A mother and her baby share a special bond that’s unique to all other relationships. For a normal gestation period of 9 months, mother and baby have been in close proximity to each other. The baby knows her mother very well–her voice, her movements, her presence.
Upon arrival, baby is exposed to a new world.
Nothing is normal–except anything that feels like the womb. Along with its rewards, taking care of a baby has its mountainous challenges.Considering the emotional and psychological well-being of both mom and baby, I will outline some baby sleep habits you may want to avoid.
- Avoid blocking off your baby’s ability to communicate.
- Avoid completely distancing yourself from your baby while he or she is falling asleep.
- Avoid picking up your baby every time they open their eyes or make a sound while they’re sleeping.
- Avoid talking to your baby or making eye contact with them during the night.
- Avoid disrupting your bedtime routine.
- Avoid putting your baby to sleep too late.
- Avoid exposing your baby to white or blue light wavelengths before bedtime and excessively during the day.
- Avoid putting your baby in uncomfortable environments to sleep.
#1 Avoid blocking off your baby’s ability to communicate
Your baby’s only method of communicating a need is by crying. Meeting your child’s needs is crucial in creating a sense of security in your child. Security leads to more peace and less stress. Less stress equates to better sleeping habits.
Letting a baby “cry it out” may not be the best method for the child emotionally and psychologically. Sleep training, if not done correctly, has the potential of teaching your baby their voice is not important. This can actually derail their naturally-given instinct to let you know when something isn’t quite right–whether it be a wet diaper, hunger, tummy or ear ache, fear, or even the need to be close to you.
Your baby depends on you for everything just like any mammal’s baby is dependent on its mother. Be attentive to your baby’s physical and emotional needs and be present to soothe and firmly guide them in each step of training that you introduce to them.
For your own psychological and emotional welfare, find ways to sleep train that works for you and your baby equally. This mother in the following video gives a splendid example of how you can sleep train your baby with both yours and your baby’s emotional well-being in mind.
#2 Avoid completely distancing yourself from your baby while he or she is falling asleep
Your baby desires your warm touch, soothing voice, and steady movement because it reminds him or her of the womb. This is not simply a want to be close to you but moreso a need for security as they adapt to this big new world. You are their primary source of comfort.
The emotional and social parts of the brain develop first. As you are present to feed or soothe your child, you are part of their development of healthy emotions and social skills. This developmental stage is crucial for your child to learn how to have fulfilling and successful relationships.
Many times a baby will find comfort in a part of the mother’s body–the nose, hair, or elbow. If it works for you to have your baby needing that much of you to fall asleep, that’s great! If you feel that it takes away too much of your own sleeping time, find alternative objects resembling the feeling of your parts to replace for your baby’s comfort. If they’re trained from young to use these objects, they can learn to harmlessly self-soothe.
Eventually, this can free you from needing to be at their side to fall asleep all the time.
#3 Avoid picking up your baby every time they open their eyes or make a sound while they’re sleeping
Although your baby is dependent on you, he or she is developing through stages quickly and sometimes doesn’t actually need you. It is completely normal for babies to be partially awake while they sleep.
Become familiar with baby sleeping patterns and especially your own baby’s patterns. When the baby is in REM, he or she will still have plenty of movements and sometimes even have their eyes open. The baby transitions through the sleep cycles without fully waking up if they are not disturbed.
Even when babies awake after their quiet sleep stage–as our adult brains do–if there isn’t anything calling attention to their brain, he or she may fall back asleep on their own if you give them the opportunity.
#4 Avoid talking to your baby or making eye contact with them during the night
Definitely be present when your baby calls for you, but know that even your mundane attention sends a message to the baby’s prefrontal cortex to socialize. You and your voice are extremely fascinating and exciting to your baby. If you tickle or make happy, cooing sounds with your baby in a nighttime waking, you may entirely wake your baby and subsequently rob yourself of much-needed sleep.
#5 Avoid disrupting your bedtime routine
Bedtime should be a warm and loving experience for your baby. Avoid stressful activity and negativity before bedtime. Rather, create a safe and reassuring environment in which your baby is able to settle down.
As much as it’s in your power, avoid making it a frustrating time of conflict. When your child’s physical energy winds down, you can use that as a cue to set your bedtime. If you go past this natural winding down of activity, it will be harder to put your baby to sleep because they will reboot their energy.
Be consistent with following the same routine every night. Consistency will build an internal nighttime clock in your baby which should help your sanity in the long run. You can include a warm bath, clean diaper change, and perhaps a soothing lullaby. Sufficiently feed your baby, allowing them to have a longer sleeping time between feedings.
As often as you can, avoid late bedtimes. This can cause the baby to have a restless night. They may try to make up for lost sleep by sleeping late in the morning; but very often, even though the baby’s sleep cycle is about 11 hours a night, many families realize late bedtimes actually end up in very early wake times.
#6 Avoid waiting too long to put your baby down for a nap
Overtiredness disrupts the baby’s sleep cycle. Signs of a tired baby include rubbing eyes, pulling on ears, or being fussy.
Another thing to consider concerning your baby’s naptime is whether or not it’s jutting into the bedtime hours. If your baby sleeps too late in the afternoon, just like adults, this will affect their sleep time at bedtime.
See the following link for a printable chart for baby sleep and wake times. Please keep in mind that every baby is different.
#7 Avoid exposing your baby to white or blue light wavelengths before bedtime and excessively during the day
Babies’ and young children’s sleep is affected by fluorescent and incandescent lightbulbs–or white light. The blue part of the light spectrum stimulates the baby to stay awake. Screens have white or blue wavelengths; and even if used during the day, it can cause your baby to take longer to fall asleep at night.
Consider using blue light filters for your screens in the evening. Avoid screen time right before bedtime and limit the amount of time they watch during the day.
Have your baby’s room as dark as you can make it for nighttime. When you need to use light, consider using amber light-bulbs rather than white lights.
#8 Avoid putting your baby in uncomfortable environments to sleep
Sometimes your baby is fussy or can’t stay asleep because the environment is unfriendly. The room may be too warm or too cold. An average and comfortable temperature for your baby’s room is 18 deg C. You want to avoid overheating your baby while he or she sleeps. You can check the baby’s temperature by gently touching the chest or back of the baby. You can add or take off layers of blankets to adjust the baby’s temperature as needed.
Look for other clues, such as symptoms of allergies, that your baby may be affected by environmental discrepancies.
Every mother-baby relationship is different.
However, we all share similar challenges as we pour our hearts and souls into raising another human. Habits that aren’t compatible with your family become hard to break as the baby grows older. Create good sleeping habits from the start to reward you with long-term effects that afford you more restful nights. Babies tend to reflect the stress of their mother. The more you and your baby can sleep, the less stressed you both will be.
Have you become aware of some sleep habits that might be affecting your baby’s sleep?
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