It’s natural for first time parents to make mistakes when it comes to sleep time for their baby. We all go through it and later wonder, “why did I do that?”. When it comes to putting your baby down to sleep, there are a few common mistakes that can be made. Some are minor while others very serious as they are a safety issue. Here are the five most frequent mistakes that parents can make regarding their child’s sleep schedule.
Putting an infant or newborn to sleep with a loose blanket lying over them. This is a HUGE mistake. Do not make it. As the baby moves about at night, the child could actually end up suffocating themselves with the blanket. Do not put anything else into the crib with an infant, other than a fitted sheet on their crib mattress. Instead, it is recommended to use sleep sacks. A sleep sack is a blanket that the baby actually wears. It is fitted to the baby, so it can not cover their face and get in the way of their breathing. The sleep sack can actually help babies sleep. It is a soft, cuddly wearable blanket that stays on them all night long, helping them to regulate their body temperature and sleep through the night.
New parents often make the mistake of putting their infant to sleep on their side or stomach. Because of SIDS, parents are recommended to put their baby to sleep on their backs. Even though many parents think their babies will sleep better on their sides or stomachs, it is not recommended. Many parents worry that their baby will choke on spit up if they are on their back, this is not true.
Parents can also make the mistake of putting their babies to bed too late at night. They mistakenly believe that keeping their baby awake late will help their baby sleep through the night and later into the morning. This is not true. In fact, in many cases it will be quite the opposite: the baby will sleep worse because they are over tired when going to bed.
Another mistake is to make the baby dependent on motion to fall asleep. Ever notice that your baby often falls asleep when you’re driving to the grocery store or running errands around town? If you want your child to sleep soundly in their crib, and eventually start to sleep through the night, habitually using motion or rocking to them to them to sleep is a bad idea as they can become dependent on that motion to both fall asleep and remain asleep. Babies should eventually be able to put themselves to sleep without motion. This way they will sleep more soundly at night.
Finally, not having a bedtime routine before they go to sleep is typical for new parents. Parents should establish a routine before the baby goes to bed. Giving your baby sleep cues before they go to sleep helps them recognize that it is bedtime. Some ideas for establishing a routine are:
- Brushing teeth
- Reading a book
- Singing songs
- Rocking in a chair for a few moments
Get into the habit of incorporating some of these at night before bedtime and you will find that your child will recognize when it is bedtime and then have a better, more restful night of sleep. If new parents can learn to avoid these mistakes early on, their babies will develop a solid, healthy sleeping pattern.