Is your baby hard to settle at bedtime? Are you struggling to get sleep at night because your baby is constantly waking? Are you wondering what you could be possibly doing wrong with your baby’s schedule? We often make mistakes that affect our baby’s sleep without even realizing it.
Having a baby that is constantly awake and fussy can be one of the most difficult challenges of having your new baby home. When friends and family tell you about the lack of sleep that you’ll experience, reality really doesn’t quite hit hard until you find yourself in that very place. Am I right? Well, don’t worry, I’m going to share with you 12 mistakes that you could be making that may could be ruining your baby’s sleep.
#1 – Not Establishing A Bedtime Routine
Bedtime routines are crazy important. This is definitely number one on my list. Back when I was younger, we always had a routine for bedtime that consisted of dinner, bath, books and then bed. Nowadays, lots of parents in the midst of their busy schedules are opting out of a proper bedtime routine and rush to put their babies down. This can be a big problem because like us, babies need consistency and a routine to follow so they can understand what’s happening. When I put my daughter in her sleep sack, she already knows that it’s time for bed.
#2 – Giving Up Too Quickly
It can get pretty frustrating when trying to get your baby settled into a routine for bedtime. It can also get pretty frustrating when trying to get your baby to sleep in their crib at bedtime. Nothing worth having comes easy, just don’t give up! You’ll be so proud when your baby is able to get settled in for bed and you start to have evenings to yourself. It takes time! It could be a couple days, or a week, but remain consistent and don’t give up!
#3 – Skipping The Bedtime Routine (Even For A Night)
This one can be easy to do and tough to avoid. When you get home late, how often do you wonder if you can just skip your baby’s bath tonight? Are you thinking you’re just too tired to follow through tonight? Well Mama, keep pushing! Don’t skip baby’s routine! I definitely know what it’s like to be drained, but just remember it doesn’t take very long and having your baby settle into sleep faster is more worth it than skipping the routine and end up with your baby crying him or herself to sleep. Even if it’s “just one night,” don’t skip your baby’s bedtime routine!
#4 – Trying To Get Baby To Settle At Night When Everyone Else Isn’t
Let me just say, are you able to fall asleep if there was all kinds of noise around you? If you put baby to sleep for the night, then the house needs to settle too. You want to “set the mood” for bedtime with your baby and it all starts with dim lights and a quieter home. If baby thinks it’s playtime, you’re going to have a much harder time getting baby down for sleep.
#5 – Conflicting Sleep Schedules
Sometimes having a steady sleep schedule for your baby can be tough, especially if you co-parent and your baby spends time between the home of two parents. If that’s the case for you, make sure that both of you are on the same page with the baby’s sleep schedule so that no matter where baby is, the sleep schedule will stay the same.
#6 – Not Understanding How Much Sleep A Baby Needs At Each Age
It’s very important to understand how much sleep your baby should be getting at each age. If you don’t know how much sleep your baby should be getting at his/her current age, that could be a huge problem as this changes as your baby grows older.
#7 – Blocking Out Noise
This can be a mistake because if you always block out noise, and then there comes a time when you can’t, your baby will have trouble sleeping. Oftentimes it’s best to still allow some noise during the day as baby sleeps. For example, it’s ok to still watch tv nearby, or run the washer/dryer, or even answer a phone call. Once baby gets used to the noise, he/she will sleep straight through it. What you don’t want is a home so quiet that baby wakes at the sound of any and everything.
I initially made this mistake when my daughter first came home from the hospital because I often watch TV shows that are recorded and saved to my DVR, so I pause it when I get sleepy and decide to take a nap. Everytime I decided to take a nap when my daughter also was napping, I would pause the TV and the house would be dead silent, then for months after, she’d wake at the slightest sound. To get around this, I started having her sleep with the sound machine which drowned out other noise, but kept her from sleeping in pure silence.
#8 – Waiting Too Long Between Naps
I hear many people often say that they keep their babies up longer so that they will sleep longer. That is a mistake. As ironic as it seems keeping a baby up longer when they are already tired just makes him/her even more cranky and harder to settle. It’s important to watch your baby for “sleep cues” and when you first notice them prepare your baby for a nap. Babies actually go to sleep much easier when we take action following a baby showing signs of being tired.
#9 – Having One Parent Always Handle Bedtime
Are you wondering why this would be a problem? Well, it’s because when one person always handles bedtime, it becomes part of the baby’s routine. When that happens, the routine changes when another parent steps in to handle bedtime and it will throw off your baby. Oftentimes baby won’t settle for a while, or it’ll take the parent that normally handles this process to step back in. If you want to avoid your baby being attached to one parent, it’s important to tag team bedtime together if you can.
#10 – Not Letting Baby Learn To Self-Soothe
If your baby cries when you lay him/her down, take a moment to step back and see what happens. Listen to your baby’s cry; you’ll be able to tell when you should step in. If you rush in at the first peep your baby makes, they won’t be able to learn to self-soothe. Just like adults stir awake throughout the night to turnover and get more comfortable, babies do the same and can oftentimes settle themselves. Take a moment before rushing in, so your baby can get in the habit of soothing himself/herself back to sleep.
#11 – Switching To A New Bed Too Early Or Without Warning
I think we sometimes can get more excited to move the kids to the next bed that we don’t think about the affect it may have on them. The crib is a baby’s safe space. When you alter or change it, they notice and it may affect the way they sleep. I remember when I first lowered my daughter’s crib down to the next notch, she didn’t sleep good for about a week. She woke up often throughout the night all week long, and once she got used to it, she was back to normal. It’s seems so subtle, but not subtle enough that she missed it. At first I thought she was going through a sleep regression, but nope, it was her mattress that was keeping her awake! Who knew?!
We also have to be mindful of switching baby from crib to toddler bed too early. Make sure you’re making these changes at an age appropriate level.
#12 – Listening Too Much To The People Around You
Oh, talk about saving the best for last, ha. Oh. my. goodness. I don’t think anyone could’ve prepared me for the amount of people that would be trying to tell me what to do with my daughter. Now, this is obviously completely fine when you ask and need a little guidance, but if you feel like you know what your baby needs and someone is telling you different, please do what you think is best and try not to get too caught up in what someone else is saying. Oftentimes, Mama knows best, and nobody knows your baby better than you.
Tackling sleep can be one of the biggest challenges of having a new baby home, but oftentimes we make “mistakes” with our baby’s sleep that we don’t even realize that we’re making! If you were making your way through this list, thinking there were a few (or even one) thing that you could change, it’ll probably make a difference bigger than you realize.
Make sure you have the following in place:
- A bedtime routine established;
- The strong will to NOT GIVE UP;
- A home that settles for bed (dim lights, quiet home, turning on white noise);
- Knowledge about how much sleep your baby should be getting at his/her current age;
- And, don’t let the people around you get in your head too much! Ultimately, you know what’s best for your baby!