Some newborns are angel babies. They eat when the ought to, they sleep when you want them to, and they smile and coo and gurgle when they’re up.
Some babies are just regular. They’re not super easy, but not crazy hard. They basically do what you expect of them, even if they’re not 100% perfectly enjoyable all the time.
Some newborns are super sensitive. Miss their awake time limit by just 3 minutes – and you’re deep into overtired territory. “Colic” or PURPLE are the nightly name of the game or, if they’re not overtired, then when they’re up they’re just UP, looking around, taking the world in.
And some babies are so super sensitive that they’re prop snobs. Yes. Prop Snobs.
What’s a prop snob?
So before we can talk about prop snobs, we gotta talk about props. For a full rundown, head on over HERE.
For a short version: a prop is anything that your baby (or, toddler, preschooler, kid, you, etc.) uses, outside of his or her own body, to fall asleep.
And a prop snob is a baby who rebuffs props as they ought to be used.
The way new newborns, lovely, clueless, brand-new newborns, are supposed to work is like this: Baby is tired. Mommy/Tatty/babysitter/Bubby/etc. rocks/nurses/bottlefeeds/etc. baby to sleep. Baby goes into crib, and stays sleeping – at least for 45 minutes or so, if not a couple hours.
With some babies, it can be unpredictable – is it going to work this time, or not? Do I have to wait till he’s really really deeply asleep, or can I put him down once he’s mostly asleep?
But with prop snobs, their mommies know: regardless of what you do or don’t do before you put that baby down, once they’re down, you have 5-10 minutes TOPS before he’s up. (And if it’s a full 10 minutes, you’re lucky!)
When that baby falls asleep with a prop, they will need that prop to stay in order to stay asleep.
New Newborns vs. Older Newborns vs. Older Babies
The reason that props tend not to be a problem for newborns the way they are for older babies is that they’re just not as smart, and their sleep works differently.
Most newborns under 8 weeks or so don’t really understand anything about cause and effect. What happens happens, what doesn’t doesn’t, and it all *whoosh*es over baby’s head. Even when props do start playing with baby’s sleep, it doesn’t start being a problem until around 6-9 weeks.
Between 8 and 12 weeks is an in-between stage. Baby is still a newborn in much of her capabilities, but she’s starting to chap more. She may wake when her prop disappears, find it difficult to fall asleep without a prop, and develop some level of expectations… but she’s still not necessarily able to self-soothe, and her sleep is still more “fetal” than regular.
Around 3 months, she’ll hit a neurological developmental leap: all of a sudden she’ll be able to self-soothe, her sleep will mature to the rhythms and cycles that we adults experience, and, by 4 months, she’ll be in a whole different playing field.
What I call “prop snob” is definitely normal for babies beyond 3-4 months of age (and I’ve seen plenty of babies who were simply nursed to sleep as newborns, but have that suddenly turn into a song-and-dance routine once they hit that mark), and can also be more common for babies after about 8 weeks of age.
The time that I don’t expect to see it is… during the new newborn stage. (Which is exactly when my sweet little boy decided to put his snob-skills to good use.)
So what do you do when you’ve got a prop snob?
There are two solutions to Prop-Snobbery:
1. Only and always use props all sleep for every single sleep.
2. Teach baby to fall asleep on his own.
Most people don’t even know that the second option is even an option — after all, you can’t sleep train newborns! — and end up stuck in the bottomless whirlpool of crying baby, co-laying-awake-and-getting-kicked-in-the-spleen (otherwise known as co-sleeping), and sleeplessness.
And, while that’s a totally valid option (and, in fact, may be ideal for some people), it is important to know that the second option exists.
Teaching a newborn to fall asleep on his own definitely isn’t easy; there’s a lot you have to do before you even start with the independent sleep piece (check out my free guide by clicking that pretty little yellow button to your right for a basic foundation of the “before” pieces), and even once you’ve got that down pat, it can take a lot of time and patience – because, no, you can’t “sleep train” a newborn.
Since newborns usually can’t self-soothe yet (that means going from crying to calm), you have to do the “calming down” piece for them by cuddling them, holding them, shushing them, etc. while allowing them to do the actual “fall asleep” piece on their own in their sleep area.
For some babies, it goes pretty smoothly; for others, it can take a lot of tweaking and revising before we actually get there – and it’s something I’ve refined and perfected and built into an amazing part of my Mommy + Me Newborn Transformation package.
If your little prop snob is giving you a run for your money and you’re ready to turn things around, let’s talk about how we can get you all sleeping better, calmer and feeling more confident about this sleep thing.