Do you know the story of Catherine O’leary’s cow that allegedly kicked over a lantern and started The Great Chicago Fire of 1871?
The Chicago Tribune spread rumors that the cause of this fire was an angry cow which somehow kicked a burning lantern into the barn. This disgruntled animal belonged to Catherine O’Leary, an old woman who was milking her cows at the time.
A lot of hate was directed toward Catherine and, she was haunted because of it for the rest of her life. Although the Chicago Tribune later admitted that their story was a complete lie, it didn’t stop the people from blaming Catherine!
What’s this have to do with teething, you ask?
Well, when a new client shares with me their baby’s sleep struggles there’s one thing they always mention, teething. I’ve realized that as parents, we always want a reason why our babies aren’t sleeping well and teething almost always becomes the scapegoat like Catherine’s cow!
While it’s true that teething does cause mild discomfort to babies and can even cause a few side effects teething symptoms only last for about a week. And, teething symptoms are not nearly as uncomfortable as parents typically imagine them to be. We hear about teeth “breaking” or “erupting” through the gums, which conjures up some cringe-worthy images, but nature is not nearly so heartless in this instance. Baby’s gums move out of the way to allow for incoming teeth.
As parents, we are naturally inclined to want to comfort our babies when they’re in pain, and rightly so!
But, before you decide that your baby is in constant pain and doomed to be a terrible sleeper because they’re teething, remember that many experts believe it doesn’t cause a significant amount of pain.
Understanding a baby and what they need can be one of the most challenging parts of parenthood. It’s my job to educate my clients about the most common reason their baby isn’t sleeping well and it’s most likely because their baby hasn’t been taught the skills he or she needs to be a good sleeper.
“Props”, such as feeding and rocking to sleep are effective in the first few months of a baby’s life. But, as a baby gets older and more aware, these “props” stop being as helpful in a baby’s journey to sleep. And, rather than give their baby some space to learn independent sleep skills, parents intervene and add even more “props” to a baby’s bedtime/naptime routine.
You end up with a baby very dependent on outside help to get them to sleep. This “help” causes disruptive night time sleep and short, unpredictable naps as well as tired, frustrated parents.
Babies teethe for the better part of two years of their life. That’s a long time to go without sleep!
Most of my clients report to me that teething doesn’t bother their babies at all. I’ve even heard they had no idea a tooth was coming until they saw it!
If your baby is waking many times throughout the night, remember that teething does not cause nearly enough pain to disrupt sleep night after night for months. There’s something else at play here, most often you have a baby that’s not learned good sleep skills. I’d look into teaching your baby to sleep well before placing the blame on the ‘cow’ that caused The Great Chicago Fire.
If you’re looking for someone to help you and your little one get the rest you need, click here for a complimentary call with me.
I’d love to hear about your baby’s sleep challenges and share with you exactly how I can help you teach your baby to be an amazing sleeper with gentle sleep solutions that work.
Have Questions About Sleep Training Your Little One? I'd Love To Hear From You! Comment below.
As the parent of a new baby, there are SO many questions we ask ourselves, especially about sleep (or, the lack thereof!).
Babies do not come with instruction manuals, and even after spending nine months doing endless research on what to expect when baby arrives, there’s an unavoidable feeling of unpreparedness as soon as we come home from the hospital.
Every baby is different, so nothing can prepare you for your child in particular.
And since this is just about the most significant responsibility that a human being can have, to raise another human being, we feel a tremendous responsibility to get it right.
Unfortunately, there are no dress rehearsals for parenthood. Your first run-through is the final performance, which only increases our anxiety and resolve to figure out anything that might be wrong with our babies.
And since babies basically eat, poop, cry and sleep, we seem to be naturally very focused on those four things.
What to feed baby is often a debatable topic on its own, and we usually find ourselves with a sudden interest in poop that we never knew we had!
This leaves us with sleeping and crying, and as a sleep consultant for infants and children, rest assured, I’ve done a ton of research on both.
The biggest question that parents have when they start sleep training is, “Will my baby cry?”
Babies cry all the time. In fact, if a baby didn’t cry, it would be cause for concern.
What parents are really asking me is, “Will my baby cry, and will I be able to provide comfort when they do?”
Why is this the biggest concern with new parents?
Well, nobody likes to hear their baby cry, but thanks to Google parents can access a HUGE amount of misinformation that states that if we don't respond immediately to our baby's cries, then we're doing them harm.
My friends, Anna & Layla at mybabycare.org/ just touched on this in their new blog, and it's a great read! mybabycare.org/4-mistakes-parents-make-in-their-first-year-im-sure-we-all-do-1/
Did you know this wasn't an issue until Dr. William Sears came out with his Attachment Parenting theory in 1993? Before this, parents were pretty comfortable with the fact that baby might cry for awhile if they woke in the night. Although this may be unpleasant, it wasn't a concern.
When Dr. Sears' book was published, an entire generation of new parents began to believe that any crying is causing all kinds of harm. Sears cited studies to back up his claim, but those studies looked at babies who were suffering from colic and a condition known as persistent crying, both of which are a far cry from allowing a child a few minutes of crying time.
And so this highly charged argument has gone on for nearly 25 years now with people that support attachment parenting accusing sleep training advocates of neglecting their babies for their own benefit.
I'm surprised that the pediatric and scientific community hasn’t done more to prove or disprove this assertion, given the magnitude of the consequences. After all, if we’re causing our babies brain damage by allowing them to cry, even for a short period, wouldn’t almost every parent in the world alter their approach to prevent it?
One reason Dr. Sears’ claims didn’t provoke an immediate and widespread investigation was that they were hugely misleading. The Yale researchers who conducted one of the studies his research pulled from responded to his use of their work by saying, “Our paper is not referring to routine, brief stressful experiences, but to abuse and neglect. It is a mis-citation of our work to support a non-scientifically justified idea.”
Another went so far as to actually note in the study’s own conclusion that, “Our findings provide evidence that the quality of maternal behavior appears to be unrelated to this effect.” So the mother’s response or lack of it to the condition of persistent crying was inconsequential.
So that’s the argument against the original suggestion that started this whole movement, but its supporters will invariably ask, “Where’s your evidence to the contrary? How do you know it’s not harmful?”
Well, back in 2012, Dr. Anna Price, a postdoctoral researcher at the Royal Children's Hospital's Centre for Community Child Health in Melbourne, Australia, conducted an extensive study that followed a group of two hundred and twenty-six children. The study measured mental health, sleep, stress regulation, child-parent relationship, maternal health and parenting styles.
Five years later, she followed up with the families to see the if the one-third of the children whose parents had employed some method of sleep training had experienced any of the terrifying side effects that Dr. Sears had warned us about in his book.
The result, they had not. In fact, to quote the study, “There was no evidence of differences between intervention and control families for any outcome. Behavioral sleep techniques have no marked long-lasting effects.”
But critics continue to try to shoot holes in the evidence. “The sample size was too small,” is a common complaint, no matter what the size of the study might be. “We need further study,” is another, assuming that further study supports their position, which, as of yet, it hasn’t.
So in March of last year, when Pediatrics published another peer-reviewed study that showed sleep training to be both effective and safe, it didn’t change the mind of Dr. Sears or his followers.
But for those new parents who have been bombarded with misinformation and hearsay regarding the safety and efficacy of sleep training, it’s yet another assurance that you can feel confident in the fact that getting your child to sleep through the night is important, safe, and beneficial to your entire family.
Because there’s one thing that everyone can agree on, and that’s the fact that a good night’s sleep is beneficial for mother and baby alike.
So the answer is yes, sleep training is safe. Sleep itself is glorious, rejuvenating, and beneficial to you, your baby, and your entire family. Focusing on your child’s sleep habits is something you can feel good about, and a commitment that will pay off exponentially.
In short, your baby and yourself can both sleep soundly, knowing you’ve made the right choice.
Is your baby waking many times each night? Are you curious about sleep training? Contact me today, and we'll talk about exactly how to teach your baby to be a fantastic sleeper with gentle sleep solutions that work.
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As a professional sleep consultant, I hear the term “regression” used in regards to just about every imaginable circumstance. Essentially, if baby doesn’t sleep well for a couple of nights, parents start dropping the ‘R’ word. Some people subscribe to the idea that there’s an eight month regression, a 9 month regression, a 1 year regression, as well as teething regressions, growth spurt regressions, and so on. Others see these as simple hiccups caused by extenuating circumstances.
But the four-month regression, everybody agrees on, and for good reason. It’s the real deal, and it’s permanent.
So in order to understand what’s happening to your baby during this stage, first you need to know a few things about sleep in general. So here’s the science-y part, told in plain English.
Many of us just think of sleep as an on-or-off situation. You’re either asleep or you’re not. But sleep actually has a number of different stages, and they make up the “sleep cycle,” which we go through several times a night.
Stage 1 is that initial stage we’re all familiar with where you can just feel yourself drifting off, but don’t really feel like you’ve fallen asleep. Anyone who has ever seen their partner nodding off in front of the TV, told them to go to bed, and gotten the canned response of, “I wasn’t sleeping!” knows exactly what this looks like.
Stage 2, which is considered the first “true sleep” stage. This is where people tend to realize, once woken up, that they actually were sleeping. For anyone taking a “power nap,” this is as deep as you want to go, or else you’re going to wake up groggy.
Stage 3 is deep and regenerative. Also known as “slow wave” sleep, this is where the body starts repairing and rejuvenating the immune system, muscles tissue, energy stores, and sparks growth and development.
Stage 4 is REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This is where the brain starts to kick in and consolidates information and memories from the day before. It’s also the stage where we do most of our dreaming.
Once we’ve gone through all of the stages, we either wake up or come close to waking up, and then start over again until the alarm goes off.
So what does this have to do with the dreaded regression we were talking about originally?
Well, newborn babies only have 2 stages of sleep; stage 3 and REM, and they spend about half their sleep in each stage. But at around the third or fourth month, there is a reorganization of sleep, as they embrace the 4-stages of sleep that they’ll continue to follow for the rest of their lives.
When this change takes place, baby moves from 50% REM sleep to 25% in order to make room for those first two stages. So although REM sleep is light, it’s not as light as these 2 new stages that they’re getting used to, and with more time spent in lighter sleep, there’s more of a chance that baby’s going to wake up.
That’s not to say that we want to prevent or avoid baby waking up. Waking up is absolutely natural, and we continue to wake up three, four, five times a night into adulthood and even more in old age.
As adults, however, we’re able to identify certain comforting truths that baby might not be privy to. When we wake in the night, we’re able to recognize that, “Hey, I’m here in my bed, it’s still night time, my alarm isn’t going to go off for another three hours, and I’m reasonably certain that there are no monsters lurking under my bed. I can go back to sleep”
And we do. Usually so quickly that, the next morning, we don’t even remember the brief encounter with consciousness.
A four month old baby, of course, lacks these critical thinking skills. To a four month old baby who fell asleep at her mother’s breast, the reasoning could go much more to the tune of, “OK, last thing I remember, there was a familiar, beloved face, I was having dinner, and someone was singing me a soothing song about the Teddy Bears’ Picnic. Now I’m alone in this dark room, there’s no food, and there’s probably at least three, possibly four, scary monsters in the immediate vicinity.”
That’s probably an exaggeration, but who knows what goes on in the mind of a four month-old baby?
Anyways, now that baby’s suddenly realized that Momma’s not around, and they’re not entirely sure where they’ve gone, the natural response is to do a little freaking out. That stimulates the fight-or-flight response and, next thing you know, baby’s not going back to sleep without a significant amount of reassurance that everything is OK.
The other major contributor to this 4 month fiasco, I find, is that up until this point, parents have either been putting their baby to sleep with a pacifier, or by rocking them, or by breastfeeding them, or some similar technique where baby is helped along on the road to falling asleep.
Now that baby’s spending more time in light sleep, and therefore has a higher probability of waking up, this suddenly becomes a much bigger issue. These sleep props or sleep associations can be very sneaky indeed, because although they may be helpful in getting your little one to that initial nodding off stage, the lack of them when they wake up means that baby’s not able to get back to sleep again without some outside help. Cue the fight-or-flight, the crying, and the adrenaline. When this starts happening every half an hour, parents can find themselves in a nightmarish situation.
So, the good news for anyone experiencing the dreaded Four Month Sleep Regression is that it’s not, in fact, a regression at all. A regression is defined as “reversion to an earlier mental or behavioral level,” and that’s actually the opposite of what your baby is experiencing. This would be much more aptly titled the “Four Month Sleep Progression”
So, onto the big question. What can you do to help your little one adjust?
First off, get all of that light out of baby’s room. I’m not kidding around here. You might think that baby’s room is dark enough, or that baby might not like the dark, and that it’s comforting to have a little bit of light coming through the windows or seeping in from the hallway.
Baby’s room should be dark. I mean coal mine on a moonless night kind of dark. Tape garbage bags over the windows if you have to, or cover them with tinfoil. (Just be prepared to explain it to the police when the neighbors accuse you of running a grow-op.)
Newborns and infants are not afraid of the dark. They are, however, responsive to light. Light tells their brains that it’s time for activity and alertness, and the brain secretes hormones accordingly, so we want to keep that nursery absolutely pitch black during naps and bedtime.
The other nemesis of daytime sleep, (and nighttime for that matter, although not nearly as often) is noise. Whether its UPS ringing the doorbell, the dog warning you that the squirrels are back and for sure going to attack the house this time, or something falling on the floor three rooms away. With baby spending more time in lighter sleep, noises will startle them easily and wake them up, so a white noise machine is a great addition to your nursery.
“Wait, isn’t that a prop,” you’re asking. Well, in a way, it is, but it doesn’t require any winding, resetting, reinserting, or parental presence. It’s just there and it can be on as long as baby’s sleeping, so it’s not a prop we need to avoid.
Bedtime routines are also an essential component to getting your baby sleeping well. Try to keep the routine to about 4 or 5 steps, and don’t end it with a feed. Otherwise, you risk baby nodding off at the breast or the bottle, and that will create the dreaded “association” that we talked about earlier.
So try to keep the feed near the beginning of the routine and plan the songs, stories, and getting into PJs towards the end. The whole process should be about 20 - 30 minutes long, and baby should go into their crib while they’re still awake.
If you’re noticing baby getting fussy before bedtime, you’ve probably waited too long. Four month old babies should really only be going about two hours between snoozes, and bedtime should be between 7 and 8 at night.
Now, there are going to be regressions, actual regressions, later on in your little one’s youth. Traveling, illness, cutting teeth, all of these things can cause your little one to have a few bad nights in a row. But when it comes to the four month “progression,” I’m happy to report that this is a one-time thing. Once you’re through this, your baby will have officially moved into the sleep cycle that they’ll essentially be following for the rest of their life. Four glorious stages repeated multiple times a night.
And by taking this opportunity to teach them the skills they need to string those sleep cycles together, independently, prop-free, without any need for nursing, rocking, or pacifiers, you’ll have given them a gift that they’ll enjoy for the rest of their young lives.
Of course, some kids are going to take to this process like a fish to water, and some are going to be a little more resistant. If yours falls into the former category, count yourself as lucky, take delight in your success, and go ahead and gloat about it on Facebook.
For those of you in the latter camp, I’m happy to help in any way I can. Just email me firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call (209) 813-0609 and we can work on a more personalized program for your little one.
The most common thing I hear after working with clients is, “I can’t believe I waited so long to get some help!” So if you’re considering hiring a consultant, now is absolutely the time. 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!
Here’s to a well rested family!
Daytime sleep is essential for the health and well-being of your baby. With so many of us working, this often leaves our babies napping at daycare. I hear over and over from clients that their babies don’t sleep well at daycare.
It can be super noisy and cause children to have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.
Here are a few tips for you about daycare sleep:
Fortunately, there are things we can do to help with this since daytime sleep is essential for keeping your baby happy and alert during the day.
Check out these helpful tips.
Tip Number 1:
Check the daycare center attentively. Don’t be afraid to ask if they know exactly why your baby isn’t sleeping well. Ask them to show you their nap area. Is the area quiet for taking a nap? Check out if babies are crying around that area could be disturbing the sleep of others? Are they are providing all the comforts to your baby and making it as close to home as possible? Interviewing will help you to find out that if the place is conducive for your baby’s sleep.
Tip Number 2:
Find out how they get your baby fall asleep. It is the most important thing ever. Some daycare centers are good at this and they will ask you and do things exactly as you tell them. Other places, insist on rocking babies to sleep which inhibits a baby from having a long, restful nap. This only makes it easier on them and more difficult on your baby. Remember, you are the boss here. You’re paying the bill.
If are very clear and say, "Listen, I put my baby down, awake, and he falls asleep on his own. All he needs is a quiet environment and a crib of his own and he'll do great," why wouldn't they want that? That makes their job easier!
But some daycare centers have very strict policies. They will give comfort to your baby but in their very own way.
Tip Number 3:
This tip is basically for the few babies who don’t sleep well in any condition other than home. Many of us as adults can relate to this. Most of us sleep well in our own bed, not so well in other places and this make sense to us.
In this instance, if you’ve give guidelines and your baby still isn’t sleeping well at daycare then it’s okay to give him an earlier bedtime. Otherwise, he’ll be grumpy all evening and that’s no fun for anyone.
Tip Number 4:
Ask them to give you a complete nap report of your baby on a daily basis. This will help you to understand when your baby wants to sleep and if his sleep tank is low then you can make him fall asleep during your ride to home.
If your baby is not going to daycare everyday then it’s fine. He’s home with you on some days and sleeps well so he’ll have a chance to make up for days when he doesn’t sleep so well at daycare. What we want is to get your baby’s clock in line with a consistent bedtime.
If your child struggles with naps no matter where they try to sleep, it might be a good idea to look into teaching your child the sleep skills that he or she needs to take long, restful naps.
Children don’t give up their nap until about the age of 3, so that’s a long time to struggle with daytime sleep.
Contact me today to set up your FREE 15-minute consultation where we can discuss your child’s sleep.
I’d love to help however I can.
Raising kids is a high-stakes responsibility, and in this age of social media and easy access to information about anything and everything, parents are easily overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and inadequacy. As a sleep consultant, I see this all the time from parents whose babies aren’t sleeping well.
One of the other major contributors to the, “I’m doing something wrong,” sensation is separation anxiety; that oh-so-challenging part of a child’s life when they start to completely flip their lids whenever Mom’s not around.
The thought process, it would appear is one of...
Two things to keep in mind.
First, never compare yourself, or your child, to the mothers and babies described in the parenting groups on so- cial media. Much like everything else on Facebook and Instagram, these experiences are almost always conveyed through the rosiest of lenses. And second, separation anxiety is completely normal, expected, and a sign of a healthy attachment between parent and child.
So what is it, exactly?
Separation anxiety typically starts to occur around 6-8 months of age, when your little one starts to realize that things continue to exist, even when they’re not in sight. It’s a cognitive milestone known as “object permanence” which is defined as, “the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be observed.”
In other words, out of sight no longer means out of mind.
So as your baby begins to grasp this concept, they realize that if you, their favorite person in the whole world, are not there, you’re elsewhere. And, hey, wait a minute. If that’s the case, then you might not be coming back.
It’s kind of fascinating when you think about it, but it’s also a little heartbreaking. This realization, for a baby, is obviously cause for full-blown panic. The thought of a parent leaving and not returning causes anxiety in most grown-ups I know, so you can hardly expect an infant to take it with great decorum.
Anyways, that’s what happens in your little one’s brain when they suddenly start having a fit every time you leave the room. It’s normal, it’s natural, and it’s a sign that your little one is learning, and that they have a secure attachment to their parent. Awesome.
But, as many of us know, it also means that leaving them with a sitter or dropping them off at day care can be an absolute horror show.
But what we really want to know, or at least what I really wanted to know when it happened with my children, isn’t “What’s causing this?” What I wanted to know was, “How do I prevent it?”
Well, the truth is, you probably wouldn’t want to if you could. I mean, really, wouldn’t you be just a little devastated if you left your child with a stranger and they were just completely OK with it? “Bye Mom! See you at dinner!
Don’t worry about me. You guys have fun!”
I’m guessing that would actually be significantly more troubling than some tears and howling.
But we obviously want to keep things at a happy medium, and if you’re struggling with a child who’s pitching an absolute fit every time you try to run an errand or head out for date night, I’ve got some suggestions to take the edge off until this phase runs its course.
Nothing is going to prevent your child from getting a little bit upset when you leave, (And as I said before, thank the stars for that, because if they didn’t, oh your poor heart,) but you can definitely keep the fuss to a minimum.
Now, I should add here that these techniques are suggested for kids who are dealing with ordinary, everyday separation anxiety. There is also a condition called Separation Anxiety Disorder which is obviously more serious and warrants a trip to your pediatrician if you suspect your little one might be afflicted with it.
But for run-of-the-mill fit-pitching when you try to leave the house for an hour or two, these tips should go a long way towards remedying the problem. Be consistent, supportive, assertive, and calm. Before long, your child will understand the concept of you leaving and coming back.
In fact, this concept that will also come in handy when you start to leave them alone in high school.
“I’m leaving for the night, but rest assured, I’m coming back. So you just remember that before you invite your rowdy friends over.”
Have questions about your little one's separation anxiety? I'd love to hear from you! Comment below
Daylight saving starts this year on March 11. It's time to “spring forward” the clocks. It can be a dreaded time for parents of young children because with this, comes an adjustment that does not happen immediately. This is because children tend to be more structured in their bedtime and wake up around the same time each morning and that is why people usually can see a greater effect on children when the time changes.
However there are some things you can do to help make the transition to the new time go a little smoother. My recommendation is to leave your clock alone Saturday night. Wake up Sunday morning, have breakfast, then go around your house and change your clocks. Psychologically, it will feel much better for everyone if you wait until Sunday morning to change the time.
Children- My best advice for children to help them with the change is to split the difference with the old time and the new time. How does that work? If you have a child that does not nap and normally goes to bed at 7:00pm, you would put him to bed at 7:30pm on Sunday night, the first night of the time change. Do this for 3 nights, putting him to bed 30 minutes later than normal, then on the 4th night put him to bed at the normal time, 7:00pm or whatever is normal bedtime for your child.
Toddlers- If you have a toddler ages one and older, on Sunday the first day of the time change, you would put him for his first nap 30 minutes later than normal. So if he naps at 9:30am usually, you would put him down at 10:00am. You would do the same with the afternoon nap if he takes an afternoon nap. For bedtime, if his normal bedtime is 7:00pm, you would put him down at 7:30pm. Do this for 3 nights after the time change and then on the 4th night, put him to bed at 7:00pm and on 5th day move nap times back to normal time. So if your child naps at 9:30am, put him down at 9:30am and so on with the rest of the day.
Infants- If you have a baby and his bedtime has become predictable (usually over 6 months old) meaning he is always going to bed around the same time each night. For example if bedtime is normally 7:00pm move bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night until you reach the normal time. So the first night you would put him down at 7:45pm, the second night 7:30pm, and so on. In four nights you should be back to 7:00pm. If their bed is not predictable (0-6 months old) simply jump to the new time Sunday night as if you were traveling to a new time zone.
Another tip that is helpful for those of us living in the Northwestern part of the US is to darken your child’s room. Your child may wake up too early with the sun rising so early now in the morning and may struggle to fall asleep while it is still light outside so darkening the room can be very helpful. Even though there is extra hours of daylight children still need the same amount of sleep.
It may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep, this is normal, since the time is different initially they won’t be as tired. It usually takes about a week for children and babies to completely adjust to the new time, some children it can take up to a month. Be patient and consistent, it will happen.
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Today I want to give you some tips for handling sickness so that you don’t derail all your progress. There’s a few things that you do need to keep in mind.
The first is your baby is going to wake in the night. Anyone who is ill does not sleep as well as they normally do. We tend to have two, five, even more night time wake-ups.
It’s realistic to expect that your sick child is going to have some night wake-ups. How you handle those wake-ups will make a big difference.
One of the big mistakes people make is that they start to intervene in their child’s sleep skills. Meaning they go in, they try to rock or they start to feed again. They try to lull baby to sleep in their arms or go back to all their old sleep props.
I understand why people do that because you want to comfort your baby when she’s sick. I’m not saying don’t comfort her. You can absolutely go in.
Have a short cuddle, wipe her nose, give her a drink of water, whatever you need to do to offer some comfort, but you don’t want to interfere with her sleep skills.
You’re not going to rock her back to sleep. You’re not going to feed her to sleep. You’re not going to do any of the things that you’ve worked so hard to get rid of.
The only time you would ever go back to a night time feed, obviously, is if your doctor or pediatrician suggests it. If she’s had a high fever for several days, she might need some extra fluids through the night.
You want to make sure that those only happen for a few nights. Three is kind of my rule of thumb. If anything happens for more than three nights, then there is the danger that the baby is going to now expect this and start waking up looking for feeds even once the sickness is gone.
Another big mistake people make is that they bring their baby into bed with them. Again, I understand it. I had a son who had chronic ear infections for at least a year of his life.
I understand where that desire comes from. Again, you want to comfort your sick child. If you’re really concerned about your child through the night, it is much better for you to go to him than to bring him to you.
Throw down an air mattress. Spend a night or two in his room to keep an eye on him. Again, remembering my rule of threes, try not to do it for any longer than three nights or you might find yourself six months later still sleeping beside his bed.
If everything falls apart, cut yourself a bit of slack. Sometimes it happens. Know that as soon as your baby is well again, just get right back on track with everything you learned from me!
Just start again. You know that she can do this. It’s just a matter of proving to her that she needs to use her own skills once again.
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It’s amazing to me how many questions we have after having a baby. We wonder and ponder things that we’ve never even considered in the past.
So many of these questions are related to sleep.
One of the questions I get asked the most is, “when can I night wean?”.
I’m always a little surprised that this isn’t phrased in a different way because I know what the parent is actually thinking and that’s “why hasn’t my baby given up their night feeds? I’m so tired!”.
There are actually two things we need to discuss when it comes night weaning.
The clinical explanation for when a baby is ready to night wean and then the how the heck do we pull night feeds?
The clinical one:
I’m going to keep this short and sweet because it’s pretty simple!
If your baby is 6 months or older & gaining weight well, your pediatrician will most likely advise you that it’s ok to give up the night feeds.
That means, you’re welcome to stop night feeds anytime you want. Will your baby be happy, no! Will they get over it, yes!
But, what this doesn’t explain is HOW to accomplish this!
How the Heck do we Pull Night Feeds?
Time to discuss the real question. Why does my baby continue to wake up at night and demand a feed if he is ready to give up night time feeds?
It depends on how baby get themselves to sleep. As a sleep consultant, the biggest prop I ever see is feeding to sleep. People take a feed as a natural or necessary thing baby needs before sleeping. This just isn’t the case and often causes baby to have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.
This is where I would make the change to your bedtime routine. Don’t end with a feed. Your baby should do the entire journey from awake to asleep on their own.
This scenario is less common, but some clients have told me that they’re not feeding their babies to sleep and their babies are still waking for a feed.
Some babies are habitual eaters and wake up at midnight to have a feed out of habit.
But, the good news is that if your baby is good at falling asleep independently and doesn’t use props then he has some fantastic sleep skills.
If you pull the night feed, after a night or two he shouldn’t be waking at all anymore.
The Bottom Line:
So, what kind of strategy you are going to apply? If you really want to get rid of night feed then go for it tonight. Be 100% consistent and in a few short nights baby should be sleeping through.
That’s great news for you and your partner, but it’s even better news for baby! More uninterrupted sleep means baby’s mind and body get more of those glorious restorative effects that take place during the night, making for a happier, healthier tomorrow!
If you're ready to night wean, this can be a really good time to make sure you have a baby monitor that fits your needs. Most parents like to keep a careful eye on baby during the first few nights of night weaning. I've found this baby monitor review fantastic! Check it out and see which one is right for you. www.reviews.com/baby-monitor/
If you think you need some additional guidance on losing the night time feed, I’m available for a FREE 15 minute phone consultation. Click here and book your chat with me today!
Do you have questions about night weaning? I'd love to hear your comments below!
One of my biggest rules for parents who are sleep training is to remain consistent. Whether it’s the bedtime routine, where baby sleeps, or what the consequences are for leaving their room in the night, consistency is absolutely essential to regular nights of quality sleep.
However, there’s this crazy little thing called life that tends to get involved and throw the occasional curve ball into your routine. Special occasions, family functions, and the occasional emergency can all call for an exception to me made and for your little one to stay up past their scheduled bedtime or miss a nap.
So when can you make exceptions? Well, I would say, “As rarely as possible, but as often as is absolutely necessary.”
The truth is, is you’re visiting family or friends, and you let your little one stay up late in order to extend their visit, they’re probably going to be a bit of a handful the next day. So ask yourself, is it worth it to have a grouchy baby on my hands tomorrow in exchange for a couple of hours of fun tonight?
Another important thing to consider is how well your baby adapts to a change in routine. Some kids are quite good at dealing with a slight change in the schedule, whereas others can get thrown for a loop for the next couple of days if they so much as go down late for a nap.
But I don’t want to sound like I’m condemning parents and kids to a lifetime of repetition. It’s important to have some new experiences and to enjoy life, so yes, exceptions should be made. Just make sure that you evaluate the costs and benefits and prepare as best as you can for the situation.
In addition, I would advise against making any changes too early into the program. If you just started sleep training a week ago, don’t pick this moment to go on a trip or stay overnight at someone else’s house. Once you’ve had a month or two of really solid, quality nights, then you can start playing around with the rules on occasion.
The other piece of advice I would offer when it comes to breaking the rules is, “Try to bend them instead.”
If you’re going to be at a friend’s place when baby’s supposed to be taking a nap, consider bringing along a Pack and Play or a stroller so that they have somewhere to lay down when it’s time for a snooze, or if you have a bit of a drive involved, try to plan so that baby can sleep in the car when they would normally be going down for a nap. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than skipping a nap altogether.
This may all sound a little authoritative, but over-tiredness is an absolute monster when it comes to bedtime. Kids who are overtired will have a harder time falling asleep, which leads to a bad night, which leads to more over-tiredness, and so on. It’s a cycle you really don’t want to get into.
So you’re ultimately the only one who can decide when it’s okay to break the rules. If you feel your little one can handle it, give it a try. If not, I suggest you play it safe. As they get older, you’ll find they’ll be more accepting of changes in the schedule, but developing them into champion sleepers in these early years will go a long way towards that goal.
P.S. When is it ok for you to break the "sleep rules" in your home? I'd love to hear from you!
Tis' the season! There are some nasty bugs going around this time of year.
One of the most aggravating situations I see parents running into when they’re sleep training is the sudden onset of a minor illness when they’re finally seeing some progress.
After months of sleep issues, they finally decide to take the initiative and get serious about getting their baby onto a schedule, baby starts getting the hang of it, the whole family is starting to see longer periods of consolidated sleep, and everyone’s getting ready to break out the champagne...
And then BAM! Baby gets a cold, or an ear infection, or a bout of diarrhea, or one of the other seven thousand illnesses that babies are prone to, and the whole thing goes off the rails.
And given how often babies get sick, it’s hardly a surprise. I’m always telling my clients to plan on starting the program when they have a couple of weeks that they can really devote to the training, but you can’t schedule around an illness. So when it happens, it can really take the wind out of everyone’s sails.
So today, I have a few suggestions for you in case this happens. Hopefully they can help you push through this trying situation and get you motivated to get back on track.
First off, resist the temptation to bring baby into your bed. If you’re really concerned and want to be in the same room as them through the night, I suggest you bring an inflatable mattress or a camping pad into their room and sleep on the floor. Keeping them in their own room with familiar sleeping conditions will be much less disruptive than moving them into your room, and you don’t run the risk of them getting used to sleeping in your bed.
Second, do NOT give in to the temptation to start offering any sleep props that you might have recently taken away. I know it’s tough, because obviously you want to offer them any kind of comfort you can while they’re feeling miserable, but you really don’t want to reintroduce those things they were dependent on prior to starting sleep training. It can be really confusing and is often even more difficult to break the association the second time around.
Now, let me just point out that I’m not saying that you can’t offer more night time comfort to your baby while they’re sick. On the contrary, I completely recommend it. You should absolutely feel free to go in and check on them more often, take care of any needs they might have, and even give them a little cuddle or a rocking session in order to comfort them.
Just be vigilant and be sure to put them back into bed before they fall back to sleep. Otherwise you run the risk of them developing those associations where falling asleep requires a rocking session or a cuddle, and then you’re back to square one.
This can be a really good time to make sure you have a baby monitor that fits your needs so you can keep a careful watch on your baby when they're not feeling well. I found this review of baby monitors really helpful. Check it out and see which one is right for you! www.reviews.com/baby-monitor/
You may notice a slight regression when the illness has passed, but not to worry. Your baby has learned some great sleep skills at this point and will probably only need a slight reminder of how things go before they’ll be back into their routine and sleeping soundly through the night again. Just get back to the program, reintroduce the old bedtime routine, and you’ll be seeing those same wonderful results in no time.
P.S. Do you enjoy my blog? I'd love to hear your comments below.
Jo Anna Inks
I help tired, frustrated parents get their babies sleeping through the night and napping well so everyone in the family can get the rest they so desperately need!