Top five infant sleep training myths

Dr. Rebecca Kempton, M.D., Family Sleep Institute Graduate and founder of Baby Sleep Pro, is a certified infant and toddler sleep consultant who helps parents develop sleep training skills to get their family's sleep on the right path. Drawing on her personal experience as a mother and her experience as a Family Sleep Institute member, Dr. Kempton customizes sleep solutions and provides parents guidance on which methods work best to sleep train your

Here is her expert advice on these top 5 infant sleep training myths.

1. Letting my baby cry for hours i.e. using the "cry it out" (CIO) method is the only way to teach him to sleep through the night.Good news! Teaching your child to sleep better doesn't mean you have to leave them to their own devices in their room alone. Other more gradual methods that involve more parental input (but still some crying!) including Check and Console and the Chair method work equally well. The "Cry it Out" method, also known as Extinction popularized by Dr. Marc Weissbluth, MD, is only one of many effective techniques for helping your baby sleep better. The key to success is being 100% consistent implementing whatever method you choose.

2. Since I am still nursing or feeding my baby a couple times a night, it is impossible to get him to sleep any better. You can teach your baby to become a good sleeper even if your baby is still nursing or drinking a bottle a couple times a night. Sleep training a baby who still feeds at night makes the return to sleep easier and faster; it also can make those night feedings more predictable and lead to longer stretches in between feedings. Healthy sleep habits are particularly important for nursing moms and "night feeders" because of positive effects both on family stress and on baby's mood and development.

3. Because we live in cramped quarters with no extra room for our baby, we cannot begin sleep training.   Challenges abound when raising infants and toddlers – and especially raising them in small confined spaces. But that should not stop you from teaching them healthy sleep habits. Be creative! If your infant doesn't have their own room, try putting the portable crib in a large closet or even a windowless bathroom. If there are windows in the bathroom, tape black garbage bags using blue painter's tape or buy an inexpensive blackout shade. Create a room divider by tacking a large sheet to the ceiling. Sometimes it's the parents that need to move into the living room to allow the baby to sleep in a dark, quiet bedroom.

4. Allowing my baby to cry without soothing him will affect our bonding and potentially damage him. There is nothing more feverishly debated in the world of sleep training than the effects of allowing babies to cry to teach them how to self sooth. But multiple studies have proven the following results:

  • no negative consequences of crying during sleep training.
  • major benefits to both the child and the family of being well rested. Potential long term learning, developmental, behavioral issues in sleep deprived children.
  • higher rates of maternal depression, marital discord, and negativity toward children in parents of sleep deprived children.

So giving your child the tools to sleep better offers life long benefits allowing babies to develop into healthy toddlers and giving you the rest you need to be a confident and happy parent!

5. Sleep training increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  This myth is easy to debunk: Sleep training has never been linked with SIDS.  For the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for safe sleep practices, read this

About Baby Sleep Pro Dr. Rebecca Kempton, M.D., founder of Baby Sleep Pro, graduated from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in Psychology and Cornell Medical School with an M.D. She worked for several years as a medical director for health care technology and pharmaceutical companies based in Chicago before becoming certified as an infant and toddler sleep consultant by a leading authority. With her personal and professional experience, she is ready to share her knowledge and commitment to help your family get the rest you deserve.