The world of sleep training is vast and varied with opinions ranging from “never sleep train” to “you can’t sleep train too early” and everything in between. Across the board, though, we see some very common mistakes! Check out this list of the top 5 mistakes parents are making when sleep training their babies.
Starting at the wrong time.
The time to start sleep training is not when baby has anything going on that is less-than-normal. Often, parents deal with the restlessness of a developmental leap or tears of teething and it pushes them to begin sleep training out of exhaustion. The best thing you can do is help baby learn to sleep independently before these moments hit! Your baby should be without fever, healthy, and ready to drop down to one feeding a night. We recommend you clear this with your pediatrician before starting.
2. Not using white noise.
White noise is a trick of the trade for sleep experts around the world. By mimicking the gentle “woosh” sound that baby experiences while in the womb and giving baby’s brain something to focus on besides outside noise, these incredibly helpful machines do a wonder to help your baby fall asleep and stay asleep. Long story short? Use. White. Noise. (Trust us!)
3. Room isn’t dark enough.
Light synthesizes hormones in our brains that tell us to wake up so it makes sense that a light room would leave a baby wakeful and fussy. Using blackout curtains, shutting the door, and doing your best to make the room dark is a surefire way to set yourself up for sleep training success.
4. Bedtime is too late.
The thought process of “wear the baby out” during the day is actually backwards. Contrary to popular belief, the less sleep baby gets during the day, the less likely they are to sleep at night. The rule of thumb is “sleep begets sleep”. Setting baby’s bedtime at between 7 and 8 is helpful for making sure they don’t get overtired and, therefore, fussy and difficult to soothe. Bonus: it also gives you and your partner a bit more time to reconnect or you some much-needed alone time.
5. Doubting their baby’s abilities.
The main mistake we see made? Not trusting your tinies! We’re taught that babies are helpless. While that is true of brand new newborns, babies quickly gain skills left and right when left to their own abilities. We walk for baby until they’re able to walk, we feed baby until they can feed themselves, and we help baby go to sleep until they’re ready to do it solo. Give your baby a chance to show you exactly what they’re made of and trust that they can do it. We promise, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
While there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules in regard to sleep training, there are some simple pitfalls you can avoid. When we’re working with Charlotte families to sleep train their babies, we make sure to guide them past these common mistakes and reintroduce them to their pillows.