Most moms with young babies know that sleep time is stress time. We’ve all been there, your baby is cranky and tired, they are crying nonstop and furiously scratching their eyes yet somehow they just don’t seem to fall asleep. Faced with these desperate circumstances, most moms automatically start rocking their baby away.
At that moment, who cares if sleep experts say don’t rock them to bed because it’s a bad habit. Instead, we rock away because we want the baby to sleep and for us to be at peace.
But according to the United States-based National sleep foundation (NSF), rocking that baby may be a burden later on.
“While rocking or bouncing your baby to sleep can feel like a lifesaver during the early weeks and months, for some parents, it can turn into a burden down the road. That’s because rocking your infant to sleep, just like nursing or singing your little one to sleep, can create what’s called a sleep association.
The risk is that your baby will get hooked and won’t be able to fall asleep without you. In other words, because your infant is used to being rocked to sleep, he or she will expect rocking every time—including anytime he or she wakes up in the middle of the night. And that can become exhausting as a parent,” says the NSF.
But honestly, how can you get your baby to sleep without rocking them? The answer is in creating new sleep associations for them.
Also Read: Why is daytime sleep important for children?
Here are some tips for new sleep associations that don’t involve rocking:
Have a bedtime lovey
Just like some kids may associate a pacifier with sleep time get certain items like a specific blanket or teddy that your baby associates with sleep time.
“Loveys can help smooth the transition from being with mom or dad to independent sleep when the lights go out, and they can stay important to kids for many years,” says the National Sleep Foundation.
Make lovey part of the sleep routine
To strengthen the sleep association with their sleep friend or lovey make it a part of your baby sleep or bedtime routine. The NSF suggests keeping the lovey on your chest (if it’s a blanket for example) as you do the last bottle feed before bedtime.
Resist the urge to be the lovey
When you rock your baby to sleep you create a situation where they associate they’re getting to sleep with you rocking them, meaning you are the lovey. So get a lovey and make sure you don’t become the lovey again. According to the NSF parents frustrations stem from being the love because “it usually leads to the child to waking up during the night or too early in the morning looking for the lovey (parent) to soothe them back to sleep”.
When parents eventually change that pattern and the child becomes responsible for self-soothing, the lovey suddenly grows in importance.”