My first blog post is one that I felt should start off with the basics of sleep. I want to be a resource for families with helpful tips, relatable stories, and encouraging information. In the highs and the lows of your family season, I hope something can resonate with you or help you.
Sleep is vital for any family. There are seasons of life that come and go where sleep is lacking and most of those times a new baby is the reason behind it. If there is one happy reason to lose some sleep, that I think is the only good reason. In a season of new baby sleeplessness, know that this is temporary and that this is a time that you are providing all the security and nourishment that your little one needs. What an honor and privilege to help sustain a new life.
Why did I become a sleep consultant?
Because I know what sleep deprivation feels like. I know what post-partum anxiety feels like. I know what a lack of knowledge and experience in the world of baby sleep feels like.
After my first child was born, I educated myself in every way on how to promote good sleep for my baby (and therefore, me). Two more kids later and I have seen firsthand how great sleep foundations and sleep habits when done consistently, WORK.
Then I started to see that there are parents out there who really struggle with sleep and just need a helping hand to give them the right guidance and education. I started helping friends and family with their babies and toddlers and it ignited a passion in me. When I got that text, ‘He slept all night!’, I felt honored grateful to be a part of their journey to find sleep and wanted to find the next tired parent friend that needed some help.
My ‘Why” is because helping people find sleep in their family brings me joy.
My passion as a sleep consultant is sharing with new parents on how to raise a great sleeper in a natural and gradual way, no sleep training involved!
4 Things You Can Do to Raise a Great Sleeper
1) HAVE A BEDTIME ROUTINE
One of the most effective and gentlest way to encourage your little one to have a great night’s sleep is to create and maintain a consistent bedtime routine.
Your baby will begin to associate things like a warm bath or the sound of the white noise with sleep, preparing them for the night ahead. This can also help with night and day confusion.
(Make sure your baby’s umbilical site is healed and your pediatrician has cleared them for a tub bath).
An example bedtime routine.
· Warm bath (or sponge bath)
· Diaper, lotion massage, and PJs
· Nurse or bottle feed, burp
· Dim the lights and turn on the white noise
· Swaddle and rock
· Sing a lullaby
· Place in the crib on their back, drowsy but still awake.
2) SET UP THE PERFECT SLEEP ENVIRONMENT
Cool Temperature: Keep the thermostat between 68-72 degrees. A cooler temperature and good air circulation help babies sleep, as well as decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Darkness: Support healthy sleep by using black-out shades or curtains. It should be hard to see around the room during sleep time.
White noise: For nine months, your baby was constantly exposed to background noise (your heartbeat, whooshing blood flow, stomach gurgling, and talking voices). Going from a place of natural noise to complete silence can be unsettling for your baby. Place a sound machine (white noise) by your baby’s crib or bassinet. This will help block out unwanted noise that can potentially wake your baby. Your baby will also start to associate white noise with sleep. The sound machine should be located near the crib and loud enough for you to hear outside the room with the door closed.
The Crib: The crib is the safest and best place for your baby to sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests room sharing (your baby sleeping in a bedside bassinet) for the first 6 months of life to decrease the risk of SIDS. At a certain point, your baby will be more aware of your presence and can even smell you. If this is causing sleep disruptions, that is your decision to move them to their own room whenever you are ready. Never put your baby in the same bed as you (‘bed-sharing’) as this can be very dangerous and increase the risk of SIDS. Always put your baby down on their back. The only thing that should be in the crib during sleep is your baby and a breathable mesh bumper (prevents arms and legs from getting stuck in between crib slats). Any toys, blankets, or mobiles should be out of the crib as they can distract baby from sleep. We want to make the crib a boring place, so the only thing your baby wants to do is sleep!
3) FOLLOW AGE-APPROPRIATE WAKE WINDOWS FOR YOUR CHILD
A wake window is the time from the end of one sleep to the next. Knowing the age-appropriate time for that wake window allows for your child’s sleep drive to be at the optimum level before their next nap or for their bedtime. In other words, this helps your child not to be over-tired or under-tired. While I promote wake windows for my clients, I also promote the parents’ judgments. Follow your little one’s sleepy cues so we won’t have an over-tired and cranky baby. Remember that this is a tool, not the bible. You don't have to follow it down to the minute, just use it as a reference to help promote sleep for your child.
4) BE CONSISTENT!
Babies, toddlers, and children THRIVE on consistency. For this reason, if you start it, keep it and if you say it, do it! Consistency provides security and familiarity. For this reason, I love to have a routine for my three kids, we ALL are better for it. They know when its nap time, snack time, and bedtime. I can look at the clock and have a good guess of why my 2-year-old is crying (snack time vs nap time . . . . mostly its the snack reason lol). This doesn’t mean we are on rigid schedule; we just have predictability in our day.
More on Routines another day.
Above all else, love those babies. They need you and you are the best parent for them. I am cheering you on.
Here’s to sweet days and sweet dreams.