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! 🙂

What are we feeding our children?

When I watched the “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution”, I was outraged. Our children are getting pizza for breakfast, chicken nuggets for lunch, flavored milk as a snack… in their schools! This show is a must-see for all parents. If you haven’t watch it, I invite you to do so; and take action afterwards. Make sure you know what your little kids are putting in their bodies.

Jamie Oliver, a well-known chef from Britain, is taking his war against unhealthy eating habits to American shores. The U.S. is suffering from an obesity epidemic (specially among children) and he aims to stop it.

The scene of kids eating pizza for breakfast and thinking a tomato is a potato; children up to 10 years old not knowing how to use an knife and a fork; school bureaucrats calling french fries a vegetable; and school cooks not having a problem with serving all-processed meals to children day in and day out, is really rivetingly sad. This is just a sample of what he fins in our school:

Here’s the video of his speech at TED, as well as the trailer for “Food Revolution”:

You can also watch the show online here.

Please, watch it and take action!!! Don’t let your children suffer from obesity, diabetes and many other complications that they shouldn’t have to deal with.

Kids on a leash?

I have always disliked the idea of having kids on a leash. In fact, I remember having this conversation with my husband before our twins were born, and he was very much in favor of leashes and I thought there was no way I would put my babies on a leash. Well… since my babies are on the run, I’ve kind of changed my mind!

My girls are 14 months old now and are running, climbing, exploring… and I can’t bring myself to think about taking them to the street without a stroller and without any kind of restrain. What if they decide to run in different directions? What if we get into a crowded area and I loose sight of them? I think leashes are a fantastic idea!

I can imagine that airports, amusement parks, malls, stores are much easier and safer to navigate with your children on a leash. As other mom pointed out in a moms group I’m part of, it’s really not much different than strapping them into a stroller, high chair, car seat etc. It’s all designed for their safety not to harm the children or degrade them.

Some people believe that children feel that they have no control, and that it is better to have them walk holding the stroller or your hand, and once they let go, you restrain them again in the stroller. This way, they know they have some control over what happens to them. In fact, there’s a very popular and highly acclaimed philosophy of child rearing, Montessori, that opposes child-restraiment.

I’m no expert on Montessori philosophy, but I would see a leash to be more Montessori than the alternative. I am assuming than a parent would not just let his/her child run wild in dangerous and crowded situations. In this case, I see the leash as a better alternative to forcing the child to walk right next to you, forcing them to hold your hand, forcing them to sit on the stroller, all of which my children often do not want to do, especially when they know how to walk. The leash allows them freedom of movement while allowing you to keep them safe.

I will never use the leash to control the child’s movement; I will not yank on it, or restrain them with it. I will use it as a safety net if the child ran into a truly dangerous situation unexpectedly. I see a child leash as just a way to tether child and parent together to avoid separation, not to control the child’s movements. Ideally the child would be unaware the leash had a restraining effect.

I also believe that in certain circumstances they are particularly useful and lifesaving. For those of us with twins, or higher degree multiples; or for those with children very close in age; for those with kids with special needs who are not always aware of the dangers around them… I think the leashes are fantastic tool to help us keep our kids safe. So, I am definitely getting them for the spring!