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Helping you learn more about kids, and their sleep, with tips, advice and techniques from a Mom (and certified sleep consultant) that HAD a terrible sleeper.

Go the F*** to Sleep!!!

Yup, I said it! There is a reason that book exists…… why won’t babies sleep for crying out loud?!?

We rock them, feed them, carry them, wrap them up, sing, hum, use aromatherapy, soothe like crazy. I remember playing 4 hours of Tibetan singing bowl music because I read somewhere it is the only instrumental music proven to align your brainwaves to promote sleep. Do you think my kid went to sleep with all of this? Nope, not even close. How was this possible? Any adult in their right mind would have been in a coma with all of this.

When babies don’t sleep we are usually looking for an answer, we may even begin asking the babies themselves in our sleep-deprived stupor (I know I did!). We come up with reasonable explanations like; she’s too small, he’s probably teething, it must be gas, she’s big and needs more to eat, and on and on and on.

I’m sorry to say but the real reason they won’t go the F*** to sleep, or stay asleep is they haven’t learned how.

Going to sleep is one of those things that must to be taught to most children. Many parents will complain that their child can only fall asleep with bottle / breast / soother / rocking / patting / rain dance, etc. The problems with all of these things are they are external, and baby relies on them to fall asleep. They wake up after 10 minutes(seriously?), 45 minutes ( good grief)or 3 hours( “sobbing”, not again!) and realize they don’t have their things. Baby now has a “job” to ensure all of the things are replaced, and the easiest way to get action from their minions is to CRY.

There is hope!! There are lots of ways to teach your child to be able to go to sleep independently and stay asleep. Babies and children are absolutely capable of going to sleep on their own and sleeping through the night.

Just think of all the things you could do while baby is sleeping. The best part about teaching your baby these skills is it will give YOU, your baby and the rest of the family the sleep they deserve.

The Dangers of Sleep Training

The internet is a scary place when it comes to advice about sleep training. Just Googling the phrase will give you nightmares about the potential harm you are inflicting on your child. Now you really can’t sleep even if your little one would let you, and sleep deprivation becomes a better alternative. Not to mention the Starbucks Mommies have told you sleep training is dangerous, so it must be true.

Bias alert! I’m a nurse, so I’m a really big fan of science. I mean somebody figured out sleep deprivation is a form of torture…science at work! So it looks like science can be used for good and evil….however the grey area is not all science is created equal, I tend to believe the “gold standard” science.

The good researchers over at the American Academy of Pediatrics published a study in 2012 entitled “ Five Year Follow up of Harms and Benefits of Behavioural Sleep Intervention: Randomized Trial”. If you want to read the whole trial because you have sleep trained your kid and have a bunch of time on your hands you can find it here.

For those of us still struggling, I will break it down for you;

  • The objective of the study was to determine the effects of sleep training on children’s mental health and emotional development.
  • 326 children with sleep problems at age 7 months were randomized into 2 groups
  • Group one were taught by a nurse 2 methods of sleep training and implemented same (some of the same methods I use)
  • Group two were left on their own to do “whatever”(probably what you are doing right now with your child)
  • The 2 groups were compared using various validated rating scales and cortisol tests
  • Children and parents were followed until the child was 6 years old

Conclusions;

  • “behavioural sleep techniques do not cause long lasting harm or benefits to child, child-parent, or maternal outcomes”
  • “secondary benefits included lower maternal depression”

Does this study still cause controversy? Yes! Because the “naysayers” still can’t get past the portion of the conclusion that says “did not cause lasting benefit”. Why would I sleep train if it doesn’t make a difference? Well, it really depends on the person. I think a parent that is feeling physically and mentally exhausted, stressed, depressed, irritable, and disconnected from their spouse that decides to sleep train is benefiting greatly (and not harming their child…yay!) The authors also went on to say a long-term study will never happen because it would be unethical since the benefits of sleep training have been proven without a doubt!

Here’s another great excerpt from this study

“…teaching parents to regulate their children’s sleep behavior is a form of limit setting that, combined with parental warmth, constitutes the optimal, authoritative, parenting style for child outcomes.” So basically it says you are a great parent by caring enough to teach your child to sleep. You can also be a great, caring parent by not teaching your child to sleep, but you will probably be a very tired parent with little patience.

If you are trying your best and still having sleep issues, feel free to set up an appointment to discuss how you and your child can achieve a full nights sleep, and prove those naysayers wrong!!

Travelling with a Wee One

What is the best way to ensure you and your children have a great time on vacation? Bring someone else to look after them!!! Ha! Ok, if this isn’t an option you are probably going to have to consider how your travel plans will affect your little one’s sleep. So to ensure there will be as little whining and crying as possible while at Disney here are a few tips;

 

Don’t Over Schedule

I know, I know, you’re in a new place and there are a ton of things to see and a finite time to do it in. Nobody said parenting was easy…. I’m just saying don’t try and do all the things you would have done pre-kids in one day. Slow the pace down, have regular naps and bedtime just like you would at home.

 

Naps and Bedtime

A well rested child before vacation will be able to handle a few missed naps and a later than usual bedtime. Do this for a few days in a row and you have trouble on your hands…welcome to Meltdowns-ville, population; your kids. Be as consistent as you can with naps and bedtime.

 

Patience!!

Easier said than done, but if you are following along with tip 1 and 2 you should be off to a good start. Once babies and toddlers are in a new sleep environment it is normal for them to test boundaries. They don’t quite get that the “rules” still apply while sleeping in a pack-n-play in the hotel closet (I don’t blame them!). So your superstar sleeper may start waking at night, or cry while they are put down. All normal, and the best way to react is the same way as you would at home. You could offer a bit more reassurance every 5-10 minutes, but don’t bend your rules. Your superstar sleeper will return in a couple of nights.

 

Don’t forget the Lovey, love!

It goes without saying, their favorite____________ will provide great comfort in a new sleep environment.

 

Don’t start co-sleeping (unless you are already a co-sleeping family)

I know, it’s only a few nights but seriously don’t start. If your little one decides that this is now their preferred way to sleep, you will have to start a square one when you get home. Don’t add sleep training to the long list of things you have to do once you get back from vacation. You don’t even have to take your pack-n-play with you, there are tons of great rental services in most major cities.