If you’re wondering why your baby is struggling when it comes to sleep, it’s most likely because she is depending on a sleep prop to fall asleep in the first place. A sleep prop is anything external that your baby uses in order to fall asleep. In other words, a sleep prop is anything that involves you getting your baby to sleep. Below is a list of common sleep props.
- Bottle-feeding or breastfeeding
- Bed sharing
- Back or belly rubbing
- Car ride or stroller ride
In the first four months of my daughter’s life, I did pretty much all of the above in order to get her to sleep. These props were life-saving when it came to putting her to sleep. However, as much as she needed them to fall asleep, she needed them even more to fall back to sleep. This is where it became a problem.
While sleep props are definitely lifesavers, implementing them have a reverse effect, especially in the middle of the night. Since your baby has only known one way to fall asleep all of her life, she will need to get back to sleep during the middle of the night the same way she was put down. Since these props involve you, more night wakings for baby means more night wakings for you. For parents whose children are waking zero to one time in the night, this doesn’t pose as much of an issue. But for those who have babies waking two, three or even four to five times a night, this is certainly an issue that needs a solution.
Of course, all babies, especially newborns (0-3 months), will wake up multiple times in the night. Therefore, a lot of time is being spent putting baby back to sleep and more often than not, we’re using a sleep prop to do so. But who can blame you? Desperate times call for desperate measures and we’ve all been there! But what happens when your baby grows or these props don’t seem to work the same when putting her to sleep? This may be your her way of telling you she is ready to fall asleep independently so that when she wakes in the night, she can put herself back to sleep without your help.
A good time to start may also be at your baby’s four-month mark. You may have noticed that your baby went through the “four-month sleep regression” around this time. The truth is, at this age, babies begin to sleep like adults and have more stages of sleep (newborns have only two stages: light sleep and deep sleep). This is why we tend to see more nighttime wakings and furthermore, when sleep props may stop working altogether. Since your baby’s sleep patterns have changed, her sleep needs will change too.
If your baby is older than four months, it is still not too late to ditch the sleep props. All babies and children can learn to sleep independently if given the opportunity. The best way to do this is to eliminate all props that are used to get your baby to sleep and put baby in her crib awake. Because there is more to this process, I understand why it’s terrifying and I’m here to help! Take a look at my sleep packages and we can get started on an easy-to-follow sleep plan for your child.
It’s important to note that I am in no way suggesting that you discontinue nursing, rocking, belly rubbing, cuddling or bottle feeding your baby. I am only encouraging you to not do these things until your baby falls asleep. When associating these props with sleep, your baby will need the same associations when she wakes in the night. Once your baby is able to sleep without the use of these props, nighttime wakings will decrease and eventually, your baby should be sleeping through the night on her own.
Eliminating sleep props from your baby’s bedtime routine will result in better quality of sleep for both you and your child. Contact me to get started so that your little darling can really start to sleep like a baby!