What are sleep props, and what is considered a prop?!!

What are sleep props?

This is a super common question and a huge factor in sleep training. A sleep association known as a “sleep prop” is something that your child relies on to fall asleep. This can be both for bedtime as well as nap time. Sleep Associations are a totally natural thing. Even as adults we sometimes use something to help us sleep. A child’s sleep prop can be anything from nursing, rocking, pacifier, white noise, even mom and dad can be considered a sleep prop. And are using these every night to fall asleep. As some “sleep props” are completely common and fine for babies to use, it’s when your baby relies on that exact same prop to fall asleep each time. Therefore when they do wake in the night they need that exact same prop to fall asleep again.

Did you know that when people say their babies sleep through the night, that no baby or adult for that matter sleep straight through the night. It’s when you or a baby puts themselves back to sleep without signaling for mom or dad. When you have a baby that relies on nursing or rocking to sleep, when they wake in the night they want that exact same thing to go back to sleep. So when you eliminate these sleep associations, your baby will learn to self soothe themselves back to sleep. Which bring me to the next topic…

How to know if your baby has sleep associations?

As we all have sleep transitions between sleep cycles, a baby will typically need that sleep prop between each cycle when they slightly wake up. Signs of a sleep prop is that your child has poor sleep patterns. This is because they are very dependent on those props. So if your child is nursed to sleep and wakes in the night, they are going to cry for you wanting that comfort nurse to go back to sleep. That’s just one example. So many night waking’s can be linked to a sleep prop that they need to signal mom and dad for. One that they can’t reach or do themselves. Many parents wonder why their baby wake up after a half hour nap or 30-40 minutes after laying down to bed. This is because that is typically between sleep cycles. Therefore when they slightly wake up, there not where they were when they fell asleep. Another question I get is what are some common behaviours of a child that uses sleep props?

What are some common behaviours of a child that uses props to fall asleep?

  • Short or no naps-typically wake after one sleep cycle
  • Frequent night waking’s- Usually every couple of hours or more
  • Wakes up when being laid down in crib
  • Wakes up hysterical when realizes mom or dad is not there
  • Cranky, fussy, clingy during the day from not enough sleep
  • Will not let anyone else put them to bed
  • Baby will not go to sleep if the sleep prop is not available


A huge part of my sleep training packages is helping parents teach their child to fall asleep without the use of sleep props. Teaching them how to self soothe will not only help them get the proper sleep they need but also the whole house get a good night sleep. I remember before we had sleep trained our daughters I used to nurse them to sleep. Each night it was at least a half hour process of me nursing then sneaking out of the room praying that she not wake up. Because if she woke up I would have to start the entire process again. By helping your little one learn to self soothe will also give you the freedom to be able have anyone be able to put your child to sleep. As well as reconnect with your spouse again by actually being able to spend some quality time together. Which to me is very important to a marriage.
In my sleep packages with my detailed intake form I am able to determine which sleep props could be the culprit for night waking’s and short naps. If your little one naps at all. Because I feel so passionate about making sure your household get a proper sleep I wanted to take the time to explain why your child is waking multiple times a night and needing you to go back to sleep. If your thinking this might be the case with your little one, send me an email. Together we can asses the situation and work out some techniques to eliminate these issues.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this weeks blog. I truly hope it has given you some hindsight on your little ones sleep habits. Have a safe, fun filled, restful weekend!!