Can you believe it? @SleepNumberSara (me) needs sleep! You see, I have a three-month old baby and I am majorly sleep-deprived. Moms and Dads—I now better understand your sleep challenges. After all, our little ones dictate our sleep. But, there are things we can all do to help us make smart sleep decisions, and also teach our kids one of the most valuable lessons in life—how to sleep. So, I hope you’ll join me as I tackle my new mom sleep journey and share tips and learnings throughout the first year of my baby’s life.
Talking with our Sleep Number Sleep Expert, @SleepGeekPete, it hit me that teaching my son how to sleep is one of the first big things I’ll teach him. I’m used to giving adults tips on how to help them sleep better. Now that I’m a Mom, I realize we, as parents, have a responsibility to help our kids sleep well so they grow to appreciate and respect sleep and all the benefits (physical/emotional/mental) that come from a good night’s sleep.
So, while I may only be getting six hours of sleep a night at the moment, I am taking the necessary steps to ensure they’re the best six hours I can get, and I’m helping my son learn how to sleep along the way.
My first tip? Teach your kids to fall asleep on their own.
My husband and I were bouncing my son to sleep in our arms each night. My son loves to be bounced. Then, we’d gently lay him in his crib to sleep. @SleepGeekPete told me I needed to stop that right away. Why? Well, my son is at the perfect age (three months) where he’s going to start forming sleep habits. So, in his mind, bouncing=sleeping. If he wakes up in the middle of the night, he’s going to miss the bouncing and then cry until he gets bounced since that’s the only way he knows how to fall asleep.
@SleepGeekPete gave me another analogy that demonstrates what it’s like for kids. As an adult, imagine you fall asleep with your pillow. It’s comfortable. You wake up in the middle of the night and your pillow is completely gone. Missing. Absolutely nowhere to be found. Can you fall asleep without it? No way—you’re wondering where the heck your pillow magically disappeared to! So, you start looking around your bed for it, and likely can’t fall asleep because you’re not comfortable without it, and suspiciously stumped on its whereabouts. That’s the path I was unknowingly heading down by always bouncing my son to sleep.
I’m happy to report that my husband and I stopped bouncing our son to sleep almost two weeks ago and it’s going marvelously. When our son is sleepy, we lay him in his crib and he’ll stare around for a while, and then fall asleep within 15 minutes. He’s falling asleep on his own. Whew! Crisis (and hours of lost sleep) averted thanks to @SleepGeekPete’s advice.
What’s your kids’ bedtime sleep ritual? Do you read to them before bed? Watch TV? Listen to music? And, do you put your kids to sleep with anything that could be an accidentally bad sleep habit? How can you alter it to help your child–and YOU–sleep better?