Putting babies or small children to sleep can be quite challenging and most parents are clueless about how to handle this huge task. Some parents might unwittingly be contributing to the problem. Read on to find out the most common sleep mistakes that parents make.
Common Sleep Mistakes That Parents Make
#1. Skipping the bedtime routine
Children are creatures of habit and find great comfort in routine. To ensure your child gets in the mood for sleep, it is important to form and follow a bedtime routine
to help the child wind down at the end of the day.
- Begin the bedtime routine approximately an hour before the child’s actual bedtime.
- It could include taking a calming bath, changing into pyjamas and drinking a warm glass of milk to relax the child.
- Dim the light of the child’s room and draw the curtains to signal the end of the day.
- You can read a story or sing a lullaby to bond with your child.
- Settle him into bed when drowsy, but still awake. This will help them form the habit of putting themselves to bed once they are older.
#2. Letting the child stay up late
Though it might seem like a child who stays up late will sleep-in and let the parents sleep in too, it is not a good idea and one of the worst sleep mistakes for babies and little children to stay up late.
- Unlike adults, small children require 10-12 hours of sleep every night.
- Not putting a child to bed on time robs them of precious hours of restful night-time sleep which could make them irritable or tired.
- Babies and small children will wake up at around the same time in the mornings irrespective of the time they have gone to bed because of their internal body clocks.
- Overtired babies, in fact, find it harder to fall asleep and to stay asleep. They might wake up several times in the night, and earlier in the morning than usual.
- Irrespective of your schedule, try to stick to the child’s sleep schedule to ensure he gets sufficient and good-quality sleep.
#3. Over-Stimulating the child near bedtime
The mobile or iPad might act as an efficient surrogate nanny, doing an effective job of keeping the child quiet and holding his attention, but they can actually overstimulate the child’s brain. Rotating mobile toys with sounds and lights also have the same effect and can actually keep your baby’s brain working and keep them awake.
- Take away all technological and other distractions or entertainment at least an hour before bedtime in preparations for sleep.
- Follow the child’s bedtime routine to soothe him and signal bedtime.
- Babies can be put to sleep in a dark room as they are too young to have developed a fear of the dark.
- A fan or white noise machine will effectively drown the sounds from the rest of the house.
#4. Relying on swinging or carrying baby in your arms to put him to sleep
Early on parents notice that babies tend to fall asleep quickly in cars because of their soothing rocking motions. Many parents also love to rock their newborn baby in their arms and put them to sleep. While this may work in the short run, this approach has its share of pitfalls.
- Babies grow dependent on the habit of being rocked to fall asleep and would require it to fall back asleep every time they wake up at night.
- Rocking the baby to sleep gets increasingly difficult for parents as the baby gets older and heavier.
- Research indicates if your child is falling asleep in motion, like in a rocking chair or in a car, he probably is not getting the high quality, deep, restorative sleep which he requires.
- You could use rocking for calming the baby but not for putting him to sleep. Once the child has calmed, put him to sleep in the crib or bed.
Also Read: 7 Benefits of Sleep for your child's Growth & development
#5. Relying on the bottle for the child to fall asleep
Though it is comforting for the child to go to sleep with the bottle and it can save the parents time and effort, this can be a terrible habit for the child to form and is considered to be one of the most common sleep mistakes that parents make. The child will become dependent on the bottle and will not be able to fall asleep without it.
- It will become very difficult to wean the child away from the bottle. Even if the parents do manage to wean him off from daytime bottle-feedings, giving up the bottle at night will be very difficult.
- A baby who falls asleep while feeding or with a bottle full of milk in his mouth is at an increased risk of choking on the milk in his sleep.
- A baby who sleeps with a bottle of formula is at a greater risk of tooth decay caused by the slowly dripping, sweet formula.
- The risk of ear infections increases if your baby drinks milk while lying flat as the milk can flow into his ear cavity.
#6. Picking up the baby as soon as he starts crying
When children start crying at night, as they routinely tend to do, parents rush to check their diaper, feed them or soothe them by carrying them. This might soothe the child but will not help them learn how to soothe themselves back to sleep.
- Just like adults, babies and children tend to wake up several times at night.
- If your child starts crying at night, wait for a few minutes before rushing over to the child.
- Since children are not born with the ability to soothe themselves, they learn this over time by sucking or gnawing over their hands till they simply falling back asleep in the dark.
Also Read: Baby Sleep Timeline - Newborn to 12 months
There are several difficulties parents of babies face, and getting a child to fall asleep on time, by himself is right on top. The important part is to make a sleep plan and stick to it. Once you start sleep training your child, be consistent in following it. Even though it will be time-consuming in the beginning and it can be tempting to revert back to old tricks, it will actually be worth it in the long run and you can get rid of these common sleep mistakes that parents make.
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