5 Ways Parents Sabotage Their Baby’s Sleep

Sleep-Sabotage

Your baby’s first year is typically marked by a blur of amazing milestones, and a healthy sleep routine is often the most difficult to master. Many parents are often surprised to find that they are often the cause behind their little one’s sleep difficulties. Today I’m going to share five ways parents unintentionally sabotage their little one’s restful sleep routine.

Don’t Be a Night Owl

With many parents working long hours, it can be tempting to keep little ones up late. Many parents will push back baby’s bedtime in order to spend a little more time with him/her, with some parents going so far as to wake their little one to fit in a snuggle. It can be tempting to push back bedtime, but you and your baby will be happier when you’re all well rested. Set an early bedtime and enforce it nightly.

Set a Routine…and stick to it

An integral part of your baby’s sleep patterns is teaching him/her when to sleep. By setting a sleep routine, your baby will know what to do and when to do it; this goes for naps and bedtime. Instead of hoping your baby will master the art of expecting the unexpected, set a sleep routine that leaves out the guesswork. Your routine can be as simple as setting bathtime for six o’clock each night, and running through a familiar BATH-BOTTLE/BREAST-BOOK-BED sequence. By six-thirty, your baby knows that it is time to sleep.

Help Your Baby To Peaceful Sleep
Help Your Baby To Peaceful Sleep

Don’t turn ON the lights!

Newborn and infant nights are marked with feedings and diaper changes, but those sleep interruptions don’t have to last an hour or more. The fewer stimuli you present during the night, the quicker your little one will fall back into a restful sleep.

No Midnight Dance Parties

It can be tempting to rock, bounce, walk, sway, and cajole your baby, in an effort to get him/her back to sleep in the middle of the night. Not only do some of these actions stimulate your baby into a more wakeful state, but you’re also sabotaging your little one’s ability to learn how to soothe him/herself back to sleep. Treat sleep like any other skill you practice with your baby during his/her first year; learning to sleep is a skill just as important as learning how to eat from a spoon, grasping objects, or even crawling. Save the dance parties for daylight hours.

Save the Helicopter for Flying

As tempting and instinctual as it is to rush to your infant’s crib at the sound of every mewl or whimper, try to give your little one time to soothe him/herself. Sleep is a skill, and babies need the time to learn how to effortlessly glide from one sleep cycle to the next. When parents rush in at the slightest peep, they are unintentionally disrupting a learning process [that adults take for granted]. When you hear your baby stir in the night, pause for a couple of minutes to allow your little one to soothe him/herself into the next sleep cycle.   As parents, we’re attuned to the needs of our children, and fostering healthy sleep habits is of the utmost importance. If your nights are disrupted, or bedtime is a battle, remember these five tips and get back on the road to restfulness.   Are you ‘0’ for ‘5’? Keep up the great work! Are you unintentionally sabotaging your little one’s sleep? A few adjustments will get you back on track.  Not sure where to start?  Contact me!   I want to hear from you!

Healthy Sleep Habits for The Toddlers – The Tornado Known as Katie

Encouraging healthy sleep habits in a toddler leads to a child who is curious, engaging and ready to take on the world because the are well rested and able to learn.  The world is their Oyster!  Speaking of well a well rested toddler, would you like to see the latest work of art from my youngest daughter?  I speak of the little 2.5 year old Toddler Tornado that we affectionately call Katie (or Catherine Grace) if she’s really reaching F5 territory. Well, if you glace below, you’ll see the absolutely lovely purple sharpie creation that dear sweet child left for me on one of my kitchen cabinets and part of the wall while I stepped away for no more than 2 minutes to quickly get myself dressed so we could start our day.  Apparently, it was 2 minutes too many and just enough time for Katie to procure said purple sharpie from goodness only knows where and scribbles with a flourish that Picasso would be proud of.

Katie's  Artwork

Beautiful isn’t it?  Katie was quite proud of it as well until she saw my reaction.  Mine was a Home Alone hands on either side of the face reaction while I was saying in quick succession, “Oh My Gosh!  OH. MY. GOSH!”  I’m  fairly certain that she thought I had lost my mind.  “Oh Katie what did you do?” I asked as I tried to reign in my emotions and not to sob like a baby cry.

Her response, now deflated of all confidence, “ I drawed for you.”  Well, obviously!  Rapid fire quick I started asking where did you find the marker…WHERE IS THE MARKER?  A clear panic in my voice as I thought what else she could have beautified.  Looking back, it wasn’t one of my best parenting moments.  But it was PURPLE PERMANENT MARKER!  And yes, you can get most of it off with rubbing alcohol and a little elbow grease, but alas, that cabinet and wall will need to be repainted.

 

It’s been a learning experience for all of us.  Now all markers have been gathered and stored on the top shelf of a kitchen cabinet.  Safe for only about a month or two max knowing Katie.   But lives are full of learning experiences aren’t they?  And while I have learned to never under estimate a highly intelligent and curious toddler, my dynamo of a toddler has learned quite a bit in her first 2.5 years.

Encouraging Healthy Sleep Habits: A New Beginning = A Second Chance

father holding newborn baby
father holding newborn baby

From the moment that my second daughter was born I vowed that I was going to do things differently and not fall into the painful, sleep deprived patterns that we found ourselves in with the birth of my first daughter whom we affectionately call Lizzy.  I’ve written about my sleep deprived experience with my first daughter in an earlier post (read all about it HERE) and how I found my way back to the land of the well rested.

So when Katie was born I knew I didn’t want to slide down that slippery slope again.  We were going to practice healthy sleep habits right from the start. Now that doesn’t mean that we jumped into sleep training a newborn.  That’s crazy talk!  But what it does mean is respecting Katie’s need for sleep and being sure to allow her the time to slowly learn how to self soothe and put herself to sleep unassisted.  As amazing as it may sound, often times I laid Katie down for her naps awake in her crib and gave her time to try and put herself to sleep.  And you know what…most of the time she was successful.

Of course, if ever she was having difficulty completing this task I would step in and help her along.  But from the first week of life (and after leaving the NICU at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia), we slowly introduced healthy sleeping and eating practices.  And, well, Katie thrived and grew fast.  During the day she took awesome naps and was happy and content.  At night, when she woke up to eat I made sure that I continued to foster healthy sleep and eating habits for a newborn and avoiding common nighttime feeding mistakes.  And slowly but surely over the course of the next 12 weeks,

Katie settled into a predictable nap time and bedtime routine and would drift off to sleep totally on her own.  Better yet, she also now was only waking once a night to feed.  Yay for longer nighttime stretches!

But that’s not to say that there weren’t some bumps along the way.  Of course with age, sleep migrates from that of a newborn to that of an infant and often that is when families will call me in a panic asking what happened to their awesome easy sleeper.

And our Katie was not immune to the sleep disruption during these changes. But that is a story for another day and I will continue with that part of the story in next week’s blog post. Until then…Sweet Dreams!