Who knew? A lot of baby sleep mistakes occur as a result of inadvertent errors on the part of moms and dads. Here are three of the biggies to consider when your baby can’t sleep.
Stopping too soon
Once you decide to do baby sleep training, you should stay the course for five to seven nights to stave off baby sleep problems, advises Jodi A. Mindell, PhD, a clinical psychologist and associate director of the Sleep Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Lisa J. Meltzer, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics and director of the Pediatric Behavioral Sleep Clinic at National Jewish Health in Denver, explains: “Parents will try sleep training for one night, but not realize the second night will be worse, so after allowing their child to cry for a period of time, they will give up and assist the child in falling asleep.
Now the child has learned she simply needs to cry longer to get the result (parental attention) she wants. This inconsistent response only perpetuates baby sleep problems.”
Nixing the naps
You may think that limiting daytime rest will mean baby is more likely to sleep at night, but doing so can actually be a recipe for baby sleep problems. “Sleep equals sleep, and the better rested children are throughout the day, the better they will go down and stay asleep at night,” says certified sleep consultant Alanna McGinn of Burlington, Ontario, Canada, who notes that allowing too much time between sleep phases can also cause problems.
“When parents stretch out the awake times too much, they run the risk of putting down an overtired child,” McGinn explains.
Letting baby stay up late
Similarly, many moms and dads may think that a later bedtime will mean baby falls asleep faster and stays asleep longer. Not so. “When babies get overtired, they get crankier and have a harder time, not an easier time, settling down and falling asleep,” says Mindell.
“Your baby sleep problems will only get worse if you wait to put your baby down.”