One of the main reasons that parents seek help from a sleep consultant so that their baby gets more restful zzz’s is because of frequent night wakings. Often, parents will say things like, “my baby is waking up every one to two hours ALL NIGHT LONG” (and sometimes even more than every hour!) If this rings true with your little one, a sleep association, also known as a sleep prop is likely the culprit. A sleep association is anything that your baby or toddler requires to fall asleep at bedtime, and, therefore, for middle of the night wakings as well. Common sleep associations include:
- nursing/bottle feeding to sleep
- rocking to sleep
- requiring a pacifier (that the baby cannot reinsert on his/her own)
- being sung/shushed to sleep
- car rides/swings
- and anything else that requires your intervention in order to get your baby to fall asleep!
Some sleep props, such as a white noise machine that can be left on the entire night, thumb sucking or babies who are able to reinsert their pacifier are great because they can be used without adult intervention. However, sleep props that do require help from an adult, such as the ones bulleted above can result in overtired babies and parents! So, the key to reducing frequent night wakings is teaching your baby to fall asleep without the use of a sleep prop! If your baby can fall asleep independently at bedtime, the same will be true when he or she wakes in the night. It is NATURAL for babies to wake many times throughout the night. Babies go through sleep cycles frequently, meaning they go from lighter to heavier stages of sleep and back again may times during the night. Often times, babies wake after completing a sleep cycle. The key is being able to fall back to sleep afterwards, which is a learned skill!
If you believe that your baby has a sleep association that requires your help and is therefore not getting enough consecutive sleep, it is important to help your baby learn to fall asleep without the use of the sleep prop.
This will allow for your baby to use self soothing techniques so that falling back to sleep after waking in the night does not require any help from mom, dad or another caregiver. This means everyone in the family will get more rest!
If this is something you are struggling with, contact me today for a FREE 15 min consultation to learn more about how to break the sleep association.