Is rocking your baby harmful? Watch out for sleep associations

Is rocking your baby a bad idea? It depends. Cuddling your baby and showing lots of love and affection is never a bad idea! It's only when your child's rocking becomes something you can't keep up with that it's a problem. Let's take a step back and let me explain what a sleep association is.

What are your sleep associations? When do you fall asleep?

What kind of routine do you do every night before you go to sleep?

Do you watch television?

Do you chat with your partner?

Are you reading a book?

Are you lying on a pillow?

It's the kind of thing you associate with falling asleep every night. If the electricity went out and you couldn't watch your series on Netflix or read your favorite book, what would happen?

Would you have problems falling asleep? Maybe, maybe not.

Without your pillow, would you have trouble falling asleep? It is likely that this would cause you problems.

Some correlations with sleep are more important than others. What if you fell asleep with your pillow and blankets on and woke up two hours later and they were gone? Without looking for a pillow, will you be able to fall back asleep? Now let's see how your baby or child may be influenced by this idea of ​​"sleep associations" .

What is your child's sleep association? How does your child fall asleep?

Let's look at the number of babies who fall asleep. They can fall asleep when cradled in a rocking chair by their mother or father, wrapped up and very comfortable in their parents' arms. Or, while breastfeeding or drinking their bottle, they can fall asleep. Or, the simple act of using a pacifier makes them doze off. None of these methods of falling asleep cause problems until there is one, apart from the teething problem with formula milk afterwards.

When my son was very young. He loved being walked, rocked and nursed to sleep. He also liked to nap on the rotating swing. At first this was not a concern. He fell asleep quickly and we put him to bed. Yet a few weeks later, I found myself rocking him every night for 2-3 hours to put him to bed. He fell asleep quickly, but when I put him to bed, he woke up ! Ah! Ah! And then when he woke up, I had to do it again every 1-2 hours.

It was exhausting, and I was at my wit's end! So we went to bed together, which gave us both more sleep, but I was so anxious that I covered him with blankets and at the same time took care of him. I'm not the best sleeper, so I had trouble getting back to sleep every time he needed to nurse.

For many, co-sleeping works and I don't denigrate it. It just didn't work for us, and knowing what works best for them is crucial for any family. I was able to bring him back to his crib at 4 months old after learning sleep associations and we both slept a lot more after that!

Bad baby sleep habits

The problem with sleep associations is that your child wants YOU to recreate the atmosphere in which he fell asleep. YOU become his "pillow" and he doesn't know how to get back to sleep because he wakes up from sleep transitions (which we all have!) and his "pillow" is gone. The key is therefore to encourage them to fall asleep in the same way that they wake up frequently during the night. If they wake up briefly and you have "disappeared" or the movement has stopped (like my son) or their pacifier has disappeared or...they will wake up more and have to call you again so that you can "help" them.

The beauty of it is that they don't "need" you as much as you think when they are 3-4 months old and they can really learn to fall asleep on their own. they haven't learned so far.

Even good practices can become bad habits

I want to clarify that it's not a bad thing to rock your baby, use a pacifier, feed or drink a bottle before bed, etc. If you don't mind rocking your baby for 10 minutes and he falls asleep, you put him in his bed and he sleeps through the night, so there's no problem. It only becomes a problem when you can't keep up because your baby gets used to it and keeps asking for more .

Keep in mind that fragmenting your sleep that wears you out is no better for your baby than it is for you. If you're grumpy, don't you think he will be too in time? I would have liked to continue rocking my son before he fell asleep. But we fell back into bad habits more than once , and it became a problem for him each time. Eventually, after he learned the skills to go back to sleep for the rest of the night, I was able to continue nursing him to sleep. With luck and practice, even without a pillow, we can all discover a new way to sleep!

What kinds of sleep associations do you have? What about your child? Share your tips or ask questions if you want in the comments below.

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