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-

 

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-

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-

The Colon Twins ~ Smooth Parenting Approach to Sleep

I first met the Colon Family at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at New York Presbyterian Hospital after my daughters were born. Their gorgeous daughters had been born over 2 months premature and needed some special attention.

We continued our relationship after all four girls came home from the hospital, and I saw them struggling with health issues as well as sleep issues. By the time the girls were 15 months old, both parents were exhausted and out of resources.

After some hesitation about having someone come to their home and help them with their daughters’ sleep; they decided to hire me to work with them. I was obviously thrilled for them! Their in-home sleep consultation was great success, but I’m going to let you read what Maria, the mom has to say about her experience and the transformation that Smooth Parenting brought to their family.

“My twin daughters were 15 months old, they had never slept in their cribs and never slept through the night. One of them slept in a co-sleeper and the other one in the bed with us, and they woke up many times during the night, every night. They both napped at different times, always with me in my bed. I was completely drained out and exhausted.

I read books, went online looking for tips and nothing worked for us until I spoke to Diana about it. When she told me “Maria, your little angels will nap and sleep through the night in no time” I was so hesitant. In my mind I was thinking “I’m the mom. If I can’t make them go to sleep, how is she going to do that?” But something about Diana and the way she coached me, with her smooth and relaxed tone, made me feel at ease and trusted her. She was so patient, really listened to me and, best of all completely understood my frustrations. Oh, it was MAGIC!

Sure enough, she came up with a schedule and a plan for my daughters and it worked! My husband and I were in heaven. After just two days of following Diana’s advise, we put an end to 15 months of struggle. My daughters were sleeping 12 hours through the night and napping another 2 hours. Now at 22 months, they’re still following the plan and continue sleeping wonderfully.”

Maria Colon, R.N.

Mom to Jazmine and Isabella

Wayne, NJ

Love Your Sleep! Valentine’s Day Gift

Are you ready for Valentine’s Day? Dinner reservations at a romantic restaurant, heart-shaped yummy dessert, babysitter already booked… and maybe a big wish in your mind?… ‘I hope the kids sleep through and don’t keep us up all night’.

Wouldn’t it be great not having to wish for it and just know they will sleep through and let you enjoy your night? Well, that can be my Valentine’s Gift to your family.

For 5 days only, starting Monday, February 14, and ending Friday, February 18 at midnight, you can get a 15% discount for ANY of my private consultations (phone, in-home and overnight). It’s my way of spreading my love to all of you!

Just remember, the offer it’s only for Valentine’s day week, so it hasn’t started yet!. Watch your inbox on MONDAY for more details!

Happy Valentine’s Weekend!

Baby Sleep Confusion: Who’s right and who’s wrong?

Sleep is, without a doubt, the number one topic of conversation among new parents. ‘Does your baby sleep through the nigh?’, ‘Did you let him cry?’, ‘Does he still feed at night?’, ‘How do you get your baby to sleep?’… and many more are the frequently asked questions.

There is so much conflicting information out there, that many new parents feel completely overwhelmed by it, to the point where it paralyzes them. That coupled with the constant external and self-imposed guilt that many new parents (especially new moms) are surrounded by, is a recipe for disaster.

Kelly Mathews, sleepless mom 9 month old Willow, was in that situation a few weeks ago. She didn’t know what to do, she had heard it all: ‘You should respond to her every movement’, ‘You should let her cry it out’, ‘You should breastfeed her until she falls asleep’, ‘You shouldn’t breastfeed at night’, ‘You shouldn’t take her out of your room’, ‘You shouldn’t co-sleep’

‘You should…. You shouldn’t…..’

 

Everyone was telling her something different and contradictory, and the panorama didn’t improve when she resorted to books. Every book gave her a different advice, and criticized the other ones. Not even the medicine professionals would agree on what the best approach to teach children to sleep is.

Do you want to know why?

Because there is not one single method/ approach that works for every kid and/or for every family!

Every child is different, and so are his/her parents. When it comes to sleep coaching, you have to follow a plan that fits your child’s unique personality, your family situation, your values and your parenting approach; otherwise it won’t work. Having said that, I do believe that some methods shouldn’t be followed by any family, such as the popular ‘cry-it-out’. Under any circumstances, family conditions, child personality… would I recommend a parent to let his/her child to cry indiscriminately.

STOP! Stop following one advice each day, following a different method every night. Think of what your goals are in terms of baby sleep and make sure they are realistic. Forget about what worked for your neighbor, your brother, your sister-in-law, that mom on your support group… forget about what others are doing and what they tell you to do; and start looking inwards. Look at your family, at yourself, your spouse and your child; and then (and only then) decide what plan you will follow. Be consistent with your decision (don’t quit after the second night), but also be open to adjust your plan as you go along.

That’s what I do with the families I work with… I admit it! I don’t have a magical strategy that works with everyone! I do, however, design unique and personalized plans for every family I work with, that is aligned with their personalities, lifestyles, values and parenting style; and that helps them reach their sleep and parenting goals. And that’s exactly what I did with Kelly and her husband Sean. Within just a few days, they were getting the sleep they needed and deserved, they were happier, more adjusted and empowered.

When it comes to sleep training, do what feels right to you and your family. Trust your intuition! If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. If it doesn’t resonate with you and your family, don’t do it! Trust yourself! Even if it’s your pediatrician giving you the advice; even if your mom is the one telling you;… even if a sleep consultant suggested it. If she/he is good at what she does, she will work with you to find the best plan for your family. I Do! 🙂

Trust yourself! Much love, Diana-

Baby Sleep and Daylight Savings (Fall Back)

3 Ways To Help Your Baby Adjust to The New Time

The end of daylight savings is getting closer and many parents are wondering what to do to maintain their baby or toddler’s sleep habits, despite the time change. We ‘fall back’ to Standard Time on Sunday, November 7th 2010* at 2a.m. by setting our clock back one hour. That usually means that our children wake up one hour earlier the following morning.

Baby sleep challenges are not uncommon during daylight savings time adjustments. Still, there are some general tips that you can follow to have a smoother transition, regardless on how you decide to adjust your child’s schedule to the new time:

  • Continue your bedtime and naptime routines. The regular and familiar routines you follow when putting your baby to sleep should be maintained.
  • Keep your baby’s nursery dark, so the daylight (and nightlight) changes do not interfere with his/her sleep.
  • Carry on promoting positive sleep associations.
  • Remember that consistency is still key.
  • Change your watch and clocks to the new time before going to bed, November 7th.

In addition to these measures, there are three basic approaches we can follow to help children with the transition:

1. Gradual ‘Pre- Fall Back Day’ Transition

Starting Thursday, November 4th 2010, move your baby/ toddler bedtime back 15 minutes each night. Your baby’s whole daily schedule moves back those 15 minutes the day after. This way, you will have shifted your baby’s schedule ahead by one hour by the time you have to move your clock back one hour. Therefore, your baby would be going to sleep at his usual time right away, based on the Standard Time right away.

See the chart below for guidance. Note that this chart assumes baby’s current bedtime is 7pm and waking time is 7am.

For an even smoother transition, you can start moving your baby’s bedtime back 10 minutes on Tuesday November 2nd 2010.

2. Gradual ‘Post- Fall Back Day’ Transition

The day after the daylight savings time ends, Monday November 8th, 2010, your baby will most likely wake up one hour earlier than usual (based on the clock).  Starting then you should make sure your baby, toddler’s naptime and bedtime are 45 minutes earlier than his/her regular schedule the first day; 30 minutes earlier the second day; and 15 minutes earlier the third day.

The whole daily schedule adjusts to those changes accordingly. By doing this, your baby would be going to sleep and waking up at his regular times, based on the Standard Time, by Friday November 12th.

See the chart below for guidance. Note that this chart assumes baby’s current bedtime is 7pm and waking time is 7am, with the first nap at 9am and the second one at 12:30pm.

For an even smoother transition, you can adjust your baby’s schedule in increments of 10 minutes.

3. Immediate Transition

The day after the daylight savings time ends, you follow your baby’s schedule based on Standard Time. Therefore, on Monday November 8th, 2010 you switch your child ‘cold turkey’ to the new time.  This option tends to be harder on children and on parents, and would be only advisable for children who are extremely adaptable to changes and new schedules.

Regardless of the approach you decide to take, remember that every child is different and they will adjust differently to changes in their sleep schedule. It takes several days to adjust to the new times, so be prepared for your baby to wake up earlier than usual on occasions, to be crankier than usual during the afternoon, and/or to be sleepier during the first days of the transition.

Be patient, loving and consistent to ensure a smooth and successful transition.

Much love, Diana-

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*2010 Daylight Savings ends:

  • Sunday, November 7th at 2 a.m. in the United States and Canada
  • October 31st in Europe, Mexico and Central America

2010 Daylight Savings Starts in most countries of the South Hemisphere, October 3rd