Don't Make These Parenting Sleep Mistakes
1. Not having a bedtime routine:
Babies thrive on schedules. It’s so important to develop a healthy schedule the moment you bring them home from the hospital. Babies need consistency and routine to sleep well. Once you get them used to a timeframe, make sure to stick to it. As soon as we sleep trained my son (another important thing to do), we did his bath every night at 7pm, feed him his bottle and it was lights out at 7:30pm. He’s now 3 years old and we’re still on the same schedule and he’s so used to it, there’s never any argument about not wanting to go to bed, it’s all he knows. Consistency is key.
2. Responding to every single sound:
Repeat after me: “When I hear my baby make a sound, I will practice the ‘French Pause.’” This is the best phrase I’ve heard as a parent. The French Pause. The French are a lot better at sleeping their babies because they practice The Pause. The Pause is when you hear your baby being fussy or possibly doing a small slight cry and you give them a minute before you rush in to rescue them from their nap. The philosophy behind the pause is from the author of Bringing Up Bebe, Pamela Druckerman. Waiting is the key: the French do not do instant gratification. It starts more or less at birth. When a French baby cries in the night the parents go in, pause, and observe for a few minutes. They know that babies’ sleep patterns include movements, noises and two-hour sleep cycles, in between which the baby might cry. Left alone it might “self-soothe” and go back to sleep.
3. Rocking Baby to Sleep:
Some parents think they’re helping their baby sleep better by rocking them to sleep. Then the baby suddenly wakes up and is screaming bloody murder. What happened? The best analogy I’ve heard for this situation is this: imagine you go to bed in your comfortable bed and you wake up naked on the front lawn. You would wake up in a state of shock, possibly crying, curious about what the hell just happened, right? Same thing with babies. If your baby fell asleep in our warm, loving arms, then suddenly woke up in their crib with no mom in sight, they’re gonna freak out too! It’s best to put your baby down when they’re drowsy, but still awake. When they doze off to sleep, they won’t freak out when they wake up because it’s the same environment.
We know this is a controversial one because some parents refuse to give up co-sleeping, but even doctors say not to do it, since it can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). You have your own bed, your baby has their own bed. You should each sleep in your own bed for everyone’s safety. Period.
5. Not being consistent with daytime naps:
This goes hand-in-hand with rule #1, which is maintaining a schedule. Sometimes parents make the mistake of waiting too long to put the baby down for a nap and they’re already cranky, crying and screaming. If you maintain a daytime sleep schedule you’ll be putting them down for a nap before they get worked up. Some subtle hints that the baby is ready for a nap include rubbing eyes, yawning and clenched fists.
6. Not letting the baby self soothe:
Babies that sleep-dependent have a hard time learning to go to sleep themselves. That’s why it’s important never to rock, bounce or swing the baby to sleep. Let your baby learn to self-soothe whether its with their own hands or with a pacifier.
7. Not paying attention to how much sleep is needed for each age:
Babies sleep patterns change with age. In the first few months of life, you’ll adopt the UP down Up down method, (LINK ARTICLE) but after about 4 months they’ll be down to 3 naps a day and at 12 months down to 2 naps. If you’re confused about how much sleep your baby should be getting, here’s a helpful guide.
8. Room Mood:
Yes, you read that correctly, the mood of the room will help your child sleep better. Make sure their room is nice and dark, set at a temperature of 71 degrees and there’s white noise on during their nap. This is the recipe to a good night’s sleep.
9. Transitioning to a toddler bed too soon:
Children don’t like sudden changes. If you think it’s time to transition your toddler from a crib to a toddler bed, don’t just do it without them knowing or seeing it. Talk to them. Explain the exciting new milestone. Have them be a part of it. Let them pick out new bedsheets, it lets them feel like they’re in control of the change. Let them be a part of the conversation and the change and the transition will go a lot more smoothly.
10. Letting the baby rely on just one caregiver:
This happens for a lot of reasons, sometimes there’s a stay at home mom and dad doesn’t get home until after bedtime, sometimes mom is still at work and the nanny has to do it, sometimes it’s dad who handles bedtime. Whatever the case is, and no matter how difficult it can be to change schedules sometimes, it’s always good to have your baby get used to every caretaker being...well...a caretaker. As long as the schedule and timeline stays the same, it’s perfectly ok to alternate caretakers and even having both mom and dad do it together.