If your child is experiencing a struggle falling asleep or staying asleep it can do with a dependency on sleep props.
What are sleep props? They are anything that are used to help your baby fall asleep. This can be an activity like rocking, bouncing, feeding, etc. It can be items like a pacifier, swaddle, stuffed animal, sound machine, etc.
HOW CAN SLEEP PROPS BECOME A PROBLEM?
Sleep props aren’t necessarily a problem automatically. They become an issue if your child is experiencing sleep struggles.
When we sleep, we go through stages of light and deep sleep. In between these stages, we briefly wake up to make sure we are still in a safe environment. We should be able to fall right back asleep once that is established. If we feel like something is off, we fully wake up and break the sleep cycle. If your little one is dependent on a sleep prop and they wake up, they will most likely not fall back asleep without the use of their sleep prop.
SOME SLEEP PROPS ARE HELPFUL
Sleep props that can remain consistent through the night and promote healthy sleeping can be extremely helpful and are the best to use. Examples include:
- Sound machines – drown out noises to help transition through sleep cycles
- Lovies (stuffed animals or blankets) – for children over 12 months
- Sleep sacks – keeps your little one warm and signal sleep
- Dark room – helps with the production of melatonin and reduce stimulation
SOME SLEEP PROPS CAN BE BOTH HELPFUL AND UNHELPFUL
Whether a sleep prop is helpful or unhelpful varies by situation, age and child. Sleep props can become unhelpful when they have the potential to not be consistent or if your baby is not able to do it for themselves. Examples include:
- Being held – you can’t hold your baby all night
- Feeding – as they get older they should drop nighttime feedings
- Rocking or bouncing – they can not rock or bounce themselves back to sleep
- Pacifiers – if they are too young to put it back in by themselves, they will need you to come and help
HOW TO KNOW YOUR CHILD’S SLEEP PROPS AREN’T HELPING
If your child is struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep, it might be time to reevaluate what their sleep habits are. Signs that your little one might be using the wrong sleep props for them are:
- Waking up multiple times through the night
- They take short naps and only go back to sleep with assistance
- Fighting sleep and not staying asleep when being placed in their bed
SLEEP PROPS AND THE STAGES THEY ARE USED DURING
Some of the sleep props that can be identified as unhelpful can prove to be helpful when your baby is still an infant. Infants by nature need more assistance to fall and stay asleep. As your child grows, they should become less dependent on you for sleep. The sleep props you use will change as your child’s needs and development changes. Remember that what works for one kid might not work the next. Stay flexible but also consistent when going through transitions. If you need help establishing what stage your child is at, reach out and we will be happy to help you find what works best!