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Fill-in-Blank News Release For County Health Departments

The Perils of Parenting: Helping Baby Get a Good Night's Sleep

For Release: __________
Contact &
Phone Number: __________

Many new parents, who may themselves be sleep-deprived, feel almost desperate to find the perfect solution to help their baby sleep through the night. Pediatricians and other child development experts have studied infant sleep in an attempt to determine why some babies are "good" sleepers and others have more difficulty. As a result, many myths have been exposed and new theories have been developed about infant sleep.

Myth #1: If a baby is a good sleeper, s/he will never wake up at night.
Fact: Waking up at night is normal as the baby cycles through light and deep sleep.
Problems occur when the baby wakes up fully or can't get back to sleep without help.

Myth #2: Some babies don't need to nap during the day.
Fact: All babies need day naps, which may actually help them have easier nighttime sleep. Nap deprivation causes night waking.

Myth #3: It is normal for some babies to wake up grumpy.
Fact: Just like adults, babies who wake up fussy or grumpy did not get enough quality sleep.

Myth #4: Feeding baby more at bedtime will help the baby sleep better.
Fact: Excessive food right before sleep may cause the baby's digestive system to work overtime during the night, which could disrupt sleep.

Myth #5: If you keep the baby awake into the evening, s/he will sleep better at night.
Fact: Keeping baby awake into the evening will help develop a "hyper-alert" state in the baby, making nighttime sleep even more difficult.

Myth #6: Large babies sleep better than small babies.
Fact: Size is not related to a baby's ability to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Many popular approaches to infant sleeping have been developed. Parents know their baby best so they should carefully consider which approach would best meet their family needs.

The "co-sleeping" approach (family bed), which allows baby to sleep with the parents, is suggested by some who believe this approach provides an emotionally supportive environment for the baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not support this practice due to concerns regarding Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

The "small steps" approach involves helping the baby learn to fall asleep without the things that the baby can't duplicate or get at night, like a bottle, breast or pacifier; rocking with the parent, etc. As the baby cries, parents check often and provide reassurance. The time intervals for responding are then increased throughout the night. This approach does provide flexibility for parents in determining the amount of time they let the baby cry before checking on the baby, but the crying may be difficult for parents to tolerate.

The "cry it out " approach involves parents helping the baby relax at bedtime, then placing the baby in the crib and not responding to infant cries for at least an hour if not longer. This approach is not recommended. It could have a negative emotional effect on the baby.

These and other approaches have been tried by thousands of parents. As with all other aspects of parenting, there is no perfect answer for helping your baby get a good night's sleep. You know your baby best.

If you need help in sorting out all the different approaches for infant sleep, call or visit the _____ County Health Department. (Additional information can be added here on well child clinics, parenting classes, etc.).


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