A solution to the dilemma of finding "the best baby food" that your child will actually eat: Pure Spoon Purees!
Blissful Baby Sleep Coaching was picked as winner of Red Tricycle’s 2016 Totally Awesome Awards. Red Tricycle’s Totally Awesome Awards is the largest awards program in the greater parenting community. The Totally Awesome Awards recognize the best family-friendly products, parenting tips, and resources for babies and tots across the nation and allows parents to elect their favorites from a curated list of best-of-the-best. Blissful Baby Sleep Coaching has won this award recognition in 2012, 2013 and 2016! In honor of this award, up until 10/31/16, I am offering discounts of Gentle Sleep Coaching packages and offering a Giveaway to win a FREE 30min. consultation. Read on for more details.
Do you want to talk to an expert Gentle Sleep Coach about your pediatric sleep concerns? Do you want to WIN a free baby sleep consultation? Do you want to take advantage of discounts on pediatric sleep coaching packages? Join the conversation on Facebook @TheSleepLady now through 10/23/16. Don't live life in a sleep-deprived haze-make a commitment to improve the situation for your whole family. PEACEFUL NIGHTS ARE POSSIBLE!
Does your child wake up alert and ready to start his or her day BEFORE 6am? If so, your child is experiencing the difficult dilemma of Early Rising. Early Rising is one of the most difficult sleep concerns to resolve. The first step is to identify the “red flags” that trigger early rising events. Keep a sleep log of your child’s schedule to see if your child’s early rising is caused by one or all of the following:
o Your child is not reaching the age-appropriate daytime sleep expectations;
o At bedtime your child is “conking out” in your arms or on the breast or bottle;
o Your child is“too drowsy” when you actually put your child down to sleep;
o Your child is staying awake too long between afternoon nap and bedtime.
§ A child that is 0-6 months is typically asleep within 3 hours after afternoon nap.
§ A child that is 6-24 months is typically not awake any more than 4 hrs from afternoon nap until bedtime.
§ A child that is 24 months to 5 years of age typically needs to be asleep within 5 hours of waking from the afternoon nap;
o If your child’s bedtime is too late, you will most likely have a child that wakes up early;
o Until a child learns how to self-soothe to sleep at bedtime, your child will have a harder time resolving early rising and will often “need” their sleep crutch in order to go back to sleep after an early rising event. Unfortunately, the longer early rising remains, the harder this habit is to break.
Tackling early rising is a two-step process:
First, parents need to evaluate the child’s schedule and try to eliminate any “red flags” I listed above. However, sometimes even after attempting to minimize these “red flag” situations, parents may only have minimal success. In this case, it is evident that the child has not yet mastered the ability to self-settle and self-soothe to sleep without their sleep crutches.
The next step is to consider exploring sleep coaching methodologies so parents can teach their child the all-important life skill of independent sleeping. If you want to know if you or your child is ready to sleep train, I recommend reading my post “Is my child Ready to Sleep Train.”
How do you know if it is the right time to sleep train? This is probably the number one question I receive on every client inquiry. It is a very important and valid question. Often, the answer has more to do with the “readiness” of the parents vs. the “readiness” of the child.
I often recommend for parents to have a “business meeting” to get really clear on their family sleep goals and logistics and ask themselves the following questions:
- Are you and your partner on the “same page” regarding methodology and approach?
- Do you have any upcoming family travel or business travel that will interrupt the first 2 weeks of focused attention on night training?
- Do you have any foreseeable transitions upcoming such as moving to a new home, expecting the birth of a sibling or starting a new daycare schedule?
- Are you feeling emotionally strong to make significant changes and be consistent in the implementation
- Are you experiencing any other difficult life stresses such as a recent death in the family or major illness?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, than you may want to take a pause until some of the life events and logistics calm down and align in your favor. Parents are most successful in sleep training when it is their main focus for 2-3 weeks and they have been able to minimize other obligations. You want to feel aligned with your partner on parenting philosophy as it is important that parents support one another and work as a team. In the meantime, you could still be working toward your goal by continuing to do some more research and investigation in order to feel truly emotionally and intellectually comfortable with the process of sleep training. Parents who are really “ready” both logistically and emotionally move through the process with confidence and thus, the child is often more at ease during the process. It is best to be prudent and not rush into sleep training…it is all about patience and consistency and right timing for parents and child alike. Sleep training is a methodical process that works when parents can be consistent and ultimately brings harmony back into your household.
Most parents agree that there is nothing more rewarding than a quiet house when your children are peacefully sleeping. Without a doubt, building a foundation for healthy sleep habits in your household will bring harmony and well-being to all family members. So the question is: How might a parent promote and encourage healthy sleep habits? The first thing to fully understand is that for children 6 months to 5 years of age, sleep is actually a learned skill. The act of learning to sleep includes two important life skills: self-regulation and self-soothing. It is important for parents to acknowledge and feel empowered that there are several ways to gently and safely coach their children on how to develop these skills so that children can independently and peacefully go to sleep and stay asleep without the need of multiple negative sleep associations.
Children 6 months or older can typically become highly dependent on negative sleep associations, also known as “sleep crutches”. A sleep crutch is defined as something that needs to be done to, or for, a child in order for the child to fall asleep or go back to sleep. Sleep crutches work really well … until they stop working. If your “old tricks” no longer have that same “magic,” then this is a signal that your child is showing readiness to learn the all-important life skills of self-regulating and self-soothing to sleep. Hence, it may be time to consider “sleep coaching” your child. However, please take note that in the world of sleep science, the newborn/infant stage is considered 0-6 months, and it is typically not recommended to sleep coach a child under 6 months of age.
Sleep coaching is the methodical process of behavioral modification in which your child develops the skills of self-regulation and self-soothing in order to improve the quality and quantity of sleep. Sleep coaching your child can be considered one of the first big parental decisions, and thus, parents should take time to educate themselves on sleep science and research the methodological options before making any changes. Parents succeed in sleep coaching when they find a methodology that matches their parental values and goals as well as meets the needs of the temperament of their child.
For children 6 months to 5 year of age, there are several sleep coaching methodologies. In each approach, the key goal is to replace sleep crutches by instilling positive sleep associations, along with the new skill set of self-regulation and self-soothing. Parents can educate themselves by reading and following sleep plans in sleep-training books, or they may seek individualized guidance from a trained and certified pediatric sleep consultant/sleep coach. Either way, the first step is to choose a methodology that meets your values, the goals of your family and the temperament of your child. The second step is to create and implement a detailed sleep plan based on your preferred methodology.
The methodologies differ dramatically in approach, particularly regarding the amount of parental involvement as well as the extent of parental verbal assurances and physical contact. Before starting any sleep coaching program, it is paramount to visit your pediatrician to confirm there are no underlying medical conditions causing the sleep disturbances and to receive approval that sleep coaching is appropriate for your child’s age and development. Also, if your child is breastfeeding, there needs to be much care and consideration given in the sleep plan in order to honor and maintain the nursing relationship. Remember, sleep coaching is not recommended in babies under 6 months of age.
The common methodologies are: Extinction (also known as “Cry It Out”); Controlled Crying (also known as Modified Extinction or Timed Checks); and Fading (also known as “The Shuffle”).
Once you have researched, decided on your methodology and created your detailed sleep plan, the next step is implementing the sleep plan with loving patience, consistency and joint parental agreement.
The keys to sleep coaching success are:
- Understanding that your child will be learning and mastering two new life skills of self-regulating and self-soothing to sleep. The easiest time for a child to learn this skill is at bedtime, at the appropriate “sleep window” after excellent daytime sleep. With proper coaching, a child will also learn to self-soothe in the middle of the night after an arousal. Nap training typically takes place after a child is successfully soothing at bedtime and sleeping through the night.
- Recognizing that change is a process, not an event. Thus, be patient with the process as nighttime sleep coaching realistically takes 2-6 weeks of consistent effort to achieve your sleep goals. (Older children typically take longer to sleep coach.)
- Honoring your child’s age-appropriate sleep requirements both for daytime and nighttime. The quantity of daytime sleep affects the quality and quantity of night-time sleep. Keeping a detailed sleep log will often provide important clues on how to improve your sleep situation. A great resource for age appropriate sleep expectations is the American Academy of Pediatrics. A child’s daily and nightly sleep expectations are dependent on his or her age and stage of development.
In summary, feel confident that there are many safe and gentle ways to improve sleep for your children. But before you make any bold changes to your bedtime and night-time activities, do the research in order to feel truly emotionally and intellectually comfortable with the process of sleep coaching, and take the time to create a detailed sleep plan. Parents who work as a team to implement the sleep plan create an environment of confidence, thus putting the child at ease during the process, which in turn reduces protests from the child. Successful sleep coaching is about employing a loving, methodical and consistent approach to behavioral modification. Done in this manner, sleep coaching truly works and ultimately brings harmony back into your household. It is all about patience, consistency and the right timing for parent and child alike. May you soon enjoy a peaceful house where all family members experience healthy sleep habits.
Parents often share concerns about their children and sleep and they want to know why they are experiencing so many sleep disruptions. Parents find that often their best intentions and routines lead to arduous bedtime routines or more and more tears despite their best efforts. Lets explore one of the common concerns about sleep disruptions and explore some practical tips on how to find some sleep success. Please note, these suggestions relate to children 6 months or older. All infants before 6 months of age, have very different sleep needs and behaviors.
Common Concern: Why does my child wake up frequently right after I lovingly put him/her to sleep and also wake frequently in the middle of the night? (relates to children 6 months or older).
It is a lovely experience to assist your child to a deep slumber, but often parents find that within minutes of putting their child down into their independent sleeping space, their child instantly wakes up. Parents often assume the child does not “like” the crib, co-sleeper, or mattress and that is why there is a sleep disruption.It is important to know and understand that learning how to go to sleep at bedtime and going back to sleep in the middle of the night are both vital life skills. As parents, it is our job to provide our children the opportunity to master these life skills.If you put your child to sleep by rocking, nursing, walking, bottle feeding or lying down with them then they become dependent on you to put them to sleep. When your child wakes during the night (please know that nighttime arousals are normal), they will expect the same “service” from you in order to go back to sleep.Encouraging self-soothing to sleep is the way to unravel the dilemma of the child being dependent on the parent for sleep.
There are many methods and strategies to help a child to self-soothe to sleep. But before you make any bold changes, there are many things to consider and plans to make & execute. Do your research to make an educated decision on methodology and philosophy and gain agreement with your partner. Most importantly, no matter what method you choose, have realistic expectations. Parents need to be in partnership over the approach and apply the techniques consistently for 2-3 weeks to allow for the time for the child to learn the new skill of self-soothing to sleep. With some advance planning, dedicated time and attention as well as patience, you will enjoy the beauty of a calm, harmonious bedtime routine when your child self-soothes to sleep.