Having a baby is one of the most exciting, rewarding and yet daunting things most people have ever done. It is a decision to be responsible for the well-being of another human being, albeit small! You’re bursting with excitement, worry and hope, and all these emotions bubble into some well-intentioned mistakes that are common among new parents but are still existent among seasoned veterans!
This baby sleep mistakes new parents make can lead to the baby keeping you awake at night, not sleeping and not letting you sleep! Nevertheless, do not be discouraged, these mistakes are easily remedied by taking a different route.
Some of the baby sleep mistakes new parents make are:
#1. Over Stimulating the baby
As a new parent, you are proud of this little human who is your pride and joy and you want to experience anything and everything with the baby. Although a beautiful sentiment, it may affect the baby’s sleep. You expose your baby to meeting many people during the day, hearing a lot of varied sounds and all that may keep the baby alert at bedtime.
#2. The Notion of Comfort
As they eagerly bring together and set up the baby’s room, most new parents make a very vital mistake. They buy a bunch of fluffy toys with which they stuff the crib which is fitted with a super soft mattress. It is more advisable that the crib is totally free of toys. This is to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
This occurs when your baby turns in his sleep and puts his face against a toy or other stuffs can block their nose from breathing. This cuts off the baby’s oxygen, which then leads to asphyxiation. Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that the baby’s mattress have a firm and flat surface. Therefore, adhere to this to reduce the risk of strangulation and entanglement.
#3. Just Winging it!
Some new parents start off under the notion that the baby will set up the routine, and then they follow. This is not just wrong but will affect your sleep and the ability of your baby to develop a stable circadian rhythm. It is better to have an actual bedtime routine and to follow it accordingly.
Also, let it not be a long-drawn-out process that only ends up stressing – out you and your baby instead of getting him in a sleepy mood.
#4. Lack of consistency
Often, new parents aren’t able to stick to a sleep routine when they finally have one. This only results in your baby having an inability to associate anything to bedtime. Do not switch schedules and routines on a baby or just dump a routine along the way when he finally falls naturally into it. This is due to the fact that you will only get away with it while the baby is still young. As the baby grows, his resistance to your lack of consistency will also increase.
#5. Taking the shortcut
This ranges from new parents forming the habit of relying on things like a pacifier, overfeeding and feeding close to bedtime to get the baby to fall asleep. This is sure to work against you because the baby also relies on these props before falling asleep, using them as a crutch. Reliance on props can also occur when you make the habit of waking the baby to feed. Let the babies sleep! They’ll surely wake up if they’re hungry.
#6. Inappropriate bedtime
Some new parents have bought into the myth that making your baby more tired by continually postponing bedtime will help the baby sleep sound. This is problematic on several levels, one of them being that it doesn’t work. It only makes the baby stay awake longer than he should, which will result in stress. Second, it makes the baby develop an unhealthy sleeping habit which may persist as the baby grows up.
#7. Swaddle Crisis!
New parents also face the problem of swaddling properly; when to swaddle and whether or not it is good for the baby. To answer that, swaddling helps the baby fall asleep because it mimics womb conditions and makes the baby feel safe and secure. It also restricts excessive hand movement which may startle the baby and make him wake up more often. To swaddle, you need a soft blanket that you can use to secure the baby’s hands and legs to help the baby settle down and sleep.
#8. Sleep throughout the night
Even as adults, we do not sleep throughout the night. We wake up, toss around here and there and then fall back to sleep. Do not expect that your baby will sleep through the night. They may not. However, use that time to teach the baby how to fall back to sleep on his own rather than picking them up and sliding back into using a prop.
#9. Pick up at every sound
New parents are eager to make their babies feel safe. They go into parenting with the anxiety that each time the baby cries, something is wrong that needs fixing. Although this may sometimes hold water and your baby may need a change of diapers or a feeding session. You don’t have to always pick your baby up. The baby may just be trying to fall back to sleep or may just be fluctuating within the different sleep phases; REM and non-REM sleep. REM sleep comprises rapid eye and body movement, faster breathing and pulse and it is also when we have more dreams. Therefore, your baby’s cry isn’t always a cause of alarm, it may just be REM sleep.
#10. Prolonged sleeping in the car seat
Sometimes when you go for a short road trip or on your way to work or to drop off the baby at daycare, you may allow the baby to fall asleep and stay asleep in the car seat. This is ill-advised because the baby may at some point fall forward, which may result in Positional Asphyxiation or Positional Plagiocephaly also called Flat-head Syndrome. Therefore, use the car seat, but use it wisely.
Above are 10 common baby sleep mistakes new parents make. Your anxiety is natural, but it shouldn’t be crippling. It shouldn’t make you miss out on the pleasures of those first few years, and it shouldn’t be allowed to harm you or your baby. What your baby needs the most is your absolute love and care, so make corrections and keep moving forward.