What are the most common errors new parents make about their baby’s sleep?
Congratulations on being a parent! While the word 'mistakes' may be a little strong, hopefully it got your attention! When it comes to parenting, and especially sleep, there really can be no right or wrong way. There is just your way, when you use your instincts – and you can rest assured you're doing the best you possibly can.
However, there could be a couple of things you can tweak to get longer and better naps for your baby. So, here are three of the most common nap 'mistakes' you might be making...
Problem 1. Your Sleep Environment Isn't Very Sleep-Inducing
While we are huge advocates of napping on the go, this doesn't mean that you don't need to think carefully about your child's sleep environment. Some babies and toddlers can sleep anywhere but some can't – it’s no different for us adults. Some of us are lighter sleepers than others and some of us need special conditions before we can even think about falling asleep. We all know someone who has to have special sheets, whale noises, red lights and other sleep props before they can get to sleep! Your sleep environment is very important, whether you’re at home or away, so here are some tips for making your baby’s environment conducive to sleep:
- Remember that nap time is different to sleep time, and you want your baby or toddler to know that too. So don't be tempted to eliminate ALL noises during daytime naps (that can be impossible at times anyway) but at the same time, you might want to ask your older kids to postpone drum practise for an hour or two!
- Use black-out blinds to block out the sunlight. During the day, sleep can be a little harder to achieve for some children because of the amount of light coming into the bedroom, so do all that you can to create a sleepy, darkened room.
- White noise might help to block out normal, everyday sounds for the baby that finds it hard to settle. You can use an app, or take the opportunity to hoover in a different room while your baby sleeps.
- Use SnoozeShade! When you're out and about it can be hard to control noise and external stimulation that comes with other people in a café, cars on the road and dogs being walked. In the pram or buggy, you might find that your little one is so distracted by what's going on that he just cannot sleep. SnoozeShade creates a cosy little nook to eliminate distractions and at the same time it blocks out daylight too. Read our post on napping on the go.
Problem 2. You Don't Have a Consistent Daytime Routine
Just as bedtime and nap time routines are important, your daily routine is just as essential for ensuring your baby’s naps go to plan. If you don't have the regularity of a school run for older kids, for example, it can be hard to get a routine going. Try to start your day around the same time each day (even if you have slept badly – it will help later on, we promise) and incorporate a good bedtime routine into your day every day so that your baby knows when to expect sleep. Of course, this will need to be adapted every now and then and your baby's needs will change too as they grow - but as long as you keep naps a priority, you should see improvements. So, rather than squeezing naps in between your activities, plan your day around naps instead.
Problem 3. You Let Your Baby Get Over-Tired
Watch your baby for their sleep cues. Just because your baby usually sleeps at 11am, doesn't mean they aren't tired at 10am. Babies change, sleep needs change and your routine needs to change with it. So, watch for eye rubbing, yawning and other sleep cues that mean your baby needs to sleep and adjust your day accordingly. The result will be a baby that sleeps a lot better than a baby who is over-tired.
How are your naps going at the moment?