to sleep: "It creates bad sleep habits."
Some parents worry that feeding their baby to sleep will create dependency on nursing or bottle feeding for sleep. While this can be true for some babies, it is not the case for all. Feeding to sleep can be a comforting and natural way for babies to relax and fall asleep. Some babies often outgrow this by themselves as their sleep patterns mature. Whereas others feed to sleep until they are toddlers, and this is absolutely okay to do so. If it feels right and natural for you, keep doing it.
#3 Misconception about co-sleeping: "It always leads to unsafe sleep environments."
Co-sleeping, where parents and babies or toddlers share a safe sleeping space, has received mixed opinions. Whilst bed sharing with infants younger than one-year-old is generally considered "risky" due to suffocation and SIDS ( sudden infant death syndrome) concerns, co-sleeping can be safe when you follow specific guidelines which are found on red nose Australia.
For instance, room sharing with a separate sleep surface, such as a bassinet or cot can provide closeness all whilst reducing the risk associated with bed-sharing. If you do decide to bed share, make sure your bed has no blankets or sheets on it, their space has no pillows and your mattress is up against a wall and flat on the ground. When co-sleeping in the same bed, make sure you have no loose hair, you're not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol and you cannot be a smoker.
Some people believe that co-sleeping can hinder a child's independence and the ability to sleep alone. However, research suggests that securely attached children tend to develop healthier emotional independence and self-regulation skills. Co-sleeping when done safely and appropriately can foster a secure bond, increase milk supply and contribute to your baby's overall development.
#4 Misconceptions about sleep training: "It works equally for all babies."
Every single baby is unique, what works for one may not work for another. Some parents find that certain sleep training methods are highly effective for their children, leading to improved sleep patterns and better rest for both the baby and the parents. However, others might struggle with certain methods or prefer to go with their natural instincts and alternative approaches to suit their child's temperament and needs.