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!

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Diana G. Blanco, B.B.A, M.B.A., is a Certified Youth, Parenting and Family Coach; a Baby and Toddler Sleep Expert; and the founder of Smooth Parenting. Diana is also a member of the American Association of Sleep Medicine.

Smooth Parenting provides baby and toddler sleep consultancions; parent coaching and parenting education; helping families around the world get a good night sleep and a peaceful, smooth and happy family life. Her approach to sleep training and parenting is gentle, progressive, effective, holds the wellbeing of the child first, and follows the guidelines provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics. New York Family Magazine recently wrote “Blanco was everything she had seemed like on the phone—sweet, smart, and passionate about baby sleep, […] she reminded me of a gentler version of the SuperNanny“.

Diana is the author of  the book ‘Smooth Baby Sleep. 6 Simple Steps to Gently Help Your Child Sleep,’ a clear, easy to read and effective guide to gently help children sleep from birth to toddlerhood. She is also a contributing author of ‘Celebrating Moms and Motherhood.’

To read more articles by Diana and learn more about Smooth Parenting, parenting coaching, baby sleep consultations, teleseminars, webinars and evetns, please visit www.SmoothParenting.com

Claim your FREE copy of our audio class ‘7 Strategies to Gently Help Your Baby Sleep’ at http://www.SmoothParenting.com, and receive our complimentary weekly ezine ‘Smooth Parenting Secrets‘ full of simple, proven and easy-to-implement parenting tips that will help you take the guesswork out of baby sleep, potty training, discipline and many other parenting topics. Download yours here!

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Baby Sleep and Intelligence

A study shows there is a great way to enhance a child’s intelligence, by encouraging healthy sleep patterns while he is a baby. In the children who were found to have excellent intelligence there was one thing in common. They all had healthy sleep patterns at night. Dr. Terman’s researched used the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test to test over 3,000 children.

Most parents have no idea that intelligence is linked to children’s sleep habits. So, for those of you who needed an aditional reason to sleep train your babies, this is a big one. It is not just memory, as we mentioned in a previous post, but actual intelligence.

Chronic sleep deprivation and poor sleep habits, that start at an early age (babyhood) have a more lasting effect on our cognitive performance. In a study (Touchette et al 2007) following kids from age 2.5 to 6 years, researchers found that those who were poor sleepers as toddlers performed more poorly on neurodevelopmental tests when they were 6 years old . This was true even for children whose sleep habits improved after age 3. The researchers insinuate that there may be a ‘critical period’ in early childhood when the effects of sleep restriction and poor sleep habits are especially harmful.

Nightmares & Night-terrors. What to do?

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

Nightmares

Nightmares are bad dreams that happen during rapid eye movement (REM) or dream sleep. He may also 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 his fright until he’s about 2 years old.

Night Terrors

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 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.

The night terror 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 have no memory of the incident in the morning.

How to respond?

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

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 he’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 responses to night terrors are:

    • a gentle pat, along with comforting words or “shhh” sounds,
    • make sure he doesn’t hurt himself. Don’t speak to him or try to 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.

    What to do to prevent them?

    To prevent nightmares, the best thing to do is to prevent things that scare your child during the day; and to help him comfront and overcome his fears.

    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 type of sleep disturbances.