Nightmares and Night Terrors

Children spend more time dreaming than adults do, so they have more dreams—both good and bad. What is the difference between a nightmare and a night terror? Additionally, what should you do in each situation?

Nightmares are bad dreams that happen during rapid eye movement (REM) or dream sleep. Your child may be afraid to fall back asleep, and he’ll probably remember that he had a bad dream. A baby or child who had a nightmare is likely to have a clear idea of what scared him, although he probably will not be able to vocalize his fright until he’s about 2 years old.

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The best responses to a nightmare are:

  • Be there and offer comfort.
  • Stay with your child until she feels relaxed and ready to sleep.
  • Stay calm and convey to your child that what’s happening is normal and that all is well.
  • Reassure your child that she’s safe and that it’s OK to go back to sleep.
  • If your child wakes with a nightmare, stay with her until she feels relaxed and ready to go to sleep.

The best way to prevent future nightmares is to help your child confront and overcome his fears of the dark, such as leaving a nightlight on or having a special stuffed toy to sleep with.

Night terrors occur in at least 5% of young children and can start as early as 9 months. These mysterious disturbances happen during deep, non-dreaming sleep. When a child is having a night terror, they will cry, whimper, flail, and even bolt out of bed.

Although his eyes may be wide open, he’s not awake and isn’t aware of your presence. Night terrors can last anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour, or more. Once it is over, your child will return to a sound sleep, and he will have no memory of the incident in the morning.

The best responses to night terrors are:

  • Give him a gentle pat, along with comforting words or “shhh” sounds.
  • Make sure he doesn’t hurt himself.
  • Don’t speak to him, ask him questions, or try to hold or soothe him.
  • Don’t try to shake or startle him awake or physically restrain him—all of which could lead to more frantic behavior.

If it’s a night terror, in 15 to 20 minutes, your child should calm down, curl up, and fall into a deep sleep again. If it’s a nightmare, he might need a little more time to calm down and go back to sleep. To prevent night terrors, make sure that he is getting enough sleep, since children who go to bed overtired are more likely to experience these types of sleep disturbances.

I hope this was helpful!

Much love, Diana-

 

4 Steps to remain calm during sleep coaching

Every time I work with a new mom on a private consultation, the first thing I do before implementing anything or talking about plans is to make sure that mom and dad are in the right place emotionally. You can’t give what you don’t have; to be there for your child, you have to be there for you.

Believe me when I say, I know how frustrated and exhausted you feel right now. But, remember that you are your baby’s whole world, and surrounding him with love, nurture, and guidance starts by you having the right attitude when you are with your child. Your attitude and the energy that you project affect the outcome of your baby’s sleep coaching process.

Some parents I’ve worked with admitted to having put their babies in their cribs or bassinets a little bit too harshly, out of anger and desperation for sleep. If you are angry, anxious, frustrated, defeated, or agitated, your baby will sense that, and that will make it harder for him to fall asleep. Please, be patient and always enter your baby’s room in calm state.

If you feel overwhelmed; your patience is evaporating; you are exhausted; you can’t take it anymore; and you think you might be reaching your breaking point, please follow these steps:

1. Place your baby calmly and softly on a safe place (crib, bassinet, stroller, bouncy seat, etc.).

2. Back off—step away to another room, go to the bathroom and wash your face, or open the window and breathe some fresh air.

3. Ask for help from your spouse, a family member, a friend, or even a neighbor.

4. Calm yourself down before you pick up your baby again.

Changing a habit takes time. Sleeping is an innate ability to babies; parents, without any bad intentions, create poor or unhealthy sleep habits that need to be addressed later on. Remind yourself that you helped your child get into this situation (habit), and now you have to help him get out of it. Do NOT ever shake or hit your baby!

Much love,

Diana-

Baby Sleep Myths

This past weekend I participated in the New Parents Expo held in Manhattan. It was a great event, and I had the opportunity to meet many of you in person (Thanks for stopping by our table!). It was my first experience participating in an event like this, and I’m really glad I did it! I love meeting new and expectant parents, and over 3,000 of them walked in the doors of this Expo, so I had fun!

Smooth Parenting Stand - New Parents Expo
Smooth Parenting Stand – New Parents Expo

Over the two days, I answered many questions about baby sleep and smooth parenting; and was able to (hopefully) break some myths around baby sleep. These were the most common misconceptions I encountered:

  1. Nursing & Sleep: “I am nursing, so I can’t do any sleep training;” or “If I sleep train him, my milk supply will decrease and I won’t be able to continue nursing;” or “This doesn’t work for breastfeeding moms.” All these statements are… FALSE. You can breastfeed your baby, maintain an approapriate milk supply and help him/her develop healthy sleep habits.
  2. Age & Sleep: “My child is too old for this;” or “We missed this train!;” or “This doesn’t work for toddlers.” All these statements are… FALSE. It is never too late to teach your child healthy sleep habits.
  3. Crying & Sleep Training: “It’s impossible to teach a child to sleep without leaving him/her to cry it out;” or “I can’t sleep train my child, because I know it will involve crying and I can’t handle that.” All these statements are… yes, you guessed it… FALSE. You can certainly sleep train your child without leaving him to cry himself to sleep, that’s my approach. I don’t believe in cry-it-out (CIO) either. There are many other ways to help your baby sleep, that do not involve CIO.

I know some of you might be confused about this, so I’ve decided to address each of this topics in detail. Stay tuned, this week’s article is all about ‘Nursing & Sleep.’ I hope you find the article clarifying and helpful to start your sleep coaching journey. Remember that you can always email your questions at ask@smoothparenting.com. We will choose two questions every month and I will answer them. Don’t miss that chance! We might pick yours!

Diana-

How to be calm, patient and nurturing, while you teach your baby healthy sleep habits

Every time I work with a new mom on a private consultation, the first thing I do before implementing anything or talking about plans is to make sure that mom and dad are in the right place emotionally. You can’t give what you don’t have; to be there for your child, you have to be there for you.

Believe me when I say, I know how frustrated and exhausted you feel right now. But, remember that you are your baby’s whole world, and surrounding him with love, nurture, and guidance starts by you having the right attitude when you are with your child. Your attitude and the energy that you project affect the outcome of your baby’s sleep coaching process.

Some parents I’ve worked with admitted to having put their babies in their cribs or bassinets a little bit too harshly, out of anger and desperation for sleep. If you are angry, anxious, frustrated, defeated, or agitated, your baby will sense that, and that will make it harder for him to fall asleep. Please, be patient and always enter your baby’s room in calm state.

If you feel overwhelmed; your patience is evaporating; you are exhausted; you can’t take it anymore; and you think you might be reaching your breaking point, please follow these steps:

1. Place your baby calmly and softly on a safe place (crib, bassinet, stroller, bouncy seat, etc.).

2. Back off—step away to another room, go to the bathroom and wash your face, or open the window and breathe some fresh air.

3. Ask for help from your spouse, a family member, a friend, or even a neighbor.

4. Calm yourself down before you pick up your baby again.

Changing a habit takes time. Sleeping is an innate ability to babies; parents, without any bad intentions, create poor or unhealthy sleep habits that need to be addressed later on. Remind yourself that you helped your child get into this situation (habit), and now you have to help him get out of it. Do NOT ever shake or hit your baby!

In the next month, we will launch a relaxation and empowerment tool for new mothers that will help you be the best parent you can be, the great mother your child deserves, and a happier and more balanced version of yourself.

Diana-

Get Your Pediatrician On Board

It is prudent to discuss any of your concerns about sleep issues with your child’s pediatrician before you start any sleep training program with your child. Is your baby gaining weight regularly? Are there any other medical problems that might be causing your baby’s sleep problems?  Are there any developmental conditions affecting sleep? Is there any reason why you shouldn’t go ahead with sleep training? Is there any sleep training method that is not advisable for your baby?

Your pediatrician knows your baby, and watched him grow and develop week by week, and will therefore be able to assess whether your child is ready to begin formal sleep training.  I actually require the families I work with to obtain approval to begin the Smooth Baby Sleep program from their pediatrician when their baby is around 12 weeks of age.  This ensures that your baby is developmentally ready to begin the process of sleep training, and that no medical issues will impede the process.

Please do not start sleep training if your child is sick or running a fever.  There are certain illnesses and conditions that can interfere with your child’s sleep quality, like: nasal congestion, teething, ear infections, colic, GERD, yeast or urinary tract infections, sleep apnea, night terrors, milk allergies, etc.  For a detailed list of conditions that affect sleep and what steps can be taken to minimize their impact, please review chapter eight which discusses special considerations.

Much love, Diana-

Baby Back To Sleep

Not too long ago, pediatricians and other health care providers used to think that babies should sleep on their stomachs. However, research now shows that healthy babies are less likely to die of SIDS when they sleep on their backs. Therefore, placing your baby on his or her back to sleep is the number one way to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Every sleep time counts, so do not make exceptions to this rule for short naps, and make sure all caregivers place your baby to sleep in the same position. Studies show that babies who are used to sleeping on their backs, but who are occasionally then placed on their stomachs or sides to sleep, are at significantly higher risk for SIDS. This risk is actually greater (sometimes seven to eight times greater) than that of infants who are always placed on their stomachs or sides to sleep.

Therefore, make sure that everyone putting your baby to sleep (grandparents, babysitters, nanny, daycare team, friends…), knows about the best positioning and they all place your baby in the same position.

Once a baby has the ability to roll over the neck muscles are stronger and the chance of SIDS decreases. When infants roll over on their own, there is no evidence showing that they need to be repositioned and back to their backs.

Much love, Diana-

Constant Night Wakings

Smooth Parenting Approach to Sleep:

Angelina ~ Constant Night Wakings

Is your child waking up constantly at night or during naps? Angelina used to wake up several times throughout the night before her mom seeked the help of Smooth Parenting. I’m proud to say that Angelina doesn’t wake up at night anymore! Learn more about their past and current situation from Angelina’s mom:

Angelina’s main sleep challenge was her constant night wakings. She would wake up 3 – 4 times during the night, every night.

Angelina_Smooth Parenting
Angelina

She would have her first waking at 9:30pm, her second around 12:30am and her third around 3:30am and so on. I would go in, nurse her and she would fall asleep until she was about 9 months old. After 9 months, she would no longer fall asleep while nursing and she would stay away sometimes for over an hour.

At 11 months old, I contacted Diana for help! She prepared a detailed plan to help Angelina sleep better, without those dreaded night wakings; which included a schedule that was perfectly tailored to Angelina’s natural cycles.

That night I decided to implement the plan, I was prepared for a long night with tea, chocolate and a good movie to distract me. She woke up as usual at 9:30pm and to my surprise, she fell asleep after a few minutes of implementing the plan. I stayed up until her second waking – which never happened, so I was the one who was losing sleep for no reason! She had the usual third night waking and fell asleep after a couple of minutes. I was shocked!

The next night she only woke up once and fell asleep very quickly. Ever since she has been sleeping 11-12 hours straight and falls asleep more easily for her naps as well. I no longer need to stay in the room and creep out hoping that I do not step on a squeaky floorboard!

Smooth Parenting has definitely changed our lives! Thank You!”

Brooke B. Mom to Angelina, 11 months old

Boston, MA United States