That’s my new baby girl on the baby monitor. My family and I were lucky enough to welcome her to the mix this past winter.  It’s been a while since we’ve had a newborn in our home, just over 5 years to be exact.  In that time I’ve learned a great deal about sleep and become passionate about helping families get the sleep they need.  As her arrival neared, I had a well thought out plan on how I would do things differently this time around and encourage healthy sleep habits from the start.  One of the ways I decided to do this was by purchasing a video baby monitor.

A video baby monitor is a helpful tool in teaching the skill of independent sleep.  When your baby is reaching a developmental milestone, like rolling or pulling up to stand, a video monitor allows you to see why sleep is interrupted and respond appropriately.  A video monitor is also helpful if you have a child who is jumping out of the crib or a big kid who is playing instead of sleeping.  In all of these cases, this technology assists parents in making adjustments to promote better sleep.  There are times, however, when a video baby monitor leads to parents being too involved in or even interrupting their child’s sleep.  Below are signs that you need to monitor your baby monitoring:

1.  Your monitoring is sabotaging your method. If you’ve chosen a method to teach your baby the skill of sleep and your video monitor is making you feel as though you can’t follow through with your method, you either need to turn off the monitor or choose a method you feel more comfortable with.  If seeing your child on the screen is causing you to be inconsistent with teaching the behaviour of sleep, you’ll need to re-evaluate your plan.

2. You’re too quick to end a nap.  A baby’s sleep cycle is typically about 45 minutes in length.  Between sleep cycles, it’s common for a baby to make some noise and change positions.  This doesn’t mean the nap is over, it just means that the first sleep cycle is transitioning into the second sleep cycle.  If you’re over-monitoring your child, you may not allow her the space to make the transition.  The result is a tired baby who has a difficult time completing a nap extension and develops into a short napper.

3. You’re feeling anxiety as your baby falls asleep.  Of course, it’s important to ensure your child is safe in the crib, but if you’re staring at the screen and taking notes on each time your baby rolled from one side to the other or how often she rubbed her eyes or sucked her thumb, you probably need to turn off the screen.  We all develop ways in which we settle ourselves into sleep and our babies are no different.  If the monitor is causing you stress instead of giving your comfort, you may need to turn it off.

Alysa Dobson is a Certified Child Sleep Consultant with SleepWell Baby. She works with families to help them get the sleep they need. Alysa offers support to parents with children ages 4 months- 8 years old through both in home and remote consultations. She can be contacted at alysa@sleepwellbaby.ca.
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