Taking care of a baby is hard work, period. Successfully putting a baby to sleep every night is probably one of the hardest challenges that most parents face. What many parents don’t realize however is that a lot of the sleep problems that their little one is facing are due to critical mistakes being made by the parents themselves! Being aware of these common mistakes can really guide parents to help their baby get a good night's rest.
We’ve put together a list of the most common mistakes that many parents make when trying to get their little ones some rest. Steer clear of these mistakes and enjoy some well-deserved night-time sleep!
Common Mistakes Parents Make Putting Babies To Sleep
- Not having a bed-time routine
Babies thrive off of a consistent routine. When they are being put to bed every day at the same time with the same routine, their body naturally adapts to the schedule and starts to feel tired every day at the same time. Many parents underestimate the power of a consistent bed-time routine and fail to establish a nighttime routine with their little one.
- Allowing baby to suck on a bottle
Letting a baby suck on a bottle before sleeping (especially once you leave the room) can be dangerous. The baby may choke, especially if they are on their back. Not only that but it can lead to tooth decay and even ear infection. Only let your baby feed on a bottle before sleep under adult supervision.
- Letting baby fall asleep while breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is definitely a great chance for mommy and baby to bond. But if you are continuously putting your baby to sleep at the breast, then that will quickly become your little one’s sleep association. This means that the baby will need you to feed her every time she wants to sleep, whether or not she is hungry.
Check out these 5 helpful tips on how to stop breastfeeding your baby to sleep.
- Rushing to pick up the baby every time he/she stirs/makes a little sound
Babies go through sleep cycles, making several sounds throughout the night. Rushing into the baby’s room upon hearing the slightest whimper might actually disrupt the baby’s sleep rather than help them. Try to spend a few moments carefully listening to the sound your little one is making to decide if it’s just harmless babbles or if the baby really is fully awake.
- Letting baby get ‘over-tired’ before putting to sleep
It’s very important to pay close attention to your baby’s sleep cues. Agitation, crankiness, rubbing of eyes and yawning are all signs that your baby is tired and needs to rest. If you wait too long to put your baby down, he will get over-tired and that will make it much harder for him to sleep.
- Co-sleeping with baby on couch/armchair/bed
We’ve all been there – exhausted beyond our wits with a baby tucked in our arms. Many over-tired parents doze off on the couch or bed while their baby is nestled in their arms. This is a very dangerous sleep mistake that parents need to consciously avoid.
There is the obvious risk of the baby falling down but also the risk of the baby suffocating by the blanket. Co-sleeping can be safe and has many benefits, but it must be on a bed and done as a conscious decision rather than done out of exhaustion. Check out the following guide by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on safety rules regarding sleep safety for infants.
- Putting toys, loose blankets or bumper sets in the crib
Blankets, toys and even pillows and bumper sets should not be anywhere near your baby’s crib when he’s sleeping. That is because these can lead to smothering, suffocation or strangulation and can greatly increase the risk of SIDs (sudden infant death syndrome).
Many parents worry that their baby might be cold at night while he sleeps; instead of using a loose blanket, opt for using swaddles, sleep sacks and footie pajamas.
- Rocking the baby to sleep
If you rock the baby to sleep every night, chances are that this will quickly become his sleep association and he will depend on the rocking motion in order to doze off. Rock the baby in order to calm and soothe him but make sure to put him down while he is drowsy but not yet asleep.
- Not teaching baby the difference between day and night sleep
If you want your baby to develop healthy sleep habits, it is important to teach him the difference between day and night sleep. If you don’t, you might end up with a night owl baby!
To help your little one differentiate, keep lights on in the room while your baby takes his daytime nap. Go about your regular routine without worrying about keeping the sound level down (such as the doorbell ringing or your dog barking in the next room). At night time, create a calm and quiet environment by keeping the lights dim and voices hushed. Your baby will quickly learn to tell the difference between day and night sleep.
- Keeping baby up late so you can wake up late in the morning
Many parents make this mistake – they think that by keeping the baby awake till late, they will ensure that their little one will wake up late and hence they will be able to sleep longer in the mornings. Unfortunately, this isn’t the least bit true.
No matter how late you put your baby to sleep, he will probably wake up the same time he usually wakes up in the morning. The only difference will be that he will be super cranky due to not having had his proper night time sleep!
- Waking baby up from nap time
Many parents think that their baby is not sleeping well at night because they are sleeping too much during the day. So they try to limit their baby’s nap time and sometimes even wake them up while they are in the middle of a deep sleep.
By doing this, you deprive your little one of the rest she needs and this makes her over tired and even less likely to sleep well at night time!
- Not taking care of your baby’s discomfort right away
Many times, babies wake up in the middle of the night simply because they have a full diaper or are feeling too hot or cold. By addressing these discomforts right away, you can help your baby get right back to sleep without any extra fussing.
- Relying too heavily on baby monitors
Baby monitors are a great tool; they can help you quickly check up on your baby to make sure that all is well. A quick glance at the monitor can also help you decide if your baby’s cries are simply a change in sleep cycle or the baby is actually wide awake and needs you to come into the room.
However, it is important to make sure that you do not rely too much on the monitor. Many parents become complacent or overconfident once they start using the baby monitor and make critical mistakes such as letting the baby sleep on her tummy.