young baby sleeping, studio picture

The quality and quantity of sleep that your baby receives has a profound impact on your home and family life.  Helping your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep is a learned skill which requires dedication as well as consistency to achieve. But how do you know which actions you are taking are helping and which are hurting your cause? As a continuation from last week, we will be discussing some bad newborn sleep habits to avoid.

Inclined Surfaces

The use of inclined surfaces during sleep is very tempting because babies tend to sleep incredibly well on inclined surfaces; however, this is considered one of our bad newborn sleep habits because the risks outweigh the reward. We want to make it clear that the reasons to avoid inclined surfaces have nothing to do with the quality of your baby’s sleep and are purely safety related. When your baby is inclined during sleep, it is possible for their head to tip forward and their airway to become constricted resulting in a condition known as positional asphyxiation. This condition can be fatal to your newborn, and no matter how high the quality of sleep is for them, it is not worth risking their life. It is also much easier for your newborn to tumble, fall or hit their head on something if they are inclined or propped up while they are sleeping. Separately, prolonged use of inclined surfaces for sleep makes it very difficult for your baby to transition to sleeping in a crib.


There are many different types of stimulation that your baby will encounter during their sleep cycles. The main issue with stimulation is that it has a tendency to awaken or energize baby rather than calm them to sleep making it one of our bad newborn sleep habits to avoid. Light can be quite stimulating for babies; even a nightlight can be enough to keep a baby awake after a night feeding. Sounds are another source of stimulation that frequently occurs in the home. The use of a sound machine with white noise is one way to cover up noises that may be made by pets or older siblings during sleep times. It is also advisable to avoid talking to baby or making eye contact at night because your interactions with baby are especially stimulating to them.

Nap and sleep schedule

Most children thrive on consistency and newborns are no different when it comes to sleep. Not being structured in organizing your baby’s awake and sleep times is considered one of our bad newborn sleep habits because a loose schedule can lead to your baby being overtired. The state of being overtired manifests itself as being awake for many crying uncontrollably and can create havoc within your family’s schedule. To help your baby avoid becoming overtired, establish a fixed amount of awake time between naps as well as awake and bed times. Keep in mind that every baby is different so it is okay to experiment with these times to find a schedule that will work for your baby and your family.

Looking for more information on good and bad newborn sleep habits? Check out “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Mark Weissbluth, MD.