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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When to start sleep training?

When should you sleep train your baby? Diana Gonzalez Blanco, founder of Smooth Parenting explains the 4 prerequisites to start sleep training your baby.

By Diana Gonzalez 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 Association of Pediatrics.

For more baby sleep and parenting tips, sign up for Smooth Parenting’s FREE newsletter at http://www.SmoothParenting.com; and follow them on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/SmoothParenting

Safety Alert: Stay away from drop-side cribs

Safety is one of the topics we cover the most when we consult with parents. We advise you to always (1) make sure that your baby products and furniture is JPMA certified, (2) check the list of recalled products, and (3) use the products in the exact way the manufactures details in the manual. It saddens me to read about baby products’ recalls, as there are always terrible stories of children who have been hurt or died because of those products.

Today, we wanted to urge you to not buy drop-side cribs, and to get rid of them if you already have them. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has recalled 10 million drop-side cribs since in the past 2.5 years, including 2 million in the month of June 2010 alone. This has led them to propose new crib safety standards that will ban the sale of drop-side cribs and prohibit their use in hotels and daycare centers.

These new standards will not be finalized until December this year. However, we ask you to follow them NOW! There have already been enough deaths and injuries among our babies and children because of this. When drop-side hardware breaks or deforms, the drop-side can detach in one or more corners of the crib. If an infant or toddler moves into this space, the child can get trapped or wedged between the crib mattress and drop-side and suffocate. Infants can also strangle in the “V” shape formed by a drop-side that detaches in an upper corner.

One of my mentors always says ‘don’t look at what something costs, look at what it’s worth’. Certified are not necessarily more expensive than non-certified. The safety and wellbeing of your children is way more important than a couple hundred dollars, you know that! So, if you currently have your baby sleeping in a drop-side crib, STOP! Go buy another one now! Don’t wait!

The cribs are the only place where you would leave your baby unattended; it’s their private safety haven. Make sure it is really safe!

By Diana Gonzalez 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 Association of Pediatrics.

For more baby sleep and parenting tips, sign up for Smooth Parenting’s FREE newsletter at http://www.SmoothParenting.com; and follow them on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/SmoothParenting

What’s an Independent Sleeper?

Baby Sleep Goals: Creating the right sleep associations

The image most parents have of sleep training is a baby crying until he succumbs to exhaustion and falls asleep. However, sleep training does not have to be like that.

The main goal of sleep training is to help our children become independent sleepers. An independent sleeper is that who falls asleep on his own and puts himself back to sleep when he wakes up.

I would also add that a ‘real’ independent sleeper is so ‘for life’. This means that real independent sleeper will not need to be ‘retrained’ to sleep when he is moved to a toddler bed, starts preschool, is potty training, etc. In order to create a ‘real independent sleepers’, we need to help them establish the right, positive sleep associations.

Our children shouldn’t associate sleep with feelings of abandonment, fear, desperation, anxiety, punishment, excitement, or stimulation. Sleep should be associated with feelings of tranquility, relaxation, love, trust, restfulness, empowerment and peace. Here are some simple tips to help our children create those positive associations:

  • Establish and maintain a soothing and calming bedtime routine
  • Use bedtime for bonding
  • Help your child feel safe, secure and comforted in his crib/bed
  • Make your child’s room a soothing and calming place: dark, quiet, organized and safe
  • Avoid active playing, television, videogames and other exciting activities before bedtime Do not use the crib/bed for time-outs or disciplining

Children model our behavior, so make sure you get a good night’s sleep!

By Diana Gonzalez 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 Association of Pediatrics.

For more baby sleep and parenting tips, sign up for Smooth Parenting’s FREE newsletter at http://www.SmoothParenting.com; and follow them on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/SmoothParenting

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.

Is your bedtime too late?

One of the most common (and easy to solve) mistakes regarding baby sleep is having a bedtime that is too late for our baby. Here are some tips on how to know whether your bedtime is too late:

  1. The 4-5pm test. Look at how your baby is around 4-5pm. If he/she is cranky, sand, whinny… your bedtime is too late! A well rested child  should be happy, playful, and in a good mood around 4-5pm.
  2. The Sleep’s Speed test. It takes an average of 15 to 20 minutes to fall asleep. This applies to grown-ups and babies. Experts argue that if your baby ‘falls asleep before his/her head hits the pillow’, or if it takes him/her more than 20 minutes to fall asleep, she/he is probably sleep-deprived and an earlier bedtime is needed.

A good bedtime for most babies should be between 5:30pm and 7:30pm. If you’re having trouble getting your baby to sleep at night, do the previous tests, and try bringing up her/his bedtime 15-30 minutes earlier. You won’t believe the difference those 15 – 30 minutes can have on a child’s sleep.

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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.