Being a new parent is overwhelming. Throw in sleep deprivation and it can even make you a little crazy! Between book “experts,” doctors, pediatricians, and even well-intentioned grandparents, there is so much conflicting advice on how to raise your little one. But what happens when a tried and true expert method just doesn't work for you and your baby? Do you stay the course? Or is it ok to ditch the books and figure out what is right for you and your family?
Expert advice: "Don’t rock your baby to sleep."
If you pick up any book on baby sleep, 9 times out of 10 the author will suggest not rocking your baby to sleep as this behavior will form a bad habit for years to come. But contrary to popular belief, it won't ruin your kids for life. Some parents like rocking their babies to sleep. Imagine a working parent who comes home from a long day and all they want to do is spend some quality time with their child. A special time can include singing or rocking before bed. Don’t feel guilty for taking the time you need to spend with your babies while they will let you! We can assure you that your child won't want you to rock them to sleep when they are ready to leave for college.
Expert advice: "Don’t nurse or feed your baby to sleep."
It is hard to keep a baby awake if they want to sleep. It happens. Babies fall asleep while eating, especially at night. Is it going to ruin them forever? No. It seems like the “tricks” for keeping a baby up for a feeding: tickling their feet, stripping them down, changing a diaper, just prolongs a late night feeding session. If feeding your baby to sleep works for you, do it!
Expert advice: "Start cutting out night feedings to get your baby to sleep through the night."
Your baby likes to eat during the night. Most babies do. If it isn't for the nutrition, it is for the comfort of being lulled back to sleep by their Mom or Dad. If it takes longer to get your baby back to sleep than it would to just feed them, go ahead and feed them! Odds are they will be up in a shorter amount of time anyway because they are hungry.
Expert advice: "Babies sleep better in a cold room."
Some experts agree that anywhere from 65-68 degrees is a perfect sleeping temperature for babies. But personal preference can vary. Do you like sleep in that cold of a room? Are you uncomfortable if the air conditioning or furnace is blowing on you at night? If so, it may affect your baby too! Play around with the temperature to see if something slightly warmer makes a positive difference.
Expert advice: "Bath time before bed."
It is conventional wisdom that a bath before bedtime is soothing and relaxing. But if you find that a bath just revs your baby up, try a morning or afternoon bath instead. If your baby is a stinky mess at the end of the night, a thorough wipe down with a washcloth or sponge bath may do the trick!
Expert advice: "Put baby on a nap and sleep schedule as soon as possible."
Many experts agree that having a baby on a sleep schedule is beneficial. In a perfect world who wouldn't want their baby to sleep on schedule? But if you find that suggested schedules just aren't working for your baby, don't be afraid for them to dictate their own schedule. Some babies just aren't meant to nap at 3 hour increments and 12 hours a night.
Expert advice: "Swaddle your baby."
This is a supposed “miracle” technique. They even named a blanket after it! But what if your baby hates it? Conventional experts say to power through and that your baby might not like it, but they need it anyway. Don’t be afraid to ditch the swaddle if you find that it aggravates your baby more than it helps. Experiment with a sleep sack, or just swaddling their bodies and leaving their hands free.
Each child is born with a unique personality, along with specific preferences that are one-of-a-kind. While books can be helpful, and are a great way to reap information, it's important to remember that they are not a one-size-fits-all solution. If your baby is showing you that they are not happy, follow their individual cues! Habits may be hard to change down the road, but they are not impossible.
Did you choose to "go against" the advice of experts? We'd love to hear from you in the comment section!