Having a baby is the best time in a parent’s life. However, it also comes with a lot of trial and error, especially in terms of sleep.
You’re learning how to be the best mom you can be, and it’s okay to make mistakes. What’s not okay, though, is to stick to them and harm your little one — and yourself too. A newborn with poor sleep is a nightmare for the whole family.
Lucky for you, this article contains a list of the most common mistakes that new parents make, so you can make sure you’re doing things right.
#1 Being Inconsistent
Inconsistency in sleep training or in establishing sleeping habits is the most common mistake of new parents. Many moms and dads don’t think that babies feel any difference between being sung to sleep, being put in a bouncer, and being allowed to co-sleep on parents’ bed.
But that’s not true.
First, babies do feel the change of the environment or sleeping area and can get confused. When that happens, putting them to sleep may turn into a challenge.
Second, when you fall asleep with your baby on the couch, armchair, or any other place after the feeding session, you put her at risk of being dropped or even smothered.
To avoid all of that, find the best time, place, and routine that works for your little one and stick to it religiously. A warm bath, feeding, and then sleep will do for most. And make sure you don’t fall asleep while feeding.
“A solid routine and familiar surroundings may help your baby learn to self-soothe herself and fall asleep without your assistance, which in turn will help you score more sleep for yourself.”
#2 Buying Borders and Bumpers for Your Baby’s Crib
Of course, buying the best crib mattress for your little one is a must.
But some parents go further and equip the cot with all sorts of bumpers and borders to make it look like a cute nest.
It’s easy to understand why.
You want to protect your baby from any sharp corners and injuries, especially when she learns to roll and crawl.
The thing is, using bumpers might be fatal for your baby.
Well, you’ve probably heard about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The most common cause of this syndrome is asphyxiation, and it turns out that crib bumpers can actually contribute to that. Models with the pillow-like design are the most dangerous, as the newborn can press the face against it and suffocate by breathing in the oxygen-depleted air.
“Crib bumpers are banned in Ohio, Chicago, and Maryland due to the safety hazard. In fact, your little one cannot get a severe injury when accidentally bumping into a crib rail. So, it’s better to keep her safe and do not use borders.”
#3 Manipulating with Bedtime
Another common sleep mistake among the new parents is either rushing or delaying bedtime for an infant.
The issue of rushing a baby to sleep is tied to the fact that parents often do not recognize the main signs of sleep readiness from their baby and won’t allow her to have some time to wind down.
To get your little one to sleep without tears and protesting, pay attention to the following signs:
- rubbing eyes
- looking away
The opposite situation, when parents intentionally delay the sleep time, is more common among working moms who want to spend more time with their child. Instead of the expected effect, they get a screaming baby who will need even more time to relax and fall asleep.
If you’re experiencing this scenario, it’s better to address the problem to your boss and ask to come home earlier, or work from home.
#4 Expecting the Baby to Sleep Throughout the Night
Although newborns typically sleep 16-17 hour a day, they cannot sleep through the entire night without waking up for two reasons:
- Their stomachs are tiny, so they need to eat every 2-3 hours, and their sleep-wake cycle is dependent on the time of feeding.
- Babies under three months don’t understand the concept of day and night.
Thus, even if you have an extremely calm newborn sleeper, she is unlikely to make it through the night at least for the first three months. After that, babies theoretically can sleep for 6 to 8 hours in a row if they have gained 10 to 12 pounds of weight.
“Note that even if your baby can sleep peacefully through the night after she has reached three months, it doesn’t mean that she will be a good sleeper forever.”
#5 Relying on Props
The modern world provides many devices and gadgets for easier parenting. The thing is, many young parents overestimate these devices or begin to rely on them too much.
The first problematic prop is a pacifier. Some babies become overly attached to it and can fall asleep only with a pacifier in their mouth. Thus, when you remove it for the night, and then the baby suddenly wakes up, she will undoubtedly scream for it.
It’s better not to use a pacifier at all, or go through a couple of rough nights and let your baby cry the need for this thing out and forever.
The other prop many parents love is a so-called cyber-nanny, which comes as a set of two video monitors allowing you to watch the nursery room while working at your laptop or cooking in the kitchen.
Some of these devices come with equipment that can check the infant’s vital signs, such as heartbeat and oxygen saturation levels. It usually comes in the form of wearables or sensors you need to put under the baby’s mattress.
Now, although these devices seem safe, they actually do more harm than good. First, they may cause false alarms if your baby is an active sleeper. There’s also the chance that they’ll mislead you by creating an illusion of safe sleeping surroundings.
As a result, you may get either over-anxious or over-confident. The former poses a risk of not getting enough sleep yourself, while the latter might make you go against the safety guidelines for newborn’s sleep.
About the Author
Edna Alfaro is a child sleep expert at Happysleepyhead. She knows how to deal with sleep issues of any kind, from teething pain and sleep regression to night terrors and sleepwalking.
Having a degree in Pedagogy, Edna had been working as a kindergarten teacher for seven years before she got her sleep expert certification. She also is a mom of three beautiful kids, so all her tips are based on the combo of personal experience and proven educational techniques.