5 Common Baby Sleep Myths – BUSTED! (Triona Coakelin)

Understanding baby sleep is challenging enough without all the old wives’ tales and uninformed public opinions. Fortunately, scientific research is undercutting generations of false claims, helping parents understand how to help their children sleep safely and soundly. Here are the five top pieces of received wisdom that turned out, post-fact- check, not to be wisdom at all.

SLEEP MYTH 1: Later to bed = Baby sleeps later in the morning
FACT: This is one of the most common sleep myths. 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.

SLEEP MYTH 2: Babies don’t need much day sleep if they sleep well at night.
FACT: Day sleep and night sleep are linked and affect one another. A baby who sleeps well in the day will also sleep well at night, provided their daily cumulative nap hours haven’t been exceeded for their age. For a baby who is already sleeping through the night but napping poorly, establishing better naps will not adversely affect their nights in the long-run, however, continued poor napping will definitely start to negatively impact their night sleep after a while causing night wakes and early morning wake-ups.

SLEEP MYTH 3: If a baby wakes in the night it means they are hungry.
FACT: Babies do wake in the night hungry, but not every baby and not all the time. There are many factors that cause night waking – having had too much or too little day sleep, being too hot or cold, being sick, being uncomfortable, not being able to self-settle (in older babies) and of course, hunger. If your baby is waking frequently in the night and you are feeding them every time, they might then be taking the bulk of their milk feeds during the night – meaning they’ll take less in the day. We want the opposite to happen! If you can rule out hunger as a cause of the waking, you should look at the other factors that might be contributing to the wakes.

SLEEP MYTH 4: Some babies don’t like being swaddled.
FACT: Swaddling babies younger than 4-5 months (once a baby can roll swaddling is a big no-no) is proven time and time again to assist them settling and sleeping for longer stretches. Some babies seem to struggle or cry when being swaddled and people often assume this means their baby doesn’t like it. Usually it is because the baby is already overtired or be under-tired, the swaddle is too hot, or it’s not tight enough. Babies who are swaddled sleep better.

SLEEP MYTH 5: Babies are scared of the dark.
FACT: Babies are not scared of the dark. They have nothing to base this fear on. In the womb it is dark (and noisy) and so, like other mammals, babies find the dark comforting, safe and calming. If you have a young baby who is overstimulated or overtired, putting them in a pitch black room (with white noise) is very calming for them. Babies do not need night-lights, aquariums, lullabies or mobiles – any light will be stimulating and can prevent them from falling or staying asleep.


Triona Coakelin is a Certified Infant & Toddler Sleep Coach and local East End Toronto Mom. After having her son in 2015 she decided not to return to her corporate marketing job and instead help other families by giving them the gift of sleep in a gentle, loving way. She joins us on the last Saturday of every month to offer free 15-minute consults to local families. For more information visit www.tuckedintight.com. 

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