It’s easy to fumble when taking care of kids, taking into consideration that there are so many things to look out for when you’re a parent. Here are some common mistakes that you might be making when putting your baby to sleep – find out how you can correct them so that your baby will have a more regular sleep pattern, and you’ll have an easier time putting them to sleep!
- Keeping a baby up past nap time.
It’s common to hear a parent say that a child is sleepy or needs a nap, especially when a child is cranky and acting up. However, waiting till they are cranky and screaming at the top of their lungs is not ideal. In fact, it would be helpful that you notice that they are tired before they get agitated. It’s important to pay attention to small cues like when babies are changing their expressions, rubbing their eyes, yawning with clenched fists or staring into space, and take them to a quiet place where they can nap.
- Failing to stick to a daily bedtime routine.
Children of different ages are usually put to bed at the same time every night after a bath, story time and switching on the night light. However, parents have much busier schedules nowadays, and most moms work full-time too, making it hard to stick to that routine. Making sure that your child keeps to a routine of sorts will make it much easier for them to fall asleep at a fixed time. On days when one parent is busier, try to get your partner or a caretaker to fill in.
- Skipping the nap time/bedtime routine.
Babies and young children rely on consistency to sleep well. If you already do have a routine in place, skipping it even once may throw them off their sleeping schedules and you will constantly face difficulties during bedtime. By sticking to the routine, it also helps parents have peaceful nights of sleep. On days when parents are busier, it’s still not a good idea to keep your baby up past bedtime or get them to sleep earlier. They will start to get cranky if they are sleepy, and their body will still tell them that it’s time to play if it’s early, resulting in both parents and children feeling frustrated. Make sure to bring your stroller out if you need to stay out late and remember to readjust back to sleeping schedules if you absolutely need to stray away from it.
- Letting the baby rely on one parent/caregiver.
A common mistake made by many parents, stay-at-home moms or dads may feel that they need to take full responsibility especially when it comes to bedtime in order to refrain from adding more stress on their partners who are working. However, it’s important to share the responsibilities evenly and let other caretakers like grandparents or helpers take over when you are exhausted. The child’s reliance on only one adult during bedtime will lead to them having difficulties sleeping if that person is not around, which may lead to long-term sleeping problems.
- Paying attention to every little sound or stirring.
Naturally, babies make sounds when they’re sleeping – they could be dreaming or going through different stages of sleep where they may be more alert. Parents who pick them up when they make every little sound may instead wake them up unintentionally and disrupt their sleep cycle. Try not to get too worked up if your baby is slightly stirred or makes little noises during sleep, and only pick up your baby when you are sure that he or she is awake. Sometimes, babies can soothe themselves and go back to sleep, which is a healthy development for them.
- Putting the baby on a routine/schedule that is out of sync with the rest of the family.
Similar to adults who can’t fall asleep when there is too much noise going on, babies have difficulty going to sleep if the rest of the household is still active. If there is an absolute need, make sure that the noise is happening far away from the baby’s room and try to use a white noise machine to block out the excess noise. It’s important that the rest of the family keeps in mind that the baby needs to sleep, if the baby hears what’s going on and becomes curious, he or she might not be able to fall asleep easily and it can lead to more serious sleep problems!
- Neglecting to let the baby self-soothe.
Babies who are sleep-dependent usually have difficulty falling asleep themselves as they are so used to being carried, rocked, bounced or put in a swinging carrier, so they do not fall asleep unless they are soothed by someone else. Sometimes, babies will only know how to sleep when they are in the comfort of these actions. It’s normal for parents to soothe newborns, but it’s also okay to let them learn how to sleep by themselves without being coddled – get them into a comfortable environment and position and let them learn to fall asleep by themselves.
- Ignoring or delaying concern for the baby’s discomfort.
Although you don’t have to get worked up over every little sound or stirring, it’s important to check on the baby and whether he or she might be experiencing some discomfort from time to time. A full diaper or the temperature might affect their sleep and keep them awake, so find out what makes your baby uncomfortable and avoid them in the future. Every child is different, so take the time to learn what makes them comfortable and you will soon be familiar with their sleeping habits.
- Keeping the baby up so that they will wake up later.
Keeping the baby up later usually does not equate to them waking up later in the mornings. Babies tend to stick to their sleeping schedules and will likely wake up at the same time despite the late night. The time that they wake up will only be affected by how late they sleep when they are teenagers! Instead of trying to make erratic changes to the sleep schedule, work around your baby’s schedule so that you don’t wake up to a cranky baby.
- Keeping out the sunlight or noise.
Keeping out all of the light and noise when babies sleep will in fact make it harder to put babies to sleep, especially when it’s hard to get these ‘ideal’ conditions. It actually teaches the baby to only sleep in those conditions and wake up easily when there is a little bit of light and noise. It’s good to keep a white noise machine around or use an app that provides it so that they learn how to fall asleep even though it’s not completely quiet.