Six sleep mistakes parents make with their children and how to avoid them : Evewoman - The Standard
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Six sleep mistakes parents make with their children and how to avoid them

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When we meet a friend or family member who has just had a baby, one of the first questions we normally ask is "so, are you getting any sleep?".

Getting little ones off to drop off is one of the biggest challenges mums and dads face, and the sleepless nights can last years.

There's lots of advice out there, and no shortage of old wives tales, but the trick is different for every baby - and sometimes there isn't one at all.

But there are some things you definitely shouldn't do, according to the experts at parenting website BabyCentre. They've explained the most common mistakes parents make, and what they should do to avoid them.

Setting your expectations too high

Most parents have got that pal who will smugly tell everyone how their little angel started sleeping through the night when they were a few weeks old.

Some babies will sleep for long periods by about eight weeks, and others can nap for hours at a time during the day - but like adults, every child is different. Most babies can't sleep through the night without a feed until at least three months old, and many wake for nighttime feeds until they are at least six months old. So you're definitely not alone!

Putting your baby to bed too late

Many parents believe keeping their baby up later so they will be more tired might make them sleep through the night. And others can be tempted to keep their little one up a bit later so they can have some more quality time with them, especially if they've been out at work.

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But whatever the reason, putting your baby to bed too late is not a good idea. Overtired babies actually find it harder to drop off to sleep, and they struggle to stay asleep. They also tend to wake up earlier.

The BabyCentre experts advise parents to stick to their bedtime routine, and not to wait until your baby is yawning or rubbing their eyes before taking them to their room. As little as 15 minutes of sleep can make a huge difference to them.

Relying on motion to get them off to sleep

Most parents quickly realise their baby will fall straight to sleep in the back to the car, thanks to the motion of driving. However, some end up using this as a tactic to get their kids off to sleep when they're really struggling and it's a dangerous trap to fall into.

It's just not practical to do it every night, so avoid doing it regularly so it doesn't become part of the routine.

Overstimulating your baby in the lead up to bedtime

It's important to get your baby ready for bedtime without anything too distracting to get them all excited again.

In the lead up to bed, try to wind your baby down with lullabies and gentle nursery rhymes which will help them understand it's time for sleep. Rotating toys such as mobiles, especially ones with sounds and lights, can get your baby's brain working which will actually keep them awake.

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Make sure you put your baby to bed in a dark room. They're too young to have developed nighttime fears, so they won't get scared. A fan or a white noise recording can help if there are noises from the rest of the house or outside.

Skipping your baby's bedtime routine

Routines are extremely important for children, especially when it comes to bedtime.

Many parents believe babies are too young to notice or appreciate a routine, but that isn't the case. It's important to have a series of calming activities, such as a bath, a book and a lullaby, in the lead up for bedtime. The exact routine is completely up to you, but it's important to make sure it's the same every night.

Not being consistent

If you come up with a plan, make sure you stick to it. For example if you've decided to start sleep training, you need to be consistent in how you handle night-time wakings.

It can be tempting to revert back to old tricks to get them off to sleep, especially when nothing else seems to be working, but it's very important to stick with it. It will be worth it in the long run!

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