Ok moms, how many of you have struggled your child’s sleep (or lack there of) at one point or another? I’m assuming every mom’s hand is raised because no child is born a prefect sleeper, although some babies are naturally better sleepers than others. I lucked out because, for the most part, Hazel really has been a great sleeper. I mean, of course she woke up often at night when she was a newborn because hello, she was a newborn, but other than the normal newborn stuff, she slept well…until she got her pavlik harness off. And then I realized that the pavlik harness had kind of been her crutch for sleeping and without it, it brought to light some sleep mistakes I was making. So I thought I’d share with you my mistakes and how I saw such a big improvement in her sleep once I corrected these mistakes.
Disclaimer: This is just what worked/didn’t work for Hazel and my little family. Every child and family is different so ultimately, you have to find what works best for you and your family. If you’re doing some of these things that I say not to do, and you’re totally happy with your babies sleep life, then keep on keeping on. But if you’re doing some of these things and you’re unhappy with your sleep, them maybe try my tips and see if they help. But remember, you’re the mom and your mom gut knows what’s best for your child 🙂
1. Not Having A Good Routine: Having both a bed time and nap time routine is key! The series of actions you go through in your routine will cue your baby that it’s sleepy time. We’ve always had a good bed time routine so Hazel still slept well at night, even after she got her harness off, but I didn’t have a nap time routine at all. Putting on Hazel’s harness was the extent of our nap time routine and when that was gone, we were lost. Once we established a nap time routine, naps came much easier.
2. Waiting For Your Baby To Be Fully Asleep Before Putting Him/Her In The Crib: I think we are all guilty of this and I’ll admit, I will still occasionally rock Hazel until she’s fully asleep because sleeping babies are so sweet. But when you’re trying to teach your baby that they don’t need to be in your arms to sleep, it’s really important that they don’t fall asleep in your arms because then, when they wake up, they’ll wonder where you are and they won’t go back to sleep. Instead, put your baby in the crib when he/she is drowsy but not asleep. If you’re like me and give your baby a bottle right before sleep, be sure to lay your baby down the second he/she finishes the bottle. That way you know he/she is still slightly awake. And it also teaches your baby that they don’t need a bottle to go to sleep.
3. Not Reading Your Baby’s Sleep Cues: Your baby will tell you that he/she is sleepy by yawns, eye rubs, or just plain ol’ fussiness. When you see these sleep cue’s, drop what you’re doing and start your sleep routine. (This is especially important when you’re developing a sleep routine. Now that Hazel and I aren’t struggling with sleep, I can finish up whatever I’m doing before rushing off to get her to sleep). Your baby’s brain produces a sleep chemical and you want to get your baby to sleep while the brain is telling your baby it’s time to sleep. If you wait too long, the brain will start to produce a chemical to give your baby more energy to stay awake. Take advantage of when you have the brain is helping you out.
4. Not Having A Good Sleep Environment: TV, loud noises, inconsistent sleep locations, etc. These all make for a bad sleep environment. Sleepy time should be calm and quiet. So you need a calm and quite location as well as calm and quite behavior. Sleepy time isn’t the time for trying to get your baby to laugh and giggle (although, we’re still guilty of sleepy time giggles because Hazel gets so goofy when she’s tired. It’s tough to resist making her laugh). If possible, try to have your nap time location the same as your night time sleep location. We go in Hazel’s bedroom where there’s nothing to disrupt us for her naps and at night.
5. Picking Up Your Baby As Soon As He/She Starts Crying: This is a tough one for moms because nobody likes to hear their baby cry. I know some moms just can’t do the “cry it out method” where you let your baby cry for 5 minutes before going in to check on/soothe him/her, then wait 10 minutes, then 15, etc. But babies are smarter than you think and if they know you’ll come pick them up as soon as they start crying, then that’s just what they’ll do. So try to figure out some sort of method that works for you and your baby. Maybe rub your baby’s head or sit in the same room as your baby so he/she knows you’re close by. But just don’t pick your baby up. I had no problem, emotionally, with the “cry it out method”, other than that fact that Hazel would just get more energy as she cried and sometimes she’d just stop crying and would be totally happy and awake, so it didn’t really work for us. But I also knew that I couldn’t pick her up and rock her to sleep every time she cried or she’d continue to cry every time I set her down. So what we ended up doing was I’d make her stay in her crib for 30 minutes (I’d either go in and soothe her every 5min, 10min, etc, or I’d stay in her room too), and after 30 minutes of her being awake, whether she was crying or happy, I’d take out and we’d go play and try again in an hour. Eventually, she was tired enough and would fall asleep on her own.
6. Not Being Consistent: Consistency is key! When developing a new routine, it can take a few days to see results so just be consistent and don’t give up, mama! You can do this!
I hope you all found that helpful and can maybe learn from some of my mistakes. Let me know if you’d like to know more about our sleep time routine and I’d be happy to share 🙂 Happy sleeping!