Picture this: you want your partner to learn to clean the bathroom properly so you hand them the cleaning tools and walk away. This will be great, right? They will be scrubbing the grout with Mr. Clean and a tooth brush in no time! Well, they better be, because if you help them, or walk them through it, or model it for them, they will just expect you to do it for them! Right?!?!  Ok, it’s not really the same. Or at all. But my point is, what you do to give your newborn what they need now, will not negatively affect their development later. There is a narrative that exists that states that you are “ruining” your newborn’s hope for independent sleep, if you provide too much sleep help. Spoiler alert: you can’t spoil a newborn! Newborns do not know how to self-soothe. The newborn phase is a time to get to know your little one; read their cues and give them what they require as efficiently as possible. They need assistance to fall asleep now, and in fact, this assistance is laying the foundation for great sleep later on. You can slowly start to work on independent sleep now or when they are out of the newborn phase, and either way, the “sleep crutches” you provide your newborn will not hinder their ability to sleep independently later. When it’s time, you will scale back intervention, as you are being responsive and fostering independence. Let’s go through the 7 things you may be doing that are definitely NOT spoiling your newborn. In fact, they may actually be helping! 

 

1. Swinging 

Baby’s love a gentle consistent swinging motion and if you are kind enough to offer this whenever they want it, then as fit as you may be, your arms will likely start to give way like an ill-timed sinkhole. What’s a parent to do? You can trade off with your partner, or unsuspecting friend/family member. There are also many baby products that offer a swinging motion such as the Mamaroo or Snoo however I caution you to do your research and follow the AAP’s safe sleep guidelines (or your country’s equivalent). You can also transfer your baby to a flat, firm, safe-sleep surface as soon as they drift off, however don’t be super surprised if the moment you turn it off, their eyes pop open like a jack-in-the-box. In this case, I would move on to a contact nap. 

 

2. Baby Wearing 

There are so many benefits to baby wearing, and you can find lots of articles on the attachment benefits of it. The other great benefit is that not only do you get in lots of baby snuggles while they are sleeping, but you have your hands free to do what you need to do (read: make a cup of coffee and consider brushing your hair). Whether your babe is in a wrap or a carrier, on mom or dad, rest assured, you are not spoiling your little one. 

 

3. Nursing to Sleep 

If you’ve been around a while you know that I talk a lot about the difference between nursing TO sleep and nursing BEFORE sleep, and that once you are starting to sleep train (teaching baby the skills of falling asleep independently) then you definitely don’t want to be nursing TO sleep. That being said, it is going to happen with your newborn, and it’s totally ok! When they are itty bitty you do not need to be focused on independent sleep. Newborns do not have self-soothing skills, and one of the ways they love to be soothed is nursing. So during those first three months, it’s totally ok if your newborn falls asleep at the end of nursing. However, there are two things you want to be cognizant of. One, is making sure you are getting in good full feeds and your baby isn’t falling asleep before they are full. The other is, as you get closer to the four-month mark, you can start putting greater time between nursing and sleeping, so you are only nursing before sleep instead of TO sleep. This will help greatly when you start sleep training. 

 

4. Contact Naps 

Sometimes the only way you can get your newborn to sleep is ON you, and transferring them to the crib once they are asleep is as successful as dry January during a pandemic. Totally normal! There’s no need to stress about having allllll the contact naps. Enjoy these snuggles while you can and feel confident knowing that you are actually preventing overtiredness and laying the foundation for great sleep. 

 

5. Stroller Naps 

Contact naps can be so so great, and filling up that cuddle tank is just the best feeling. Unless you start to feel touched out, trapped, and about to lose your marbles if you don’t get out of that dark, lonely nursery right. this. second. We’ve all been there! And stroller naps are a great way to get outside, get some fresh air, a little exercise, and are full of absolutely zero baby spoiling. If getting out and having your newborn take an “on the go” stroller nap is what you need, then do it! Again, remember to follow AAP safe sleep guidelines and supervise your baby closely/transfer to a flat, firm safe-sleep space once they fall asleep. 

 

6. Pacifiers 

Pacifiers are right up there with co-sleeping and politics; people have a lot of opinions on them. And not that you asked, but my opinion is that they are great for newborns. They are an awesome tool for newborns to self-soothe and can be more beneficial than nursing to comfort when your little one wants to suck. AND you don’t need to drop the pacifier to sleep train! So if your babe is attached to the soother, then there is no need to host a soother goodbye party quite yet. In fact, I recommend either dropping the pacifier after sleep training (before 6 months) or wait until they are 2 years old. This is because after 6 months they often become quite enamored with them and as long as you are using an age appropriate one just at night, there shouldn’t be any issues. 

 

7. Rocking to Sleep 

The most common of all the ways to lull that baby off to dreamland is to rock to sleep. In your arms, on your lap, bouncing on a yoga ball, rocking in a chair (hopefully a comfortable one).  Many of us spend HOURS rocking our babies to sleep however it is a short season, so honestly, try to enjoy it. This can be a great way to relax in a dark, quiet space, get caught up on IG, bond with your little one, and get some solid naps in to prevent overtiredness. Soak up those snuggles and alone time, because, like we’ve all be told, the days are long, but the years are short. 

 

What is hopefully clear by now, is that the key to getting great newborn sleep is preventing overtiredness. And the way to prevent overtiredness is to remember that sleep begets sleep. So doing whatever is needed to get those naps in and keep wake windows around 60 minutes will totally pay off. You are laying the foundation for great baby sleep and once they are ready to sleep train (at 4 months) your baby will already be ahead of the game. For more tips on preventing overtiredness and literally everything you need to get amazing newborn sleep, check out my Newborn Essentials Sleep Video Course and my Newborn Guide Pack

Disclaimer: As always, my number one priority is safety. So always make sure you are using baby sleep products that meet the safety standards of your country and that baby is always in a safe sleep space when they are not being directly supervised.