The top baby sleep mistakes that parents make
Parenting is really tough, and we all know that. I often say to the families that I work with that it’s the toughest job we will EVER do. Right?
Our children didn’t come with a manual and as parents it’s up to us to figure out how everything works. I mean, I remember totally “winging it” when my daughter was born and we are all do that, don’t we? Sometimes we get it right and other times we totally mess it up! This is NORMAL! Mistakes happen in every other aspect of life, so it’s bound to happen in the realm of parenting, isn’t it?! Absolutely.
But what happens when we do something, we believe to be right only to then have it totally backfire on us?
As an experienced baby and child sleep expert and consultant, I am often contacted by parents pleading for help for this exact reason! They implemented something at home in the hope that it would help their child sleep better and longer and instead it did the exact opposite. They often say to me “well this worked for my friend’s baby so I thought I would try it” …
So here goes. I thought I would share 3 of those common mistakes around child sleep so you can try to avoid them.
SLEEP MISTAKE NUMBER 1
Putting your child to bed later to encourage them to sleep in later in the morning
It seems natural right? Like adults, if the kids go to bed later, they will naturally sleep in later in the morning.
Nope, nope, nope. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. This almost always backfires. And here is why…
Children are creatures of habit. If they always wake up at 6am, they’re probably going to wake up at 6am regardless of whether they went to bed at 7pm or 10pm because that is just how they work.
OR, in more extreme cases of over-tiredness at bedtime, some little ones will wake up earlier than normal. Cue the 5am wake up. Not only do over tired children have a harder time falling asleep at night, but they also have a harder time transitioning through sleep cycles. As the night goes on and turns into early morning the sleep cycles become lighter and an over-tired child is more likely to wake during the transition and not have the ability to fall back asleep. And WAKEY WAKEY you have a child that is up at 5am which is not what you want at all!
SLEEP MISTAKE NUMBER 2
Not following age appropriate wake times
Understanding and following age-appropriate wakeful window is REALLY critical to establishing healthy sleep habits for your little one.
So, what are you talking about Amy, what is a wakeful window? Well, a wakeful window is the amount of time your child is awake between nap or bedtime. The younger the baby, the shorter the wake time and the more periods of sleep they will require during the day. That’s it in a nutshell.
Wakeful windows are important to follow to prevent your child from getting over tired. As we know from above, over tired babies have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep through sleep cycle transitions which then leads to short naps and early morning waking’s. We don’t want any of that do we?!
So, what is an age-appropriate wake time for your child? That depends on their age. Head to Amy’s website for a free downloadable wakeful window chart.
SLEEP MISTAKE NUMBER 3
Not having an established bedtime routine
The word “routine” can seem daunting to some parents. But it doesn’t have to be complicated at all. A bedtime routine is only as in depth as you make it. They are really really important for our little ones. There are no hard and fast rules for a bedtime routine as long as you have one. Children, especially young children thrive on routine. Not only do routines help set expectations, but they can also change behaviours – so if bedtime is a real struggle in your house it may be because of a lack of routine. By setting a routine, your child will know exactly what to expect and how the next 30-45 minutes is going to play out.
Routines create healthy sleep habits which in turn help your child fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up well-rested.
So, there you have it. If you’re reading this post, it’s probably because at least one of these common sleep mistakes rings true for you and your house!
Please don’t be hard on yourself… you don’t know what you don’t know okay!
I understand that some of these things may seem easier said than done so if that is the case for you, I would love to talk to you!!
So, there you go. I hope you have found this helpful!
For more sleep advice head to Amy’s blog here and don’t forget to follow her on Instagram for daily tips and support on all things baby, toddler and children sleep – head to @countingsheepbabysleep