Learn the 5 things not to do when sleep training your baby and first-hand tips for how to avoid them.
Are you keeping your baby awake throughout the day, so she falls asleep more easily at night? Or, are you running to her room every time you hear a voice?
But what if I told you that doing these things can make bedtime a nightmare?
As a parent, I understand the frustration and the challenge of putting your baby to sleep. You would do anything for your child to close her eyes and sleep through the night.
Here are the top 5 things not to do when sleep training + first-hand tips for how to avoid them.
Not Setting a Routine for the Child
A bedtime routine comes with many benefits. Whether you’re trying the cry it out or another sleep training method, a bedtime routine can help your baby relax before being placed in her crib.
On the plus side, it can be an enjoyable bonding experience for the two of you.
Setting up a healthy routine for your child could help her in establishing effective sleep cycles. Dim the lights, bath her, read a book, or play a lullaby. All of these steps would stimulate sleep and would make a difference in how quickly your baby will fall asleep.
Although it can be time-consuming, it will save you hours of frustration and energy in the long run.
One hour before you want to put your child to sleep, start your bedtime routine. Once you notice that she’s getting drowsy, gently place her into her crib for a good night’s sleep.
Paying No Attention to Baby’s Sleep Cues
When your baby is tired, she will send signals to let you know. The most common signals include yawning, rubbing the eye, whining and fussing, reduced playfulness, and crying.
Overtired babies will have more difficulties falling asleep, so make sure you don’t miss these signals. Keep an eye on your baby throughout the day, and you’re likely to see a pattern appear.
If you have a hard time noticing the cues, try going to a dim room and engaging in a relaxing activity. You’ll see the signals starting to show.
Checking Your Baby Every Time You Hear a Noise
Babies make a lot of noises when they sleep. They can sneeze, sighs, have hiccups, whimper, and cry.
But you don’t have to rush to get to her room every time she makes a noise. Sometimes, fussing and crying might mean that she’s settling down.
She might wake up a few times every night as babies cycle in and out of deep sleep about every 20 minutes. They’re experiencing something called “sleep arousal,” a period of light sleep.
So, instead of rushing to comfort her, give her some room to go back to sleep on her own. Doing so will help her learn to self-soothe and get herself back to sleep every time she wakes up.
Letting Your Baby Fall Asleep Outside of the Crib
A crib is the safest place for your child to fall asleep. Although parents find it easier to let their babies fall asleep in the stroller while they’re running errands, this can have a negative effect on the long-term.
Remember the bedtime routine we discussed a while ago? A consistent bedtime routine will help your baby develop good sleep habits and recognize when it’s time to go to sleep.
However, by letting her fall asleep in the stroller, in the car seat, or in the high chair, you’ll create inconsistencies in her sleep schedule and will have to start with the sleep training anew.
Try to run errands when your baby is in between naps. If you’re going out at night, consider getting a babysitter to look after your baby so that she’s falling asleep in a familiar environment.
Not Letting Your Baby Sleep During the Day
Surely, it sounds like a great idea: let your baby not get her nap during the day so that she falls asleep easier.
Unfortunately, this is a completely wrong approach.
In fact, as I’ve mentioned above, overtired babies have a harder time falling asleep. When your baby has been awake for longer than she can tolerate, this triggers the release of a stress hormone, cortisol. This stress hormone will make it even harder for her to fall asleep.
On top of everything, babies have a built-in inner clock that wakes them up a few times every night. Meaning, even if you overtire your child, that doesn’t guarantee that she will get an outstanding night’s sleep.
It all comes down to learning to recognize your baby’s sleep cues and putting her down while she’s drowsy but not fully asleep.
“I came to parenting the way most of us do — knowing nothing and trying to learn everything.” — Mayim Bialik
Being a parent is not straightforward. There’s no one universal guidebook called “How to Take Care of Babies” that applies to everyone.
In reality, every baby is unique and has his/her own personality.
You will learn how to be a parent gradually through the experience of caring for your child.