As a child sleep consultant and mother to three little girls, I have experienced first-hand the growing dependence many new parents have on baby monitors.
In fact, some parents are now “addicted” to watching their child’s every move while they sleep and quickly respond as soon as baby so much as twitches.
But while parents may think they’re doing the right thing, this baby monitor addiction is actually creating unhealthy sleep associations. Young babies sleep mostly in a light sleep state. They tend to toss and move about, making noises which can be mistaken for waking. What they are really trying to do is resettle and move into their next sleep cycle. Instead, babies become reliant on someone to resettle them back to sleep.
Break the Baby Monitor Habit
An over-reliance on technology means baby doesn’t have the chance to settle…
Over-reliance on baby monitors is bad everyone’s sleep – parents and baby. Parents watching on the monitor may rush into the room to replace a fallen dummy or to pat a stirring baby back to sleep. This can sometimes have the opposite affect and the presence of a parent can wake the little one up completely. This behaviour in turn stifles the child’s own settling ability, leaving them reliant on mum or dad to respond to them all night long.
And that mum and dad never relax…
Anxious and sleep deprived parents are unable to switch off and completely relax at night as they feel that with the monitor on, they are “on duty” and not able to sleep when they should. Parents experience consistently increased adrenalin levels which can really impact their emotional state of mind, as they are not getting the restorative sleep needed to prevent severe sleep deprivation.
Switching things up
At a recent sleep consultation, I observed parents attending to their child several times to replace the dummy. The parents were exhausted and feeling resentful; this was occurring all night and during day sleeps too. When something requires this much energy and intervention, it is time for a change!
Let me be clear; there is definitely a place for baby monitors in the parenting tool box. For infants with medical conditions, pre-term babies, or babies that sleep so quietly you often find yourself leaning in to hear them breathe, baby monitors can give parents the peace of mind and assurance they crave.
The happy place is how you choose to use you monitor and not letting it be part of a negative cycle for you and baby.
Safe sleeping guidelines
As long as parents and carers follow SIDS guidelines and practice safe sleeping, they should be able to trust that their little one is safe in their bassinet or cot. If concerned, leaving the door ajar when they are sleeping during the day can be reassuring. I personally recommend room sharing for the first six months as I believe it is a wonderful bonding experience, as well as being a safe option as you know your little one is right next to you when they need you.
So why not play it safe?
- Stay within hearing distance,
- use frequent checks,
- leave the door ajar
If your baby needs you, you can be sure they will let you know!
Better baby monitor use
- Use your baby monitor to know baby is safe – not to resettle them constantly.
- Avoid re-settling constantly because baby will not learn this skill themselves.
- Allow yourself to switch off and have downtime – don’t let monitor watching control your baby-free time!
- Use the SIDS guidelines and know baby is safe.
About the author
Chantal Cohen is a certified sleep consultant. As a mother of three small girls and wife to Jeremy, when she’s not baby whispering or singing Wiggles tunes you’ll find her drinking tea and reading on her back verandah. Chantal has over 18 years’ experience helping new mothers to find their confidence, small children to tie their shoes and encouraging tiny wriggly babies to go to sleep!