Baby Sleep Advice (from a sleep expert)

The most common theme throughout motherhood seems to be sleep. When you are pregnant people tell you to sleep now while you can. When you have a newborn people are obsessed with asking if they sleep through the night. As a new mom you always get asked if you are sleeping okay or if you are getting enough sleep (ask again in 20 years right?!?). As a new mom you hear about swaddling, sleep training, sleep methods, co-sleeping etc, etc, etc. You get the idea… sleep is a hot topic when you have kids!
In an effort to help you new moms (and dads) out, I have asked certified sleep consultant, Susie Parker, to answer a few burning questions for us about your little one’s sleep! After all, we know that baby sleeping means you can sleep. If you feel that you need help getting your little one to bed then Susie offers consultations and assistance to sleep deprived moms and dads. Check out her site Sleep Baby Love for more info!
Here were my 5 questions to Susie and her answers:
1.  There seems to be an endless discussion about whether or not to let babies cry-it-out. What do you think about this method, and do you know if it really causes any trauma/negative effects?
“CIO is only one component of sleep training and is not necessarily the only method out there… so parents need to become informed which would work best for them and feel confident in their decisions.  There is a great study out there that shows that babies that were sleep trained were not any different from their non-sleep trained peers at 5 years old and just using common sense of those that you know that are sleep trained, there is no long lasting harm or effect.
If you’re even going to consider sleep training, I suggest taking a look at this article first, since it breaks down everything you need to know.”
2. What would you suggest to transition away from nursing to sleep, and teach baby to self-soothe? Especially when the baby does not take any item for comfort (pacifier, blanket, etc.) except mom.
“Until you’re ready to dive right into sleep training, for a baby who doesn’t know how to fall asleep independently, you just have to think of everything as practice.  So, keep working with your baby to fall asleep independently.  The biggest misconception that I had is that my baby shouldn’t ever cry… and I took that literally.  So every time she squeaked, I went in to soothe her.  If you give your baby a little space (even if it’s a minute or two), the act of self settling becomes a little easier.  The pick up/put down method is also a great way that you can start gently giving your child independent skills.”
3.  Is there anything that can be done to help with sleep regressions, most notably the dreaded 4 month sleep regression?
“There will always be set backs with sleep, even for the best sleepers!  The 4 month sleep regression is so substantial because it’s due to developmental changes in your baby, most notably your baby becoming more aware.  So if you’re nursing or rocking your baby to sleep you may find that it takes much longer to get into that deep sleep.  So now is a great time to keep working on independent skills and having your baby sleep in their own room.  I have other great advice (and don’t forget to download your survival guide).”
4. What is your favorite piece of advice you love to give (about sleep) that most people don’t know?
“Sleep challenges don’t end with babies!  For many parents (even though they had the best sleeper), there are many reasons that sleep can take a nosedive once they become a toddler and preschooler.  The same techniques that I use for sleep training can be used, but you have to incorporate your child into the plans that you make for the best success.  For example, you can create a great bedtime routine that your child has some say in to make sleep fun.  Always keep the positive spin on sleep.  Make sure to get your preschooler sleep made easy checklist.”
5. What is the one thing you get asked about most, and what is your response?

“There are many questions about sleep!!!  But, I think that regardless what the answer is – I always say do what works for you.  If sleeping with your child is working for your family, no worries.  If getting up many times throughout the night works, don’t worry about it!  It’s when it stops working and people ask for advice, they don’t always like the answers I give (since it involves some type of sleep training and people don’t realize that there are gentler methods out there).  Regardless, as a parent you should never do something because a sleep consultant, friend or family told you to do something.  Do it because you believe it’s the best way to make your family happier and healthier.”

 

I hope that Susie’s Q&A helped some of you! If you feel like you still have burning questions or really need some one on one help, visit her website Sleep Baby Love, she will be so glad to hear from you! You can also follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram

Sweet dreams tonight everyone…

Surviving The Newborn Stage

Caring for a newborn is an experience that truly tests your mental and emotional well being. On one hand you are beyond ecstatic about your brand new bundle of joy and over the moon happy that they are finally here. On the other hand you have no idea what you are doing and just trying to figure it out as you go; maybe trying to remember some helpful tips you read, although your sleep-deprived brain is making it hard to remember anything (like what day it is). You have just been through hours of very physically demanding labor and trying to recover all while your new baby needs you and wants to eat every two hours. You are trying to rest and recuperate while also getting to know your little one and bond with him/her. Needless to say you may be a little frazzled! So how do you survive the newborn stage without losing your wits?

Just remember the number 2… Just keep reminding yourself that each stage is only temporary, and it will be over soon enough. Don’t panic. Just when you think ‘I can’t take any more of this‘, remember that your baby will soon develop into another stage and his/her behavior and habits will evolve. It all boils down to focusing on getting to the next thing (the next feeding, nap, shower, day). I found that I was just focusing on one feeding at a time, which for me was every two hours. For those first two weeks, just think about getting to the next feeding which means only worrying about two hours at a time. You can make it through two hours right? Of course! That seems much more manageable right?

Now, just when you start to think how long will this last, just when you wonder if you can keep this up, remember that the next step is to take everything 2 weeks at a time. It seemed like every two weeks, my son would grow and develop into new patterns, habits, and abilities. The first big one was sleep; after two weeks he started sleeping for longer stretches of time at night and I felt like I was regaining some of my sanity back. Then the next two weeks were actually really tough. My son turned from a quiet, peaceful angel into a very fussy, loud, crying baby that seemed inconsolable. I wondered if I watered him by accident and he turned into a gremlin… But again just when I thought that I could not survive the crying anymore, he began to have more calm moments without me rocking him in the bathroom with the exhaust fan on (praise my husband for finding that trick!).

The last and most important ‘2’ is people; you are not alone, you have help! There is (hopefully) another person with you and baby 24/7 to lean on and help. This person may be your spouse, partner, parent, or even friend, but you will have at least one person to go through this with. I was lucky enough to not only have my husband home, but my mom flew out for the first two weeks as well. With two people you can take “shifts” with baby. You can take turns sleeping, showering, eating, etc. You may even ask to have someone else take a few shifts in a row and only call on you when baby is hungry (unless you are bottle feeding). My husband was amazing with our son, he truly should win a medal for how much he helped and took charge of everything so that I didn’t have to think about it. Remember that it took two of you to make a baby, so it makes sense that two of you equally care for the baby too! I know some dads are hesitant and maybe a bit scared, but ASK FOR HELP IF YOU NEED IT!

I hope this helps any expecting moms feel a little more at ease about bringing a newborn home. Just remember to take it two hours at a time, two weeks at a time, with two people to do it together! Nothing lasts forever so don’t get too overwhelmed. You will look back on this time like it was a blink of an eye.