Protect your sleep by protecting your little ones’. There’s a reason you’ve heard the saying “sleep like a baby.” Here are five common things parents say to MeTime provider, sleep trainer, and founder of a-SHH-ley’s Gentle Sleep Solutions, Ashley Kite, and her tips for making sure you’re both sleeping like babies.
#1: “My baby is making noise/grunting/rolling around, so I should go in to comfort him/her.”
Not necessarily true. Young babies, especially under the age of six months don’t have distinct sleep stages like adults do. Instead, they exhibit “active” & “quiet” sleep. It’s not until they’re six months old that distinct non-REM stages occur. So, unless your child is screaming hysterically indicating something is truly wrong and unable to fall back to sleep independently, going in can actually disrupt their natural sleep process.
#2: “I don’t want my child to get spooked, so I’ll leave a night light on for him/her.”
Leaving lights on, even on a very dim setting, can completely disrupt a child’s sleep habits. Because babies spend more time in light sleep for the first few months than they do as they age, they are easily aroused. Therefore, light can delay or prevent deep sleep altogether. It can also become a dependency later on.
#3: “My child didn’t sleep well last night and/or got up early, so I should let him/her take longer naps.”
Unfortunately, this will only have adverse effects in the long run. No single nap should exceed 2 hours, and daytime sleep as a whole should also be capped, according to age. However, if the child is sick, this is a little bit different story. In general, if a child is sleeping longer than the age-appropriate daytime sleep recommendations, it will steal nighttime sleep and create poor habits down the road.
#4: “My child has been a good sleeper since day one. (S)he is now not sleeping as well. Something must be wrong.”
This is also not necessarily true. As kids age and develop new skills, sleep regressions are very typical. Almost every child develops them at one point or another, oftentimes at 3-4 months and 7-9 months old. Keep the same routine and your child is likely to get through this phase more quickly.
#5: “My child needs [insert item here] to fall asleep.”
We all have sleep habits. Maybe you sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs, or you need the covers on -- or wrapped tightly around you. At some point in your life, this habit was set. For most of us, those habits don’t get in the way of us falling asleep, but rather help us. But pacifiers and a favorite blankie can often be a crutch for a child, keeping them from sleeping unless very certain conditions are met -- and leaving you scrambling to find said item at bedtime. When your child sleep trains without these items, they’re learning an important skill they can use their whole lives.
Contact Ashley Kite at a-SHH-ley’s Gentle Sleep Solutions via email.