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.

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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 founder of Smooth Parenting. Smooth Parenting is a baby & toddler sleep training consultancy and parenting coaching firm, that helps families around the world get a good night sleep and a peaceful, smooth and happy family life. Diana has an impressive track record of helping families teach their babies to sleep.

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. Diana is a member of the American Association of Sleep Medicine.

Download your FREE audio class “7 Strategies to Gently Teach Your Baby to Sleep” at http://www.SmoothParenting.com

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Baby Sleep and Memory

During the REM phase of sleep, the baby’s brain assimilates and stores all the information that babies receive during their wakeful and alert hours. Babies are in an almost constant state of motor skill learning and coordination. They have a lot of new material to consolidate and, therefore demand more of sleep. Hence, sleep appears to play a key role in human development, and interferences to their REM sleep could undermine their learning.

A new study, published online in Nature Neuroscience, from researchers at Harvard Medical School and Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, argues that sleep deprivation also hampers the brain’s ability to make new memories.

Baby Sleep and Growth

Sleep is essential for baby’s development, health and growth. The human growth hormone, a protein hormone secreted by the pituitary gland responsible for the baby’s physical growth, is mostly secreted while the baby is in deep sleep. In fact, studies have proven that 80% of growth hormone is released during the deep sleep phase. Therefore severe and prolonged sleep dissorders or defficiency might directly impact your baby’s physical development and growth.

It has also been studied that sleep (in particular, REM sleep) promotes brain growth. Babies are born with around 30% of their full brain size. During the first years of life, the brain grows enormously to its full adult size. Sleep plays an integral role in this growth.

Signs of Sleep Deficiency in Children

Many parents wonder whether their childrena are getting enough sleep. The first thing to do when in doubt, is counting the amount of hours they are sleeping. Then refer to the general guidelines of how many hours children their age should sleep per day.

The second thing would be to watch her for signs of sleep deprivation,such as:

  • Constant sleepiness throughout the day, almost every day
  • Fatigue. It looks like your child is dragging herself from one place to the next one
  • Inattentiveness and hyperactivity
  • Crankiness and moodiness, especially at the end of the day
  • Difficult awakenings. It is difficult to get your child out of bed and active in the morning
  • Difficult betimes. Your child is so cranky that she can’t fall asleep
  • Frequent waking during the night
  • Trouble focusing on tasks
  • Impaired memory and cognitive ability, the ability to think and process information
  • Decreased daytime alertness
  • Decreased academic performance
  • Low threshold to express negative emotion (irritability and easy frustration)
  • Difficulty modulating impulses and emotions

If your child exhibits many of this symptoms, you should adjust her schedule so she gets more daytime sleep (naps), and night-time sleep.