Parenting is tricky. There are lots of short-term solutions that can make life seem easier, but they actually end up making life harder in the long term. Giving in and buying your screaming toddler that ice cream cone at the mall seems like a great way to get her to be quiet, but guess what’s going to happen the next time you go to the mall? And the next?
Sleep props can feel like a godsend to exhausted parents who just want their baby to go to sleep. And they can work. Rocking your baby in a rocking chair, cuddling him in your own bed, walking with him up and down the halls, nursing him until he falls asleep…these are all effective ways to lull your child into dreamland.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is a big one: your baby is not learning how to self-soothe. And while you might be willing to rock her for an hour at bedtime and then get up in the night and rock her again every single time she wakes up, it’s not doing her any favours.
Sleep props actually significantly contribute to night-waking, and being dependent on them will create restless nights for your child. All babies wake up in the night, just like adults do. The difference is, as adults we know how to put ourselves back to sleep before we become too fully awake. If, however, we had trained ourselves to only fall asleep if there was music playing, we would have to get up and turn the music back on in order to get back to sleep.
It’s the same for your baby. If she does not learn to self-soothe, she will be more prone to fully waking in the night and will always need your help to fall back to sleep.
Most babies have at least 2 to 4 props they use together or at different times. It could be that you nurse or bottle-feed your baby and then give him a pacifier, or nurse him and then walk him. Whatever combination you use, it’s time to try to eliminate those props so everyone can get a good night’s sleep.
People often ask me which prop to take away first, as they worry that taking away all of them will be too hard on the baby. My advice is always the same:
You must eliminate all props at the same time.
If you don’t, then you will prolong the process and make it harder on everyone in the long run. If your baby sleeps in your bed with you as a sleep prop, she will just get used to sleeping in her own crib and then you’ll have to take away that pacifier and she’s going to have to start from square one all over again. Then she’ll just get used to that and you’ll have to stop rocking her. While you might think taking props away one at a time will be easier for your baby, it will just create weeks of her having to adjust and then readjust.
I always say, “You need to start the way you intend to finish.” If you want your baby sleeping through the night in his own crib, then you have to set him up for success right from day one. Sure, it might make for a few rough nights at first, but before you know it, sleeping will become a whole lot easier for your child. And for you!
If you’re looking for a complete, step-by-step system designed to get your child sleeping 11+ hours through the night, you can click here to check out The Sleep Sense Program. It’s the same method that’s been used by 109,000 parents over the past 10 years to solve the most common child sleep issues!
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