Welcome to the second installment in my 5 part baby sleep myth series. Last time we talked about why keeping your baby up all day WILL NOT help them sleep better at night. Today let’s talk about good vs. bad sleepers. I just want to go on record and say that I don’t like labels. Labels have a tendency to make some people feel really good about themselves while making others feel real yucky inside. And when it comes to babies and sleep, these labels can make parents feel inadequate. Even guilty. Some even start playing the blame game and point the finger at themselves saying their the reason why their baby isn’t sleeping.
I want to stop the madness right now and say…IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. Nobody talks about baby sleep. Everyone just walks around like zombies never discussing the elephant in the room. It’s an unspoken code and some even view it as a rite of passage into parenthood. I created this 5 part series just for you. I don’t believe in blame. I believe in results. I don’t believe in labeling our children. I believe in encouraging, empowering and uplifting our children to be their best. In this 5 part series, I’ll bust common baby sleep myths and provide you with the REAL DEAL so your family can enjoy more sleep.
Myth #2: Some babies are just good sleepers and others aren’t
Real Deal: There is some truth to this. Some babies do have an easier time falling asleep than others. Studies have shown that those with more a spirited temperament will need more help learning to sleep independently. However, no matter what you’ve been told, ALL babies can be taught to sleep independently. As newborns, kids have no concept of day and night. They will need assistance getting into the routine of being active when the sun is out and sleeping once the sun goes down. During this time of transition, many babies get “stuck” in a 45 minute cycle of short or “cat” naps. They go down, fall asleep, wake up 45 minutes later and are unable to fall back asleep. This is totally normal behavior in newborns (babies 0-3mths) and here’s what the cycle looks like:
Some babies naturally learn to break out of this cycle and begin falling asleep longer all by themselves. Many however will need your help lengthening these naps to get the proper amount of sleep. Without the proper intervention, many of these babies become toddlers with sleep challenges. I am a huge believer in prevention. I encourage my clients to lay a healthy foundation of sleep and encourage their babies to get more sleep easily. Here’s what I recommend:
Lay the foundation for healthy sleep
- Make sure your baby’s room is completely dark, has a sound machine set on white noise (skip the waves, birds, etc.) which runs continuously and the room is at a cool temperature of 68-72°F.
- Swaddle your little one for all sleep until they begin to flip over typically around 5 months. Once they become mobile, transition your baby to a sleep sack for warmth and comfort.
- Get rid of any crib entertainment. While mobiles and lit music machines are super cute, many provide over stimulation for your baby and keep them up all night.
- Place your baby to sleep on their back for all sleep.
Help your baby learn to fall asleep without your assistance
During myth #1, I had you focus on your baby sleep cues. Now I’d like you to focus on establishing (or maintaining) a sleep routine. This routine will serve to prepare your baby for nap and/or bedtime. Now that you’ve become a whiz at knowing WHEN your baby is ready for sleep, I want you to spend the next 7 days PREPARING your baby for sleep. Once you see the sleep cues, I want you to begin a series of steps (i.e. routine) so your baby knows you’ll be putting him down soon. Whether you read books or sing songs, begin to do at least 2 steps BEFORE your baby goes down to help him relax and drift easily to sleep.
Two myths down, 3 more to go. Tune in next time when we’ll discuss Rice Cereal: Does My Baby Need It To Sleep Better?