Although it sounds like a bad word, it’s not. Not all ‘Sleep Associations’ are negative. Most babies have issues settling and hence sleep associations can really be helpful for the baby’s sleep and hence the mother’s. Sleep associations are especially useful for parents who do not believe in sleep training.
A sleep association is something a baby associates with falling asleep. It can be anything from a crib to a darkened room, a special blanket or toy, patting on the back to just about anything. Sleep associations can be good or bad, depending on the baby’s age and your sleep goals. At every age, certain sleep associations can come to your rescue. The problem arises when the sleep association is carried on beyond the recommended age.
With my little one, Tania, being a terrible sleeper through her initial months coupled with her being colicky, several sleep associations came to my rescue and I graduated from one to the other till the time she learned to sleep peacefully.
Babies like to be wrapped as it makes them feel secure and it contains their startle reflex in the initial months. Although, when your baby is able to wriggle out of it, it’s time to stop. Swaddling worked for us till Tania was 4 months.
This was my real life-savior during her colicky phase. White noise is a mix of high and low pitched rumbles and whooshes, like the sound the baby is used to hearing in the womb. You can download it on your smart-phone or buy a white-noise machine and keep it on through the sleep period. This especially helps babies in staying asleep. White noise can be used all through the baby’s first year.
It’s lovely to have your newborn fall asleep as they nurse; and super helpful to establish a great nursing relationship. However, one has to be extremely careful, as this can also lead to your baby becoming a bad sleeper, and frequent night wakening. Hence, one has to alter the nursing routine as the baby grows up, definitely before they are 6 months old.
4. Sleeping bags and sleep-sacks
This is one of the most harmless of sleep associations and gives the baby a very cozy and comforting feeling. All you need to ensure is that you keep a couple of extra sacks, which you will need when you put the first one for a wash or if you misplace it.
Halo SleepSack Micro Fleece Wearable Blanket
5. Lovies and Blankies
This one is my personal favorite. A lovie is any security object, which your baby can take to sleep. It can be a soft toy to a piece of cloth or blanket or just about any safe object. Not only is it effective in getting your baby to sleep, but also works beautifully for re-settling when the baby wakes up in-between.
Natural Lovie Blankie-Purple Elephant
Continuous soft, soothing music works well especially as babies grow up a little.
7. The controversial one: Rocking
Rocking in a cradle worked extremely well for me during Tania’s colicky phase. Although, I must admit, it became a pretty strong sleep association for a while and needed a bit of effort to get over. However, I would still put it in the harmless category, since it has no real flip-side and babies do outgrow it once they learn to sit and become more mobile.
Please share your experiences and recommendations which will be of great help to other moms in the comment box below