Sleep Props- Friend or Foe?
What is better that rocking your baby to sleep? Not a whole lot! Or how about soothing a fussy baby with a pacifier/soother and then putting them in the crib to dose off by themselves? Perfect, right? It can be! That can be a parent’s dream!
Or... It can be the start of a bad habit that causes sleepless nights for months to come.
What is the difference? The difference is that for some babies, these become sleep “props”. What is a prop? It’s something that the baby is dependent on. It can be nursing, bottle feeding, rocking, a pacifier, swaying, a car ride, stroller movement. A sleep prop is anything that the baby associates with sleep that he or she needs to have to fall asleep.
Why is it a problem? If your baby falls asleep using a pacifier, or any prop, a habit forms and that is the only way they know how to get to sleep. When they wake between sleep cycles (which is common, everyone does) they need that prop to get back to sleep, so they cry out to call for help (the prop). As parents we help them by giving them a bottle, rocking them back to sleep, nursing or putting their pacifier back in. This holds them over for another few hours until they call out again. All of a sudden you have a baby that is 7, 9. 13, or 23 months old, waking every few hours still.
When is it not a problem? It’s not a problem when babies have the tools, and practice, at falling asleep without props. In other words, they are not dependent on them to get to sleep. If a baby uses a pacifier but can put it back in if it falls out, or can sleep without it and doesn’t need it reinserted (so he or she goes back to sleep if they waken in the middle of the night on their own) then it is not an issue. They aren’t dependent on that prop.
Do you have a little one that is an independent sleeper? A set bedtime routine that ends with laying baby down awake in their crib without a prop? Or do you have a little one who needs a pacifier or bottle to get to sleep? Does it bother you to pop the pacifier in all night long? Can you even imagine a what a full night of sleep looks like where your little one isn’t calling to have their sleep prop given to them and you and they are able to get a full night of solid sleep?
It is beneficial for many reasons to have a baby that knows how to get to sleep without being dependent on a sleep prop. If however, you and your little one are getting adequate sleep, and you don’t mind helping get your little one back to sleep if it’s needed, then you are doing great!
If however, you have come to the realization that you are up popping in the pacy more than you are sleeping (like I was with my first at 6 months old!), or feeding just to get your baby back to sleep you may want to reconsider how beneficial that prop really is.
Are you struggling to get your baby to sleep through the night? Or just want more information on getting to sleep without the use of props? Click HERE to set up FREE consultation call!