Posted by: Indonesian Children | September 13, 2009

General Myths for Sleep in Children


  • Later to bed = Baby sleeps later in the morning. Sleeping in—it’s wishful thinking for many parents.  Actually, the thought that babies will sleep later if put to bed later is a common myth.  Babies sleep better, longer, and cry less if they are put to bed early in the evening. Babies who go to sleep late in the evening are often “over tired”, even though they seem to have energy. Look for your baby’s “sleep signals” that show when she is tired.  Seize the moment before the “sleepy window” has passed. The first signs of tiredness—eye rubbing, yawning, slowing down—should signal a transition to the bedtime routine. This may occur as early as 6:00 or 7:00 pm for babies. 


  • Babies should sleep through the night. Many parents dream of nothing more than getting their baby to sleep through the night.  Most babies have the capacity to make it 8 hours or more without a feeding when they are about 4 months and at least 16 pounds.  If babies at this age and stage are still waking up in the middle of the night, the problem is usually not the waking up…it’s the getting back to sleep. Most babies (and adults) wake up one or more times during the night.  As adults, we usually just roll over and go back to sleep.  Babies typically wake 2 to 4 times a night.  But while some babies cry briefly and then soothe themselves back to sleep, others don’t.  They have not yet learned how to get themselves back to sleep, so they cry out for help. The key is helping your baby learn how to get herself to sleep.  Creating a soothing routine of lullabies, books, and rocking before bedtime is very important.  Then put your baby down in her crib while she’s still awake.  This gives her the chance to learn what it feels like to fall asleep on her own. Offering your baby a “lovey” (stuffed animal or special blanket) is a good trick.  Babies will often comfort themselves with these objects, which helps them fall asleep.  You may also hear your baby singing or talking to herself before drifting off to sleep.  These are all ways babies have of putting themselves to sleep. 


  • “Crying It Out” is bad for baby. Crying is a common and (understandable!) response to saying good-bye to a loved parent at bedtime.  However, learning to fall asleep on one’s own is an important skill that you can help your baby learn when she is old enough—at about 4 months. Most experts and research agree that letting a baby or toddler cry as they go to sleep will not have any long-term damaging effects. A child who is well-loved, nurtured, and responded to during the day will not be hurt by fussing a bit before bed in the evening.  And the good news is that the crying at bedtime will probably only go on for a few days before your baby adapts and begins to learn how to put herself to sleep. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy choice for parents.  Many parenting decisions, and especially this one, involve understanding temperament—not only your baby’s, but your own as well.  If letting your baby cry herself to sleep is too emotionally painful for you, there are other options.  For example, you can go back to check on her every 10 minutes (but without rocking or nursing her).  Or, you can decide on a certain length of crying that you are willing to put up with (say 15 minutes) and if the crying goes beyond that, you will go in to comfort the baby.  Another option, if your partner is able to endure more of the crying, is that he or she takes on the bedtime routine. In any case, it is important for the two of you to be in agreement about your bedtime plan. Finding an approach that works for both your baby and your family is important.


  • Babies on solid foods sleep longer. Many parents have heard that starting solids early (before 4-6 months) or adding cereal to their baby’s bottle will help their child sleep through the night. This is a myth. There is no research to support it, and in fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages feeding babies solid foods before four months of age. This is due to their immature digestive systems and their lack of oral-motor skills. Some studies even indicate that early introduction of solids can trigger food allergies. It is normal and expected that babies younger than 4 months will wake during the night.  Beginning at about 4 months, you can start helping your baby learn to sleep though the night.  (See above on how to teach your baby to fall asleep on his own.) Until then, your young infant will be plenty full on a liquid (breastmilk or formula) diet, without using solids.  Make the baby’s last feeding part of his bedtime routine.  And try to put your baby down while he is still awake, but drowsy.  If you have concerns about your child’s weight gain or sleep patterns, talk to your health care provider.


  • Never wake a sleeping child.     TRUE or FALSE. Answer: FALSE: you should wake a child to preserve the next sleep time or bedtime. Letting a child sleep too late into the morning can interfere with their morning nap or letting a child sleep to late into the afternoon can impact their bedtime.


  • Cutting out naps and/or putting them to bed very late will help them sleep later or better. TRUE OR FALSE. FALSE: Sleep begets sleep. A rested child sleep better and longer than an overtired or chronically sleep deprived child. Lack of sleep actually makes falling asleep more difficult and promotes more frequent night wakings
  • My baby wakes up because he’s hungry. Like adults, babies eat for reasons other than hunger. A baby will nurse because it’s the only way he knows how to get back to sleep.


  • My baby is a poor sleeper. We inadvertently train our babies to be poor sleepers by not equipping them with the skills they need to fall asleep.


  • Rice cereal before bedtime will help my baby sleep longer. Hunger is typically not the cause of sleep problems after 3 to 4 months of age.


  • Crying damages a baby’s psyche. I’ve known babies who were raised on attachment parenting principles and those allowed to cry it out. Can I tell them apart by their intellectual, psychological, or emotional states? Absolutely not!


  • It’s easier to sleep-train an older baby. The longer a habit is reinforced, the harder it is to break.
  • Teething disrupts sleep. This may be true at times, but teething is blamed for way too many sleep problems.
  • Poor sleep habits improve eventually. Without their parents’ help, the vast majority of babies will sleep worse, not better, over time. Sleep problems don’t magically disappear. Consider the 2004 Sleep in America Poll, which found that two-thirds of children from infancy to age 10 experience frequent sleep problems.


  • Babies will get the sleep they need. If only! Babies resist sleep like similarly charged magnets resist each other. Parents need to insure a baby gets enough sleep.


  • There’s no harm in getting up with my baby as long as I’m willing to do it. If you enable unhealthy sleep habits, you run the risk of your child developing long-standing sleep problems that will persist into the preschool years.
  • Feeding formula, solids or mixing formula into breast milk will help my young baby sleep through the night. TRUE OR FALSE. FALSE: Sleep has to do with brain maturity and NOT food or calories. Actually over feeding a baby or frequent night feeds can cause more wakings and lead to poorer overall sleep for the child.


  • A dream feed at 11pm will help my child sleep through the night. TRUE OR FALSE. FALSE: Brain maturity is what determines when a child sleeps through the night not food. Once a child is over 4 months of age (adjusted for premature babies) they will sleep longer and have more consolidated sleep at night. It’s actually not good to wake or disturb your sleeping baby to feed if they are older than 6 months.


  • Babies will learn how to fall asleep on their own, as it’s a natural process. TRUE OR FALSE. FALSE: Although some children do learn to self-sooth more easily and naturally than other babies, for most babies it is a skill that they need to learn.  If parents are taking steps to develop good sleep habits, they can avoid developing poor sleep habits.


  • Sleep is Just Rest. Sleep is more than simply a period of rest; it is an essential time for your body to perform routine maintenance, creating long-term memories and repair damage from your day. Sleep brings many health benefits. Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night assures that your body and mind will function well the next day. Make sleep a priority for your health and energy.


  • Losing an Hour of Sleep is No Big Deal. If you get less sleep than you need, your ability to do certain cognitive and physical tasks is decreased. If that sleep loss builds over time, it can interfere with the hormones that monitor appetite, changing your mood and increasing your risk of some chronic illnesses. Get 7 to 9 hours every night for good health.


  • You Adjust to Sleep Changes Easily. Your body gets on schedule based on your activity and exposure to daylight. When you travel across many time zones or work night shifts, you confuse body’s sense of time, making sleep difficult and inhibiting some necessary sleep functions. For every one- to two-hour time change, it takes your body 1 day to adjust. That means it could take your body 6 to 12 days to adjust to a trip from New York to China.


  • Older People Need Less Sleep. Older people need the same amount of sleep as everyone else, 7 to 9 hours per night. There is a cultural belief that as you age, you need less sleep. Unfortunately, because of this myth, many older people do not seek help for their sleep problems. Often, older people sleep less than they need to because of illness. Many of the medications older people may be using interfere with sleep. Talk to your doctor to find out more.


  •  Extra Sleep Helps Fatigue. Some people assume that if they feel tired during the day, then they should sleep longer at night. This is not necessarily true. If a person is getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, then he or she should seek another source for their fatigue. Some sleep disorders decrease sleep quality, even though the person is getting enough sleep. Many medical conditions can cause fatigue. If you are sleeping long enough but are still tired, try some exercise and daylight exposure during the day. If that doesn’t help, see your doctor.


  • Sleep is Just Rest. Sleep is more than simply a period of rest; it is an essential time for your body to perform routine maintenance, creating long-term memories and repair damage from your day. Sleep brings many health benefits. Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night assures that your body and mind will function well the next day. Make sleep a priority for your health and energy.


  • Children With a Sleep Deficit Will be Tired. Children are different from adults. When children are overtired, their adrenaline kicks in and they seem energetic, even hyper. Children with sleep deficits may have behavior and attention problems. So don’t use daytime energy levels to assess your child’s sleep; use the clock. Children need an incredible amount of sleep. Find out how much sleep your child needs and troubleshoot your family’s schedule to make sure this happens.


  • Snoring is a normal part of sleep. Snoring during sleep is common, particularly as a person gets older. Evidence is growing that snoring on a regular basis can make you sleepy during the day and more susceptible to diabetes and heart disease. In addition, some studies link frequent snoring to problem behavior and poorer school achievement in children. Loud, frequent snoring can also be a sign of sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder that should be treated.


  • Children who don’t get enough sleep at night will show signs of sleepiness during the day. Unlike adults, children who don’t get enough sleep at night typically become more active than normal during the day. They also show difficulty paying attention and behaving properly. Consequently, they may be misdiagnosed as having attentiondeficit hyperactivity.


  • Sleep is a time when your body and brain shut down for rest and relaxation. No evidence shows that any major organ (including the brain) or regulatory system in the body shuts down during sleep. Some physiological processes actually become more active while you sleep. For example, secretion of certain hormones is boosted, and activity of the pathways in the brain needed for learning and memory is heightened.


  • Extra sleep at night can cure you of problems with excessive daytime fatigue. Not only is the quantity of sleep important but also the quality of sleep. Some people sleep 8 or 9 hours a night but don’t feel well rested when they wake up because the quality of their sleep is poor. A number of sleep disorders and other medical conditions affect the quality of sleep. Sleeping more won’t alleviate the daytime sleepiness these disorders or conditions cause. However, many of these disorders or conditions can be treated effectively with changes in behavior or with medical therapies.


  • Naps are a waste of time. Although naps do not substitute for a good night’s sleep, they can be restorative and help counter some of the impaired performance that results from not getting enough sleep at night. Naps can actually help you learn how to do certain tasks quicker. But avoid taking naps later than 3 p.m., as late naps can interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night. Also, limit your naps to no longer than 1 hour because longer naps will make it harder to wake up and get back in the swing of things. If you take frequent naps during the day, you may have a sleep disorder that should be treated.


  • A baby or toddler will sleep through the night when they are ready to. TRUE OR FALSE. FALSE: Some children seem to be naturally better sleepers than others and start sleep through the night on their own at about 12 weeks of age. This can be a result of the child’s personality and parent’s interaction with the child at bedtime. For other children, they need more structure to learn how to fall asleep.  The ability to learn how to fall asleep is a learn skill and is not something we are born knowing how to do.  


  • You can sleep train a newborn baby. TRUE OR FALSE False. You cannot nor should you want your 0-4 month old child sleeping through the night. It is natural and normal to have the child waking and feeding frequently, especially during the first three months.  Newborn babies will feed frequently and often during the night. Babies can have 0-2 feed per night from 4 months of age to 9 months of age.


  • It will be easy to transition from co-sleeping to having my child sleep in their bed. TRUE OR FALSE. FALSE: Co-sleeping is a successful sleep choice many parents choose. Co-Sleeping or having a family bed is usually a 5-year plan. For some families co-sleeping doesn’t workout or they decide they no longer want to continue it. If you decide to co-sleep and then realize it doesn’t work for you and your family you may have difficulty transition your child from your bed to their bed. Your child has come to learn how to sleep with you and removing that association will cause disruption for your child. So you need to plan how to transition out of co-sleeping if you want to end it before 5 years of age.


  • Naps do not need to be managed a child will take one if they are tired. TRUE OR FALSE. FALSE: Naps like all other important aspects of your child’s life need to be managed by the parents. Sleep begets sleep and a well-rested child will sleep better overall. 


  •  I don’t need to manage my child’s sleep. I believe in spontenity and letting them go to sleep when they are ready.  True or FALSE. FALSE As parents we need to manage our children’s sleep routine just as you manage when they eat, how much activity and stimulation they get and other vital areas of your child’s life. This doesn’t mean following a ridge schedule but rather making sure your child is getting enough sleep overall  and using bio times to help your child sleep more easily. A well rested children is ready to learn and absorb information about their new world. Sleep is also important to ensure they stay healthy and keep their immune system strong.


  • I need to follow a very strict schedule to get my child to sleep. Popular in SE Asia and Australia are methods that follow extremely strict and militant sleep schedules. Often these schedule or so regimented that as the child gets older they become to difficult to follow and stop working. Sleep has natural bio patterns and by understanding how these processes work in your child, you can leverage these bio-times to encourage sleep. Routine is important and does help sleep, but you do not need a ridge strict schedule to achieve good sleep.


  • I cannot breast feed my baby before bedtime. You can continue to breast feed or bottle feed your child before bed. The important point to remember is to not breast feed your child to sleep or nurse them to sleep.


Supported  by


Yudhasmara Foundation

Office ; JL Taman Bendungan Asahan 5 Jakarta Indonesia 10210

phone : 62(021) 70081995 – 5703646

email :,




Clinic and Editor in Chief :

Widodo Judarwanto, pediatrician

email :

curriculum vitae



Copyright © 2009, Children Sleep Clinic  Information Education Network. All rights reserved


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