One cute sleep hat certainly does not fit all, but there are some things that every parent should avoid when trying to secure the best sleep for their child. Sometimes we fall into habits of convenience and forget that there may be longterm negative effects on our tots!
These are a few things you should avoid at all costs:
1. Exposing your little one to screens right before bedtime.
Of course you're not handing over your phone or tablet for your infant to peruse and find the latest hit on Netflix, but perhaps you have the device on near baby just before you've decided to set him to sleep. The blue light emitted by screens in our devices suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls our sleep wake cycles (National Sleep Foundation). You should limit the amount of blue light that your baby is exposed to, especially the hours before bedtime.
2. Rushing to your baby at the first noise
Newborns can be VERY loud sleepers! If you tend to them at the first noise you hear from them, you may actually wake them up and disrupt their sleep. Older babies can also make noises in their sleep. It's very common for infants to cry out (or even scream out!) when changing from a deep sleep cycle to a lighter one. Imagine you're sleeping in your adult bed, dreaming about sleep.... you slightly wake up and groan but try to settle yourself back to sleep --- and your mom barges in to ask you if you are alright, checking to see if you've wet the bed, if you're breathing, or if you could possibly need more delicious homemade food! .... you'd probably wake up. When you hear your baby fussing in the middle of the night, let them fuss! Wait for them to really call out for you before you respond.
3. Randomly deciding it's time for baby to fall asleep.
It's been a long day. You are exhausted and just want baby to fall asleep. Just plop him right in his crib and watch those beautiful eyes shut for the next 12 hours! That is highly unlikely, and highly unlikely that you would see this scenario as a reasonable one, but anytime you set baby down without a consistent bedtime routine, this is exactly what you're doing! Babies thrive on consistency. The better prepared they are for a situation, the better they will respond. Make sure you have a set routine for your baby, so he knows exactly what to expect. Watch out for a future blog post on the essential components of a great bedtime routine!