First of all, everyone uses sleep cues, not just infants. I personally hate the foam pillows used in most hotels, but give me a nice feather pillow—and some rain on the roof white noise—and I’m out like a light. The point is…we’re all creatures of habit.
During the first few months of your baby’s life, the best infant sleep cues are those that mimic the calming sensations of the womb. Things such as swaddling, shushing and sucking—all part of the 5 S’s method—can help get your baby to sleep more easily.
However, some parents worry that using comforting cuddling or white noise CDs will risk creating an addiction or “bad” habits. So, what distinguishes good sleep cues from bad sleep crutches?
It’s simple: Good cues help your baby fall asleep fast—and stay asleep longer—yet they’re easy to use, require little effort on your part and are easy to wean.
Bad sleep cues, on the other hand, may get your baby to sleep but they’re inconvenient, very demanding on you and difficult to wean.
For example, if your baby needs 30 minutes of bottom-patting each time he rouses or demands that only Mommy can put him to sleep (and screams if Daddy tries to step in), I think it’s pretty clear you’re looking at a bad sleep cue.