When new parents think of the word sleep, chances are they think of how much they're not getting and how to help their baby sleep more. I'm a mom to both a great sleeper and a "trouble sleeper," and I can say with certainty that every kind of sleeper comes with their own set of challenges. However, in your quest to help your baby sleep better, there are a few things you should never to do get a baby to sleep. I've been guilty of a few of them myself in the midst of some of those sleep deprived, sleep training marathons.
Nothing is worse than the blur of sleep deprivation, and sometimes a tired parent is willing to do (almost) anything to get their little tyke to sleep for even a few hours. But no matter how little sleep you've gotten, the decisions you make when it comes to getting your baby to bed have lasting impact. Whether it's a safety concern or something that seems innocent enough, the ways you get your baby to sleep may establish habits that will prove difficult to break later on. Avoid these "sleep mistakes" from the start and save yourself the pain of having to undo them as your baby gets older.
1. Sleep On The Couch With Them
It's true, most babies will sleep better if you're snuggling with them on the couch and it's tempting just to lay down after a restless night. But according to Parents, sleeping on the couch with a baby greatly raises the risk of suffocation and SIDS. There are ways to safely co-sleep with your baby, but unfortunately, on the couch isn't one of them.
2. Ignore Their Sleep Cues And Put Them On Your Own Schedule
Babies have their own set of cues to let their parents know when they're getting tired. However, many new parents are tempted to put their baby on a strict sleep schedule or aren't aware of their sleeping cues. Baby Center noted that following your baby's natural rhythm and establishing a predictable bedtime routine is the best way to get them to sleep longer and better. Sure, sleep training will be helpful, but you should always work with your baby's natural temperament, instead of against it.
3. Let Them Stay Up Late Hoping It Will Help Them Sleep Better
This seems logical, but letting your baby stay up late with the hopes that they'll easily fall asleep and sleep all night long never fails to backfire. Now, according to the Baby Sleep Site, the occasional late night is probably fine, but if it becomes a regular habit, you'll have some aftermath to deal with. It's important that babies get enough sleep, and usually that means that they go to bed earlier in the night.
4. Put A Bottle In Bed With Them
This is a dangerous habit for a few reasons. According to Baby Center, letting your baby fall asleep with a bottle in their bed establishes a connection between sleeping and bottles that will eventually cause them to be unable to sleep without one — a tricky habit to break. Additionally, sleeping with a bottle has been shown to increase your baby's risk of tooth decay, so avoiding it is probably best, no matter how tempting.
5. Swaddle Them For Too Long
Swaddling saved my sanity on more than one occasion. However, despite it's effectiveness to soothe baby and help them sleep longer, Baby Center noted that it's time to stop swaddling when baby starts to roll over. Doing so can increase their SIDS risk if they happened to roll over while swaddled and sleeping.
6. Give Up On Your Nighttime Routine Too Soon
It's easy to rush through the day and finally make it to bedtime without much forethought or get frustrated when it doesn't seem to help, however, according to Parents, establishing a predictable, simple, calming routine each night with your baby will help them sleep better almost immediately.
7. Rely On Motion To Get Your Baby To Sleep
The aforementioned Baby Center article noted that there's nothing wrong with some rocking and snuggling before bed, but if you consistently rock your baby to sleep each night, they'll grow to rely on the motion to fall asleep at all, which could be a difficult habit to break later on when they're not so small and snuggly.