Sleepless nights are to be expected when a newborn is in the house. One of the most common advice you’ve probably been getting is to sleep while the baby sleeps but hey, you can score more snooze time by avoiding these practices when putting the little angel to sleep!
Neglecting sleep cues
Babies need a lot of sleep especially in the first few months and they will tell you so—not through words but by different signals. These could vary from sucking on fingers, rubbing eyes, or yawning. Observe closely and you’ll uncover these little clues.
If they’d like to take a nap during the day, let them be. It’s a myth that babies who stay awake the whole day will sleep better at night. In fact, naps are important in the baby’s development and keeps them from being overtired, making it easier to sleep at night.
Not having a sleep routine
This applies to everyone, really. Having a sleep routine winds the body down and prepares it for deep slumber. For your baby, start by setting a bedtime and planning the pre-bed activities—be that a bath, song, massage, or even the sound of white noise. Doing these on a regular basis sets your baby’s internal clock, helping him fall asleep easier.
Don’t let him fall asleep completely before these activities are done though; set him down in the crib just as he becomes drowsy so he can fall asleep on his own. More on this below!
Turning the crib into a playroom
Have your little one sleep in the same place always, where he is most comfortable. Try not to do other activities such as playing there so that the baby can better associate the crib or room with sleeping. If the crib contains all his toys, there may be too much stimuli that will keep the baby occupied instead of preparing for sleep. We can’t stress enough the importance of consistency to make this a success.
On a side note, once the baby is asleep, that doesn’t mean you have to tiptoe around or else he wakes up. Your baby can learn to be familiar with the usual sounds at home and will sleep right through it.
Relying on sleep crutches
Sleep crutches mean having your baby depend on you (rocking or nursing him) or other objects like pacifier, bottled milk, or stuffed animal in order to sleep. While this might seem like a great hack, it’s not good for the long run because it cultivates a habit of dependency.
Learn how to phase out these sleep crutches and replace them with sleep associations, which are more about his environment and ambiance for sleep—crib, dark room, thumb sucking, to name some. This way, even if he wakes up in the middle of the night, he’ll know how to sleep on his own… giving you a good night’s sleep, too!