Here at the NUK 3am Club, our goal is to help you and your baby get as much high-quality rest as we can. Sometimes, that means offering advice on how to get your little one to sleep all night long, or how to get yourself back to sleep after the 3am feed. Other times, it’s about shining a light on some of the most common sleep training mistakes that plague new parents, so you can avoid them. After all, achieving better sleep can be as much about what you don’t do as what you do.
Sleep Training Mistake #1: Being inconsistent with where your baby sleeps
Babies and young children thrive on consistency, which is precisely why bedtime routines work so well. If you’ve transitioned your baby from sleeping in your room to their nursery but find yourself bringing him back into your room when he cries out in the middle of the night, he’ll get used to that and may come to expect it.
If this has become a habit in your house, you’ll probably want to break it. When he cries out at night, go into his room and comfort him there, then lay him back down in his crib and stay near him until he’s back asleep. After a few nights, move farther away from his crib until you’re out of his room and back in yours. Soon, staying in his crib will become his new normal—his new routine.
Sleep Training Mistake #2: Overstimulating baby before bed
To give your kiddo the greatest chance of drifting off into a deep and restful sleep, it’s important not to overstimulate him before you put him down, and that his nursery itself isn’t stimulating. To achieve this, create a bedtime routine that involves soothing and calming activities, and ensure his nursery is nearly pitch black. Don’t worry about him being afraid of the dark—he’s too young to have developed those fears. And one more thing: Don’t let your little one watch screens or television one to two hours before bedtime.
Sleep Training Mistake #3: Not sticking to baby’s bedtime routine
Going through a series of calming activities before bedtime is important for your baby, as it helps him wind down and accept sleep more easily. Over time, he may even come to depend on it. So, it can cause problems if you don’t stick to a consistent bedtime routine. Of course, life can, and probably will, get in the way of following baby’s routine every single night. If that happens to you, don’t stress. Just pick it back up the next night and try to be as consistent as you can.
Sleep Training Mistake #4: Sending baby to sleep too late
If you’re waiting until your little one is yawning to start his bedtime routine, that may be too late. That’s because babies who get over-tired often find it more difficult to fall asleep. They also tend to wake up earlier—a situation no one wants. While we totally get how tempting it can be to keep your baby up with you if you’ve been away from him all day, you’ll want to avoid this pitfall to ensure he gets the sleep he needs.
Sleep Training Mistake #5: Relying on car rides or baby swings to put him to sleep
It’s a scenario that’s been played out in movies and commercials for decades—pop baby in the car, go for a drive, and lights out. While it’s true that motion can help your baby fall asleep, it’s not something you’ll want to include in his bedtime routine. The reason is simple: It’s impractical to have to take your little one for a drive every night or put them in a swing, and there will be nights when it’s impossible.
By bringing to light some common sleep training mistakes, we hope we’ve armed you with the knowledge you need to avoid them and achieve better rest for you and your baby. And if you think you’ve fallen in one, that’s OK, too. Just work to correct it now, and soon you’ll both be enjoying a sounder night’s sleep.