So you’re on the fence about this whole, “Teaching your baby to sleep,” thing.
On the one hand, you know that sleep is essential for everyone in your family. You’ve read all the literature and have come to agree with the consensus of the pediatric community that sleep is vital to your baby’s development and well-being.
You’re 100 percent positive that your little one needs some help learning how to sleep well, and you’re dedicated to helping them overcome this obstacle.
And on the other hand, you’re nervous as hell about it.
Almost every parent I’ve worked with has started off absolutely riddled with anxiety. They know there’s a problem that needs fixing and they’re committed to that solution, but even with all of the research and evidence that this is a safe, effective process, they’re still on pins and needles.
So, what’s happening here? Is this your maternal instinct kicking in? Are you subconsciously aware of an underlying threat to your baby? Is mother nature trying to tell you not to teach your baby to sleep?
Well, sorry to be ambiguous, but the truth is, it’s complicated.
Let me just throw a little disclaimer out in front of this post by saying that I’m neither a doctor nor a professional research scientist. I’m a sleep specialist with a fascination for all things sleep-related, and I follow the latest research and studies in the field.
Typically when I write these posts, I like to rely on peer-reviewed studies that have been evaluated, replicated, and borne out conclusive evidence to support them, but today I’m focusing on something that’s a little on the speculative side, since it’s a relatively new theory, and it’s a super interesting one for anyone with a seemingly “restless” baby.
Now, when a parent tells me they have a restless baby, I have a series of questions I tend to ask in order to determine whether it’s due to a “sleep prop.” That’s industry terminology for something that Baby’s grown dependent on in order to get to sleep. Breastfeeding to sleep, rocking to sleep, sucking on a pacifier, stroller rides, are all examples of these “sleep props.”
And most of the time I find that, yes, that’s absolutely the problem, and we address it and things get significantly better in a few nights.
I first heard mention of an interesting theory during the 2019 World Sleep Conference and was really interested to hear more about it, but didn’t want to write about it until a little more string had been played out in the research department. And even though it’s still too early to state anything unequivocally, I thought the time might be right to at least share what I’ve learned so far, so here goes...
One of the first things I ask my clients is if their little ones rooms are dark; and I mean is it 3 AM on a camping trip in the middle of nowhere dark?
Is it as dark at 2 PM and 4 AM (in the summer months) as it is at Midnight in your child(ren)'s room?
If not, that is one of my first recommendations, you need to make your little ones rooms black dark for all sleep situations, all year long.
Having your child(ren)'s room dark has many benefits when it comes to sleep. Darkness can help prevent early morning wake ups, help prolong naps, as well as help to maintain much needed early bedtimes when the seasons change (and it's still daylight at 9pm); just to name a few.
But it is clear that sleeping in darkness plays a much bigger role
when it comes to our health.
Daylight savings starts each spring season and this year is shows up on Sunday, March 13, 2022.
When 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.
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?
As a mother myself, and a sleep consultant, I've come to the inescapable conclusion that babies, as a rule, are complicated creatures. Matthew McConaughey’s quote on newborns always gives me a chuckle, "They eat, they crap, they sleep, and if they're crying, they need to do one of the three, and they're having trouble doing it. Real simple." In a way, he's right. A baby's vital needs essentially break down into sleeping, eating, and pooping. Their only real form of communicating any issue is through crying. Identifying the fact that there is a problem with our babies is far easier than solving the problem, and as parents, isn't that all we want?
As a pediatric sleep consultant, there are a few questions I’ve grown accustomed to hearing. People are understandably curious about whether or not their child is going to cry, and if so, for how long. They want to know how long it’s going to take before baby starts sleeping through the night, and when they’ll be able to do the same.
And even though they never come right out and say it in so many words, they want to know if there’s some kind of magical solution that will solve the problem instantaneously without any effort, crying, or protest.
To The Moon and Back Sleep Consulting
Providing families the tools & support they need to get their little ones sleeping through the night and napping like champs! Everyone has more fun when they are well rested!
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