Healthy Sleep Habits: Why Not All Sleep Habits Are Bad

Healthy Sleep Habits

If you’ve been a reader of The Baby Sleep Site® for awhile, then you know a thing or two about sleep associations, don’t you? You’ve no doubt read our sleep association blog post, and have learned all about how certain habits that your baby associates with sleep (like nursing to sleep, or rocking to sleep, or being held during sleep) can cause big, huge sleep problems that affect the whole family.

And you’ve no doubt learned that sleep training is the process of gently weaning your baby away from any negative sleep associations, and teaching your little one how to fall asleep independently, without ongoing help from mom or dad.

But what if I told you that not all sleep associations are bad? Sleep associations tend to get a pretty bad rap, but that’s not necessarily fair. I think when most of us hear ‘sleep habits’, we tend to think about bad habits – but the truth is, good, healthy sleep habits do exist, and what’s more, they are key in helping your baby or toddler sleep well.

Healthy Sleep Habits: How Babies and Toddlers Form Sleep Habits

If one thing is true, it’s that babies and toddlers tend to form habits with lightning-fast speed. Do something consistently enough, for several days in a row, and your little one will come to see that as the norm, and will expect it. We as parents can use this in our favor; it’s this trait in our children that allows us to teach good habits and to build positive character traits. For example, if we consistently require that our child say “please” before we hand them a snack, or help them with a task, then it won’t be long before that child says please habitually.

But this can backfire, too. Sometimes, things that we DON’T want to become habitual actually do – you allow your child to watch TV for 2 hours each morning while he’s sick with the flu, and he comes to expect 2 hours of TV time EVERY morning, even after he’s healthy. And the same goes for sleep – sometimes, we do things that we mean to be temporary (like nursing to sleep after every night waking, or holding the baby for every nap), and then suddenly, BOOM – our child has come to understand that this is standard, and should happen every day (or night).

Good vs. Bad (or Healthy vs. Unhealthy) Sleep Habits

So how can we distinguish healthy sleep habits from unhealthy sleep habits? First, it’s important to remember that there is no “script” for sleep – one family’s huge sleep problems are another family’s norm. And things that some parents consider problematic (like nursing to sleep 5 times a night), other parents don’t mind doing at all – or even do intentionally. So keep in mind that NOTHING about your baby’s sleep is a problem until it’s a problem for you.

Keep in mind also that every baby is different, and that means sleep needs differ from child to child. Your child may be completely rested after 3 or 4 nighttime wakings, or with naps that are on the short side – while another child may be overtired and cranky if even one daytime nap is off.

Now, as for what makes a sleep habit healthy vs. unhealthy – in general (after taking your parenting preferences and your child’s sleep needs and temperament into account), sleep habits that heavily involve you “doing” something tend to be less healthy than sleep associations that require little to no work from you. Here are some examples to illustrate this idea:

  • FEEDING: If your baby needs you to feed him all the way back to sleep after every interrupted waking at night and during naps, that’s probably an unhealthy sleep habit. But if your baby simply needs you to feed him until he’s drowsy, that’s very likely a healthy, manageable sleep habit.
  • ROCKING: Same as above – if you have to rock your baby all the way to sleep every time she wakes, that’s probably unsustainable for you, and therefore is an unhealthy sleep habit. But if you simply need to rock until drowsy, that may very well work for all of you.
  • PACIFIER: If you have to replace the pacifier for your baby every single time it falls out, that’s an unhealthy sleep habit – but if your baby can replace the pacifier himself, and doesn’t need you to help when it falls out in the middle of the night, then the pacifier can actually be a healthy sleep association.
  • COSLEEPING: If you are co-sleeping out of desperation, because it makes it easier to nurse your baby all night long, but you don’t actually WANT to share a bed with your baby, then this is most likely an unhealthy sleep habit. But if you are cosleeping intentionally, and have worked to ensure that both you and your baby are getting enough sleep, then this can be a healthy sleep association.
  • LOVEY: If YOU are your child’s lovey, and that’s standing in the way of you getting the sleep you need, then that’s an unhealthy sleep association – but if your child’s lovey is something like a blanket, or a small stuffed animal, then the lovey is a great sleep association, as it allows you child to soothe and settle without your help.

Why Healthy Sleep Habits Matter

I know that for some of you, what I’m saying here is nothing new. But here’s why this distinction between healthy and unhealthy sleep habits matter: your child will always have sleep habits. There is no such thing as habit-free sleep. So your goal in sleep training is not simply to wean your child away from unhealthy sleep habits and associations – it’s to replace those with healthy sleep habits that allow your child AND you to get more sleep. What exactly those healthy sleep habits look like is, of course, entirely up to you. For instance, some families introduce the pacifier as a healthy sleep habit, while others are working to wean away from it because it’s a negative sleep association. But it’s key to remember that your child will always have habits surrounding sleep – wearing certain jammies, for instance, or doing the bedtime routine in a certain order, or stroking a special blanket before falling asleep.

And really, when you think about the way you fall asleep – is it any surprise that your child needs healthy sleep habits? I don’t know about you, but I have lots of little routines and habits surrounding my own sleep – for instance, I absolutely cannot sleep unless I read for at least 10 minutes before bed. You probably have your own little unique pre-bed habits and rituals as well. True, some of us are probably more habit-driven than others, but even preferring one sleeping position to another, or sleeping on the same side of the bed, is a kind of sleep habit. So is it any wonder that our little ones need the same?

The key is simply to ensure that your baby or toddler’s sleep habits are actually encouraging and helping sleep, and not disrupting it. And if that process is proving daunting or difficult for you, remember – we can help! Our team of expert consultants is ready to offer you compassionate, caring support that is 100% personalized to your unique situation. We will craft a Personalized Sleep Plan™ specifically for your family, that walks you through every step of night weaning, in a way that matches your goal and parenting style.

Browse our list of consultation package options here.

Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

Tell us about your little one’s sleep habits – healthy or unhealthy? Any tips to share about how to help little one’s build healthy sleep associations? Share them below!

 
bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOur Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!
 
Essential Keys to Newborn Sleep Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep is THE newborn sleep book that will help you to not only improve your newborn’s sleep using gentle, sleep-inducing routines – it will also answer your feeding and newborn care questions. You can even buy a bundle package that includes the e-book AND a Personalized Sleep Plan™ PLUS a follow-up email to use for further support!
 
bss_ebook_3stepsystem_leftFor those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
 
 
bss_ebook_masteringnaps_leftIf you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.
 
bss_ebook_5steptoddler_smalFor those persistent toddler sleep struggles, check out The 5 Step System to Help Your Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your toddler sleep through the night and enjoy a better daytime schedule.
 

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: Our Review

Healthy Sleep Habits Healthy Child

When you’re talking about baby sleep experts, the name Dr. Marc Weissbluth is pretty legendary. It’s right up there with Dr. Richard Ferber, Elizabeth Pantley, and Nicole Johnson (couldn’t leave Nicole out, now could we? ;-) ). And it’s no wonder; Weissbluth’s book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child is considered one of the ‘baby sleep bibles’ by the many of people who’ve read it over the years.

But is this book really one of the definitive works on baby and toddler sleep? Is it worth buying and reading cover-to-cover?

We can help answer that; today, Nicole is sharing her take on this incredibly popular baby sleep book, and letting you know whether, in her opinion, this one is worth reading or not.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: Nicole’s Overview

So, what’s this book about, anyway – aside from baby sleep? Here’s Nicole’s basic overview:

“Happy Sleep Habits, Happy Child is a thorough look at how a baby’s sleep develops in the first year. The most important thing you can learn from this book is the importance of not letting your baby get over-tired, which actually (counter-intuitively) makes it harder for your baby to sleep. With many other sleep books stressing the importance of a rigid schedule being the key to better sleep, I find this book a lot more realistic in its assertion that some babies don’t do well with rigid schedules until they are older, when it’s more age appropriate.

In addition, the book offers explanations as to why some babies struggle more than others when it comes to sleep. It has some information about different temperaments, which is key in learning how to approach your baby’s sleep.”

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: The Pros

There are definitely things to love about this book – and Nicole shares a few of her favorites below….

“Overall, I think this is a very helpful book, with a lot of good information about how a baby’s sleep develops at various ages. I really like how informative this book is, in general – Dr. Weissbluth is great about providing you with the facts. Not everyone will like that, but ‘info nerds’ like me sure will! I also like that it talks about temperament, therefore indicating that all babies are different and there is no one size fits all approach. Obviously, I agree with that take on baby and toddler sleep completely!

As for my favorite part of the book…hmmm…I’d have to say that would be the ‘Action Plan for the Exhausted Parents’ section. That’s really helpful if you don’t have time to read the nitty gritty. (And let’s be honest – what exhausted parent has lots of extra time for reading?)”

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: The Cons

It’s not all sunshine and roses, however; this book isn’t for everyone. Here are the issues Nicole has with the book:

“Plain and simple – this book is just too long for tired parents. I happened to read this before I had my oldest son (did that jinx me that I had the most challenging type of baby Weissbluth described? LOL). Otherwise, I can’t imagine I would have been able to get through it.

Additionally, I think the super early (5:30 or 6:00 p.m. – or even 5 p.m. in some cases) bedtime is impractical for many families, and it’s not always THE answer anyway. The book has an underlying (and unrealistic) assumption that all babies can sleep 12 hours at night and nap for hours during the day, and in my many years of consulting with families, I’ve learned that’s simply untrue. The average sleep needs that he outlines tend to be on the high side as well, in general, which really messes up our families with babies who don’t need as much sleep.

What’s more, although it’s very important not to let your baby get over-tired, this book will make a “worrier” type of mom worry even more about her baby, which isn’t always good for mom’s state of mind! The truth is, not all babies will fall into the sleep averages stated in this book, since they’re on the high side, and that can make anxious moms feel overly worried about their little ones’ sleep.

Finally, this book encourages cry it out, though does give you some alternative methods. It tends to be more pro-CIO, though, which scares some families away, and which can make some families feel unduly pressured to resort to CIO methods, when in fact they’d benefit from a more gentle approach.”

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: A Great Book For Some (But Not For All)

So, what’s the bottom line? As usual, it’s this – Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child is perfect for some families, but NOT for all. You might really like Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child if…

  • …you love to digest information and really want to educate yourself on the science behind baby sleep.
  • …you have the time (and the energy) to read a lengthy book.
  • …you are not opposed to reading about and possibly trying cry it out methods with your child.

That said, Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child may not be a great book for you to read if…

  • …you are too tired to make it through a lengthy book. (If that’s the case, may we suggest one of our much-shorter and far-more-streamlined baby sleep e-books?)
  • …you want specific, actionable sleep coaching tips and NOT a lot of background information about baby sleep.
  • …you are opposed to trying – or even reading about – CIO methods of sleep training.

Our recommendation to you is to treat this book as you would any other book on baby and toddler sleep coaching – take the information contained within its covers with a grain of salt, and feel free to glean the good stuff while simultaneously ignoring all the info that you know doesn’t apply to you, or that you are opposed to trying in your home. Take that approach, and you really can’t go wrong!

Baby And Toddler Sleep Help That Will WORK For Your Family – Guaranteed!

For some of you reading this, the answers to your sleep challenges will be in a book. But for others – they won’t. Some of you are facing pressing sleep challenges, and will need more personalized help that you can find in any baby sleep book. But not to worry – our team of expert sleep consultants is here to help! We’re ready to create a Personalized Sleep Plan™ just for your family, and to give you the individualized help you need. The plan will walk you through every step of the sleep coaching journey will be 100% personalized to your child’s personality and needs, and will mesh with your parenting goals and philosophies.

Browse our list of consultation package options here.

Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

Have you read Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child? If so – what are your thoughts? Share them below – we love hearing from you!

 
bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOur Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!
 
https://www.babysleepsite.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Essential-Keys-to-Newborn-Sleep.jpg“>Essential Keys to Newborn Sleep Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep is THE newborn sleep book that will help you to not only improve your newborn’s sleep using gentle, sleep-inducing routines – it will also answer your feeding and newborn care questions. You can even buy a bundle package that includes the e-book AND a Personalized Sleep Plan™ PLUS a follow-up email to use for further support!
 
bss_ebook_3stepsystem_leftFor those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
 
 
bss_ebook_masteringnaps_leftIf you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.
 
bss_ebook_5steptoddler_smalFor those persistent toddler sleep struggles, check out The 5 Step System to Help Your Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your toddler sleep through the night and enjoy a better daytime schedule.
 

Attachment Parenting and Sleep Training: Can They Really Go Together?

Attachment Parenting and Sleep Coaching

You know a myth we hear often, that really gets us riled up? It’s the myth that attachment parents can’t, or shouldn’t, sleep train. We’ve worked with many attachment parents over the years who’ve told us that initially, they were very, VERY hesitant to sleep coach, because they felt that it would surely mean they had to comprise all their AP values and principles. Some of these parents struggled with chronic exhaustion and sleeplessness for years before finally reaching out to us for help.

Well, we’re ready to set the record straight: attachment parents CAN sleep train in a way that is both effective and that prioritizes their parenting philosophy.

Miriam Chickering, one of our expert sleep consultants, can vouch for that – she spends her days helping other families sleep coach in a way that aligns with their philosophies, and believes wholeheartedly in the value of sleep coaching — and she practices attachment parenting principles in her own home, with her 5 kiddos! So she’s the perfect person to discuss this topic.

Keep reading, and hear Miriam’s thoughts on how attachment parents can sleep coach effectively and gently, as well as her tips for helping attachment parents get more sleep, and build healthy sleep habits in their little ones.

How Attachment Parents Can Sleep Train WITHOUT Compromising Their Values and Beliefs – Tips From Miriam Chickering, Sleep and Lactation Consultant

You may be thinking that attachment parenting and sleep coaching won’t mix, but they really can go together very well at The Baby Sleep Site®. How is that possible? Because we use a holistic approach to sleep – one that accounts for all elements of a child’s emotional, mental, and physical development. This holistic approach allows us to minimize crying, which is crucial to attachment parents who are embarking on sleep coaching.

One of our first steps in working with attachment parents on sleep coaching is to do what we call “setting the stage for sleep”. Here are a few things we look at to make sure we’ve properly set the stage:

  • Is the schedule right? (We look at the timing of naps and feedings in relation to morning wake time and bedtime, and we see how overall nap amounts match up with nighttime sleep amounts.)
  • Do we have a solid routine? (Nap time and bedtime routines are key for signaling to you kiddo that it’s time to settle in and sleep.)
  • Any medical concerns? (We address these right away, before we begin sleep coaching, to ensure that your little one is in excellent health before we start working on sleep.)
  • How is feeding going? (If you’re nursing, we’ll take a careful look at how breastfeeding is going, and address any concerns you may have about milk supply, etc. Similarly, if you’re formula-feeding, or if your little one is on solids, we’ll examine feeding amounts and timing to ensure that your little one is properly nourished.)
  • Often, making small changes in one or more of these areas goes a long way towards improving sleep, and it ensures that we aren’t overlooking anything when we begin working on sleep habits. It also means we have less work to do in sleep training, and that in turn means we will likely have more success using gentle methods with minimal crying.

    Additionally, I always like to point out that working on these elements is a great way to increase your communication and bonding with your baby. And who doesn’t love that? ;-)

    Once we’ve properly set the stage for sleep, we want to move on to resolving unwanted sleep associations. This is really the “sleep coaching” part of what we do – and this is what tends to scare attachment parents away, honestly. But here’s what I want to emphasize: there are very gentle ways to resolve unwanted sleep associations. I know that many attachment parents hear “sleep training” and immediately think crying baby, who screams for hours, but that absolutely does not have to happen…there are so many options between ‘sleepless nights’ and ‘screaming baby’!

    Now, speaking of resolving unwanted sleep associations – let’s first define ‘unwanted sleep associations’. An unwanted sleep association is something that your baby relies on to go to sleep that ALSO causes sleep problems throughout the night. If your baby is rocked to sleep and then sleeps for 5 hours, you probably do not have an unwanted sleep association; however if your baby is rocked to sleep and wakes the moment you stop providing the movement, that’s when you have an unwanted sleep association, since you’ll likely have to spend your nights rocking instead of sleeping!

    Similarly, if you’re co-sleeping, and your baby wakes periodically through the night needing to nurse, but then falls right back to sleep, this may not be a problem for you at all. But if your baby is waking every hour needing to nurse, and then wants to stay awake and hang out with you for awhile, that is almost certainly an unwanted sleep associations!

    For some parents, a sleep association will become unwanted only when it causes 5 or more sleep interruptions, or when it keeps them awake virtually all night. For other parents, a sleep association becomes unwanted when it causes just 1 or 2 unnecessary sleep interruptions. Really, the line between ‘okay’ and ‘unwanted’ is really personal, and varies from family to family.

    Once you’ve identified the sleep association that’s causing a problem – be it nursing or holding or rocking, or perhaps another association – we focus on gently fading out that sleep association and providing comfort in other ways, while also gradually helping your baby to learn to fall asleep without any help from you. It’s amazing how well this can work when all the groundwork has been laid in a very methodical and comprehensive way and then each step is broken down into easily attainable goals.

    Advice From Miriam For CoSleeping Parents Who Want To Sleep Coach

    Obviously, as attachment parents, we have the goal of limited crying and plenty of soothing and comfort for our babies during the sleep coaching process. But if you are currently sleep coaching, and want to continue to co-sleep while sleep coaching, you’ll need to follow a few unique tips to ensure you see progress.

    For starters, end your “hands-on” soothing about 5 minutes before you want your child to fall asleep. This ensures that you aren’t inadvertently putting your baby to sleep; remember, the goal of sleep coaching is that your child learns to fall asleep on his own.

    I also urge parents to choose a 4 to 5 hour sleep stretch that belongs to them. For some parents this will occur at the parent’s bedtime, after a final Fill-Up feed (if your baby is still young enough/needs to receive a fill-up feed before you go to bed). For others, it may be from midnight to 5 am. The important things is not to feed your baby in this one time slot. Let your spouse or partner give comfort if your baby wakes, but do not offer a feeding. Within a few weeks of beginning this “sacred slot of sleep”, your baby will most likely stop waking during this time, and everyone will get at least one lengthy stretch of sleep at night. Remember that you may have to offer an extra feeding at another time of the day or night to make up for a missed feeding at this time, but you NEED your “Sacred Slot of Sleep”. It will help you become a better parent during the other 19 hours of the day!

    4 Tips All Attachment Parents Can Use To Gently Build Healthy Sleep Habits

    I wanted to end by sharing some really easy, basic tips that any parent can do to help promote better sleep and healthier sleep habits. Use these in conjunction with sleep coaching, or – if you’re not quite ready to sleep coach yet – use them on their own.

  • Start your day in the same 30 minute time window each day, even if you and baby had a rough night. Utilizing a fixed point like this keeps your schedule from getting too far off track.
  • Mind your child’s “nap gaps” (the time between daytime naps) and be sure to use the schedule that’s appropriate for your child’s age
  • Many attachment parents us the ‘Pantley Pull-Off’ to gently transition their baby away from the breast. It works like this – you allow your baby to keep sucking at the breast until he’s drowsy, then you gently break the seal with your finger and pull your breast away. It works for many moms, but if the Pantley Pull-Off isn’t working, I recommend you stop using it and try a different method. Consider fading, or pick-up put down.
  • If you are co-sleeping, at bedtime, stop a feeding at least 15 minutes before your child falls to sleep, and – as mentioned earlier – stop your hands-on soothing 5 minutes before your child is due to fall asleep.
  • Still Not Sure If You Can Mix Attachment Parenting And Sleep Coaching?

    Meet Rebecca, a lovely mom from Massachusetts who follows attachment parenting principles, but was drowning in exhaustion from her son’s frequent night waking. Rebecca wanted her son to sleep better, but she was absolutely not willing to resort to crying methods. Read Rebecca’s story below, and learn how Nicole and the team at The Baby Sleep Site® were able to help Rebecca and her son get the sleep they needed, in a way that matched Rebecca’s parenting philosophy…

    “When I came across The Baby Sleep Site, it was quite by accident. I wasn’t looking for it, but I stumbled across it while searching for websites that addressed sleep issues. At the time, I had a 10-month old son who was sleeping in a sidecar arrangement (crib up against my bed with one side missing) and waking 4-6 times every night. He went through a bad time early on: he had reflux for the first 9 months of his life, plus around month 5-6 he had a bad reaction to an antibiotic treatment and wound up with serious gastrointestinal issues (waking every 2-3 hours with diarrhea). Nursing was always a method of deep relaxation leading to sleep and had now become a necessity to get my son to sleep even after all the physical issues were over. His napping was always very poor and then around 7 months of age the only time he slept for naps was in the car. If I tried to put him in his crib or even lay with him in bed, he’d only sleep for 30-45 minutes once a day, twice only if I was very lucky. While I had done a ton of reading on the subject of sleep issues and Attachment Parenting (the methodology I had followed since birth) and tried to believe that someday my son would “grow up” and would grow out of this stage he was in, I was feeling a tremendous uneasiness about how things were going. Deep down I felt like he was missing out on precious sleep, even though his attitude was positive most of the time. Something in his eyes told me he was more tired than he let on.

    When I first entered the site, I was more skeptical than I can ever express in words. The first thing I did was download the “5 Ways To Help Your Baby Sleep Through The Night” and “7 Common Napping Mistakes” figuring they’re free and maybe they would help. No dice – not for my situation. I started receiving the newsletter and reading Nicole’s in-depth commentaries. At the end of each newsletter is the invitation to visit the services page and/or to contact Nicole with questions. For weeks I saved these newsletters and kept mulling over and over whether I wanted to spend the money to start emailing Nicole. Although everything sounded legitimate, I thought there had to be something I was missing and that it would be a mere waste of money. Another online scam. Finally I couldn’t take it any longer – I decided simply to start by taking Nicole up on her continuous offer to “email with questions.” I gave her a very brief synopsis of the situation and asked if she felt it was something she could indeed help me with. Her email back to me was quick and left me feeling very positive. I decided to purchase an email package and get to work trying to help my son, and myself for that matter.

    What transpired from that point on (we started our work together at the beginning of August) was nothing short of miraculous. Granted, the first day or two was the most difficult but in retrospect, there were close to no tears from either my son or me. Being a Christian woman I’d been praying for something to happen to bring the needed rest for my son. I would pray daily, before every nap and before every bedtime, to “please let Ben get the sleep he needs.” Enter Nicole and The Baby Sleep Site. I can honestly say that “meeting” Nicole and taking the financial and emotional risk that it felt like at the time, was the answer to prayer that I’d been looking for. Nicole had given me a multi-step approach to getting my son to disassociate the breast with falling asleep at nap time (we worked on that first, which incidentally is opposite to what Nicole would normally do) and from there another step-by-step approach to get him disassociating the breast with falling asleep at night, and then to get him into his crib completely away from my bed. From there we were going to work on getting him into his own room and getting him to allow being put to bed by other people (his own father included). I am grateful to report that within 3-4 weeks, my son was taking two 1.5-2 hour naps in his own crib (with all 4 sides up) and being put down with NO breastfeeding at all and completely awake/sitting up. NO TEARS. Not only that, but the bedtime issues were resolved almost on their own, just utilizing some of the same methods we’d come up with to fix the napping issues. Something I expected to take months, took mere weeks, days even. My son is now, and has been for quite some time, sleeping 12 hours a night and two 1.5-2 hours naps a day. No more night waking or nursing to sleep. All 98% tear-free. Any change as major as the one my son experienced is most likely going to cause some degree of sadness, and invoke tears, depending on the sensitivity of the child. For the changes and benefits I see now in my son’s sleeping habits, the 10 minutes he cried for a couple of days is so worth it – and I was completely against ANY amount of crying around “sleep training.” With Nicole’s help and understanding, something you’ll never find in a book, I was able to truly “train” my son in the most gentle and personalized manner I could ever find.

    God bless you, Nicole, for the help you have provided to me and countless other families. You were the answer I was seeking. I wish you continued success in your endeavor to bring peace in the form of needed sleep to many, many more babies and parents to come!

    -Rebecca
    Westfield, MA

    Personalized Sleep Help For All Parenting Styles

    You don’t have to sacrifice your parenting philosophy in order to sleep train – there is a sleep training style to suite every parenting style! Our consultants at The Baby Sleep Site® specialize in creating Personalized Sleep Plans™ that are customized to your own parenting philosophy, and that will NEVER make you feel guilty or pressured to give up your unique parenting style. Even better, once you have your Personalized Sleep Plan™, your consultant will walk you through each step of implementing it at home.
     
    Browse our list of consultation package options here.
     

    Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

    Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

    Sleep Resources That WORK

     
    bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOur Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!
     
    https://www.babysleepsite.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Essential-Keys-to-Newborn-Sleep.jpg“>Essential Keys to Newborn Sleep Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep is THE newborn sleep book that will help you to not only improve your newborn’s sleep using gentle, sleep-inducing routines – it will also answer your feeding and newborn care questions. You can even buy a bundle package that includes the e-book AND a Personalized Sleep Plan™ PLUS a follow-up email to use for further support!
     
    bss_ebook_3stepsystem_leftFor those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
     
     
    bss_ebook_masteringnaps_leftIf you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.
     
    bss_ebook_5steptoddler_smalFor those persistent toddler sleep struggles, check out The 5 Step System to Help Your Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your toddler sleep through the night and enjoy a better daytime schedule.
     

    So, what do you think? Can you mix attachment parenting with sleep training?

     

    Baby Sleep Apnea: Could THIS Be Why Your Baby Wakes At Night And Seems Tired All Day??

    Baby Sleep Apnea

    If your baby or toddler is waking often at night, you are no doubt struggling to find the reason why (and that list of reasons for night waking can be long!). You’re no doubt doing all you can to ensure your baby is well-rested with adequate daytime naps, well-nourished, comfortably-dressed at bedtime, and that you always kick of the night with a sleep-inducing bedtime routine.

    And if you’ve been reading our blog for awhile, then you may also be working on sleep coaching by gently weaning your child away from sleep associations, and ensuring that your baby or toddler can fall asleep independently. (That is the root of sleeping through the night, after all.)

    BUT…what if you’ve done your due diligence, and your baby is STILL waking often at night? Or, even worse, what if your baby is waking often at night, and is cranky and grumpy and seems overly tired during the day?

    We’re looking in today’s article at an under-diagnosed, often-hidden reason why a number of babies and toddlers wake at night and aren’t getting the rest they need: sleep apnea.

    Why Sleep Apnea May Be Pediatric Medicine’s Most Damaging Oversight

    First, a disclaimer – we are not doctors, and we do not dispense medical advice. If you suspect you child has a medical condition that’s affecting sleep, we urge you to make a beeline for your doc’s office, and to get an evaluation by a medical professional.

    Okay, now that that’s out there – let’s talk about sleep apnea. If you’re like me, sleep apnea is a term that’s barely on your radar as a parent – because isn’t that something that adults suffer from?

    Well, yes – but kids do, too. Including babies. And it’s becoming clearer and clearer that sleep apnea (particularly obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA) is wildly under-diagnosed among children. Statistically, around 1% of children have sleep apnea diagnoses, but according to this article, it’s more probable that 10% of children actually have this problem.

    Why does this matter? Because sleep apnea causes a whole host of serious problems, including developmental delays, failure to thrive (in infants), ADHD (in big kids), memory and learning problems, headaches, frequent nighttime waking, chronic over tiredness, and general crankiness and irritability. In rare cases, the complications of sleep apnea (including frequent exhaustion and irritability) can lead to extreme problems, like the case of a young Chicago boy who’s sleep apnea made him so tired, it nearly caused him to be expelled from school and sent to a behavioral health hospital.

    These serious complications of sleep apnea in children have led some to call its’ under-diagnosis pediatric medicine’s most damaging oversight.

    Why Sleep Apnea In Babies and Toddlers Matters, Too

    Do a quick Google search, and you’ll see that the majority of sleep apnea articles out there are geared towards adults – and that makes sense, when you consider that sleep apnea affects more adults than it does children. It’s also true that children will often outgrow mild sleep apnea problems, while adults won’t.

    But here’s the thing – sleep apnea in babies and toddlers absolutely shouldn’t be ignored, or dismissed as a small or insignificant problem. Sleep apnea seriously impacts your baby’s oxygen levels at night, and is damaging to the overall quality of your child’s sleep. Babies and toddlers with sleep apnea tend to wake more often at night than kiddos without, and even when they’re asleep, their sleep isn’t as quality as the sleep of child without sleep apnea.

    Types of Sleep Apnea

    Let’s back up a bit and identify the two main types of sleep apnea that you’ll want to be aware of: Central Sleep Apnea and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common type, and impacts older babies, toddlers, children, and adults. With obstructive sleep apnea, sleep is interrupted because the airway is actually partially blocked (which can happen for a variety of reasons). Central sleep apnea is less common, and usually occurs in premature babies; with central sleep apnea, the brain fails to send the proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.

    An easy way to keep this straight is to remember that obstructive sleep apnea means your child has trouble breathing due to the airway being blocked; central sleep apnea means your child stops breathing altogether for a brief period of time (up to 20 seconds, usually).

    Now, it’s important to note that while central sleep apnea is not the same thing as SIDS, it can be fatal – therefore, it’s important to treat it seriously. Here’s a tip fro Miriam, our resident nurse:

    “Pauses in breathing of 19 seconds or less are common in newborns, and as long as it is not accompanied by a slowed heart rate, change in color or muscle tone, it’s considered to be harmless and common. If pauses in breathing are 20 seconds or longer, however, or less than 20 seconds but accompanied by a slow heart rate, change in color, or muscle tone then it’s time for a trip to the ER for diagnosis.”

    Keep in mind that premature infants are especially prone to central sleep apnea, and typically need to wear apnea monitors to ensure safe nighttime sleep.

    Symptoms and Causes of Sleep Apnea

    So, what are the signs of sleep apnea for which you should be on the lookout? Glad you asked! Central sleep apnea is fairly easy to detect – your baby will stop breathing for a noticeable period of time – but obstructive sleep apnea can be much harder to spot. It also tends to last much longer than central sleep apnea, and not all children outgrow it.

    Significant symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include…

  • Snoring
  • Loud, noisy breathing (especially mouth breathing)
  • Frequent nighttime wakings
  • Early morning waking
  • Restless sleeping, and strange sleeping positions
  • Additional problems that may be related to sleep apnea, but aren’t necessarily red flags, include….

  • Recurring sore throats or tonsillitis
  • Asthma that isn’t well-controlled, despite medication and medical care
  • Constant ear infections
  • Constant overtiredness, despite a healthy sleep schedule and healthy sleep habits.
  • Once your child is older, you’ll want to watch for these “big kid” symptoms of sleep apnea:

  • Daytime sleepiness at preschool or during class, in spite of what seems like adequate nighttime sleep.
  • Difficulty waking up in the morning
  • Difficulty falling asleep at bedtime.
  • Bed-wetting (in children who are potty-trained and otherwise dry during the day)
  • ADD or ADHD diagnosis that isn’t helped by medication
  • One Last Word: Fixing Sleep Apnea May Not Fix All Your Sleep Problems

    If sleep apnea is your baby or toddler’s ONLY sleep problem, then getting medical care and addressing the sleep apnea may very well mean your sleep issues are solved.

    However, if your child does not yet know how to fall asleep independently, and relies on you for help with falling asleep, then addressing the sleep apnea – while it’s a step in the right direction – will likely not lead to sleeping through the night. Instead, you’ll need to focus on gently teaching your baby how to fall asleep without your help. And you don’t have to do that alone – you can call in a pro to help! Our team of expert sleep consultants is ready to create a Personalized Sleep Plan™ just for your family. The plan will walk you through every step of the sleep coaching journey, and will be 100% personalized to your child’s personality and needs, and will mesh with your parenting goals and philosophies.

    Browse our list of consultation package options here.

    Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

    Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

    Has your little one struggled withs sleep apnea? Any tips to share with other parents? Share below!

     
    bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOur Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!
     
    https://www.babysleepsite.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Essential-Keys-to-Newborn-Sleep.jpg“>Essential Keys to Newborn Sleep Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep is THE newborn sleep book that will help you to not only improve your newborn’s sleep using gentle, sleep-inducing routines – it will also answer your feeding and newborn care questions. You can even buy a bundle package that includes the e-book AND a Personalized Sleep Plan™ PLUS a follow-up email to use for further support!
     
    bss_ebook_3stepsystem_leftFor those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
     
     
    bss_ebook_masteringnaps_leftIf you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.
     
    bss_ebook_5steptoddler_smalFor those persistent toddler sleep struggles, check out The 5 Step System to Help Your Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your toddler sleep through the night and enjoy a better daytime schedule.
     

    The Last Night Feeding

    The Last Night Feeding

    It was a routine I had performed over and over at least once a night, but often, more, for over a year. The monitor went off like clockwork at 5 a.m., and I climbed the stairs to my daughter’s room on autopilot.

    I had become an expert at navigating my house in the dark – I knew exactly how many stairs my feet had to step, when to turn so that I wouldn’t ram my hips in to the kitchen table corner, and my hands never fumbled for the doorknob to her room.

    It was Mother’s Day, and it was the last time I would be feeding my daughter during the night.

    Why I Had To Let Go Of That Last Night Feeding

    Mother’s Day. So fitting, right? There I was, doing this nurturing thing that made me feel more like a mother than wiping butts, and I was ready to let that part of motherhood go.

    Unlike my son, my daughter fought sleep.  She was a tenacious kid with a strong personality, and while her take-no-prisoners M.O. will serve her really well when she’s older, it made sleep training a nightmare.

    She was up several times a night looking to eat and had a hard time soothing herself. We ran the gamut of sleep associations – rocking, nursing, you name it.

    Disjointed sleep, plus the disappointment and shame I fed myself, made me depressed, and I knew, for the sake of my family, something had to be done.  After consulting Nicole, we managed to get my daughter down to one feeding a night at 4am, and it was glorious.

    For a while.

    Fast forward a few months, a couple of out-of-town trips, several teeth and a slew of ear infections later, and my ten month-old was sleeping for three hours at a stretch if I was lucky. On those rare nights when she granted us a six-hour stretch, I felt hopeful. And amazed that I had forgotten what being rested felt like.

    Once again, I reached out to Nicole, and we worked together to get my daughter back on track — waking for a feeding at 5am and going back to sleep.

    This close to sleeping all night long, but not quite.

    Since she wasn’t quite a year old, I forgave her these wakings, but change was coming.  After her first birthday, I had decided that my feeding station wouldn’t open for business until 6 a.m.

    So, ten days after she turned one, on Mother’s Day, I went in to feed my daughter in the pre-dawn darkness for the last time.

    And I cherished every minute of it.

    The Bittersweet Moments

    It was such a bittersweet moment. Even though I was ready to finally start sleeping like a normal person again, with regular REM cycles, a part of me would miss those quiet moments and the ritual.

    The smell of my daughter’s room in the dark hours of dawn.

    The peace of that time of day.

    Her warm body pressed against mine.

    The sound of her eating.

    The way she would nuzzle in to my neck before I placed her back in the crib.

    As we sat there in the dark, I had a moment of doubt. “Maybe we should just keep doing this?” I thought to myself. “It’s not so bad, right? She eats quickly, goes back to sleep, what’s the harm? Perhaps she’ll grow out of this on her own?”

    Except that she was already a year old and showed no signs of releasing me of my 5am duties.

    Except that I also had a preschooler to take care of, and the interrupted sleep had reduced me to an over-caffeinated, edgy, and moody mother.

    Except that I knew, deep down, she could sleep through the night. She just needed to be given the chance.

    The feeding over, I kissed her milky cheek, inhaled her sleepy scent, and lowered my drowsy toddler into her crib. The walk out of her room seemed to last an eternity as I took it all in, knowing things would change.

    How I Knew I Had Made The Right Decision

    The next night when my daughter woke, I made that familiar trek upstairs, making a detour to the couch instead of her room. She started her usual whimpering, and after enough time passed by and she knew I wasn’t coming in, the crying started. Then yelling.

    It took every ounce of my being not to heave myself off that couch, burst into her room, pick her up, nurse her and help her back to sleep one more time. But I held strong. Eventually, 6am came and I went in to feed her.

    The plan was to get her up for the day, and she sure fought me on it, heavy eyelids and all. But we made it through the day, in to the night, and back to 5am the next morning.

    And the same thing the morning after that. But with each passing day, that yelling became quieter crying. And then whining and whimpering.

    And then it happened.

    I was awakened by my daughter’s cooing over the monitor, and turned to look at a clock that read 6:30!

    As a reward for all that hard work, my daughter greeted me with huge grins and hugs. In those well-rested eyes of hers, I knew I had made the right decision. Not to mention that I felt like a new woman, myself.

    In the end, I don’t know if I’m more proud of her or me. Sure, we would encounter more bumps along the way. But at least we were fortified with a solid foundation of sleep to fall back on when we did.

    And I now sleep in every Mother’s Day.

    You CAN Have A Parent Reflection Just Like This One…And We Can Help You Get There!

    It took two consultations with Nicole (not to mention a lot of hard work on my part, and on my daughter’s) to get to the point where our whole family felt rested again. But we got there…and you can, too! We have a team of trained, expert consultants who are eager to get to know you, and to create a Personalized Sleep Plan™ just for your family. Your plan will be 100% tailored to your unique situation, and will fit your parenting philosophies and goals (just like mine did!).

    Browse our list of consultation package options here.

    Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

    Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

    What are your thoughts on co-sleeping? Any co-sleeping stories or tips to share?

     
    bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOur Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!
     

    bss_ebook_masteringnaps_leftIf you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.
     
    bss_ebook_3stepsystem_leftFor those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
     
     
    bss_ebook_5steptoddler_smalFor those persistent toddler sleep struggles, check out The 5 Step System to Help Your Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your toddler sleep through the night and enjoy a better daytime schedule.