Myths About Sleep Training

Parenting is a sensitive topic to say the least.  I’m not going to sugar coat it…it’s a minefield of information and misinformation.  It all starts with cute little note cards containing advice from well meaning family and friends at your baby shower.  And, once you’ve given birth you are peppered with questions left and right on if the baby is sleeping before you’ve even had a chance to settle into a new routine at home.  So, as an ode to all of the awful and unsolicited advice offered to new parents, I’m going to now share the most common myths about sleep training.

Your first few weeks of being a parent blessed you with an almost magical baby who slept more hours during the day than were awake.  And rather than taking advice from Aunt Marge to “Sleep When the Baby Sleeps” you would stay awake and admire that beautiful little angel you created for hours on end.  But soon enough, your baby began showing signs of having their days and nights flipped and you found yourself waking more often during the night to have little bonding sessions with your baby.  It’s during these middle of the night powwows…or power feedings that you frantically scroll the internet for advice on how to get your baby to a.) sleep at night (like the rest of the human world), and b.) sleep longer.  And it’s in the process of surfing the web for information, and checking our books on baby sleep (there are A LOT of them, and getting advice from well meaning friends, family, and strangers, you discovered that the wealth of information you were being given was conflicting and more confused than when you first started scrolling.  TAKE A DEEP BREATH, put the bad advice, books, cute note cards containing anecdotes, and bookmarks aside and read on while I debunk common myths about sleep training.

1. If you let your baby sleep too much during the day, it will keep them up at night.

Unlikely, but it does occur on occasion.  Now, if your little one is sleeping through the day and not getting a wink of sleep at night, you may need to  take a look at daytime napping, but again, “sleeping too much” is rarely the case.  In fact, newborns need a lot of sleep (sometimes up to 18 hours of of shut eye per day), and I don’t recommend that your baby be awake for more than 45 minutes to 1 hour at a time as a newborn and up to 2 – 2.5 hours at a time under 6 months of age. 

You might be surprised to learn that overtiredness often keeps babies awake at night because it goes against what we think we know about sleep.  The reality is that an overtired baby has missed falling asleep when they were tired, and their bodies are cycling back into wakefulness.  This is why many overtired babies and small children appear hyper awake or hyperactive when overtired. 

2. Sleeping is a natural development and can’t be taught.

Yeah…kinda/maybe. All humans cycle through sleep stages through the night, waking briefly and falling back asleep each night (over and over).  Yeah…even you and most likely you don’t even remember it happening as you slid right into the next sleep cycle using your super sleep skills on autopilot.  However, babies aren’t born with this ability and can take some time to learn how to smoothly transition between sleep cycles. Some babies will even make noises or briefly cry out when transitioning.

If you’re needing to nurse or rock your baby to sleep, your little one can become dependent on that motion or routine to fall asleep – this is commonly referred to as a sleep prop or a sleep association.   As baby cycles through stages of each sleep cycle and begin “rising to the surface” they wake looking for the same rocking or nursing in order to enter the next sleep cycle (and usually begin crying out for you). An important part of sleep training is to help babies learn how to fall asleep independently. 

3. Babies will naturally dictate their sleep schedule.

In a perfect world, babies would regulate their own sleep needs and always be well-rested; unfortunately this is not the case in the real world.  Much like the constant care babies need with diapers and feeding, they rely on their caregivers to help them develop healthy sleep habits.  Left unregulated, babies’ sleep cycles would become erratic; missing a sleep cycle by just 30 minutes can cause cortisol levels to elevate which is when we experience cranky babies who are overtired and fight going down to sleep. 

4. Sleep training is stressful for the baby and can affect the parent-child attachment.

This is simply not true!  In fact, you may have consulted the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for information about safe sleep practices, a source I’m sure you trust.  Well, a 2016 study conducted  by the AAP found that “Both graduated extinction and bedtime fading provide significant sleep benefits above control, yet convey no adverse stress responses or long-term effects on parent-child attachment or child emotions and behavior.” And both parents and babies slept better through the night.  WINNING! 

I am also a fan on this June, 2017 article published by Duke Department of Pediatrics regarding myths and facts about sleep training.

5. Babies are not “designed” to sleep through the night.

Sadly, babies don’t come with manuals (wouldn’t that be awesome if they did), so I’m not entirely sure who dictated what babies are or are not “designed” for – seriously! What I can share is that trusting your child’s physiology to dictate their sleep schedule, their eating habits or their behavior is a recipe for disaster.    

Bottom line, you’re obviously reading this for a reason – most likely because you’d like your baby to sleep better (I’d like that too).  I’m here to tell you that I can help you and your baby develop healthy, independent sleep skills that will have the entire family getting restful nights of sleep.  Just click here, book a call with me so I can learn how best I can support you in achieving your sleep goals for your little one.  Let’s get your family better rested for the holidays! 

Sleep Coach’s Corner: How to Have a Happy Halloween and Keep the Sleep Routine

infant sleeping in Halloween costume

Spooky Season is among us!  With the upcoming festivities, you may be stressing about how your child’s new (or maybe not so new) obsession with sugar may have an effect on their sleep.  This Halloween, the only thing you should fear are ghosts and ghouls, not a grumpy child.  Here are some tips to make sure a fun-filled evening doesn’t mess up all of the great progress you’ve made in your child’s sleep routine:

1.  Center the evening plans around your child’s bedtime.  This might mean prepping for an earlier dinner, or having a strict curfew for parties and Trick or Treating.  Pretend like the whole family is Cinderella, and falling behind schedule could turn the whole evening into a pumpkin before you’re safely home.  If you plan ahead, the only thing you’ll have to worry about is having a great time at the ball.

2.  It’s okay to plan to let your child have a later bedtime on special occasions, so long as you leave ample time for their bedtime routine.  Keep in mind, thirty minutes is the most a bedtime can be extended without putting your child into sleep debt.  Anything beyond that can take them three to four days to recover from, leaving you with a zombie-child even after the costume party.

3.  Try to keep the candy consumption to about two pieces on Halloween night.  This way, they’re still having a special treat and getting to celebrate, but they’re not acting like a college freshman on their fifth cup of coffee right before bedtime.  Let’s try to put that off until they’re at least 18…

4.  You might need to luxuriate in this bedtime routine a little longer than usual.   If your kid is riding the wave of a super exciting day, getting them into bed right away can feel like a fantasy.  Maybe you pick a slightly longer book to read, or try out a new, spooky bubble bath…  Choose a part of your regular routine to make a little extra special, and gradually guide your child out of the party-zone and into the sleep-zone.

If you feel like your kid’s sleep habits, or lack thereof, are more of a trick than a treat, call or email me today!  The quickest way to get in touch with me is to schedule a Complimentary Child Sleep Assessment.  Together, let’s turn your child’s spooky sleep habits into a set of serene sleep skills.

Sleep Consultant Tips: Summer Sleep Schedules

How’s your sleep schedule going? It’s easy to fall into the relaxed pace of summer, especially now that pandemic restrictions are easing up and more places are open to explore. However, you don’t want to ease out of routines and consistency because it can be the fast track to a miserable summer…or fall when back-to-school rolls around. So today, I’m talking about staying on track with summer sleep schedules.

Extended daylight hours

One of the greatest things about the summer months is the number of daylight hours we enjoy. Extended daylight hours mean we’re able to enjoy outdoor time later in the evening on work nights. This may be great for us adults, who relish long summer evenings, but these extended hours can wreak havoc on your little one’s sleep.

To avoid sleep disruptions, try to keep to your baby’s regular sleep schedule throughout the summer months. The reality is that you’ll be able to enjoy the long summer nights even more, knowing that your baby is sound asleep. On the flip side, the farther your stray from baby’s bedtime routine, the less time you’ll have to relax in the evening – you’ll find that extra time spent trying to get your little one to sleep (and that’s stressful). 

If you’ve already followed my advice for creating the perfect sleep environment, your little one should be set for summer sleep. If you’ve not, I’ve got two hints for you: cool and dark. Naturally, you want to keep your little one’s room cool, and if you add a fan to help, you have the bonus of white noise. To keep the room dark, add room darkening shades or blackout blinds; while black trashbags help in a pinch, you can find blackout shades for under $10 at home improvement stores.

Summer travel

Lazy, late beach mornings and late-night boardwalk outings are some of what vacation is all about. Vacation’s a time when we can relax and enjoy our time from the everyday hustle and bustle, and summer road trips are the perfect opportunity to reconnect with your family. However, relaxed schedules can often derail ironclad sleep routines, so be careful.

Plan for daytime naps. Once your little one loses their nap schedule, all bets are off. Instead of pushing through or past naptimes, try to plan your vacation activities around the snooze times. If you’re away from your hotel or house rental, make sure you create an area conducive to napping. In a pinch, you can do a stroller nap, steering away from a lot of noise and activity. A shaded stroller, a clip fan, and a white noise app can help create an on-the-go napping environment. Ideally, however, you’ll plan to be at your home-away-from-home base for naptimes.

If you’re planning something more than a road trip, you’ll want to factor in time zone changes, jet lag, and plane cabin pressure (especially with your littles). But, more than anything, you want to have a plan before you travel. When you have a strategy in place, it makes it easier to stay on track and enjoy your vacation.

Enjoy the sunlight

If the outdoors is your happy place, it’s not a coincidence. Sunlight, or vitamin D, exposure triggers the release of serotonin, which brings us to our calm and happy place. The same is true for kids. So, while temperatures may soar in the summer months, get your little ones outside. Not only will they benefit from the fresh air and sunlight, but their sleep will fare better as well.

Start back to school preparation early

If you’ve got school-aged children, then you know how lax summer sleep schedules can create a hurdle when it comes time to go back to school. So if you’ve shifted bedtime a little later, begin moving it earlier weeks before school starts, so it’s not such a shock to the system.

As always, consistency is vital. However, if you need help finding a sleep schedule that works for your little one or your toddler’s sleep got off-track this summer, I’m here to help! Schedule your complimentary sleep assessment today.

Tips From the Sleep Consultant: Coping with Anxiety

My last couple of sleep coach blogs, focusing on parent to parent straight talk, were well received, so I’m here again to share some tips from a sleep consultant. Today I’m going to talk about anxiety. Every new parent’s been there – your baby’s behavior doesn’t match what the parenting books tell you, so a lingering suspicion begins to form in the back of your mind. This can be caused by anything from a missed milestone to, you guessed it, poor sleep. Here are a few ways to channel inner peace and cope with the anxiety that comes with parenting.

Do I or don’t I?

While you may feel like you’re on an island, I would say that the vast majority of new parents contacting me about baby sleep training are riddled with anxiety. Their baby isn’t napping, or they struggle to get their baby to sleep at night, or they struggle with a baby who doesn’t sleep through the night. Whatever the cause, most parents have a second sense telling them that something’s off.

Looking for information about baby sleep training is like taking a trip down the rabbit hole, with conflicting information everywhere and absolutely nothing working. I know what you’re encountering because I had the same experience when I was a new mom, desperately trying to help my daughter sleep. The driving forces behind my becoming a sleep consultant were the anxiety and frustration I suffered trying to figure it all out – and I didn’t want other new parents to go through the same experience.

So, you’re obviously scouring the internet and flipping through baby sleep books for a solution, which means you already know that you need help. I’m definitely biased, but you really can help ease your anxiety by contacting a sleep consultant and getting a feel for the sleep training process. One of the first things I tell prospective clients – because almost every new parent asks – is that no, I don’t make babies cry it out, but yes, there will likely be some crying.

It’s a natural physiological response

Many new moms panic when they feel the first fingers of anxiety starting to claw at them. The frightened reaction makes sense, but many moms don’t know that they’re wired to respond this way as a built-in biological alarm to keep their baby safe. Pair this response with the hormone drops in new moms’ bodies and a severe lack of sleep, and you get a bonafide fight or flight response replete with heightened feelings of anxiety. 

Simply put, you are programmed to respond to your baby’s cry, whether you like it or not. Half the battle is understanding that your response is normal. The other struggle is where I come in as a sleep consultant. Continual sleep deprivation will make you more sensitive and open to feelings of increased anxiety. So, those middle-of-the-night wakings your baby is experiencing aren’t helping your mental state. But would if I told you I could help your baby get at least six hours of unbroken sleep, potentially even double that amount? 

Fuel in the tank

My role in helping new parents goes far beyond helping a baby develop healthy sleep habits. When a baby sleeps well (aka through the night), new parents sleep well. More sleep for parents allows them to fuel their sleep tanks. And more sleep in the tank means, yep, you guessed it, better mental health and fewer middle-of-the-night wakings that trigger anxiety. 

So, if your anxiety levels are reaching all-time highs because your baby’s not sleeping, give me a call. I’ve helped hundreds of families develop healthy sleep routines.

Split Nights with Twins

Split Nights with Twins

This blog is for all of my twin parents. One baby is a lot to handle in the early months, but multiply that, and you’ve got your hands full. So, what do you do when your darlings start experience split nights? Well, apart from panicking or losing your mind, consider using some of the strategies below.


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, 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.

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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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.


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.