Bringing up baby comes with a lot of sleepless nights. In fact, you might be more than a little sleep deprived as you read this…and possibly wearing two different colored socks.
The good thing? You’re not alone. Sleep has been an issue for parents everywhere since, well, forever. On average, moms and dads lose 44 days of sleep during baby’s first year alone.
So we asked a few pediatricians and sleep experts to weigh in on what not to do when it comes to baby’s sleep. Here are five common sleep mistakes they see families making:
- Allowing baby to depend on you for sleep
Your bundle of joy is so loveable that you can’t help but want to give them a little help when it comes to falling asleep. But if they get used to being rocked and put to bed already snoozing, they won’t learn how to fall asleep on their own. Dr. Haviva Veler, director of the Weill Cornell Pediatric Sleep Center, says this is one of the most common mistakes she sees parents making and it can start as early as three months.
“You have a little baby and you want to cuddle him as he falls asleep, or nurse him and enjoy nursing him to sleep,” she says. “Then, with time, it starts to become an issue.”
- Not playing like a team
Consistency makes your little one feel safe. But things can get out of whack if, say, you enforce one sleep routine and the nanny a different one. That’s one reason Ingrid Prueher, a pediatric sleep consultant, is such a big believer in teamwork.
“You don’t want to do different things because you’re only confusing the child,” she says. “Sleep training goes by so much faster when there’s teamwork involved.”
(Luckily, Nanit makes sharing info and insights via our app super easy, so everyone in baby’s VIP sleep circle stays in sync.)
- Feeding baby at night
A lot of parents worry that their babies aren’t eating enough at night, says Dr. Cory Kercher, assistant professor of pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College. But, once your baby reaches a safe weight and your pediatrician gives you the go-ahead, you can ditch those evening feeds. This can happen as early as nine weeks.
“I hear so many people saying, ‘The baby sleeps 12 hours, of course they need to eat in that time. They’re hungry,’” Dr. Kercher says. “No, they’re not. We don’t need to eat, they don’t either. And if they’re hungrier during the day, they’ll eat more during the day.”
- Not making the crib a trusted friend
The crib is baby’s go-to sleep zone. But since they spend most of their time there asleep, it might actually be an unfamiliar and even scary place, says Christina Gantcher, a sleep trainer.
“The biggest thing that I find a challenge for parents is not putting their baby in their sleep space when they’re awake,” she says. “All of a sudden, at some age, your baby finds themselves waking up in this foreign place – the crib – and thinking, ‘I am never in here, I just magically woke up in here.’”
- Forgetting about your sleep
Good parents require good sleep, says Dr. Gary Mirkin, a pediatrician and CEO of Allied Physicians Group. And unless you set some ground rules, like a solid bedtime routine, your sleep’s in trouble.
“If you don’t have a routine, you have to be prepared to have a baby who’s going to sleep when they want to sleep and be awake when they want to be awake,” he says. “The baby’s fine, it’s the parents who really are going to suffer. They can’t be good parents during the day when they’re sleep deprived.”