Get Your Pediatrician On Board

It is prudent to discuss any of your concerns about sleep issues with your child’s pediatrician before you start any sleep training program with your child. Is your baby gaining weight regularly? Are there any other medical problems that might be causing your baby’s sleep problems?  Are there any developmental conditions affecting sleep? Is there any reason why you shouldn’t go ahead with sleep training? Is there any sleep training method that is not advisable for your baby?

Your pediatrician knows your baby, and watched him grow and develop week by week, and will therefore be able to assess whether your child is ready to begin formal sleep training.  I actually require the families I work with to obtain approval to begin the Smooth Baby Sleep program from their pediatrician when their baby is around 12 weeks of age.  This ensures that your baby is developmentally ready to begin the process of sleep training, and that no medical issues will impede the process.

Please do not start sleep training if your child is sick or running a fever.  There are certain illnesses and conditions that can interfere with your child’s sleep quality, like: nasal congestion, teething, ear infections, colic, GERD, yeast or urinary tract infections, sleep apnea, night terrors, milk allergies, etc.  For a detailed list of conditions that affect sleep and what steps can be taken to minimize their impact, please review chapter eight which discusses special considerations.

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.

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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

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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 Safety Alert: Cribs, toys, sleep positioners and formula

One of the main goals parents have is to keep children safe. We take our time, do our research and buy a wonderful crib to help them feel safe, sleep positioners to prevent SIDS, toys from a great brand so they don’t get hurt, and a great formula to make sure they get all the nutrients they need to grow healthy.

Over the past weeks, we learned that the crib we thought was safe has killed children before; the toys we thought harmless, have taken children to the emergency rooms; the sleep positioners we thought prevented SIDS do not, and pose a suffocation hazard; and the number one selling formula contained beetles.

The main goal of this article is not to alarm you, but to inform and to give you some tips on how to keep your children safe.

Alert #1: Sleep Positioners, Suffocation Hazard

One of the main concerns parents have with regards to their baby’s sleep (besides helping them sleep) is safety, specifically SIDS [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome]. There are many things parents can do to help reduce the risk of SIDS, such as putting your baby to sleep on his/her back.

Many baby product manufacturers used this valid concern to market products arguing that they reduce the risk of SIDS, claim that has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Sleep positioners are among these products.

Since 1980s the FDA has approved 18 sleep positioners because evidence suggested that they eased the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and prevented flattening of the skull; NOT because they reduce the risk of SIDS, which is one of the main reasons why most parents are buying and using them.

However, reports of at least 12 deaths among infants from 1 to 4 months of age over the past decade, and multiple nonfatal cases in which babies awoke in unsafe positions after being place in a sleep positioner; indicate that sleep positioners posed a higher risk than we initially thought.

This promoted the FDA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to issue a warning that baby sleep positioner can carry the risk of suffocation and death. Health officials say the mats with barriers designed to prevent a baby from rolling over SHOULD NOT be used under any circumstances.

If you’re using sleep positioners with your baby, stop using them; the modest benefit does not outweigh the risk.

Learn more about Baby Sleep Safety.

Alert #2: Similac® Powder Formula, Bug Contamination

Abbott Laboratories recalled last week about 5 million containers of its top-selling Similac powdered infant formula due to possible contamination by beetles and larvae of the bugs. The recall does not affect any liquid formulas or other Abbott-brand products.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that the formula containing the beetles ‘poses no immediate health risk, there is a possibility that infants who consume formula containing the beetles or their larvae could experience symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort and refusal to eat as a result of small insect parts irritating the GI tract.’

If your child has been showing digestive symptoms such as a stomach-ache or refusal to eat, after drinking the formula, you should contact your child’s pediatrician.

The recall includes:

  • All lots of Similac formula powder product lines offered in plastic containers, including 1.38-lb, 1.45-lb and 2.12-lb containers
  • Similac Sensitive Isomil Soy – 12.4-oz cans – only lots numbers containing RB
  • Similac Advance – 12.4-oz cans – only lots numbers containing RB
  • certain lots of Similac formula powder product lines offered in sizes such as 8-ounce, 12.4-ounce and 12.9-ounce cans
  • Similac formula powder in 8-ounce sample cans that could have been given out in doctor’s offices and hospitals

If you have been feeding this formula to your child, or have it in your pantry; please visit company’s, http://www.similac.com/recall, or call their consumer hot line at (800) 986-8850, to check if you have products with the affected lot numbers. Abbott said those products should be returned to the company for a full refund.

Alert #3: Fisher Price Toys, Tricycles and High Chairs, Safety Concerns

Fisher-Price announced a wide-reaching recall of more than 11 million toys and kids’ products. More than 7 million tricycles, 1 million high chairs, 2.9 million infant toys, and 120,000 toy cars and ramps. Nearly 50 products are included in the recall.

There has not been any report of death, but several children required medical attention. There have been 10 reports of injuries on the tricycles, including genital bleeding. A protruding part near the tricycles seat, which children can fall or accidentally sit on, is the alleged problem.

There have been 14 reported incidents with the high chairs; children can fall on or against the pegs on the rear legs of the high chair resulting in injuries or lacerations. The pegs are used for high chair tray storage. There have been 50 reports of valves coming out of inflatable toy balls, with poses a choking hazard. Finally, there have been several reports of wheels coming off some toy cars, also posing a choking risk.

The toys included in this recall are very common, so please visit Mattel’s website http://service.mattel.com/us/recall.asp or call 1 800 432 5437. Fisher-Price is offering replacements and repair kids for the recalled toys and baby equipment, but not refunds.

Make sure you examine your children’s toys regularly, look for loose parts, small pieces, or broken parts.

Alert #4: Simplicity-Sorelle Cribs, Entrapment, Suffocation and Fall Hazards

Albee Baby recalled Sorelle brand Prescott model. This recall uncovered the real manufacturer of Sorelle’s crib, Simplicity. Simplicity is no longer in business, but recalls of its products continue.

CPSC has received one report of a consumer who, in April of 2010, removed the Sorelle Prescott label from the crib and found a Simplicity crib label underneath. (The consumer purchased the crib in July of 2009, prior to the Simplicity mattress support recall.)

Child product safety advocate Nancy Cowles was fuming when she saw the Simplicity brand had been obscured. “How’s a consumer to trust these manufacturers? I’m sure many of the families would have made a different choice if they had known they were buying a Simplicity crib,” Cowles, executive director of Kids in Danger, told Consumer Ally.

In the April 2010 Simplicity recall, CPSC reported the death of a one-year-old child from Attleboro, Mass. who suffocated when he became entrapped between the crib mattress and the crib frame. In addition, CPSC has received reports of 29 incidents involving the Simplicity cribs where the cribs collapsed due to the metal mattress support frame detaching or bending. These include one child entrapment that did not result in injury and one child who suffered minor cuts when his head struck the broken mattress support bar.

This recall is limited to Sorelle “Prescott” cribs sold online by AlbeeBaby.com between July 2009 and October 2009 for between $180 and $210.

If you have one of these cribs, you should immediately stop using them and contact Albee Baby for a replacement crib, store credit or refund.

Learn more about baby sleep and crib safety.

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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

Top 3 Myths around On-Demand Feeding and Baby Sleep

I often come across moms and dads who think that choosing to feed their babies on-demand means that they won’t be able to have any kind of structure in their day, and that it is not possible for their babies to sleep through the night. I disagree with both ideas, and I would like to clarify some of the most common myths around on-demand breastfeeding (or bottle feeding) and baby sleep.

Myth #1 | Constant Feeding: Feeding on-demand means feeding every time my baby fusses or cries

Breastfeeding on demand—-also known as ‘feeding on cue’ and ‘baby-led feeding’ doesn’t mean that you have to feed your baby around the clock and every time he/she cries. Feeding on demand means responding with flexibility to your baby’s hunger cues. You feed your baby when he/she shows signs of hunger for as long as he/she desires to be fed.

Therefore, one of the first things you should do as a mom is to learn your baby’s cues. The only way your baby can communicate with you is crying, so you should listen to the different cries that your baby has and respond accordingly. Your baby will cry when he/she’s hungry, tired, overtired, bored, sad, gassy, uncomfortable, wet… and paying close attention you will learn the difference among those cries.

Common baby’s cues:
– Hunger: mouth movement, sucking, rooting, crying, fussing, and frantic head movements.
– Sleep: rubbing eyes, yawning, staring, crying, fussing, alertness, and whining.

My recommendation is to feed your baby on demand for the first weeks (1-6 weeks), while he/she is still a newborn; while you learn your baby’s cues. Once you know the difference, limit your feedings to when he/she is hungry and make sure you don’t use nursing as a soothing mechanism. If your baby is crying, but not showing signs of hunger then it is likely that something else is the problem.


Follow your baby’s cues and respond accordingly and make sure that you do not nurse every time your baby fusses, and he/she will develop healthy eating habits on his/her own. The same applies to your baby’s sleep patterns.


Myth #2 | Unpredictable and Unstructured Day: Feeding on-demand means ‘waiting for my baby to demand food’

As I suggested above, you should be ‘learning your baby’, tracking his natural feeding and sleeping patterns, so you know when to offer food and when not to. After the first few weeks of life, it is perfectly realistic to establish a feeding routine based on your baby’s cues.

Note that I said ‘routine’ (a regular order to the day) not ‘schedule’ (set times for set activities). The secret is to have a routine (a regular order to the day). Feeding on demand does not mean that you wait for your baby to ‘demand’ food. Once you learn your baby’s natural cycles and his/her cues, you can predict a certain routine for you and your baby.

Myth #3 | No Sleep: On-demand fed babies cannot sleep through the night until much later and wake up constantly

This one is right up my alley! Generally speaking, breastfed babies need to feed more often than bottle-fed babies. Breast milk is very rich in enzymes that aid digestion, requiring little digestive effort on the part of the infant, and therefore it is digested faster than formula or cow milk.

However, this doesn’t mean that an on-demand breastfed baby can’t sleep through the night or take proper naps. If you learn and follow your baby’s cues as I suggested before, your baby will get the right sleep consolidation. You will notice that your baby will nurse more right before bedtime, and that he/she will naturally consolidate his nighttime sleep before his/her 6th month of age. During the day, you will notice that the shorter catnaps consolidate into two long naps.

The best way to help him/her do this is by not offering food when you know your baby is not hungry. Don’t use nursing as a soothing mechanism, or your baby will learn exactly that and demand exactly that.

Believe that babies are made to sleep and eat naturally. We, as parents, only have to understand how they express their needs to avoid creating poor eating and sleep habits.

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 my child too old for sleep training?

We often come accross parents of toddlers who wonder whether their children are already to old to be sleep-trained. The answer is ‘no’. You can always teach your children healthy sleep habits. Truth be told, the older the child, the more challenging the process is going to be; but it is certainly possible. Here are some things you need to take into consideration when sleep training an older toddler:

  • They need to sleep! If you have been following us, you know how important sleep is for children.
  • They learned from us. Be a role model in terms of healthy sleep habits. Children model our behavior, so make sure you are a good example in this area too.
  • They are smart. They’ll try everything under the sun to get your attention and get their way.

What method should you follow? We do not believe cry-it-out is the best method for sleep training babies; although we acknowledge that it might work with some babies*. When it comes to toddlers, it doesn’t work! You need to create a plan that involves your child, that is adapted to your child’s personality; otherwise, it won’t work. These are some things to keep in mind when building your plan:

  • You are trying to break a habit, that you help creating; be patient!
  • Consistency is key
  • Avoid fights and stay calm
  • There’s no negotiation
  • Make it fun and rewarding
  • Make sure the room is childproof
  • Don’t do cry it out, it won’t work with
  • They understand, get them on board!
  • Get them excited about sleep, make feel ‘adult-like’, praise them, reward them every morning for the first weeks

If you need additional help building your sleep training plan, contact us at contact@smoothparenting.com or call us at 646 450 6605

What does ‘sleeping through the night’ really mean?

“Is he/she sleeping through the night?” is probably one of the most common questions new parents are asked. But, what does ‘sleeping through the night’ really mean? 12 hours, 8 hours…? It depends! It depends on the age, weight and development of your baby. If your child is healthy, developing and growing properly, this is what you should expect in terms of sleeping through the night.

Age Sleeping Through The Night (STTN)
Newborn 3 – 5 Hours
1 – 3 Months 5 – 8 Hours
3 – 6 Months 8 – 12 Hours
After 6 Months 12 – 13 Hours

Having said that, you may very well have a 2 month old baby sleeping 12 hours at night, or a 6 month old baby sleeping 8. Remember that these are averages, and there are many factors that affect each baby’s particular situation. The goal would be for our babies to be sleeping 12 hours at night somewhere between 4 to 6 months of age.