Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
Six Popular Myths About Children’s Sleep
July 26, 2021

Found in age groups

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

5th Edition: 
A Step-by-Step Program for a Good Night's Sleep

Buy now

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

5th Edition: 
Chapter 1 (only 16 pages!) outlines everything you need to know about your child's sleep.

Buy now


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 37Six Popular Myths About Children’s Sleep


4. Growth spurts disrupt sleep.

As a child grows in length, the bones get longer in either a fairly gradual or continuous fashion or instead, there are periods of no growth alternating with periods of rapid growth, or growth spurts. Different researchers have published papers supporting both points of view. One researcher, promoting growth spurts, claims on her website (Growing Up Human): “How can parents know when their child is experiencing a “growth spurt”? Babies share their discomfort loudly, and need emotional support, comforting and temporary increased food intake. [The growth spurt] can turn even a calm and good-humored child into a whiney, hungry and irritable person with sleep perturbations [emphasis added].” Nowhere in her research (nor any other’s research) is data presented documenting sleep disturbances associated with growth. After multiple email exchanges, the author reneged on her promise to me to share data to support her claim that growth spurts disrupt sleep schedules.

5. Sleep regressions.

This myth results from the promotion of a book and an app.

An older version of this myth is that when a child was mastering a new motor skill, such as standing without support or walking freely, sleep became disrupted. I routinely asked mothers in my practice who were pediatric physical therapists or pediatric psychologists if they were aware of this notion. They all agreed that they knew about it from their training. When I asked at the age-appropriate visit whether their own child had shown this behavior, they all agreed on the answer: No. The modern version of this myth is called ‘sleep regressions’:

From Wikipedia:

The Wonder Weeks is the English translation of the Dutch book Oei, ik groei! (literal translation: Ai, I’m growing!) by former professor Frans Plooij, originally published in 1992. It has been republished several times, with an updated version published in 2017. It describes the theory that the cognitive development of babies occurs in predictable jumps. However, a follow-up study by Plooij’s PhD student, Carolina de Weerth, failed to find any evidence of predictable leaps. A New York times article concludes: “experts (and parents) agree that sleep patterns can vary wildly throughout a baby’s first two years, no rigorous data support the notion that nap and nighttime changes happen at predetermined times or are linked to specific developmental milestones.” Despite this, the book continues to be popular, and the publisher has produced a mobile app based on the book.


According to the book, a baby should go through 10 predictable jumps or “leaps” in its cognitive development during the first two years, with 8 in just the first year, counted from the due date if the child was premature. These jumps consist of two phases; A phase where the baby is generally unhappy, followed by a period where the baby is generally happy, due to discovering new things with the newly gained cognitive skills. The “leaps” are predicted to occur at 5, 8, 12, 19, 26, 37, 46, 55, 64 and 75 weeks old.


A follow-up study by Plooij’s PhD student, Carolina de Weerth, examined the claims of the book. She tested both behaviour and cortisol levels and failed to find any evidence of greater fussiness or higher cortisol levels corresponding to the leaps. Frans X Plooij tried to prevent the British Journal of Developmental Psychology from publishing her study. Van Geert, a coworker, described his behaviour as “very indecent.” He also described the claims made by the book as contradicting the greater body of research on child development. The controversy over these results that ensued led to Plooij’s firing and departure from academia. [emphasis added]

6. I’m an owl and so is my baby; I don’t believe in early bedtimes.

Some adults have an eveningness preference (owls) while others have a morningness preference (larks). But research in children shows that between birth and 8 years of age, evening types (owls) occurred in less than 2 percent of children at every age. In fact, using objective measures of sleep and salivary melatonin, in the age range of 30-36 months, the number of definite evening types was zero. A parent-response survey, in the same age range, found evening types to be 0.9 percent of children.  So the vast majority of babies and young children are larks and benefit from early bedtimes (Blog Post 7) although this statement might not apply to all populations (Blog Post 14). Additionally, among mothers, but not fathers, who are owls, it is more likely that their children will have late bedtimes, require more time to fall asleep after being put down, and have more sleep difficulties. Please respect your child’s natural sleep rhythms (Blog Post 8) and watch for drowsy signs (Blog Post 9), even if you are an ‘owl’.

Add comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related blogs

These blogs are related or mentioned in this blog.
Blog 7
  | December 28, 2020

Early Bedtimes

An early bedtime may prevent sleep problems from developing in the first place. A slightly earlier bedtime alone might completely or partially solve a sleep problem.
Read full post
Blog 8
  | January 4, 2021

Circadian Rhythms

An early bedtime may prevent sleep problems from developing in the first place. Even just a slightly earlier bedtime alone might completely or partially solve a sleep problem. An early bedtime might be especially beneficial because it is more aligned with the brain’s natural circadian rhythm.
Read full post
Blog 9
  | January 11, 2021

Drowsy Signs

The brains in babies and young children produce drowsy periods followed by sleep during the day and in the evening. Watch for drowsy signs before your child falls asleep. Drowsy signs are your signals to start soothing your child to sleep for a nap or for the night. Begin to soothe your baby to sleep as soon as your baby starts to become drowsy.
Read full post
Blog 14
  | February 15, 2021
 | No Comments

Be Flexible

Parents would like to have a plan that guarantees healthy sleep for their child, like a tested recipe guarantees a sweet cupcake. Unfortunately, there is not one plan that fits all families. The principles discussed in Blog Posts 1 through 13 have to be adapted to specific individual, cultural, and family circumstances, or what the Army calls “mission constraints.”
Read full post

Stay updated with new blog posts

Get access to free lullabies when signing up!
Get notified when new blogs are posted
Notify me
About Marc
The first month
The second month
Months 3-4
Months 4-12
magnifiercrossarrow-left linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram