• Ashley Bell

Practice Makes Perfect

Updated: Mar 11

We've all heard the saying, "Practice makes perfect," right? Well, this is definitely true when a baby is practicing new #milestones. My little Gideon has recently mastered rolling both ways. He can get pretty far just by rolling!

He was over on the left just a minute prior.

Flashback a few weeks ago, and he was just beginning to roll from his back to his front. He had started #rolling from front to back at six weeks old, but didn't roll the other way until five months. When he first started, he really had to work at it. It could take him a few minutes to roll over just once. He would get half way and then flop back to where he started. His arms would sometimes get stuck underneath him or his legs would get caught on a toy. He certainly needed practice to master the skill!

Practicing during the day wasn't enough...he was also practicing at night, which affected all of our sleep. He would try to roll in his crib and get stuck up against the side or his legs would be dangling through the slats, so he would cry for us to come help him. Sometimes he would cry just because he wasn't used to sleeping on his stomach once he rolled there. Although he was able to roll to his back if he wanted to, he apparently had midnight amnesia and instead cried out for us to come roll him back over.

Nighttime practice is very common when a baby is learning a new skill. It can affect sleep, but it shouldn't be a permanent change. Most of the time, babies will return to their normal sleep habits once they master the skill. You may notice I said most of the time. There are times when sleep does not get better once a skill is mastered. This is either because he may be working on multiple skills at once, or because some habits and sleep dependencies were unknowingly formed during this time out of desperation to get some sleep. In this case, your little one won't go back to "normal" sleep without training (or retraining).

The best thing you can do is give your baby plenty of practice during the day so he can master the skill quickly...and stop practicing at night. Also, try not to intervene as long as you know your baby is safe. Having a video monitor is a great way to be able to check in on him without needing to go in. We would try to leave Gideon alone to figure it out unless we saw him struggling on the monitor. Otherwise, it's best to let him figure it out so he doesn't get used to you coming in and rolling him back over (or laying him back down when he's learning to sit or stand).

A developmental milestone can certainly cause a disruption in sleep as a baby practices the skill, but the good news is that his sleep should return to normal once the skill is mastered!

~Ashley Bell, pediatric sleep consultant

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Sleep Consultant Pittsburgh, PA


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