Many parents want to make sure that they’re doing the right thing when it comes to their baby’s sleep. They read up books, blog articles, and even ask other experienced parents to find ways on improving their little one’s sleep patterns.
Unfortunately, mommies and daddies often find themselves at a middle of a crossroad due to conflicting advice. Which leaves them to ask,
”What baby sleep rules should we really follow? What mistakes should we avoid?”
If you’re a confused parent, not to worry! Here are some researched-backed tips to help your baby get better sleep. In this post, we will be discussing the mistakes to avoid when putting your baby to sleep, and what to do instead.
Top 10 Common Mistakes That Parents Make In Their Baby’s Sleep
Not having a bedtime routine
Sure, it seems like the ideal type of baby will sleep anywhere, in any way. In reality, even adults still need time to wind down before a deep slumber–what makes babies any different? Having a bedtime routine is very essential to help your baby fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer periods.
It doesn’t have to be a complicated routine. Perhaps reading a bedtime story, dimming the lights, and playing some white noise will do. The bedtime routine helps babies have positive sleep associations, which will eventually pave way to their ability to self-settle during sleep.
Lack of attention to sleep cues
Missing a baby’s sleep cue could mean that a baby may become overtired–a point where the hormone cortisol takes over, making it more difficult for your baby to settle down (not to mention extra crankiness!)
Some common sleep cues include babies rubbing their eyes and ears, yawning, or being more whiny than usual. However, it is also good to pay attention to awake windows, making sure that you don’t settle your baby in for ‘deceptive’ sleep cues. When you put your baby to sleep a little too early, chances are they may get up sooner than what you’re hoping for.
Creating negative sleep associations
Now this is a common one. How many times have you said to yourself, “Tonight, I’ll skip nursing to sleep!” and ended up caving in?
Difficult as it may seem, the main way for babies to learn self-settling is to avoid these sleep crutches. What exactly are they? These are things you do for your baby to help them settle to sleep. Strategies such as rocking, cradling, nursing, handing a pacifier or giving the bottle can be exhausting if they depend on it to settle hourly during the wee hours of the night.
To avoid this, you can gradually decrease time with sleep crutches and replace them with positive sleep associations. White noise and dimming the lights will help. It can also be useful to put down your baby drowsy but still awake, so that they would know how it’s like to fall asleep on their own.
Transitioning from crib to bed too early
Ideally, it is best to let babies sleep on their crib until they turn two years old, or until such a time that they can climb out. Making the transition too early can cause potential hazards and disruption in sleep patterns.
For the transition, you can start either by going cold turkey, or doing a gradual approach. Cold turkey means replacing the crib with the bed as soon as possible. A gradual approach would mean that you can put down the railings of the crib a couple of days so your baby knows how to sleep on a bed without high barriers. Just make sure that even if your baby attempts to climb down, the area is free from hazards as well.
Allowing the baby to sleep anywhere
How great would it be if babies can get their full rest anywhere you go? Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Letting babies sleep in the car, on their car seat, or any other place rather than their usual room doesn’t give them enough restful sleep. This can lead to a disrupted daytime nap routine, which can push back your baby’s final sleep time.
Talk about your baby rolling around at 12 midnight–yikes!
A great thing to do is to try your best to be at home during your baby’s nap times by working your schedule to meet that goal. There will be exceptions, but doing this as much as you can will help in your baby’s sleep patterns.
Not having a consistent sleep schedule
Many so-called “veteran parents” will tell you that a baby will sleep when they’re tired. Although this is partly true, there’s actually a bad side to just letting babies sleep without a schedule.
Firstly, they may not get enough daytime naps, which are so important for their mood, energy levels, and development. A second disadvantage would be poor night time sleep, which leads to fussiness during the day and an irregular body clock.
By taking note of awake windows and ideal nap schedules, you can create a consistent daytime and nighttime sleep routine.
Keeping your baby up to make them sleep longer at night
Another oldie advice that should have been left in the past! Sadly although this strategy seems logical on the surface, the baby’s biological clock doesn’t work that way. To make longer sleep stretches at night, the best strategy is not withholding them time to sleep but rather give them the skill to self-settle.
When babies realize that they can settle to sleep on their own, they will less likely need your help no matter how many times they wake up in the middle of the night.
Making sudden middle-of-the-night decisions
Admit it–we’ve all gone through this at some point! Sometimes, all you want are those precious four hours of rest and you’ll do what it takes to get it–even if it means cradling your baby the whole night.
Even if you haven’t made a decision to co-sleep, doing these late-night decisions could eventually form sleep crutches, which is so difficult to remove once your baby gets used to it. Staying consistent in your sleep associations is still key to a more peaceful slumber in the long run.
Conflicting sleep routine styles
No matter how much you want your baby to sleep with a set schedule, all of this can be overthrown by inconsistencies in your partner’s routine style.
It is always best to be on the same page when it comes to your baby sleep routine decisions. This has many benefits–your baby can fall asleep whether mommy or daddy is with them, they will avoid sleep crutches, and they’ll have a solid routine that will give both parents an easier time.
If you notice inconsistencies in your sleep routine styles, sit down and talk about it so that you and your partner can have a mutual agreement.
Trying a strategy and giving up right away
Implementing a strategy doesn’t always produce immediate results. If it were so, then all of us won’t be having baby sleep problems now!
Thus, it is important to stick to your chosen strategy for a few days or weeks–don’t give up on it too soon. Who knows, the day you gave up may just be the day where all the puzzle pieces fit together, but you just didn’t try on that one specific day. Celebrate little positive changes and stay consistent to what works.
Truly, nailing your baby’s sleep routine can have its own set of challenges, but it will be a lot less difficult when you avoid these common mistakes. The key is to understand your baby’s sleep patterns, provide positive bedtime associations, and keep the habits that pave the way for baby’s self-settling.