What is a “Sleep Prop”?

You may have heard the term “sleep prop” and wondered what it means.

Well, props are likely things you are currently using to get your little one to sleep each night and for naps. Sleep props can be anything or anyone that your baby  uses to fall asleep. Here is a list of the most common props:

  • nursing or bottle feeding
  • soothers
  • rocking/bouncing
  • swings
  • driving
  • carriers
  • bringing baby into your bed

If They Work, What’s the Problem?

The problem is that props only work for a short time and then they actually cause your little one to wake up.  For example, you may be able to pop a soother in your baby’s mouth and she will drift off to sleep quickly and easily. However, when the soother falls out, she will wake up and need you to put the soother back into her mouth.  The same goes for any prop. The longer you use a prop, the more your child will need it.  If you take a prop like rocking for example, in the past you may have rocked your baby for 10 minutes and he would fall asleep. Then you started having to rock him for 20 min, then 30, sometimes up to an hour and then he wakes up right when you put him in the crib! Not only that, each time your baby wakes in the night, he will need you to come back in and rock him as he has learned that rocking is the way to fall asleep.  While props seem great at first, they end up creating more work for you (and your baby) in the long run as your baby will never learn to sleep all night if he or she is using a prop AND the props usually stop working!

There is Good News

If you find that your baby has become dependent on a prop and it is no longer working or is working less often, then your baby is telling you that she is ready to start learning to sleep independently. You can avoid feeling frustrated about endlessly rocking your baby or feeding her every single hour if you allow your baby to fall asleep without these props.  This certainly will take some work as your baby will initially be confused and not understand what to do when you put her in the crib.  Try using other soothing techniques such as tummy rubs or bum pats to help your little one stay calm when trying to fall asleep without their favourite prop. It will likely take several days for your baby to get used to the new sleep routine, but if you stick with it, your baby will learn to sleep without the prop, which will allow her to sleep longer and more soundly.

If you think your baby is dependent on a prop and would like help teaching him or her to sleep without it, please contact me at 604.984.0116 or leslie@akissgoodnight.ca.