One of our first blog posts was one Melissa wrote about turning off your monitor. It was a helpful article about the importance of allowing you, as parents, to get a sound night’s sleep without being disrupted by the small and frequent noises our babies make when they shift between sleep cycles! I remember when our youngest (now 8-months-old) was about 4 months – I had moved her into her own room and was still using the baby monitor. I was being woken up frequently throughout the night – not only when she needed to be fed and cried but also when she was “fussing.” I was not getting any uninterrupted sleep and doctors say that undisrupted sleep is just as important, if not more so, then length of sleep. So, although my daughter was sleeping for a total of around 13 hours, I was really only getting about three hours at a time and I was exhausted.
A friend came over to visit about that time and said to me, “Jeez – just turn off your monitor. What are you waiting for?” It’s funny that as a sleep consultant I needed a friend to state the obvious but I think I had been nervous. Although I knew my baby’s cries would be heard, I somehow felt guilty that turning it off would be neglecting her. Well…4 months later, I can honestly say that everyone is resting much better. Because my daughter sleeps for 12 hours without interruption, I can also get about eight hours of uninterrupted sleep and I’m a much happier mom, wife, and professional.
Since the birth of my first daughter and Melissa’s two children, video monitors have become more popular and now seem widely used. We believe there are some pros and cons to using them and, if used to excess, they can be pretty disruptive to your child’s sleep. Here are our tips for using video monitors:
Don’t watch it like it’s your favorite TV show! Tune in once in a while to see how sweet your little one is when he’s sleeping, but don’t watch it continuously.
Don’t fret when you check and notice your little one is awake! As long as he’s safe and quiet, there’s no need to worry. Babies have sleep cycles and may wake as they transition between cycles. As sleep consultants, we’re thrilled that he’s putting himself back to sleep!
Don’t go into your baby’s room every time you notice her in a strange position or awake – let her work herself out! She’ll go back to sleep on her own.
Use an audio monitor (or just your ears) and when she’s crying, THEN check on the video monitor to see what’s going on. I do this all the time. When I hear my baby cry, I check on the monitor. Did she drop her paci? Roll onto her tummy? Get her leg stuck in a crib slat? Those are easy and quick fixes…run in and run out! If I see that she’s just crying and is safe, I leave her for a few minutes to see if she’ll calm herself and practice her self-soothing skills. It’s easier to do that when I know she’s safe!
When used well, video monitors can be really helpful when you start sleep training. And I love being able to watch her sleep so peacefully – it helps me sleep like a baby!