Some other common sleep props are:
- Rocking or bouncing
- Carrying your baby around in a baby carrier
- Driving around in the car
- Baby swings
- Lying down with your baby until they fall asleep
The problem with these props is that your child is dependent on them to fall asleep. So, when they wake in the night, they cannot put themselves back to sleep as they need their ‘prop’ to be able to do so.
Before your baby was born, they had a built-in sleep prop – YOU.
Your constant movement throughout the day helped your little one to sleep. Then come night-time when you were ready to sleep your baby probably started to move A LOT like they were having a full-on party in there.
Once your baby was born, they no longer had their built-in sleep prop. Being able to fall asleep independently and stay asleep is a learned skill. When we innocently rock, feed, pat our baby to sleep, we are not allowing them the opportunity to learn how to fall asleep on their own.
I am not suggesting that a newborn baby is left to cry. Newborns require our help to fall asleep; they need to be fed regularly and are only capable of sleeping for short periods. However, it is never too early to gently start to teach your baby how to fall asleep independently by putting them down drowsy but awake as often as you can. Putting your baby down drowsy will allow them to learn the skill of falling asleep on their own.
As your baby gets older and no longer developmentally requires night feeds (around six months of age) your baby can sleep through the night.
So, if your baby is older than six months of age and you answer yes to any of the questions below it may be time to ditch those sleep props and help teach your baby to fall asleep independently.
- My child will ONLY fall asleep when nursing or is bottle feeding?
- My child needs a soother, pacifier, or dummy to get to sleep?
- I am waking up with my child one, two, three (or more) times each night?
- My child needs to be rocked, bounced, or taken for a car ride to nap or sleep?
The first few nights of putting your baby or young child down to sleep without the aid of a sleep prop can be challenging. Your baby will likely fuss and cry as they will protest the changes and because they have not yet figured out how to get themselves to sleep. However, if you are consistent, it will not take your little one long to figure it out, and they will soon be sleeping for longer stretches and then eventually through the night.
Remember getting a good night’s sleep is vital for your child, yourself and the whole family.
“People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one.” – Leo J. Burk