Will Sleep Training Make Your Baby Inflexible?

 
Will Sleep Training Make Your Baby Inflexible?

When you are getting up a million times each night with a sleepless baby, and suffering through microscopically short naps, you probably feel like you would do anything (A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G.) to get your baby sleeping through the night and taking long, restful naps. But there are parents out there who are a little nervous about starting sleep training – and not because they are nervous about trying it, or because they aren’t sure their babies are ready.

They are nervous about sleep training making their babies inflexible.

Specifically, some parents are concerned that if they they create predictable sleep schedules, and institute strong bedtime routines, they their babies will no longer be able to ‘go with the flow’ and catch a nap in the car, for example, or go to bed later than usual during a special occasion, or sleep in a pack-n-play at grandma and grandpa’s house.

This is a good question, if you think about it, and one that we think is worth answering!

Sleep Training Impact Depends on Your Baby’s Temperament

First, let’s be clear about something: sleep training most likely will not change your baby. Cry-it-out probably will not change your baby’s personality; neither will sleep training in general. Remember, your baby is born with certain temperament traits; this is why some babies are more relaxed and go-with-the-flow, while others need consistency and routine. Your baby’s inborn temperament traits will have much more to do with how flexible she is than anything you do (like sleep training) or don’t do.

Sleep Training May Make Your Baby More Sensitive To Schedule Changes

That said, it’s true that sleep training can, in general, make babies more sensitive to disruptions to your normal sleep schedule and routines. For instance, if you have been sleep training for a few months, and your baby has become used to napping twice per day, at the same time, in his crib, then it will probably be tough for him to miss one of those naps, or to catch the nap in the car.

Same for bedtime; if you have been sleep training for awhile and have a constant bedtime each night, you may notice that your baby isn’t able to stay up much later, or to fall asleep somewhere else at bedtime.

Finally, if your sleep training has been successful, you have no doubt gotten your baby used to her sleeping environment. That can make it a little difficult to travel with your baby; you may notice that your baby has a hard time falling asleep in a different room, or in a pack-n-play.

But keep in mind that ‘tough’ is relative in all of these scenarios – how ‘tough’ each of these is depends entirely on your baby’s temperament. Intense, persistent babies will react strongly to any change in the schedule – but that is true both before and after sleep training. More relaxed, easy-going babies may put up a little fuss to disruptions (which they may not have done prior to sleep training), but it likely will not be as a ‘big’ fuss.

Baby Sleep Training: Most Parents Find The Benefits Worth It!

So, what’s the bottom line? It’s this: sleep training will not fundamentally alter your baby’s personality or temperament. However, it will make your baby accustomed to certain routines and schedules, and after months of following a certain schedule, or sleeping in a certain way, it’s not surprising that most babies will react at least somewhat to changes in those schedules and routines. However, how strongly they react depends on innate temperament traits – intense babies will probably have big (and loud!) reactions, while easy-going babies put up a smaller fuss.

Is it worth it, then? That’s the question for some parents, particularly those who are on-the-go types, and like to have flexibility from day to day.

We certainly can’t answer that question for you – after all, you are the best judge of what’s best for your baby, and for your family! What we can say, however, is that every parent we have worked with would say that it is definitely, definitely worth it! For them, sleep training put an end to sleepless nights and non-existent naps, and gave them their lives (and their sanity!) back. Yes, it can mean that your baby is a bit less flexible in responding to schedule changes than she once was, but our well-rested parents would tell you that the nights of uninterrupted sleep are worth it! ;)

Plus, remember that if you prepare for schedule disruptions in advance, you can likely alleviate some of the stress to your child, and help him through it. Check out some of these articles on how to prepare for and deal with “schedule-busters”:

Nicole’s Note:
“I honestly can’t remember EVER getting an e-mail saying ‘I wish I hadn’t sleep trained!’ On the contrary, I most often hear ‘Why didn’t I do this sooner?’”

Ready To Sleep Train Your Baby? The Baby Sleep Site® Can Help!

If you are ready to be a well-rested parent, and are ready to trade sleepless nights for peaceful, quiet ones – look no further! Our team of consultants is waiting to craft a Personalized Sleep Plan™ for you, and to help your whole family finally get the sleep you deserve.
 
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.

Did sleep training make your baby seem less flexible? What do you think – is sleep training worth it? We want to hear your opinions, parents!

  • Want to tackle sleep training on your own? Why not take a look at our 3-Step System To Help Your Baby Sleep? Available in three affordable packages, this book is designed to give you practical, hands-on tools you can use to help your baby learn to fall asleep on his own, and stay asleep (and stop fighting bedtime!). For toddlers, try The 5-Step System To Better Toddler Sleep. Best of all, both books is available to download instantly – you can put it to use as early as tonight!
  • Want an abundance of resources to help you in your sleep coaching? Consider becoming a Baby Sleep Site Member. Our Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! And as a member, you have access to a once-a-week chat with one of our expert sleep consultants – ideal for those times when you need some expert advice! And the icing on the cake? Members enjoy 20% off all sleep consultation services. That savings alone can pay for the cost of membership!
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How And When To Stop Swaddling Your Baby

 
How And When To Stop Swaddling Baby

How is swaddling like a pacifier? (Sounds like the first question in an I.Q. test, doesn’t it? ;) Don’t worry – no I.Q. test today!)

Seriously, though, that’s a question worth asking. Even though swaddling your baby and offering your baby a pacifier are very different activities, there are some similarities, aren’t there? Specifically, both swaddling and pacifiers are designed to comfort to fussy babies, and help them to relax (and hopefully, to fall asleep!)

And here’s another similarity – while both swaddling and offering a pacifier are great ways to soothe and comfort your baby, both can quickly become habitual sleep associations. Parents who initially love swaddling their babies, or popping in a pacifier, may not be feeling the love when they find themselves getting up every 20 minutes at night to re-do the swaddle, or to replace the pacifier!

And so, with both swaddling and pacifier use, there comes a time when parents start asking themselves, “Can I stop doing this yet? Should I stop doing this yet?” We’ve answered this question already, when it comes to pacifier use – check out our article How And When To Help Your Baby or Toddler Stop The Pacifier for tips.

Today, we are going to answer that question for swaddling. Specifically, we’ll look at how to stop swaddling your baby, and when to stop swaddling your baby.

When To Stop Swaddling Your Baby

The first question many parents have is, “When can I (or should I) stop swaddling my baby?” The good news is that there is no hard-and-fast answer to this. You “can” stop swaddling your baby whenever you feel it’s best. You know your baby best, after all!

Remember that while most people use swaddling as a soothing technique during the newborn stage, and then start to phase it out around 3 or 4 months, it’s not uncommon for babies to be swaddled when they are 6, 7, 8, even 9 months old. Most older babies will eventually start to reject swaddling, but that’s not true for all older babies; some will continue to sleep better while swaddled well past 6 months.

That said, here are some general guidelines you can use to help determine when to stop swaddling your baby:

  • The average age to stop swaddling baby is around 3 or 4 months of age.
  • Newborns are born with a startle reflex, called the Moro reflex, and most babies don’t outgrow it until 4 or 5 months of age. So be careful about stopping the swaddle too early; if your baby’s Moro reflex is still strong, she may startle herself awake at night and during naps.
  • If your baby is able to break free of his swaddle, this isn’t necessarily a sign that it’s time to stop swaddling. However, if your baby is consistently breaking free of his swaddle every night, and if that means you have loose blankets in the crib, then it’s time to either stop swaddling or to switch to a safer swaddling blanket. We recommend the Miracle Blanket.
  • Swaddled babies should NEVER sleep face-down. So if your baby is starting to roll over on to her tummy while she sleeps, that is a strong sign that it’s time to stop swaddling your baby. Remember, when it comes to swaddling, safety first!
  • Make sure that your baby is not swaddled all day long. While swaddling for sleep is fine, especially during the newborn stage, babies need time to move freely as well, so that they can grow stronger and develop their gross motor skills. If your baby spends all of his sleep AND awake time swaddled, it might be time to gradually stop swaddling during his awake time.
  • If you are getting ready to sleep train, or sleep coach, you will likely want to stop swaddling first, before you begin sleep training. Part of the sleep training process involves helping your child learn to self-soothe, and babies need to be unsaddled in order to learn to self-soothe.

How To Stop Swaddling Your Baby

For babies who are not highly dependent on swaddling for comfort and are great self-soothers, or for babies who are becoming increasingly resistant to the swaddle, it will probably be easy to stop swaddling. But if your baby is very dependent on his swaddle to sleep, it may be tough to stop swaddling! Fortunately for you, we have tips. :)

In general, the best way to stop swaddling a baby is to do it gradually. This means starting by leaving one arm, or one leg, unswaddled at first. From there, you can gradually move to leaving both arms, or both legs, unsaddled. Eventually, you will build up to the point where you are not swaddling at all. The idea is that this slow, gradual transition makes it easier for a baby to get used to sleeping unswaddled.

SwaddleStrapThere are also some products on the market that can make the transition from swaddling easier. One is the Swaddle Strap, by Anna & Eve. This is honestly the coolest swaddling product (those Amazon reviews don’t lie!). The Swaddle Strap works well in its own right as a swaddling tool; it’s great for warmer months when a full swaddling blanket is just too heavy, and it also makes diaper changes so much easier. You can use it as a tool to wean from the swaddle as well; by using the Swaddle Strap, you can swaddle your baby’s arms snugly while leaving her legs free. This is a great first step to transitioning away from the swaddle altogether!

zipadeezipAnother product we love? The Zipadee-Zip. This awesome blanket is specifically designed to help you stop swaddling your baby, and make the transition away from the swaddle an easy one. The Zipadee-Zip offers babies a bigger range of motion than a traditional swaddle (which means that babies can practice self-soothing and can be a little ‘squirmier’), but it also provides enough constraint that it helps babies feel secure. This is a great product for older babies who may be attached to being swaddled but who are just getting too big, and to mobile, to be swaddled at night.

A final word, remember that any time you are weaning from a sleep association, the process can disrupt sleep. This means that if you decide to stop swaddling your baby for sleep, your baby may stop sleeping through the night initially. The process of transitioning away from swaddling can take a week or so, and during that time, your baby’s sleep may be affected. This is normal; once your baby is used to sleeping unswaddled, sleep should return to normal.

Swaddling And Sleep Help For Your Baby

What if it proves hard to stop swaddling your baby? What if your baby resists, or what if, after you stop swaddling, sleep never goes back to normal? And speaking of sleep – what if not even swaddling is helping your baby sleep throughout the night or take decent naps?? Well, don’t worry – this site is written just for situations like these, where the quick and easy fixes don’t always work.

If you need help to stop swaddling your baby, or if your baby just is not sleeping well (swaddled or not!), our team of trained consultants can help. First, browse our list of consultation packages and see which package is the best fit for your unique situation.
 
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.

When did you stop swaddling your baby? And how did you stop swaddling? We love hearing your stories and tips, parents! Share them below!

  • Feel like you can handle sleep coaching and swaddle transitioning on your own, but want to prepare? Why not take a look at our The 3-Step System To Help Your Baby Sleep? Available in three affordable packages, this book is designed to give you practical, hands-on tools you can use to help your baby learn to fall asleep on his own, and stay asleep (and stop fighting bedtime!). For toddlers, try The 5-Step System To Better Toddler Sleep. Best of all, both books is available to download instantly – you can put it to use as early as tonight!
  • Want an abundance of resources to help you in your sleep coaching? Consider becoming a Baby Sleep Site Member. Our Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! And as a member, you have access to a once-a-week chat with one of our expert sleep consultants – ideal for those times when you need some expert advice! And the icing on the cake? Members enjoy 20% off all sleep consultation services. That savings alone can pay for the cost of membership!
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Ilana Got Personalized Help – And You Can, Too!

Meet Ilana Collison. Ilana lives in North Dakota, but when she originally came to us for help, she had just moved to the U.S., from the U.K. And as if an international move weren’t stressful enough – she did it with a baby who just refused to sleep!

Once Ilana and her family were settled in the States, she contacted us for help with her son Tyler’s sleep. Here’s her story…

The Baby Sleep Site: Ilana, tell us a little bit about Tyler’s sleep history.

Ilana: Tyler was one of those babies who just resisted sleep. It was a bit of aIlana Collison4 joke amongst some of my mummy friends, how Tyler was such a poor sleeper. I often heard, “And I thought mine was bad! I can’t believe he’s been up all day and won’t sleep”. Yep, believe it! And he wouldn’t sleep at night time either. When he did, he woke up multiple times.

Now, before Tyler was born, I had accepted that my own hours of sleep were going to be few and far between. I knew that having a newborn, and then moving to a new country when he was just 3 months old, was going to be challenging. I just wasn’t prepared for the toll that it really took.

The Baby Sleep Site: That’s understandable – there’s probably no good way to adequately prepare for something like that! So once you were settled in the U.S., what happened?

Ilana: Once we got settled into our new house, Tyler was 6 months old, and we were ready to have him sleep in his crib, in his own room. Apparently, however, he wasn’t! At that point, I began scouring the internet for information.

At first, I didn’t find anything helpful. Yes, I had a bedtime routine. Yes, we were consistent, but things were just getting worse and worse, and I really felt like Tyler was suffering. I believe that sleep is so important for a baby’s development, and Tyler wasn’t getting anywhere near what he needed. He was grumpy, and his happy mood started to change for the worse.

I can’t convey how bad things had become, surviving on so little sleep for such a long time. And Tyler himself had become so challenging. I loved my son, but things were dismal. My relationship with my husband had become strained, too. One day, I just cried, and cried, and cried. It just all got to be too much.

The Baby Sleep Site: Oh, Ilana – that must’ve been so hard. We know lots of parents who’ve been in that same position – all the exhaustion and sleep deprivation catches up to them, and they finally break down. What did you do then?

Ilana: Ilana Collison3At that point, I had already come across The Baby Sleep Site. So, I waited for my husband to get home from work, and then I literally begged him to sign us up for a Baby Sleep Site consultation package. I was of course skeptical to be parting with money for advice online, but with SO many positive testimonials, I figured it surely had to work. Not only that, but I sensed a real empathy and compassion from reading Nicole’s weekly newsletter, and I just felt that this was going to work for us. And I knew that I had it in me to stick to a schedule. I just needed some pointers and support.

The Baby Sleep Site: So after you purchased your package – what happened then?

Ilana: I wrote up our family history, for Amber (my sleep consultant) to use. Even just writing out the sleep history helped me feel better – it’s like I was emptying my mind of all the issues and putting them into e-mail form. From that moment, I started to feel like there was hope. And then there was – an e-mail from Amber, with our family’s Personalized Sleep Plan™ attached! It was like a ray of light!

The Baby Sleep Site: And what did you think, reading through the plan?

Ilana: The sleep schedule was detailed, and it provided insight and options, as well as room for tweaking to suit our needs as well as Tyler’s. Amber even preempted what Tyler may do in response to the plan. That surprised me – I knew what he would do, but how did she? How could someone who had never met my son know him so well? I honestly couldn’t read the Personalized Sleep Plan™ fast enough! Not only was it informative and clear, but it was positive and encouraging – all the things I knew I needed to get started.

The Baby Sleep Site: Okay, Illana, this is the all-important question: once you started implementing the plan, did it work?

Ilana: Tyler responded to the new routine really well! Within about 4 days of putting the plan into action at home, we saw a significant change. My baby was actually taking naps during the day and sleeping better at night! No, it wasn’t perfect right away. But he did pick up his new routine so quickly.

Ilana Collison copySoon after that, Tyler slept through the night for the first time. I remember lying awake at 4 a.m., wondering if he was okay, and if the baby monitor was working! But of course, nothing was wrong; he was just fast asleep, and enjoying his crib! Now, Tyler doesn’t sleep through the night perfectly every night, but in the main, he does. And now, if he does wake up, we know exactly what to do, and so does he! Now that Tyler is finally getting the sleep he needs, my husband and I are, too. Now, everything about our family is different, and I am starting to feel like my old self.

I should say that I don’t for a minute think our help here is done! We just weren’t blessed that way, with an ‘easy’ baby. This is merely ‘au revoir’ for now, as we shall no doubt be in contact with you again soon (but hopefully not too soon!)

The Baby Sleep Site: We’ll keep an eye out for your e-mail, Ilana! ;) Before we wrap things up – any final words you want to offer our readers?

Ilana: I have no reservations about recommending this service – in fact, I’ve done so a number of times already! To Amber and the entire Baby Sleep Site team: thank you for a most wonderful service. Your patience, humour, and quality advice have been second to none and are worth every penny!

There you have it! Ilana felt hopeless, and like there was no solution for her son’s sleep problems – but there was a solution. There is a solution for your baby’s sleep challenges, too – and The Baby Sleep Site® can help you find it! Don’t waste another sleepless night; contact us today, and you can start your family’s journey to better sleep tonight!
 

Click here to choose a sleep consultation package, and start your journey to better sleep!

 
 

You heard Ilana’s story – now, we want to hear yours! Tell us your sleep training story in the comments section below!

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Sleep Regressions: Everything You Need To Know

 
Sleep Regressions


 

Sleep regression. It’s a phrase you probably didn’t know existed before you had a baby, but now? Now that your baby is waking every 20 minutes, and you are exhausted beyond all reason? Now that your toddler is waging a fierce anti-nap campaign?

Yeah – it’s a phrase you’re probably familiar with!

Sleep Regressions: What They Are

A sleep regression describes a period of time (anywhere from 1 – 4 weeks) when a baby or toddler who has been sleeping well suddenly starts waking at night, and/or skipping naps (or waking early from naps) for no apparent reason. Parents often describe being caught totally off guard: you think your have conquered all your little one’s sleep challenges, when suddenly, out of nowhere, you’re back to constant night wakings and nonexistent naps.

Frustrating, to say the least!!

Sleep Regressions: When (And Why) They Happen

Remember, every baby is different, so what is true for your friends’ babies may not necessarily be true for yours. That is, your baby or toddler may show true regression signs at some of these month markers, but not others.

That said, there are some seasons during which most babies or toddler so through at least a mild sleep regression:

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4 Month Sleep Regression

This one’s permanent, folks! That is to say that the changes that happen with the 4 month sleep regression are permanent changes. By 4 months, your baby has ditched her babyish sleeping patterns and is sleeping more like an adult – and that translates into frequent night waking (and lots of fussing) along with shortened naps.
 
Find 4 month sleep regression help HERE and HERE.
 
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8 Month Sleep Regression (sometimes 9 Month Sleep Regression, or even 10 Month Sleep Regression)

This one is all thanks to the developmental milestones that are happening around 8 months, 9 months, and 10 months. At this stage, most babies are making great strides physically – learning to crawl, to pull up, to cruise, etc. There’s also a lot of brain development happening at this stage. Your baby is absorbing language like crazy! Finally, most babies are cutting at least a few teeth during this season. Add it all up, and you get more night waking, shorter (or even skipped) naps, and one cranky baby on your hands.
 
Find 8, 9, 10 months sleep regression help HERE.
 
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11 Month Sleep Regression (or 12 Month Sleep Regression)

This one doesn’t seem to affect as many of our clients as the other regressions do – maybe it’s a less common one? At any rate, this regression has a lot to do with naps – specifically, you might find that your baby suddenly starts refusing his or her second nap, and tries to get by with just one nap. Lots of parents assume that this is a normal nap transition, and that it means their little one is ready for just one nap a day. However, we urge parents to treat this one as a regression instead, since most toddlers really aren’t ready to transition to just one nap a day until about 15 months.
 
Find 11 month or 12 month sleep regression help HERE.
 
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18 Month Sleep Regression

Oh, parents – this one is a doozie. Why? Because now your baby is a toddler – a walking, talking (well, babbling at least), tantrum-throwing toddler. This regression has a lot to do with your toddler’s new-found independence. She’s learning that – guess what – she has opinions and things! And – even better – she can express those opinions by shouting “NO!” at top volume! Separation anxiety also comes into play here; your toddler may genuinely be distressed when you leave at nap time, or when you walk out of the room at bedtime. Finally, teething is still a factor at 18 months – toddlers are often cutting molars (those big, painful teeth!) around this time.
 
Find 18 month sleep regression help HERE.
 
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2 Year Sleep Regression

To be honest, the 2 year sleep regression is a little less straightforward than the others. That’s because there are a variety of factors that can cause it. For one thing, your 2 year old’s awake time is growing longer, but as he makes that transition, it can disrupt sleep. Your 2 year old is likely also going through some big life transitions, like potty training and transitioning to a big-kid bed (and maybe even getting a new sibling!) And around 2 years of age, lots of toddlers begin having very real nightmares (or even night terrors). All of this can lead to a very real, very exhausting sleep regression around 2 years old.
 
Find 2 year sleep regression help HERE.
 
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Sleep Regressions: How To Move Past Them

You know the what, the why, and the when behind common baby and toddler sleep regression – now how about the ‘how to’? As in, “How the heck do I fix this and get back to my peaceful nights of sleep again?!?!”

Well, for starters, remember that the 4 month sleep regression is a permanent change – there is no going back to the way things were. Once you are through the worst of the 4 month sleep regression you will want to focus on helping your baby break her sleep associations, and on heaping her learn to fall asleep without help from you. Once she can do that, she will be well on her way to sleeping through the night, and establishing a more predictable daytime schedule.

As for the other sleep regressions, here are a few tips to help you cope WITHOUT undoing all the sleep coaching progress you’ve made up to this point:

  • Don’t be afraid to offer extra feedings. Growth spurts can be a component of sleep regressions, so don’t worry about offering an extra nighttime feeding (or even daytime feeding) here and there. Remember – this is temporary! You will eventually return to your normal schedule.
  • Offer comfort as needed, but avoid making new (or reinstating old) bad habits. You will definitely need to offer your baby or toddler plenty of extra kisses and cuddles during the sleep regression, and this is okay! But avoid creating new sleep associations – avoid rocking your baby to sleep regularly, or nursing her to sleep. Avoid reinstating old bad habits, too – if you have weaned your toddler off the pacifier, for example, don’t revert to offering the pacifier during a sleep regression.
  • Solicit help, and lean hard on your partner. Sleep regressions last for awhile (up to 4-6 weeks, in some cases!) And if you are doing your due diligence, and trying to cope while not creating new sleep associations, you are bound to get tired. This is the time to ask for help from anyone who will offer it! Have friends or family members help you (either with your little one, or with the household management).
  • Offer an earlier bedtime if necessary. Sleep regressions can lead to missed sleep, which can lead to overtiredness, which can quickly spiral into more missed sleep. Yikes! So to ward off exhaustion, offer an earlier bedtime if necessary.

Sleep Regressions: When To Sleep Train (or Sleep Coach)

A last word – be careful to chalk all sleep issues up to sleep regression. While it’s true that these sleep regression stages will last for a few weeks at a time, and there is really nothing to do but wait them out, sleep challenges that are chronic and that have been around for months (or even years!) may need to be solved with sleep training. You can sleep train on your own (and we have resources to hep with that!) But sleep training can be an overwhelming task.

That’s why we created The Baby Sleep Site®, and it’s why we are here to help! If you want personalized help for your baby’s sleep, from a trained sleep consultant, browse our list of consultation packages and and choose the one that looks best for your unique situation.
 
Click here to learn how you can connect one-on-one with a sleep consultant.
 
Or, if you’d like to know more about how our system of personalized baby sleep help works, Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

Want even more resources to help you survive a sleep regression? We have plenty!

 
bss_ebook_freeguide_leftWant FREE sleep help that you can put to use right away? Download a copy of our free guide, 5 Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through The Night, or, for toddlers, Toddler Sleep Secrets. We even have one especially for naps, called 7 Common Nap Mistakes! Each guide is available to download instantly, which means you can start using the techniques in them as early as tonight. So download now, and learn why your baby or toddler is struggling with sleep – and what you can do about it.
 

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, or (for toddlers) The 5 Step System to Better Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, these e-Books helps you and your baby or toddler sleep through the night.
 
 

bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOr, join our Members Area 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!

 
Baby_On_Computer_RESIZEDIf you are looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation, and want plenty support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations. Your consultation package will provide you with the chance to interact one-on-one with a trained sleep consultant, who will create a Personalized Sleep Plan™ for your family and then work to help you implement it at home.
 

Can’t decide which product or service is right for you? Visit our Getting Started Page for help.

How are you managing your little one’s sleep regressions? Share your tips and questions below!

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Has Your Baby or Toddler Stopped Sleeping Through The Night? Here are 7 Reasons Why.

 
Baby or Toddler Stopped Sleeping Through the Night

You know what one of the worst sleep through the night myths out there is, in my opinion? The myth that once a baby starts sleeping through the night, that’s it – night waking over! Forever! And they all slept happily ever after.

Except no, that’s not how it works. Yes, teaching your baby to sleep through the night, or teaching your toddler to sleep through the night, is a huge milestone. And once your little one is capable of sleeping through the night, you can look forward to lots of rested, sleep-filled nights.

But sometimes, even ‘good’ sleepers turn ‘bad’. That is to say that sometimes, babies and toddlers who have been sleeping through the night for weeks, or even months, suddenly start waking again. This is normal – sleeping through the night is not a ‘one and done’ kind of thing.

But why do babies and toddlers who have been sleeping through the night suddenly stop? That’s what we are tackling in today’s article, readers. So read on for details, and find out why your baby or toddler’s nighttime sleep may have suddenly taken a turn for the worse!

Baby or Toddler Stopped Sleeping Through The Night? 7 Reasons Why

  1. Sleep regression — This is your most likely culprit. Sleep regressions often creep up out of nowhere,and they tend to wreak havoc on sleep – both the nighttime AND the nap time variety! Your little one’s age will be a factor here – if your baby or toddler is around 3 or 4 months old, between 8 and 10 months old, around 11 or 12 months old, 18 months old, or 2 years old, then you can probably attribute the new night wakings to a sleep regression.
  2. Your best bet in the case of a sleep regression is to wait it out as best you can, without reverting back to old sleep associations.

  3. Growth spurt — Babies and toddlers go through a series of definite growth spurts in the first year, and those growth spurts can affect sleep in a big way. Namely, during a growth spurt, you may notice that your baby or toddler wakes in the middle of the night feeling hungry and wanting to eat. This can happen even if your little one has been sleeping through the night, with no night feeds.
  4. Your best bet in the case of a growth spurt is to offer extra feedings, and to remember that the growth spurt will pass. (Really, it will!)

  5. Teething — By age 3, your toddler will have a mouth full of teeth – that’s a lot of tooth-growing in just a few years! No wonder, then, that teething pain and discomfort seems to constantly plague babies and young toddlers. And, of course, teething impacts sleep; an imminent tooth can make for sore gums, which in turn makes for night waking.
  6. Your best bet in the case of teething is to offer a little bit of pain relieving medication (although you will absolutely want to check with your baby’s doctor first!) You can also try giving your baby something firm to chew on (even better, something cold and firm.)

  7. Illness — Cold and flu season is (thankfully!) just about done here in the U.S., but a wise parent knows that illness can strike anytime – and those illnesses affect sleep. And even something as innocuous as a mild cold can really do a number on a baby or toddler’s sleep, leading to lots of extra night wakings.
  8. Your best bet in the case of illness is to ask your doctor what you can do to help your baby or toddler feel more comfortable.

  9. Nap Transition — Your baby or toddler’s nap needs change quite a bit in the first 18 months of life, and all those nap transitions tend to keep your little one’s daytime sleep and feeding schedule in a fairly constant state of change. Naps may happen later than usual, or not at all, and those changes to daytime sleep will definitely impact nighttime sleep.
  10. Your best bet in the case of a nap transition is to make sure that your little one isn’t napping too much during the day, and to make sure that all naps are over before dinnertime – no evening ‘naps’ allowed! ;)

  11. Schedule disruption — Sometimes, things come up – and those things don’t always fit into your schedule. “Schedule-busters” like vacation, or maybe an after-school sport activity for an older child, can disrupt your baby or toddler’s schedule to the point where night sleep will be affected.
  12. Your best bet in the case of a short-lived disruption (like a week-long vacation, or a holiday) is to get back on track as soon as you can. In the case of a longer-term disruption (like an after-school program that lasts 8 weeks, for instance), you may want to adjust the normal schedule to accommodate this new activity.

  13. Big life change — Big changes, like moving to a new house, the birth of a new sibling, a separation or divorce, etc. will definitely impact sleep. Changes like this may cause separation anxiety to grow worse, for one thing – toddlers may become extra-clingy, and may become fearful and weepy at bedtime. Even babies will feel these changes, though, since they will no doubt mean disrupted schedules.
  14. Your best bet in the case of a big life change is to offer your baby or toddler extra comfort, and to operation a modified schedule (if necessary) while the changes are happening. Then, get back on track as soon as possible once the change is done.

Help Your Baby or Toddler Sleep Through The Night Again

It’s true that babies and toddlers who know how to sleep through the night don’t do so always and forever. There will be night wakings, and sometimes, there’s really nothing you can do to avoid those night wakings (like in the case of illness, or growth spurts, or sleep regressions).

But remember, if your baby or toddler has never slept through the night, and still needs to be constantly rocked or nursed or held to sleep, you may have a bigger sleep problem that you need to deal with. Sleep associations like these can be changed, and you can help your baby or toddler learn to fall asleep on his own (which is the first step to learning to sleep through the night).

If you’d like to personalized help in changing your baby’s sleep associations and working towards sleeping through the night, we are here for you! Our personalized consultation packages offer a range of support, and our trained sleep consultants are ready to work one-on-one with you to improve your baby or toddler’s sleep. Take a look at our consultation packages, and see which one looks like a good fit for you.
 
Click here to see all our personalized consultation packages.
 
Once you purchase, you will immediately receive access to the Helpdesk, and you can set up your account, fill out your Family Sleep History form, submit it to a consultant, and get started on the journey to better sleep!

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 baby or toddler stopped sleeping through the night? How are you handling it? Have questions about sleeping through the night? Ask them below!

  • Ready to work on your baby’s sleep issues, but want more information first?Why not take a look at our The 3-Step System To Help Your Baby Sleep? Available in three affordable packages, this book is designed to give you practical, hands-on tools you can use to help your baby learn to fall asleep on his own, and stay asleep (and stop fighting bedtime!). For toddlers, try The 5-Step System To Better Toddler Sleep. Best of all, both books is available to download instantly – you can put it to use as early as tonight!
  • Want an abundance of resources to help you in your sleep coaching? Consider becoming a Baby Sleep Site Member. Our Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! And as a member, you have access to a once-a-week chat with one of our expert sleep consultants – ideal for those times when you need some expert advice! And the icing on the cake? Members enjoy 20% off all sleep consultation services. That savings alone can pay for the cost of membership!
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Autism & Sleep: An Interview With An Expert!

 
Autism And Sleep


 

Happy April, readers! Spring is finally here – and so is National Autism Awareness Month. This is such an important month, and it’s one that’s close to our hearts. That’s because we’ve learned over the years, through our work with families, that autism affects a child’s sleep in a big way. We’ve written about how and why autism affects sleep in the past. But today, we have something a little different for you.

SarahWToday, we are talking to special needs expert (and Baby Sleep Site® consultant!) Sarah Wisecamp. Before she joined us as a consultant, Sarah was a special education teacher for elementary-aged children with autism. And prior to teaching, Sarah worked as an early-intervention specialist, focusing on diagnosing early autism signs in children under 3. She is also trained in Applied Behavior Analysis and Verbal Behavior. So it’s clear that Sarah knows a thing or two about autism! And you can benefit from her wisdom and years of experience by reading today’s interview.

So, without further ado – let’s hear from Sarah, on the topic of autism and sleep!

The Baby Sleep Site: Sarah, to start, let’s talk about why parents of babies and toddlers should be worried about autism and sleep at all. After all, children aren’t typical diagnosed with autism until they’re school-aged, right? So how does this affect our readers?

Sarah: Good question! It’s true that, generally, a child isn’t officially diagnosed with autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) until age 5. However, in the past 5 years or so, the medical community has become much more intentional watching for early signs of autism in young toddlers and babies. Today, it’s not uncommon for a toddler as young as 18 months to be diagnosed as having early signs of autism. This kind of early diagnosis and intervention is key – the earlier we can work with autistic children and their families, the more progress we can make. So, when you think about this, it’s very possible that some of the families in our own Baby Sleep Site community may be directly affected by an autism diagnosis.

It’s also important to remember that autism rates continue to rise. It used to be that the statistic was 1 in 110 children had ASD; today, it’s closer to 1 in 88. So even a family who isn’t directly affected is likely affected in a secondary way – maybe you have a friend whose child has ASD, or a nephew or niece with the disorder.

The Baby Sleep Site: Wow – amazing that it’s possible to spot and diagnose early signs of ASD as early as 18 months! That’s encouraging, actually, to know that parents can get help even earlier now, and that early help can translate into better intervention. So, now that we’ve established why this matters, let’s talk about how autism and ASD affects sleep.

Sarah: Well, it’s important to remember that ALL children with special needs are more prone to sleep issues, especially children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is said that over 50% will experience sleep difficulties. Research has shown that early intervention is so important for all children with any delays, and addressing sleep needs is no different!

The Baby Sleep Site: Oh, good distinction, Sarah! So it’s not just ASD that impacts sleep – really, any special need diagnosis likely comes with sleep challenges.

Sarah: Yes, absolutely. It’s key that parents and practitioners watch out for sleep issues, and address them accordingly. Lack of enough sleep can impact daytime behavior in any child but especially in children with Autism. All parents want their children to be well rested to tackle the day and learn new skills whether it be learning letters at preschool or learning a new sign for drink in therapy. Parents should not just assume that sleep problems are part of your child’s delays or disorder, many doctors can rule out any underlying medical issues and sleep consultants can help develop a plan with a cognitive and behavioral approach.

The Baby Sleep Site: So what kinds of sleep challenges do children with ASD face, Sarah? Knowing that will help our Baby Sleep Site parents know what to be on the lookout for.

Sarah: Well, for starters, children with ASD tend to have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. This is usually due to irregular circadian rhythms and sleep/wake cycles – and those are sometimes due to abnormal melatonin regulation. Insomnia is the most common sleep challenge for children with ASD. Often the child requires the parent to be present while they fall asleep.

Children with ASD are also more prone to seizures, reflux problems, night terrors, and sleep apnea – all of which can make sleep challenging.

The Baby Seep Site: Oh, that makes sense. Anything else?

Sarah: It’s also important to remember that children who have ASD also tend to have sensory issues – specifically, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). It’s not unusual for children to have both. Children with SPD tend to be hypersensitive to visual and audio stimuli. So any loud sounds at bedtime, or scratchy blankets or sheets, etc. can become big barriers to sleep for these children.

The Baby Sleep Site: So, we’ve covered the sleep challenges – but what can parents do to make sleep progress, Sarah? Specifically, what can parents be doing at home, on their own, to help their little ones with ASD and SPD sleep well?

Sarah: Good news – there are lots of techniques parents can use at home to encourage better sleep! For starters, establish a very strong bedtime routine. Sometimes, children with ASD and sensory issues have trouble reading bedtime cues, so having a strong and consistent bedtime routine is a great way to communicate that bedtime is drawing near. Just be sure that the routine is calming – this will help ease gently into sleep.

If your child has trouble winding down at the end of the night, it might be helpful to set a time about 15 minutes before the bedtime routine is set to begin, and then to start issuing bedtime reminders ever so often, to help your child begin to wind down.

Children with sensory issues are extra-sensitive to outside stimuli, so be sure to create a soothing sleep environment. Carpet or large rugs in the bedroom can help muffle outside noise, and room-darkening shades or curtains can help block out light that might be distracting. Check your child’s PJs, too, for any tags that might be scratchy. Same goes for bedding. Children with sensory issues may also benefit from weighted blankets – these can help them feel more anchored and secure.

One more note – children with ASD sometimes need their parents to remain present in the room while they fall asleep. This works for some families; for others, though, it becomes a difficult part of the routine to maintain. So it’s important that each family honor their unique situation in determining if this is a good step or not.

The Baby Sleep Site: Sarah, this is such great advice! Thanks for sharing your expert wisdom with us. :)

Autism Awareness Month Giveaway: Basic E-Mail Sleep Consultation Package

Readers, we are excited to announce that, in honor of Autism Awareness Month, we are giving away one Basic E-Mail Consultation Package to a family that is directly affected by autism, and needs sleep help for a child with ASD and/or sensory issues. Sarah herself will be working with the winner of the consultation package – so parents, you are really getting expert insights!

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment below, in the comments section. In your comment, be sure to explain how ASD and/or sensory issues affect your family, and how you believe you would benefit from getting sleep help from Sarah. The winner will be chosen at random. This giveaway is open to U.S. and international entrants. Be sure to include a valid email address when entering your comment.

Leave your comment below, and enter to win a Basic E-Mail Consultation!

Click to Tweet:
Tweet: #Autism & Sleep: Interview w/ an expert plus a giveaway! http://ctt.ec/a8fYj+ #AutismAwareness

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5 Steps To Help Your Baby or Toddler Learn To Fall Asleep Alone

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5 Steps To Help Your Baby Fall Asleep Alone

“Baby Falls Asleep Alone! Parents Overjoyed!”

Okay, so maybe the general public wouldn’t consider that the most amazing news headline in the world, but I’ll bet that for all of you sleep-deprived parents out there who are working on sleep training (and that’s pretty much all of you :) ), you would LOVE to apply that headline to your story.

Good news – you can. And we can help.

Why Does Your Baby or Toddler Need To Learn To Fall Asleep Alone?

To put it simply, your baby or toddler needs to learn to fall asleep alone so that he can eventually (when he is developmentally ready) sleep through the night. There is no magical age at which all babies can sleep through the night, of course – that is dependent on so many factors. But until your baby knows how to fall asleep alone, without your help, he will struggle to sleep through the night (or to take long, restorative naps, for that matter).

5 Steps To Help Your Baby or Toddler Learn To Fall Asleep Alone

It isn’t exactly a small thing to teach your baby a brand new skill like falling asleep without help. That’s why we try to break the process down into manageable steps for the families with whom we work. Obviously, we can’t give all of you a consultation in blog article form, but we can give you an overview of what the 5 step process to helping your baby or toddler fall asleep alone looks like.

So, without further ado…here it is!

  1. Identify your baby or toddler’s sleep associations. Does your baby or toddler need to be rocked to sleep? Fed to sleep? Held to sleep? These are your little one’s sleep associations. Sleep training is simply the process of changing your baby or toddler’s sleep associations. Once you know the sleep associations, you know what to focus on while you sleep train.
  2. Wean from the swaddle and/or pacifier (if applicable, and if necessary). If your baby is heavily dependent on being swaddled for sleep, you will want to work on weaning her away from the swaddle before you start working on sleep training. Check out this article on how and when to stop swaddling for tips on how to do that. If your baby or toddler needs a pacifier to sleep, you might want to try weaning from it. This is only necessary for babies and toddlers who have a really strong dependency on the pacifier, though, and whose pacifier use is interfering with sleep. If you decide to wean from the pacifier, browse this article on how to stop pacifier use for tips.
  3. Create a sleep routine. Bedtime routines, and pre-nap routines, are great for promoting sleep. If you don’t already have one, create a consistent pre-sleep routine. You can read this article for bedtime routine tips, and this article about common bedtime routine mistakes you will want to avoid.
  4. Create a sleep training plan. All your hard work has led up to this point – time to create your own, personal sleep plan! Decide which sleep training method you want to use (you can look at a ‘cheat sheet’ of common sleep training methods, or download our free guide, 5 Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night here – both will give you the info you need to get started.) Next, decide how you want to approach sleep training. It is generally best to start with bedtime and then move to naps, although that’s not true in every case.
  5. *********************************************************************************
    Hey membersdid you know you can download a workbook designed to help you create your very own Personalized Sleep Plan™? Log in and take a look!
    *********************************************************************************

  6. Implement your plan with confidence and consistency for 2-4 weeks (depending on the method you choose). This is where the hard work comes in. Once you have your plan on paper, you need to implement it and then stick to it. We usually recommend that parents stick with a plan for at least a week (2 is better) before making any changes. Remember, your goal in sleep training is to teach your baby or toddler to fall asleep alone. This is a new skill for your little one – and new skills aren’t learned overnight! So stay consistent in your sleep training, and give your baby or toddler time to learn a new way to sleep.

Parents, if you follow these steps, you CAN teach your baby or toddler to fall asleep alone, without your help. And that will be the first step on the journey to rested nights and peaceful naps!

Of course, we recognize that while some families will be able to implement this 5-step plan easily, many other families will struggle through it. We aren’t all blessed with easy children – some of us just need help with sleep training! We get that. If you’ve tried following this plan, but have gotten stuck along the way – or if attempting these 5 steps on your own just seems way too overwhelming – we can help! Our consultants can create your Personalized Sleep Plan™ for you, and then walk you through each step of implementation.
 
Click here to learn how you can work one-on-one with a sleep consultant.
 
Want to know more about how our system of personalized baby sleep help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

How did you teach your baby or toddler to fall asleep alone? Share your tips with the rest of us!

  • Want to try these 5 steps on your own? Why not take a look at our 3-Step System To Help Your Baby Sleep? Available in three affordable packages, this book is designed to give you practical, hands-on tools you can use to help your baby learn to fall asleep on her own, and stay asleep. Or, if you have a toddler at home, try our 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep. Best of all, both books are available to download instantly – you can put it to use as early as tonight!
  • Want an abundance of resources to help you in your sleep coaching? Consider becoming a Baby Sleep Site Member. Our Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! And as a member, you have access to a once-a-week chat with one of our expert sleep consultants – ideal for those times when you need some expert advice! And the icing on the cake? Members enjoy 20% off all sleep consultation services. That savings alone can pay for the cost of membership!
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3 Steps To A Better 6 Month Old Baby Schedule

3 Steps To A Better 6 Month Old Baby Schedule

6 months – the magical age! This tends to be the point at which parents decide that they are more than ready to sleep again, thankyouverymuch, and that it is high time they helped their babies get on a decent sleep schedule (and maybe even start sleeping through the night!)

As always, The Baby Sleep Site® is here to help! This article tackles common 6 month old sleeping challenges, as well as 3 easy steps you can use to help your 6 month old baby establish a predictable, healthy sleep and feeding schedule.

6 Month Old Baby Sleep Challenges

If your baby is still struggling with sleep at 6 months old, that’s okay (and understandable). However, take comfort in the fact that by this age, babies truly can start to follow a more predictable, by-the-clock schedule.

That said, if you are still struggling with your 6 month old baby’s sleep, the following factors may be making things even more challenging:

  • Your 6 month old baby has probably started eating solid food. By 6 months old, most babies have started solid food (in addition to taking in plenty of breastmilk or formula – that’s still the main source of nutrition for the first year!) While some babies transition to solids with no issues whatsoever, other babies react to starting. They show signs of food allergies, they develop tummy issues, etc. – and all of those can interfere in a big way with sleep!
  • Your 6 month old baby’s sleep associations are getting even stronger. By now, your baby has had 6 full months to develop strong habits associated with sleep. That means that if he has become used to being rocked to sleep, or fed to sleep, or held until he falls asleep, that is now a fixed habit. Same with using a pacifier to fall asleep, or being swaddled in sleep. That’s not to say that these sleep associations can’t be overcome – they certainly can! But a 6 month old baby will no doubt show a little more resistance to learning a new way to sleep than a 5 month old baby will.

6 Month Old Baby Sleep Developments

What’s happening with your 6 month old baby’s sleep? Several new developments, actually:

  • Your 6 month old baby’s naps should begin to consolidate. Note the ‘should’ – not all 6 month old babies will show signs of naturally establishing a nap schedule, and some will continue to take many short naps during the day. But most will. You will probably notice that the unpredictable naps you’ve been working with over the past 6 months slowly begin to merge into three semi-predictable naps.
  • Your 6 month old baby will likely be able to drop down to 1 night feeding. It’s still normal for a 6 month old baby to need 1-2 night feedings, but most 6 month old babies are able to get by with just 1 feeding at night. (Most – not all! Don’t feel bad if your 6 month old still needs to feed twice during the night). If your baby is nursing more than once or twice per night, however, work to gradually decrease those night feeds.

6 Month Old Baby Schedule: 3 Steps To A Better One

If you haven’t yet adjusted your baby to a somewhat clock-based schedule, it can be a daunting process to start. We understand that! That’s why we are outlining 3 steps to help you establish a healthy 6 month old baby schedule:

  1. 6 month old baby bedtime – To begin, establish a consistent bedtime for your 6 month old baby. Develop a bedtime routine, too – that’s key for signaling to your baby that it’s time for sleep! This doesn’t have to be exactly the same time each night – aim for having your baby down for bed within the same half-hour window each night.
  2. 6 month old baby wake-up time – Next, try to establish a consistent wake-up time for your 6 month old baby. This will be a bit tougher than the bedtime, because your baby may wake too early or too late, and what do you do in those circumstances? Well, if your baby wakes too early, treat it as a night waking – interact with your baby (whether you are feeding or simply offering comfort) and then put your baby back to bed until it’s wake-up time. If your baby sleeps past wake-up time, try to wake your baby within about a half hour of the established wake-up time.
  3. 6 month old baby first nap time – Once you have a pretty firm bedtime and wake-up time established, work to make sure that the first nap of the day happens at about the same time each morning. Again, this doesn’t have to be exact, but aim for putting your baby down for the morning nap within the same half-hour window each morning.

6 Month Old Baby Schedule: Suggested Feeding Amounts and Nap Times

Need help in knowing when (and how much) to feed your 6 month old baby? Want to see several sample 6 month old baby schedules that will help you create the best possible schedule for your 6 month old baby?
 
Check our our sample 6 month old baby schedules here!
 

6 Month Old Baby Sleep Help

If you are struggling with your 6 month old baby’s sleep, remember that you don’t have to struggle alone! We are here to help you – it’s what we do! Sleep training can be tough, and hundreds of parents turn to us for sleep coaching help every month. We can help you, too. Take a look at our consultation packages, and see which one looks like a good fit for you.
 
Click here to see all our personalized consultation packages.
 
Once you purchase, you will immediately receive access to the Helpdesk, and you can set up your account, fill out your Family Sleep History form, submit it to a consultant, and get started on the journey to better sleep!

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 is your 6 month old baby’s schedule? Share your scheduling tips with the rest of us!

  • Feel like you can handle sleep coaching on your own? Why not take a look at our The 3-Step System To Help Your Baby Sleep? Available in three affordable packages, this book is designed to give you practical, hands-on tools you can use to help your baby learn to fall asleep on his own, and stay asleep (and stop fighting bedtime!). For toddlers, try The 5-Step System To Better Toddler Sleep. Best of all, both books is available to download instantly – you can put it to use as early as tonight!
  • Want an abundance of resources to help you in your sleep coaching? Consider becoming a Baby Sleep Site Member. Our Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! And as a member, you have access to a once-a-week chat with one of our expert sleep consultants – ideal for those times when you need some expert advice! And the icing on the cake? Members enjoy 20% off all sleep consultation services. That savings alone can pay for the cost of membership!
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Baby Night Feedings: How To Know When They Are Necessary

 
How To Know When Baby Night Feedings Are Necessary


 

Water is wet. The sky is blue. Babies eat at night. These are basic facts of life.

Except that last one isn’t quite so straight-forward, is it? I mean, yes, newborns eat at night (a lot), and even as they grow, babies need to eat at night for awhile – night feedings help to ensure proper growth and development.

But what about unnecessary night feedings? You know – those ‘feedings’ that are actually just nursing or bottle-drinking for comfort? Those ‘feedings’ that last 2.2 seconds before your baby is conked out again? Those feedings that happen 20 minutes after the last feeding ended. Yes, night feedings are necessary, but how can you tell when night feeds are necessary, and when they are not?

Read on and find out!

Baby Night Feedings Are Probably Necessary When…

  • …your baby stays awake for long periods if you don’t feed. A baby who fusses or cries persistently if he’s not fed is likely hungry, and needs food. This is a pretty reliable sign that your baby’s night feedings are likely necessary, if you’ve ruled out poor sleep habits.
  • …your baby is not eating enough during the day. Some babies get in a bad pattern of eating little and sleeping lots during the day, and then waking often and feeding a lot at night. In this case, a baby technically does need the night feedings – but the larger goal should be to reverse the pattern, so that most feedings happen during the day! You can download our free guide, 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night, for more tips on how to reverse that kind of eating/sleeping pattern.
  • …after feeding, your baby sleeps soundly in 3-4 hour stretches. A baby who wakes at night, takes a full feeding, and then goes back to sleep and sleeps well was probably a hungry baby who needed the feeding in the first place. :)
  • …your baby is a good self-soother who can fall asleep independently and goes back to sleep without help after a feeding. This may be the best sign that your baby’s night feedings are necessary. If your baby has overcome all his sleep associations, is able to fall asleep without your help, and goes down awake in his crib after a feed (and is then able to put himself back to sleep), you can rest assured that the night feedings likely necessary.

Of course, age is a factor in night feedings, too. Newborns and young infants must feed at night in order to grow and develop properly. And it is perfectly normal for babies to feed once per night up until 12 months old (although we do recommend an attempt at night weaning at 9 months). So keep your baby’s age in mind, when looking at the factors above. Not sure when your baby should be feeding at night? Check out our sample schedules by age for night feeding tips.

Baby Night Feedings May Not Be Necessary When…

…your baby is using waking out of habit (not hunger) and is using night feeds to soothe back to sleep. Only one point necessary in this section, because unnecessary night feedings are pretty straightforward. (At least, they are straightforward to understand – actually fixing them may be more challenging! ;) )

Unnecessary night feedings are unnecessary because your baby is using them for soothing and comfort, and not for food. The scenario goes something like this: your baby wakes during the night and is unable to fall back to sleep without help. So she cries for you, and you offer a feeding (because you think she may be hungry). She feeds for a short time and then falls asleep mid-feed. You lay her back down to sleep carefully (so as not to wake her up). But then, just a short time later, she’s awake again and crying. So you repeat the process. You may do this 6, 7, 8 times each night (or maybe even more!)

THIS right here – this pattern – is the #1 sign that your baby’s night feedings are probably not necessary. There are exceptions to this, of course, but by and large, this pattern represents a sleep problem that will need to be fixed eventually.

How To Stop Unnecessary Baby Night Feedings

Feeding ScheduleIf, after reading this, you feel confident that your baby’s night feedings aren’t necessary, the question remains: what should you do about it? How can you solve this problem?

That’s up to you, of course; there are many ways to sleep train your baby, and change her sleep associations so that she is able to fall asleep without help and stay asleep until she is truly hungry and ready to eat. But sleep training can be an overwhelming task. That’s why we created The Baby Sleep Site®, and it’s why we are here to help! If you want personalized help for your baby’s sleep, from a trained sleep consultant, browse our list of consultation packages and and choose the one that looks best for your unique situation.
 
Click here to learn how you can connect one-on-one with a sleep consultant.

Or, if you’d like to know more about how our system of personalized baby sleep help works, Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

Questions about your baby’s night feedings? Ask them below! Sleep training tips for other parents? Offer them – we love to hear your insights!

  • Ready to work on your baby’s night feedings on your own? Why not take a look at our 3-Step System To Help Your Baby Sleep? Available in three affordable packages, this book is designed to give you practical, hands-on tools you can use to help your baby learn to fall asleep on her own, and stay asleep. Or, if you have a toddler at home, try our 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep. Best of all, both books are available to download instantly – you can put it to use as early as tonight!
  • Want an abundance of resources to help you in your sleep coaching? Consider becoming a Baby Sleep Site Member. Our Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! And as a member, you have access to a once-a-week chat with one of our expert sleep consultants – ideal for those times when you need some expert advice! And the icing on the cake? Members enjoy 20% off all sleep consultation services. That savings alone can pay for the cost of membership!
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From Waking Every 2 Hours to Sleeping Through The Night! Hear Gerry’s Story.

You might remember that at the end of last year, we featured some very special content here on The Baby Sleep Site® blog. We featured three real families, just like yours – families who spent months struggling with sleepless babies and toddlers. They are families who approached The Baby Sleep Site® for personalized baby sleep help, and who worked one-on-one with our team of consultants. And now, Julie, Ali, and Ilana (and their families) are sleeping peacefully!

Gerry&Yvette300x300Well, to say the response was overwhelmingly positive would be putting it mildly. ;) Many of our readers let us know that they loved hearing stories about real families solving their sleep problems. And so, in the spirit of giving our readers what they want — the Family Features are back!

Today, we are presenting a truly wonderful story. And it comes to us all the way from Bulgaria (because baby sleep problems do not discriminate)! Meet Gerry and her adorable little girl, Yvette. (Seriously, look at that little face – so sweet!) Gerry came to The Baby Sleep Site® for help when Yvette was 10 months old. At that time, Yvette was still breastfeeding every 2 hours, round the clock – and Gerry was understandably exhausted! But, with the help of Nicole and Shaye, Gerry was able to improve Yvette’s sleep while maintaining her breastfeeding goals. It was a big win for everyone!

Here’s Gerry’s story…

 
The Baby Sleep Site: Hi, Gerry! Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about your situation when you first approached us for baby sleep help.

Gerry: “Before I got help from The Baby Sleep Site, my daughter was 10 months old and was still breastfeeding every 2 hours, day and night. She was also waking every 40-90 minutes throughout the night, like an atomic clock! Back then, there were many days when she wouldn’t nap at all, or would just take two or three 15-minute naps for the entire day. And even then, she would nap only in my arms or while resting in the sling. Back then, I would put her to sleep often after 10 p.m., and she would fall asleep only while breastfeeding or being rocked for an hour. As a result of all this, I had a breakdown. I was so exhausted.”

The Baby Sleep Site: Oh, Gerry. :( I’m so sorry you went through this! No wonder you fell apart; 10 months without a full night’s sleep will break anyone! You must have felt like you were at your wit’s end – and like you were so alone.

Gerry: “I did. Many people said, ‘This too shall pass’, and that I just had to ride it out and wait until Yvette’s second birthday when all babies finally start sleeping well. We even took our daughter to three different doctors, and after all the blood tests and examinations, they just shrugged their shoulders and told me that there was no physical reason why she should be waking so often and sleeping so little. In fact, one doctor actually suggested that we treat Yvette with a medicine with sedating effect in order to achieve better sleep, even though he agreed that she was perfectly healthy. Some people, including this doctor, blamed my breast milk for Yvette’s sleeplessness. But I didn’t want to medicate my baby, and I didn’t want to stop breastfeeding.”

The Baby Sleep Site: WOW. This probably made you feel even worse, right? Not only are you hearing from three different medical professionals that there’s no reason for your daughter’s sleeplessness, you are also being made to feel like her constant waking might actually be your fault!

Gerry: “Yes! As a final resort, I turned to Google, and asked, ‘What to do when a baby wakes every 40 minutes at night?’ That’s how I landed on the Baby Sleep Site. After reading a few blog posts, I purchased a Personalized Sleep Plan™.”

The Baby Sleep Site: Woohoo! I’ll bet you were excited to finally take steps towards solving Yvette’s sleep problems once and for all. :) Tell us a little bit about how your consultation started, Gerry.

Gerry: “I received my plan, and I was so happy to see that the strategies Shaye laid out to solve my daughter’s sleep problems were simple and divided into ‘baby steps’. I especially loved the ‘Day By Day’ section! It was also great that Shaye explained the reasoning behind each method. And I really loved that The Baby Sleep Site does treat every family according to their specific situation and needs.”

The Baby Sleep Site: Yes! We are so committed to that idea, that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all sleep training. Okay, now because I know our readers will be curious, I need to ask – how did things go once you started implementing the plan?

Gerry: “With Shaye’s help, our beloved baby finally understood that sleeping actually feels good – and now she wakes up happy! Within a few weeks,Yvette decreased the night wakings from around ten per night to less thanYvette300x350 three. Her naps lengthened, and for the first time, she napped for more than 35-40 minutes. And through it all, I kept on breastfeeding – something Shaye encouraged me to continue doing! As a result of getting the sleep she needed, Yvette became a much happier baby, and I finally felt myself coming back to my senses. This may sound extreme, but I really feel that Shaye’s understanding, and the Personalized Sleep Plan she prepared for us, saved our lives.”

The Baby Sleep Site: We get it – getting that plan in your e-mail inbox really does feel like you are being thrown a life line, doesn’t it? Gerry, we couldn’t be happier for you. It sounds like you and Yvette are finally (finally!) getting the sleep you need. And because of that, your quality of life sounds much better!

Gerry: “That’s right. Yvette is 18 months now, and thanks to Shaye and Nicole’s priceless help, she has established healthy sleep habits and we all cherish the moments before bedtime and naptime. The team at The Baby Sleep Site gave us a real miracle!”

The Baby Sleep Site: Honestly, stories like yours make the hard work worth it! Okay, Gerry, before we wrap up this interview – any last words for our readers?

Gerry: “I can’t end without saying one more thank you! Thank you again, Shaye and Nicole, for your knowledge, support, and understanding! We all learned to sleep better at home thanks to your guidance. Keep on doing miracles for all the tired families in need!”"

 
There you have it, readers. Even if your 10 month old baby is waking every 2 hour around the clock, and nursing for less than 30 minutes at a time, even if your baby is has to be fed and held and rocked to sleep all the time – you can solve your little one’s sleep problems! Gerry was facing some big sleep challenges, but with the help of The Baby Sleep Site (and through lots of hard work on her part), Gerry helped Yvette overcome her sleep associations and learn to fall sleep on her own.

And you can do the same. Really! In fact, our trained sleep consultants are ready and waiting to help you do just that. So why not take the first step today, and begin your journey to better sleep as early as tonight?

Click here to learn how you can get one-on-one help from a trained sleep consultant like Shaye.

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

Have sleep training questions of your own? Ask away!

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