This simple key is an absolute essential to helping your baby develop good sleep habits. Many parents and babysitters enjoy holding, nursing, or rocking their baby to sleep. Sleep is a skill that your baby needs to learn. Just as throwing a ball for your child does not teach him how to throw the ball, getting your child to sleep by rocking, nursing or pacifying him does not allow him to learn how to get himself to sleep.
Babysitters cannot overstress the importance of good sleep habits for your baby. Good sleep habits are important not only for your child but also for the happy functioning of your family. A baby that wakes up at night usually disrupts the entire family’s sleep. Babies that can’t fall asleep on their own also tend to be unable to go back to sleep on their own when they awaken at night. Studies show that babies who don’t get enough sleep have shorter attention spans, don’t learn as well, and have disruptive behaviour. Some studies show that poor sleep habits formed during infancy can continue into adolescence and adulthood.
Putting your baby down for a nap or at bedtime when he is awake shouldn’t be difficult. Babysitter encourages parents to put him in his crib, give him a kiss and say goodnight. Leave the room. Going to bed should not be a big production. Be loving, but don’t linger. If you hear him fussing or crying, don’t return for at least five minutes. If you do need to return, reassure him that you are just outside the room and tell your baby that it is time to go to sleep. Leave again. Repeat as necessary. This skill should only take a few days to learn. Most babysitters have experienced that even the most difficult sleepers will usually improve within a week during their babysitting. If you start putting your baby to bed awake when he is first born, your baby will learn from birth how to comfort himself and go to sleep on his own. This is a wonderful skill for him to have for life!