Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
146
Ten False Beliefs About Children’s Sleep (1-5)
August 28, 2023

Found in age groups

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Introduction

A Healthy Child Needs a Healthy Brain, A Healthy Brain Needs Healthy Sleep

If you have not already done so, please read Blog Posts 1 through 5 that describe how sleep is important and beneficial. I will post specific information for parents and children based on my book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” Please do not be put off by my book’s length. This is a reference book. Read only the topic of interest to you.

Blog 146Ten False Beliefs About Children’s Sleep (1-5)

Some parents do not recognize or accept the fact that they are causing sleep problems in their child.  For example, they might usually keep their child up a little too late but do not appreciate that this late bedtime is creating sleep problems in their child. Instead, they make false excuses for their child’s sleep problems and/or ‘treat’ the sleep problem with the latest fad remedy, such as melatonin (Blog Post 143). 

At every age, there is a handy, but fake, excuse available to parents to distract them from their own accountability.  Some parents use extreme fussiness/colic (birth–6 months), teething (6–12 months), separation anxiety (12–24 months), “terrible twos” (24–36 months), and fears (36–48 months) to falsely ‘explain’ why their child is not sleeping well instead of reflecting on their own behavior.  

Also, some parents may strongly believe in popular, but false ideas, regarding sleep problems in children. Here are some examples of false beliefs:

Fake News 1: TEETHING Disrupts Sleep

Daily direct observational studies, published in 1968, of infants in Finnish national nurseries, with measurements of temperatures and recording of possible symptoms show that when the tooth emerges, there may be a little more drooling but there are no other symptoms such as sleep issues. And there is no fever.  Furthermore, blood tests at the time when the tooth erupts show that there is no inflammation which supports the idea that the eruption of a tooth is a painless process (Tasanen, A. 1968. General and local effects of the eruption of deciduous teeth. Annales Paediatriae Fenniae, 14 (Suppl. 29).).   Reports suggesting the opposite are usually unreliable retrospective questionnaire studies where parents are asked to remember whether their child had symptoms when teething.  Why then do most parents still think teething is a problem for children?

In the past, many children suffered from and sometimes died from a variety of infectious diseases associated with fever.  Because these events often occurred at the time when a tooth was erupting through the gum tissue, teething was thought to be a dangerous and painful process causing illness in the child. Beginning in the Middle Ages, there was an attempt to protect the child and alleviate the suffering by lancing the gums to “help” the tooth erupt and/or rubbing all kinds of animal and plant products on the gums to protect the child’s health.  Later, medical care was still primitive to non-existent, and ‘teething’ became a smokescreen behind which doctors could hide their ignorance regarding why children became ill. So, for many generations, teething was something to worry about.  

Today, there are two main reasons why ‘teething’ as a problem is still a popular but false belief.  

First, to sell all the ‘remedies’ to ‘treat’ teething pain, companies spend a lot of money on marketing to convince parents that teething is a problem and that they should buy their products to ‘help’ their babies.  

Second, some busy childcare providers who don’t want to spend a lot of time explaining or talking about normal baby fussiness or sleeping problems shut down the parents’ concerns by saying, “It’s only teething, it’ll pass.”  

See: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/can-teething-make-my-baby-fuss-all-night/  

Fake News 2: BABY SLEEP TRAINING Disrupts the Mother-Child Bond

See: Blog Posts 24, 36, and 71.

Fake News 3: SLEEP TRAINING Harms the Child

See: Blog Post 24

Fake News 4: GROWTH SPURTS Disrupt Sleep

Blog Post 37

Fake News 5: SLEEP REGRESSIONS Disrupt Sleep

A Dutch, former researcher, currently promotes fake ‘Sleep Regressions’ to sell his book and app.  Originally, his PhD student did a replication study and found no supporting data.  No evidence exists that sleep regressions occur!  He then tried to prevent her from publishing her paper and because of his academic misconduct, he was subsequently fired. He has done no research since.  His former student is now a full Professor of Developmental Psychology, and she has published 134 papers in prestigious peer-reviewed journals. 

See: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/15/parenting/baby/sleep-regression.html

See: Blog Post 37

(To be continued)

Comments

  1. I agree with the teething myth 100%. We taught our first son good sleep habits and allowed him a full nights rest with lengthy naps of 2-3.5 hours during the day based on his demand, and he was the only one out of all of his cousins who did not suffer from “teething issues.” He slept blissfully through the night as he popped out a whole mouth full of teeth within a span of 3 months, and most we worried about was a perioral dermatitis from his constant salivating and rubbing objects against his mouth.

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