Sleep Coach’s Corner: Is There an Iron and Sleep Connection?

Today we’re taking a dive into research. More specifically, the correlation between iron levels and restless baby sleep. So, if you have a restless sleeper and nothing you’ve tried seems to work, read on.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor do I claim to be one. The content in this blog is from a trusted authority but is speculative in nature.

Restless baby

In my decade as a sleep consultant, I’ve fielded hundreds of questions from tired parents. However, when parents come to me with a restless baby, I’m the one asking lots of questions. The reason why I ask so many questions is to help determine whether baby sleep or toddler sleep issues are because of dependency on a sleep prop or if there’s something else at work. (If you’re unfamiliar with the term sleep prop, it’s used to describe something a baby or toddler depends on to fall asleep, such as a pacifier, rocking, or breastfeeding.)

Sleep prop dependency is relatively easy to overcome and can usually be solved within a week or two of consistent bedtime routines. In fact, the majority of restless sleepers are traced back to sleep props causing disruption. However, every once in a while, I come across a restless baby sleep case without props to blame. Some babies and toddlers are just restless sleepers, just like children and adults who flail, toss, and turn in their sleep. This is where speculation comes in, so bear with me.

Sleep research

Yes, there’s such a thing as the World Sleep Congress. The World Sleep Congress is an annual gathering organized by the World Sleep Society, where researchers and scientists across the globe come to share research and studies on everything relating to sleep. And in 2019, I heard musings about a theory – scientists posit that there is a correlation between iron deficiency and restless sleep.

In fact, there are studies showing a correlation between iron deficiency and restless sleep in children dating back to 1969. You may already be familiar with Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS); perhaps you or someone in your family has RLS. If you’re reading this because your little one is a restless sleeper, they may suffer from periodic limb movements and involuntary movements during sleep.

Mayo Clinic linked RLS in children to a family history of the syndrome and iron deficiency in a 2005 study. And circling back to the 1969 study, researchers found that periodic limb movement lessened in 19 of 28 patients after receiving a serum containing iron. 

So, back to those restless sleepers. If you’ve got a restless baby, and nothing has worked to help them get a solid night of sleep, the research indicates that it may be worth asking your pediatrician to test iron levels. 

And, if you’re one of the many parents out there with a baby who is reliant on a sleep prop, or you simply need help coming up with a nap and bedtime schedule that works for your family, I’m here to help! Schedule your complimentary sleep assessment today!

Sleep Consultant Tips: Physical Activity and Pediatric Sleep

I think it’s safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in this country, whether you or a family member contracted the virus or how your daily life has changed in response. At the outset, one of the ways the pandemic changed daily lives for those with children was the very real quarantine that occurred. Today I’m talking about the role of physical activity in pediatric sleep.

Pandemic and reduced activity

Just over a year ago, the country ground to a halt. Schools and daycares closed, and people were told to quarantine at home, limiting their contact with others. In addition to this quarantine, businesses were forced to close, and playgrounds across the country were closed, some even taped-off; most parents would likely have been scared to bring their children to playgrounds, even if they were open.

News reports and state departments of health warned families against meeting with other groups outside their household. As a result, many children who frequently played with friends and others outside their home were left without playmates or outlets for exercise. And for parents trying to juggle the obligations of family with those of work, the lack of daycare meant that they needed to juggle working from home and keeping their toddlers active and engaged

School-age children lost gym class and recess, and club and school sports were canceled. This left children of all ages without any physical outlet for their sometimes endless energy reserves. Paired with the stress of the disruption of everyday life, it’s understandable that many children have developed sleep issues in the past year.

Link between physical activity and pediatric sleep

Studies have shown a correlation between physical activity and sleep quality in children for years, but the outcome may be surprising to you. While I’d like to say that more exercise during the day means your little one will sleep better at night, that isn’t definitive. In fact, the association between physical activity and sleep is largely a matter of genetics and circumstance, and as with anything in life, there are always exceptions to the rule.

On average, most children will benefit from thirty to sixty minutes of physical activity per day. This means they will have sufficiently tapped into energy reserves and will have tired their bodies to a point where they fall asleep relatively quickly at bedtime and sleep well. However, you know your child best, so if you’re finding that your kiddo is having a difficult time after getting adequate exercise during the day, you may need to play with their schedule a bit.

Takeaways

One of the biggest takeaways from studies of the physical activity and pediatric sleep association is that moderate exercise during the day can help your child fall asleep faster. Too much exercise and you might find that your kiddo is wired when it comes to bedtime. This energy surge is due to the body releasing cortisol to provide a burst of energy; it’s a survival mechanism that engages when the body is overtired. This can start a cycle of poor sleep marked with fatigue or less physical exercise throughout the day and poor sleep at night. 

If you’ve ever traveled with your little ones, you’ve likely experienced the sleep cycle I’m talking about. Let’s take Disney World as an example. Your little ones spend an exciting, yet long, day in the park – it’s magical, after all! When you get back to your hotel, your kiddos are quite literally bouncing off the walls. You’re exhausted, and you expected them to conk out as well. What you’re witnessing are the effects of being overtired. 

The best way to master the physical activity and pediatric sleep connection is with balance and moderation. Moderate exercise can help most children fall asleep faster at bedtime. An abundance of exercise can wreak havoc and launch your little one into a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation and over- or under activity. 

If you’re having trouble finding balance, reach out to me! I’m happy to hop onto a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation to see if my services are a good fit for your child’s sleep struggles.

Tips From the Sleep Consultant: Let’s Cut the Guilt

If you’ve ever spent time in parenting groups, you’re sure to know what I’m referring to in this blog title – parent guilt, mom shaming, mom guilt. Whatever you want to call it, it’s pervasive and is damaging to new parents. As a sleep consultant, I don’t condone judgment of any kind – my career is built around helping struggling parents, not judging them or their parenting skills.

Be wary of internet experts

When I see articles from “experts” slamming the notion of self-soothing, I take concern. Even more alarming is that these articles and blogs instill fear in new parents who are desperate for solutions and undermine what I stand for. When some internet experts get large enough platforms, they can do real damage to parents who need help.

Every time I come across these articles – that are doing exactly what they claim articles of the opposite viewpoint are doing (fanning the flames of fear) – it breaks my heart. Once upon a time, I was a first-time mommy who was sleep-deprived, riddled with tremendous anxiety all the time, and just generally miserable. I was a boat taking on water fast with no rescue in sight. It’s a difficult place to be in. What got me through was a support team of friends, family, and professionals who never judged, who offered me advice when asked, and THAT made all the difference. And that is what I try to do for every family I support. 

How I work

Despite what some of these inflammatory internet articles tell you, I’m not a monster selling snake oil. If you’ve stumbled across this blog, you’re likely in search of answers for sleep issues your baby or toddler is experiencing. The first thing I want to tell you is that you’re not alone. In fact, almost every parent who contacts me is in a state of sleep exhaustion, is anxious, and is genuinely concerned for their child’s wellbeing. You only need to read a little about health to know that sleep is essential for people of all ages, from infants to adults. 

The second thing I want you to know is that I use the Sleep Sense™ program, which is a straightforward, tried and true method for teaching little ones how to go to sleep – and sleep through the night – independently. The program I use isn’t about making babies cry themselves to sleep or cracking a whip until they learn to self-soothe. 

Speaking of self-soothing – a concept many internet experts take issue with – we can call it something different if you like. Perhaps it’s the term people take issue with? Whatever the case, when you work with me to sleep train your baby, you learn how to provide consistent sleep cues for your little one, and they learn how to recognize sleep cues (through routine) and how to transition through sleep cycles themselves.

The beauty of choice

One of the reasons I maintain this blog is to provide information for struggling parents and give them a glimpse of what it’s like to work with me – in a no-pressure environment. If you like what you see after glancing through my blog, you can schedule a complimentary 15-minute call with me to talk about what you’re experiencing and see if I can help. Again, there’s no obligation to work with me, and I absolutely won’t tell you to do something you’re uncomfortable with.  

Again, no one should be forcing anyone to do anything or go against beliefs or comfort. And articles shaming parenting techniques do exactly that in an underhanded, passive-aggressive way.  

I’ll get off my soapbox now and go back to supporting the families who came to me for help. That’s what I do… it’s my mission.

Tips for Dealing With The Time Change and Daylight Savings for Children

Daylight savings time is coming up this weekend. Most parents don’t mind it so much in the fall when they gain an extra hour, but it sends fear through people’s bones when they hear they are going to have to lose an hour of sleep! Every year I get a TON of questions asking for the best way to handle daylight savings time and children’s sleep. So here it is: (more…)

Attachment Parenting & Sleep Training

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: attachment parenting and sleep training are not mutually exclusive. Nope. And this may surprise some of you, but sleep training does not require you to leave your babies to cry themselves to sleep. Shocking, isn’t it? Sleep training is all about giving your baby the tools to sleep independently — which sounds at odds with attachment parenting, I know — in the sense that babies learn to go to sleep without a sleep crutch. You might even consider sleep your child’s first step towards independence.

sleep train

If you’re reading this, you’re likely practicing attachment parenting in some form or another. Many parents I encounter don’t subscribe to all tenets of attachment parenting, but pick and choose the elements that work best for their family and beliefs.

Dr. Sears and attachment parenting

Popularized by William and Martha Sears, attachment parenting at its most basic involves being as close and as responsive as one can to their baby and its needs; and by having its needs met consistently a baby will grow into a well-adjusted, happy, healthy member of society. Attachment parenting materializes in the form of wearing your baby, breastfeeding on-demand, bed-sharing and responding to your baby’s cries immediately.

I’m not going to enter into a debate about parenting philosophies, except to say that I’m a neutral party here. The reality is that there is no evidence showing that attachment parenting is any better than other parenting philosophies — it merely aligns better with what some parents desire for their children.

Therefore, this blog is aimed at those parents who are in need of help with their baby’s sleeping habits, but feel conflicted; many of my attachment parenting clients share that they think that they’re “cheating” by utilizing sleep training. Look, who cares what it is as long as everyone in the family is sleeping healthily? No one needs to be a martyr here.

The Seven B’s

Dr. Sears was helpful enough to provide a bulleted list of main principles of attachment parenting that he termed, “The Seven B’s.” The Seven B’s include: Birth Bonding, Breastfeeding, Babywearing, Bedding close to baby, Belief in the language value of your baby’s cry, Beware of baby trainers, and Balance.

Original attachment parenting concepts

I would, however, like to point out that the original tenets of attachment parenting were not so rigid. In fact, an Atlantic article points out that the originators of attachment parenting theory — psychologists Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby– glossed over breastfeeding and never mentioned co-sleeping. What Ainsworth and Bowlby emphasized was the importance of a mother being engaged with her baby while feeding it, not whether the baby was fed by breast or by a bottle, and that “a mother’s attention does make a difference.” The Atlantic article also points out that sleep and babywearing were never mentioned in the original attachment parenting discussion.

Where the uncertainty stems from

So, we know that babywearing, co-sleeping, and breastfeeding weren’t explicitly mentioned by the originators of attachment parenting theory, which makes the following quote from the Ask Dr. Sears site a bit outrageous:

Attachment parenting teaches you how to be discerning of advice, especially those rigid and extreme parenting styles that teach you to watch a clock or a schedule instead of your baby; you know, the cry-it-out crowd. This “convenience” parenting is a short-term gain, but a long-term loss, and is not a wise investment. These more restrained styles of parenting create a distance between you and your baby and keep you from becoming an expert in your child.

The above quote is in response to the Beware of baby trainers ‘B’ and is a little out there; anytime a philosophy doesn’t allow for anything to stray into the gray area, I question it. Just as every baby is different, every baby’s needs are different, and a baby that isn’t sleeping well needs a little assistance to get there. Helping your baby develop healthy sleep skills and habits does not “create a distance between you and your baby and keep you from becoming an expert in your child.” In fact, you noticing that your baby is having issues sleeping, and teaching your baby sleep skills, means that you are an expert in your child.

If it ain’t broke…

Look, if your family is bedsharing and everyone is sleeping well, then keep doing what you’re doing. If you’re co-sleeping and your partner is now taking up residence on the couch in the other room, while you struggle to stay awake during the day from frequent night feedings and wake-ups, I’d say that bedsharing isn’t working for you and it may be time to consider other options. And one of those options is teaching your baby healthy sleep habits, which includes learning how to fall asleep independently.

The reality is that you cannot bedshare and teach your baby healthy sleep skills. Think about it, teaching babies to fall asleep independently isn’t feasible when mom is in arms’ reach at all times. And if you’re not ready to sleep in separate rooms, room sharing is a viable option for sleep training.

But the crying…

Again, sleep training does NOT require you to leave your baby to cry until they fall asleep. I do suggest giving your baby a few minutes to see if they can fall back to sleep on their own. But, the idea that sleep training requires parents to close the door at bedtime and leave their little ones until the next morning, regardless of the intensity or duration of their crying, is preposterous and, frankly, not at all accurate.

I hope I’ve alleviated any concerns you may have about sleep training and practicing attachment parenting. If you have further questions, or would like to talk about how I can help your family achieve healthy sleep, give me a call!

 

Why Does My Baby Wake Up At 3 A.M.?

The witching hour. Sleep regression. Whatever you call it, early morning wakings can be the bane of any parent’s existence, especially when the alarm is set to sound just an hour or two after your baby begins crying. To better understand why your baby is waking at the literal crack of dawn, you need to understand a little more about humans and sleep.

3am wakeups

It’s a chemical thing

You’ve likely heard about melatonin and its involvement in the sleep process, helping to balance circadian rhythms. When it comes to sleep, melatonin is like a warm bath, relaxing us and getting our brains ready to rest. On the flip side, our bodies release the hormone cortisol about three hours before our natural wake time. Cortisol acts as a stimulant and is released during times of stress, but also acts as our body’s way of waking itself up.

What happens in babies

Even with your baby’s cycle of melatonin and cortisol release — which can be working perfectly –, there can be some mishaps. Once your baby’s body begins releasing melatonin in preparation for sleep, there is only a small window of time for your baby to fall asleep. If your baby misses their melatonin window, their tiny body responds by releasing cortisol, which is why you’ll sometimes notice a surge of energy and wakefulness when it’s supposed to be bedtime.

The cycle

Now that you know how this cycle works, you can better understand the 3 a.m. wake up. Remember that your body begins releasing cortisol three hours before your natural wake time. If your baby’s circadian rhythm puts their natural wake time at 6 a.m., 3 a.m. would be the approximate time that their body stops releasing melatonin and begins to release cortisol. When the release of cortisol corresponds with the end of a sleep cycle, your baby will more than likely wake. However, babies who possess the skills to self-soothe and go back to sleep will wake but eventually drift back to sleep without a fuss — much like we adults do every night. Those babies who haven’t yet developed independent sleep skills, or who rely on a sleep prop, will wake fully and begin crying when they can’t fall back to sleep.

How to fix it

I’m often called by panicked parents who are desperate to “fix” their baby’s sleep problem. If your baby hasn’t developed the skills to sleep independently, and are thus waking early, then nothing is broken, it’s simply not yet learned. This is where the work comes in.

Know that your baby’s sleep isn’t going to be solved overnight, but know that you can take steps each day to help your baby learn how to sleep independently — and soundly.

I can’t say this enough — create an environment conducive to sleep. If you’ve not already, start by making necessary changes to your baby’s nursery. Add blackout curtains or shades to ensure that your baby’s room is nice and dark — perfect for encouraging continual melatonin release through the night. Remove the ceiling projectors and any other bright or shiny items that may stimulate your baby — you want your baby’s nursery to be boring so that they’ll want to sleep. 

Finally, make sure that you’re committed to a consistent and predictable sleep schedule. Keeping a consistent sleep routine can better train your baby’s body to work in tandem with their natural circadian rhythm. And most importantly, make sure you’re teaching your baby the skills they need to sleep independently.

If you’re unsure how to teach your baby to sleep independently, give me a call. I offer a free 15-minute evaluation so I can get to know the specifics about your situation, so book a call now.

The Four-Month Sleep Regression

Google the phrase “sleep regression.” C’mon, I dare you. What do you see? A lot of articles with words like dreaded, survive, beat in the titles. Like anything, something simple can quickly become alarming when put into a negative context — much like sleep regression in babies. The reality is that the four-month sleep regression isn’t a regression at all. How about that?

4 month sleep regression

 

The word itself is alarming as it typically denotes taking a step back or as the dictionary says, “a return to a former or less developed state.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s take a look.

What sleep regression isn’t

There’s a tendency to label any rough nights (or days) a baby has as a sleep regression, which just isn’t the case. The reality is that babies undergo a tremendous amount of physical, mental and emotional growth and development in their first year of life, which often affects sleep and understandably so. Teething is often the culprit, as are growth spurts and other developmental milestones. It’s happening because your baby is developing and moving forward not backward.

Sleep stages

To better understand what is going on with your 4-month old, it helps to have an understanding of sleep, in general. Sleep is comprised of four stages which, when combined, make up the human sleep cycle and is repeated throughout our slumber.

Stage 1

This is the stage when you’re just drifting off, maybe you’re losing your place in your book or your eyes are closing to the sound of the television — stage one is a snoozing stage.

Stage 2

This is the stage that is considered entering into an actual sleep state. If you wake from this second stage, you definitely realize that you’d been sleeping just moments before.

Stage 3

If sleep was a competitive sport, stage three would be just beneath the level of greatness — you want to reach this place, it’s great for your body, but you still have more work to do.

Stage 4

Nirvana. In stage four of the sleep cycle, you hit REM sleep and your brain begins to recoup from the day — this is the state of dreams.

Newborn sleep stages

Your newborn only cycles through two sleep stages for the first few months of their life — stage three and stage four or REM sleep, the two deepest cycles. New parents should take in this time as it’s when their baby will be sleeping the soundest with no outside help.

What happens around month 4

Around month three or four — as your baby is developing — your baby begins to expand their sleep cycles into the four stages. When this happens, your baby transitions from spending half of their sleep time in REM to only a quarter. And with more time spent in lighter sleep stages, there’s more opportunity for your baby to wake.

Where problems arise is when parents see this as a regression in sleep — the reality is that this is the time that your baby is developing and learning how to transition throughout the stages of sleep they’ll be cycling for the remainder of their lives and it’s a big change! There will be a disruption of sorts in the sleep cycle as your baby learns how to smoothly transition between sleep stages. As adults, we typically slide through the sleep stages effortlessly, without even remembering waking between — your baby hasn’t developed that skill yet, which is why they’re waking more at this time.

Remove the props

Up until this time, you may have been swaddling your baby for sleep or using a pacifier to calm them at bedtimes and nap-times. Now that they’re spending more time in a lighter sleep, they’re going to notice that the pacifier has dropped from their mouth when they cycle between stages, or they’ll notice that their little body isn’t wrapped snuggly and their startle reflex may wake them. This is the time when you want to remove sleep props so that your little one doesn’t begin to form sleep associations (that can easily become sleep disruptors).

Create the perfect environment

This is the time you want to perfect your baby’s sleep environment, if you haven’t already. Make sure that the room is cool and dark without any distractions — you want to create a space that allows your baby to focus on transitioning through sleep stages and resting, not becoming alert and wanting to play.

 

If you reframe how you view what is commonly known as the four-month sleep regression and instead view it as yet another opportunity for your baby to grow, you’ll be in great shape to get through this phase. And if you feel you need support, don’t hesitate to contact me! I offer a free 15-minute evaluation so I can get to know the specifics about your little one’s situation, so book a call now and we can move forward as soon as you’re ready to get your little one sleeping through the night!

 

4 Tips for Getting Baby to Sleep Better

Stop putting it off. I mean this in the nicest of ways, but if you keep saying you’ll get around to getting baby to sleep better, the reality is that you’re putting off the inevitable. And if your baby isn’t sleeping well, the longer you wait to make changes to their sleep routine, the harder those changes will be to make. In an effort to make things super easy for you, I’m throwing out four easy tips for getting baby to sleep better, that you can implement today. I mean, why do it tomorrow if you can do it today, right?

getting baby sleep better

Tips for getting baby to sleep better

Keep it dark

Have you ever tried sleeping in the middle of the day? Unless you’ve outfitted your room, or are sneaking down to the basement for a quick nap, you’re going to be met with sunlight streaming in through the windows. Darkness is where it’s at, and as soon as you create a dark environment, the sooner your baby will understand that bedtime or naptime is coming.

Blackout shades or blinds are the easiest, and most inexpensive, fixes for a bright room; if you’re installing blinds, it’s imperative that you have them cut exact, or else you’ll have tiny beams of light cutting through the room like little lasers.

One thing many parents don’t think of is the light of the television or other electronics. Electronic screens emit blue light, which serves to keep baby (and you) alert and awake, opposite of your desired effect. The body needs darkness to trigger the release of melatonin, which aids in sleep, so turn off the electronics, or move to another room, at least an hour before baby’s bedtime.

Keep it cool

If you’re anything like me, your sinuses get dry and you become stuffy in the winter, when household heat is running constantly. And when I can’t breathe well, I don’t sleep well — it’s no different for babies. That feeling of snuggling into the warmth of your covers, body covered from the cool air of the room? So cozy! And babies love it, too.

Not only do babies sleep best in a cooler room — ideally between 65 and 70 degrees — it’s also safer for them. A hot room can increase your baby’s risk of SIDS, so keep the heat down and use a sleep sack or layered onesie to keep your baby core temperature up, making them comfortable while they sleep.

Keep it boring

Take a look around your nursery. Do you have bright prints on the walls? Maybe a mobile above the crib or hanging from the ceiling. How about one of those super cool, light-up faux aquariums that attach to the side of the crib? The reality is that all of these things are wonderful for stimulating your little one’s mind, but terrible for a quiet, comfortable sleep environment.

Instead, use your playroom, or a nook in your living room to create an area of stimulation for your baby, and try to keep all of the bright colors, lights and toys out of your nursery. Without much to look at, or play with, your baby will do what they’re meant to do in the nursery — sleep.

If you don’t already have one, consider adding a white noise machine to your nursery, to filter out the background noise of household activity or environmental noise. If you have other children, a white noise machine can be your baby’s sleep savior!

Keep it predictable

Think about how you perform when you have a set routine — you may even already practice a nightly bedtime routine. The truth is, babies respond extremely well with a consistent bedtime routine because they’re able to pick up on the cues.

Once you’ve taken them into the quiet of their nursery, perhaps reading them a book by a soft light, or giving them a warm bath, your baby starts to produce melatonin. Your baby’s body begins to relax, knowing that slumber is imminent, and they’re ready to welcome sleep.

While these tips for getting baby to sleep better are simple, and easy enough to begin implementing today, know that it will take some time for your baby to adjust to the changes. If you stay consistent, both you and your baby will reap the rewards of a healthy, restful night of sleep.

Getting Your Partner Involved

Take a look at nights in your household. Are you and your partner sharing nighttime duty equally, or is one of you the go-to person for nighttime wake-ups, while other partner sleeps soundly and pinch-hits on occasion? If the latter is the case, don’t worry, it’s completely normal and I see it all of the time with the families I work with. However, today I’m going to talk about what we can do to get both of you on a level playing field with your baby’s sleep routine.

Before we get into the debate about dads and the term “babysitting,” I want to clarify that “partner” means “other party,” as in, the partner not most actively involved in baby’s nighttime wakings. In my experience, babies waking throughout the night typically are relying on external sleep props, and most often the sleep prop in question is nursing; this obviously leaves out dads.

getting partner involved

When nursing is used as a sleep prop, moms are often up and down throughout the night, shuffling between the bedroom and the nursery, or between the bed and the crib. When this is happening multiple times throughout the night, mom begins feeling the effects of the constant sleep disruptions, and baby is being deprived of the skills they need to be able to navigate, on their own, between sleep cycles.

After time, mom may become resentful, after waking for the umpteenth time during the night, listening to the sounds of their partner enjoying a restful night of sleep. And those middle-of-the-night nursing sessions can be brutal, not only because of the frequency and how disruptive they are to mom’s sleep, but because of how the mind wanders in those quiet, nighttime nursing moments. I can’t tell you how many times sleep deprived moms have confided in me about a deep resentment and frustration — even anger — with their partners, because they, alone, are in charge of nighttime wakings (while dads get to sleep through the night).

If you’re one of those moms, know that you’re not alone, but also know that so many of those dads feel helpless as well. In fact, many of those dads are incredibly supportive, but at a loss for ways they can help, apart from waking with their wives and keeping them company throughout the night — while this is sweet, it just means that both partners will suffer the effects of disrupted sleep, and that’s not good for anyone in the family.

Well, I’m here to tell you that sleep training can change your nighttime dynamics. No, seriously. You see, sleep training often goes smoother when the dad takes charge. Dads don’t have milk to offer, which babies realize, so this often is the key to breaking the association between nursing and sleep. When dads respond to babies’ calls in the night, they quickly learn to fall asleep independently. Dads get to become the heroes, and moms get to enjoy nights of uninterrupted sleep — everyone wins!

Take this former client, for example. She and her husband turned to me for help, with an 8 ½ month old baby boy who didn’t nap and was up multiple times throughout the night. The mom hadn’t had more than three hours of uninterrupted sleep since the baby had been born and was at her wits-end with fatigue. I quickly stepped in and ordered the mom to a different floor in the house, leaving dad to nighttime duty. This is what she had to say:

Before Jennifer came in to help us, I was delirious with sleep. After I forgot to buckle our son’s car seat into the car — for the second time — I knew that my lack of sleep had become dangerous, and it was time to do something about it.

When Jennifer told us that I would not be handling nighttime duties, my husband and I looked at each other in disbelief. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like not having to wake with my son throughout the night; my husband was definitely on-board and wanted to help however he could, but he couldn’t believe that our son could sleep through the night, either.

The first night of sleep training, both my son and I slept through the night. I would have slept longer, except my breasts were about to burst after six, glorious hours of uninterrupted sleep! My husband reported only two night wakings, both of which lasted less than five minutes before our son went back to sleep. Without me rushing in to nurse, he was able to navigate himself back to sleep, and I was able to reclaim precious hours of sleep myself.

Letting dad take the lead may be just what you need to get you and your baby into healthy sleep routines, but you have to be willing to let your husband step in. I’ll give him instructions for what to do throughout the night, while you just need to keep yourself sequestered and sleeping.

 

If you’re ready to take back your nights, give me a call so that we can discuss the best plan of action for your family!

Schedule a time to talk with me now!  

How to Create the Perfect Nursery

Whether you’ve been trying to conceive for a long time, or discovered you were unexpectedly…expecting, at some point your thoughts have turned to the nursery. What room to use, what crib should you pick out, bedding, decor, and then maybe, just maybe, you thought about something practical, such as a changing station (but not likely). If you want to save yourself some time, and some sleepless hours, you’ll follow my advice for creating the perfect nursery — and it has nothing to do with matching paint chips with potential themes.

create perfect nursery

Skip the fun stuff

I know, I know, you’ve always wanted to create a bright, colorful, themed nursery, and you have the Pinterest board to prove it. And while that nursery will likely photograph really well and look like a lively and happy place to be, it’s counterintuitive to your baby getting healthy sleep.

Call me the fun police or a spoilsport, but the reality is that those nurseries with colorful characters, decorations and hanging mobiles only serve to provide stimulation, instead of a calm and restful atmosphere. Try to keep your baby’s nursery walls free from bright and/ or busy prints (blank walls are ideal), and keep to a muted color scheme, to ensure that your baby isn’t scanning the walls and decorations when they’re supposed to be sleeping. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of opportunities to decorate your little one’s bedroom in the future.

Go dark

Perhaps one of the best investments you can make for your baby’s nursery, and likely one of the only items in there that will stay, long after the toddler years are gone, are blackout curtains, blinds or shades.

How well are you able to sleep with daylight pouring through the window? Probably not so well without a sleeping mask, but unfortunately, your baby doesn’t have that option. Creating a dark room for your baby will help them fall asleep without a lot of fuss, especially for those daytime naps and lengthy summer daylight hours. Your baby is already comfortable in the dark, having spent ten months in your wonderfully dark womb, so creating a sleep environment that mimics that is ideal.  

The cooler the better

Not only do babies sleep best in a cooler room — ideally between 65 and 70 degrees — it’s also safer for them. A hot room can increase your baby’s risk of SIDS, so keep the room cool and use a sleep sack or onesie to keep your baby comfortable while they sleep.    

Think Princess and the Pea

Just like the princess in Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tale, your baby won’t be able to sleep well if they’re uncomfortable, and remember, they sleep most of the day. Put the money you’d planned to spend on nursery decorations towards a comfortable and safe crib mattress. For safety reasons, your baby’s mattress should be firm, as soft mattresses can pose a suffocation risk.

While you may be disappointed by your lack of nursery flair, I guarantee you’ll thank me once you bring your baby home and they’re sleeping soundly. If you’re unsure about your baby’s nursery, or have concerns about your little one’s sleep, please don’t hesitate to contact me.