What to Do If Your Baby Learned Bad Sleep Habits
We teach our babies sleep habits that make them dependent on us rather than ones that build confidence and self-calming ability. The most common baby sleep habits that lead to poor slumber are bed-sharing and being put in bed asleep.
For example, the Sleep in America poll found that:
- 60% of infants are usually rocked to sleep (which is wonderful for newborns but can become a problem later on).
- 75% of infants fall asleep every night nursing or drinking a bottle.
- Many infants bed-share, which makes it easy for them to insist that their parents soothe them back to sleep—each time they awaken.
- As previously mentioned, only a third of parents use independence-building sleep cues like white noise or loveys every night.
Doctors in Rhode Island found that 3- and 8-month-old infants fell asleep easily—at bedtime and after nighttime awakenings—if they used loveys and pacifiers. The doctors also reported that all the poorly sleeping 8-month-olds—about 1 in 3 infants—were put into their cribs already asleep…and none routinely received a lovey!
Ditching Bad Sleep Habits Is Good for Baby—And Good for You!
Being your baby’s sleep aid is fun and cuddly, and I’m all in favor for it as long as you’re happy with it always sleep your baby in a safe location. But if you’re tired and frustrated, this is the right moment to help your infant learn some new habits. Here are clues that it’s time for a change:
- You’re exhausted: You’re overeating; short-tempered with your toddler or husband; spacing out at work; driving dangerously because you’re so tired; feeling depressed; or considering smoking cigarettes again.
- You’re frustrated: You don’t know what to do about your infant’s sleep resistance, night waking, dependence on bed-sharing and frequent night nursing. And you are bickering a lot with your spouse.
- Your child’s unhappy: She’s extra cranky; cries at everything; has no patience; seems overtired; gets super irritable at bedtime; or wakes crying during the night.
If you’re seeing these trouble signs, it’s time to swap your problematic sleep cues for ones that boost sleep and nurture your tot’s calm, confidence and competence. Don’t get me wrong…you should give your little lovebug tons of holding, rocking, patting and suckling. But to avoid sleep problems later, you need to focus on sleep cues and routines now that will teach her to self-soothe.
The best way to start removing a dependence on being held and rocked to doze off is to use the wake-and-sleep technique every time you put your little one down to sleep.
A short summary of how to do it. Before laying your baby down for a nap or the night – wrap your child in a snug swaddle, put on white noise as loud as a shower, offer a feeding and let him drift to sleep in your arms. BUT, right after you slide him into bed, rouse him until his eyes open (scratch this toes, tickle his neck, etc). After a few seconds, he’ll fall back to sleep
If he cries, he may be uncomfortable or hungry for a meal, so pick him up to feed and settle him, but be sure to wake him again slightly right after laying him back down.
Yes, this technique may sound odd, but trust me: Those few seconds of drowsy waking are helping your child learn how to sleep through the night!
Did you know? Happiest Baby’s SNOO uses the same scientific principals as the wake-and-sleep technique. SNOO establishes great sleep habits from day one and sleep trains babies automatically—most never have to cry it out. Learn more.