Infant Sleep Training: Is It Safe?

baby sleeping on crib

The first thing you’ll notice about the title of this post is that it specifically states infant sleep training. Now, if you were to ask me if newborn sleep training was safe, I’d respond by stating that newborns just need to be and grow, and not to worry about sleep training. However, the age in question pertains to infants, so the short answer is yes, infant sleep training is safe. Let’s take a look.

Infant sleep training and safety

When Philadelphia-area parents ask me if it’s safe to try sleep training with their infant, I’ve learned to read between the lines. What they’re really asking is whether sleep training their infant will traumatize and psychologically damage their baby. And if we explore the question even further, what parents are really asking when they ask me if it’s safe is whether their baby will be left to cry without any comforting.

Crying connection

Look, crying comes naturally to an infant, just like eating and evacuating. And most parents can likely discern the difference between an “I’m hungry” cry and a “my diaper’s wet” cry. It’s how our babies communicate discomfort, hunger, and pain with us. And because no parent likes to hear their little one cry without comforting them, the thought of letting their baby lie in a crib alone — all quivering lips and soft wails — is just unbearable to think about. I get it, I really do. Infant sleep training is not meant to make your baby suffer, it’s meant to teach your baby how to self-soothe by giving them the space to figure it out. The short answer — if you’re wondering how to sleep train your baby — is that it doesn’t involve leaving them to cry it out for hours on end.

Blame Dr. Sears

Dr. Sears and The Baby Book are to blame for creating fear surrounding sleep training and bouts of crying. Thanks to the incorrect use of research findings, Dr. Sears spread fear that persistent crying was damaging to a baby’s brain. The reality is that prolonged crying due to abuse and neglect can have ill effects, but short bouts of discomfort and crying prove to have no ill effect.

In 2012, Dr. Anna Price of the Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health in Australia conducted research to measure the effects of sleep, stress regulation, maternal health, parenting styles, and mental health on children. A five-year follow-up showed that those children subjected to sleep training techniques showed no long-lasting ill effects.

Here’s the thing — I won’t likely change the minds of those who already believe that infant sleep training is harmful. I understand that, which is why I try to provide you with as much information as possible. If the thought of working with your infant doesn’t sit well with you, and you can make it longer with broken sleep, then consider sleep training toddler instead.

Whatever the case, realize that when the time is right, I can work with your family to show you how to sleep train your baby. Give me a call today!

Parents and Sleep: Why the Holidays Aren’t Always Full of R&R

If you watch Saturday Night Live (SNL), you likely remember the brilliant skit from last year, featuring Matt Damon and Cecily Strong, called, “Best Christmas Ever.” The SNL skit features two tired parents sitting down on Christmas night, enjoying a glass of wine and recapping the day’s events. From the early wakeup to hosting family, they recap the day fondly, despite it being hellish and stressful. The skit is funny because so many American parents can relate. Let’s take a look at why parents don’t sleep over the holidays and how to avoid slumber pitfalls.

Holiday cheer

It’s a well-known fact that those who do imbibe tend to ramp up their alcohol consumption between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. Unsurprisingly, alcohol.org lists holidays that fall between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve as three of the top ten times of drinking throughout the year, in terms of consumption.

While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a couple of drinks over the holidays, especially when celebratory get-togethers abound, the real sacrifice is a good night’s sleep. Why some adults may equate consuming alcoholic beverages with socializing and relaxation, the reality is that those beverages aren’t doing them any favors in the sleep department. Simply put, consuming alcohol before bedtime disrupts sleep.

You sleep how you eat

Cookies, pies, stuffing, mashed potatoes, fat-laden dips — from parties to heavy meals, many Americans indulge over the holidays. Just as alcohol consumption before bed disrupts sleep, eating heavy, rich foods — and eating late — can be a GI disaster when it comes time to sleep. In fact, many of the foods commonly served and consumed over the holidays — low in fiber and high in fat and sugar — are the perfect recipe for a disastrous night of sleep.

Think about the number of meals and parties you attend each holiday season — how many of them offer food? What you eat affects how you sleep, and food choices you made at an afternoon get together can come back to haunt you when it’s time to get some zzzzzs. If you want to feel rested over the holidays, try not to overindulge or stray from your normal diet too much.

And then there’s the stress of it all

Parents find themselves juggling to get everything done even outside of the holiday season, so when the holidays come around, stress mounts. Buying gifts, planning dinners, hosting friends and family — there aren’t enough hours to get it all done! And when time runs short for holiday preparations, parents often dip into the overnight hours. Protect your sleep, fellow parents — you need it!

With a reported third of Americans reporting stress levels on the rise over the holidays, it’s no wonder we don’t feel rested! So, instead of succumbing to the stresses of the season, arm yourself with tools to fight holiday stress. Practice the self-care we often speak of, but rarely follow through with — there’s no better time than now.

Instead of staying up all night to assemble that Barbie Dream House, remember that your own sweet dreams are what will help you make it through the craziness of the holidays. Wishing you a wonderfully restful holiday season, fellow parents — you’ve got this!

Don’t Begin Sleep Training for Little Ones on Holiday

If you need sleep training for your toddler or infant sleep training, the holidays may not be the best time to start. It’s hard enough keeping up with all the festivities let alone learning how to sleep train a baby. You and your precious one will both be tuckered out and you may be setting yourself up for failure. You’re better off waiting until the celebrations are over and then looking for a sleep coach for your baby.

Infant Sleep Training: Enter the No Judgment Zone

infant sleep with mom

“No, I’m not plugging a national chain of gyms, I’m letting you know that when you come to me you’re in a safe space. Over my years of infant sleep training along Philadelphia’s Main Line I’ve seen just about everything, so not much surprises me these days. I also know that by the time parents seek my help, they’re exhausted and looking for a solution. This is why Gift of Sleep Consulting is a judgment-free zone.”

Infant sleep training: been there, seen it, own the t-shirt

Whether you’re co-sleeping or rocking your baby to sleep each night, I’m not here to judge. What I will say is that I’d rather you be room-sharing than co-sleeping for both you and your baby’s sake, but only because I want you both to get a good night’s rest! The reality is that you’re not the first and you won’t be the last to share that there are roadblocks preventing your infant from getting a good night’s sleep.

Many parents put their baby’s in their cribs after they’re already asleep and they fall into a cycle of holding or rocking baby until they’re asleep and putting them down again. Many parents don’t understand why their baby is having issues — until I ask them how they’d react to falling asleep in one place and waking in another. Scary thought, right? Many of the families who come to me just need an outsider to take a thorough look at what’s going on and offer suggestions.

Sleep training a toddler: breaking the bed-hogging bandit

We’ve all seen the memes with parents in bed and a toddler’s feet right in their faces or taking up most of the bed. No matter how big the bed you buy, when you share with a toddler you’ll spend the night vying for space!

Sleep training toddlers involves keeping them in their rooms, in their beds and asleep. For some families, this may seem like an impossible feat, but that’s where I come in. Whether your toddler is still feeding at night or has been in your bed for months — I’m not here to judge, I’m here to help.

If you’re looking for a sleep coach for baby, whether in the Philadelphia area or anywhere around the world (I do video conferences), you’re likely feeling vulnerable and raw. I understand that the last thing you want is to feel judged — you really just want someone to listen and point you in the right direction.

I have a Facebook group dedicated to being a judgment-free zone where parents can come and post questions: Respectful Sleep Coaching and Support. No question you have for me is a “dumb” question, so ask away! And, as always, you can call me for a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation.

How to Sleep Train Your Baby: Is the Pacifier Bad?

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As a pediatric sleep consultant in Philadelphia’s Main Line, the most common question I get — whether in-person or via email — is an obvious one: how to sleep train your baby. What many people don’t realize is that the answer varies depending on the variables, which include everything from the baby to the nursery setup. Today I’m tackling a common sleep training question: is the pacifier bad?

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More of My Favorite Things: A Sleep Gift Guide

While you won’t find me frolicking in a dirndl dress in the Alps, I am singing the praises of some of my favorite sleep-related things. Perhaps the number one concern with new parents, and certainly one of the most contentious new parent topics, babies and sleep are big business. From a thousand-dollar bassinet — that boasts the ability to sleep train your baby — to melatonin, desperate parents turn to these gadgets for the promise of help.

Unfortunately, I’m the bearer of bad news. Most of the baby sleep products on the market — including the two above — are gimmicky or promote lousy sleep habits, which you want to avoid. However, there are some sleep products that I swear by and recommend to my clients — take a look:

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Sleep Training Your Toddler with a Trusted Sleep Coach for Baby in Philadelphia: 18 to 24-Month Sleep Regression

two year old sleep regression

You’ve been blessed with a good sleeper from the start, but suddenly your little one is fighting daytime naps and waking in the night. What is going on? You’re likely experiencing the dreaded 18 to 24-month sleep regression. Don’t worry, you’re in good company. As your trusted sleep coach for baby in Philadelphia, I will help you get everyone back on track in no time. Let’s talk about sleep training your toddler during a sleep regression.

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When Should You Hire a Sleep Coach for Your Baby?

baby sleeping

Ahh, the early days of parenting. Perhaps you’re in that period when your newborn is adjusting to day and night, or you have a hungry baby who wakes every hour or so. No matter the cause, you are desperate for sleep and looking for help. If you’re wondering when the right time is to hire a sleep coach for your baby, this is the blog for you.

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Expect the Unexpected: Traveling with Young Children

Today’s blog is a guest blog by Lauren Stevens, a client of mine more than SIX years ago! She recently embarked on a two-week European vacation with her husband and six-year-old son. Lauren’s here today to share how hopping continents and time zones went and how she handled major changes in her son’s typically consistent bedtime routine.

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Snoring, Mouth Breathing…and Sleep

There is almost nothing more adorable than a conked-out baby, arms splayed around their head, gently snuffling away in slumber, right? The term, “sleep like a baby,” captures the peaceful, relaxed nature of babies sleeping, and it’s the type of sleep that a lot of adults aspire to achieve. However, those cute baby snores–and mouth breathing–can be signs that something else is afoot; something that can be preventing your little one from getting the healthy, restorative sleep they need.

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How to Get Your Toddler to Stay in Their Bedroom (All Night)

It seems just yesterday that your baby finally learned to sleep through the night, and you were off-the-hook for night-wakings every two hours. Once your baby was sleeping 10-12 hours each night, you started to relax a little more in the evenings, relishing the alone time with your partner, or just taking in the extra hours of calm you now had. And then, just as you’re settling in to watch the latest episode of This Is Us, your toddler materializes at the side of the couch. What are they doing up? Ugh.

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