Sleep Props and Newborns

Me and Baby Jacob
Newborns are where the sleep props (something that baby relies upon to go to sleep that he isn't able to do himselfoften start. Maybe not in that first couple weeks when they are as tired as Koalas (ok, not quite, they sleep about 22 hours a day!) but after that, things often start to change.

Your baby that used to go to sleep easily whenever and wherever suddenly starts to get
a little upset when she's put down. And she may start to wake up after a few minutes of slumber too.

And you thought this sleeping stuff was going to be easy!

So you try some methods to help your little one to sleep. There's nursing and rocking and bouncing and the swing. The list goes on and on. And sometimes, the complexity of what you do and the amount of time it takes to get your little one to fall asleep goes on and on as well!

To add to this, you are dirt tired! Not only are you up at all hours of the night but you've just had a baby and your body is healing and going through all kinds of funky changes.

Should I use sleep props?
It totally depends. There are different types of parents out there and different types of children. 

Here's a list of the most common things I see parents do with newborns and sleep props:
  1. They choose to use sleep props through the newborn period or until they sleep train
  2. They choose to use sleep props now and for always.
  3. They try not to use sleep props but they end up being their best option right now to make it through this period of time. They use them often.
  4. They try not to use sleep props but they use them occasionally when needed or desired*.
  5. Sleep prop? What is that? I am just trying to get my child to go to sleep in the quickest and easiest way (or only way that seems possible) I know how. 

Let's talk about Option 1. Many parents like to wait to do any type of sleep training. They feel newborns are too young, they are too tired, etc. For these parents, I suggest they at least try to set the groundwork for good sleep (monitor sleep cues and waketime, have an early bedtime, have a pre-sleep routine, possibly do easy or eat/wake/sleep) so when they sleep train at a later time, it will be an easier transition. Also, some babies are pretty easy going and some good sleep habits may be all they need to sleep well on their own. Let's hope this is your baby!

As for Option 2, that is pretty self explanatory and I'm not really sure why you're here :)

With Option 3 and 4, I would try to set a good groundwork for sleep (as mentioned above) and do the best you reasonably can. Some children naturally sleep better than others and are much easier to teach to sleep. Some children will require a lot of work and time to teach to sleep. If you have one of the more difficult sleepers, you might end up reaching out for sleep props more often. And that's perfectly OK.

After you have set a good groundwork for sleep, you can also use some other sleep training methods (keeping in mind, of course, that you are dealing with a newborn--more on that later). And do look over the post top sleep tips and sleep training defined for more info on setting your child up for good sleep.

Option 5 is a common one, and after reading this post is now an option 1-4 ;)

How to use sleep props (when you don't want to use them)
The key if you are trying to not use sleep props is to set things up to promote the best sleep possible. I know I keep saying this, but it's true!

Do this, and then, if necessary use those sleep props-- sometimes because you don't want to do certain sleep training methods yet (or ever) or because you are too worn out or because nothing else seems to be working and baby just won't go to sleep! It isn't the end of the world. It really isn't. A swing may even end up being your best friend for a while (I recommend this swing). Right now it's more important that your child get adequate sleep than that they go to sleep on their own in their own bed.

Using them infrequently rarely causes any sort of issue**. And if you end up using them tons and it does cause some dependency, life will still go on. You can always adjust things later on. Sure, your baby may get a little more upset when a very ingrained habit is taken away, but it is better to have this than to lose your sanity or do something at a time when you don't feel comfortable doing it. 

Just make sure when you use those sleep props to try to only use what you need to. Don't go jiggling and rocking and jumping on the trampoline to get your little one to fall asleep when she'll fall asleep just fine wrapped in your arms. Try to make the sleeping process as close as possible to what the future goal is.

*I think a little sleep prop use is needed sometimes. Whether because you are out and about and your child needs to sleep (like in the picture above) or you just want to hold your little bundle to sleep in your arms every so often.
**Some kids pick up on sleep props very quickly and you have to be very careful about their use, even when used rarely. Also, some kids will sleep perfectly if you use every sleep prop out there. This isn't the average child so I'm not including it here. Just thought I'd let you know why baby sally next door seems to sleep perfect no matter what!

1 comment :

  1. Hi, Rachel!
    Can I just say I'm so glad I found this website?
    A friend of mine gave me the Baby Wise book and swears by it. All of her boys kept to a strict routine and she has the happiest babies ever. While my 6 week old has a pretty steady routine (nurses every 2-3 hours, naps for about 2-3 hours during the day and sleeps 3-4 hours at night), we've gotten her used to sleeping in her swing. She sleeps in it at night and during the day, and she just won't fall asleep without some kind of motion. Because of this friend and the book, I've been obsessing for a few days now about when to transition to crib and how, and I've just made myself crazy over it. I have no problem with CIO (my sister did it with her girls at 4 months and it worked great) but a part of me feels mine is too young right now. Should I be working on it now or wait a little longer until she's a bit older? I'm trying to start her on a pre-sleep schedule (bath, story, etc) but I'm just not sure if I should be obsessing about moving her to the crib just yet or not.