3 Common Sleep Disruptors


Hey friends! This blog post today is going to be the quick tip advice every sleep deprived parent needs, short, sweet and straight to the point! In my experience as a Pediatric Sleep consultant these are the 3 most common sleep disruptors among children. They might not be what you think, so read all the way to the bottom for simple strategies to start adding to your child’s routine. Follow along on social media for more quick advice to practice at home, and if you know you need more one-on-one customized help, you can find all of our sleep programs here.

3 Common Sleep Disruptors

The number one sleep disruptor in children is the parents. Sorry, but the truth is the truth and sometimes it is a hard pill to swallow. Hear me out, let’s go over the three common ways that a parent disrupts their child’s sleep.

1. Going in too soon.

You hear your baby making noises next to you in the bassinet or on the baby monitor. You instantly pick them up, rock them or feed them back to sleep. Problem is they weren’t actually awake. Babies make A LOT of noise while they sleep! They spend half of their time in REM sleep(aka active sleep) which is full of twitches, noises, jerks and groans. You might even hear whimpering. The point being wait at least 10 minutes before responding. Trust me when I say if your child is hungry, wet or needs you, they will 100% let you know.

2. Never letting the child self-soothe.

If a baby is never allowed to learn self-soothing strategies they will not be able to calm themselves down, and therefore will not learn sleep skills. Self-soothing are the steps you need to learn sleep skills. This matters because we naturally wake up throughout the night after going through a sleep cycle. If you put your child to sleep with a bottle, breast, rocking or a different method, when they naturally wake up they will not know how to first soothe themselves, and second put themselves back to sleep. Nevertheless this disrupts their sleep every 30-90 minutes, as I’m sure you know quite well if you are reading this.

3. Putting your child to sleep.

Believe it or not it is  not your job to put your child to sleep. When you put your child to sleep, and lay them down in their bassinet or crib asleep, when they wake up after a sleep cycle or sometime in the night,  it is actually really scary for them. They have no idea where they are and why you aren’t with them. They don’t understand why you aren’t feeding, rocking, walking, singing(whatever it is you did to put them to sleep). This is very confusing, and alarming to a child, and they believe they need you, and the prop you used to help them fall asleep in order to go back to sleep. Unfortunately the child will not grow out of this, and they will  continue to wake up looking for you until they can fall asleep on their own.

How to start a sleep practice with your child.

As hard as it is to hear the truth, there are actually some simple steps you can take to start practicing sleep skills with your child today. Each child is unique in their sleep needs and the behavior that will work for them and your family. At FED Coaching each sleep plan is customized to the child and the parents values and lifestyle. Sleep training is never a one size fits all approach! If you need support and guidance please reach out.

1. 5-minutes goes a long way.

Practice 5-minutes of self soothing. Depending how quickly you want your child to learn how to sleep and their age, start with laying them down awake at a nap. A newborn that is given 1-2 minutes of self-soothing right from birth will develop sleep skills and never need sleep training. If you have a toddler this will look very different, and will take more time to build the skill set. Set a timer for 5-minutes, stay right there with them and let them develop some self-soothing strategies of their own. FYI self-soothing can look like:

  • Crying
  • Kicking their legs
  • Moving their head back and forth
  • Moving from side to side

Think of when you lay down to go to sleep you have things that you do before bed that help you fall asleep. A favorite pillow, blanket, side to sleep on, side of the bed, socks on, whatever your routine is, we all have one. Your child has to figure out what works for them. This can take time, but 5-minutes a day goes a long way!! Start with that, and practice daily.

2.Start to eliminate props.

As you continue to practice self-soothing, instead of putting them to sleep, keep them awake. If this means moving around the feeding, so they won’t fall asleep do so. Note: newborns will fall asleep at the breast or bottle often. Also, if it is a middle of the night feed and the child falls asleep don’t stress about this. As long as they are practicing their self-soothing skills this won’t matter.

3. Sleep is not linear.

Sleep will never be linear, especially in a child. Remember they are growing and developing at a rapid rate. Their sleep needs will change and new behavior might be in order to support them. The most important thing to do is to build self-soothing strategies, and sleep skill foundation. If they know how to put themselves to sleep, when they have a regression, teeth, illness or a big milestone happen, know that it is temporary. Stick to your routine, and stay consistent and they will get back on track.

This information is simple and effective. I hope it helps you through your sleep difficulties and disruptions. Most important things to remember are there are always solutions, but your child will not grow out of their habits unless you make changes. Sleep is essential for your child’s growth and development, and also for your sanity, and health. Start practicing today!

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