Habits in any area of life have a way of sneaking their way in: one day they were not there and suddenly one day you wake up and a habit has developed over time, without you noticing!
Before classifying any habit as good or bad, it is important to know a few things:
- Habits do not develop in babies before three months old. If your baby is little and demanding a certain method to get to sleep, it is because of the sensory feature of that sleep association, not the fact that your baby recalls it from one sleep to the next.
- Habits very commonly become a problem between 7 and 11 months old.
- Anything you don’t want to do for a long time to come or have to deal with breaking must be avoided after five months of age.
- Most babies develop bad habits after an illness and take a few days to readjust to the old ways.
- A habit is only bad if you are not happy with it. Anything is acceptable if it works in your home for the long term.
The Top 5 Good Sleep Habits to encourage:
- A doodoo blanky
An essential from 3 months onwards – find an object that has the following qualities:
a. You can replace it if lost
b. It can be washed
c. It is small enough to carry around in a nappy bag
d. It has soothing sensory qualities
- A dummy / pacifier or thumb
Any oral comfort that can be used without you is great – thumb, dummy or water bottle. Don’t listen to people who discourage dummies – they are GREAT!
- A water bottle for toddlers
If your toddler wants tea or milk during the night, he must get used to water.
- Being able to fall asleep independently
Any baby who can fall asleep on their own in the evening from 4 months onwards will be a good sleeper. Let your baby fall asleep independently by putting her down and walking out from 3 months old. Don’t go back into your baby’s room unless she is really crying. Moaning or fussing is fine to be left. As soon as your baby cries go back but help her to find a way to self-sooth to sleep.
- Falling asleep in a consistent sleep zone
Your baby must fall asleep in a consistent sleep space from 4 months onwards. The best place is a cot in a calming sleep space. Do not let your baby fall asleep in front of the TV ever.