Baby Schedules Are Important!

I offered on a previous post to help people with their babies’ sleep for free.  I received a few responses from that.  But what has really just blown me away is the number of responses that I received from the same offer I posted on a What to Expect forum.  In 3 days, I’ve had 7 people from that website alone contact me!  I’m busy with my pro bono work and while it would be great to make some extra cash doing something that was so helpful to people and that I actually enjoy, I’m having a good time helping folks out.

So far, I’ve recognized one common issue among the people I’m speaking with – their babies’ sleep schedules are all off to some degree or another.  Some need to regulate nap schedules, others need to be consistent with the “awake for the day” and bedtime times.  it’s truly amazing how much these consistencies affect a baby sleeping well.

I really wanted to write a post with nap schedules and things detailed, but instead of reinventing the wheel, I’m recommending you sign up for the Baby Sleep Site’s free download of 5 Ways to SSTN.  If you decide you don’t want their e-mails and and  things, you can easily opt out of the e-mails later on.  I hope to get some detailed posts on naps soon.

If you have any questions about baby sleep, including naps, please feel free to ask them in the comments.

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My Experience With A Sleep Training Consultant

Introduction/Issues We Were Struggling With: I’ve written a little about my experience with hiring a certified sleep consultant to help my 6 month old (now 9 month old) to sleep better.  To recap and fill in some background, I was basically having trouble with a nursing to sleep association, naps were all over the place – both length and timing, she wouldn’t sleep without being held – day or night.  Now let me clarify, I was not expecting to dump my baby into her crib when I thought it was time for her to sleep and her sleep 12 hours straight without needing something to eat or drink.  That seem(ed)/(s) to be unrealistic to me.  What I desired was to parent my child to sleep, that is to say help her wind down and get sleepy, so that she could fall asleep easily on her own when laid down after her bedtime routine and feel secure enough in her own bed to get comfortable and resettle when she woke in the night.  At 6 months of age, I expected to still need to feed her 1-2 times a night – around midnight and 5 am, I still believe those are realistic expectations of a 6 month old. After reading countless articles and methods online, two different No-Cry type of sleep training books and 2 months of no results, I desperately and reluctantly hired a sleep consultant that had been recommended to me by a friend.  Let me say on the front end that I’m extremely thankful for the help this lady gave me.  She was a great lady and there’s no telling where we’d be with sleep if we hadn’t sought some outside help.  But here’s my “issue” with hiring a sleep consultant:  I don’t feel that I was truthfully offered much more information than what I had already read.  What I really received was someone to reassure me that the method I had chosen would indeed work and that I wasn’t waisting 2 weeks of my life trying to get sleep that would never come if I was implementing a sleep training method improperly.  And I tried exactly what my consultant had me do before I contactted her, BUT I only tried it one night.  And the first night is by far the hardest, but even though I knew it would take 7-10 days for significant improvement I was so tired that I gave up on it right away.  I didn’t KNOW I was implementing the method properly and felt that I didn’t have even one night to waste.  It angers me that I was forced to pay so much, when all I needed was someone I could ask questions to clarify what I had already learned.  I could’ve achieved my goal with a lot less interaction, honestly.  It’s like I had the pieces of the puzzle, but needed a little help putting them together.  In hindsight, perhaps I should’ve contacted the authors of the books I had read to see if they would’ve offered me any free advice – I had, after all, purchased their book.

Sleep Consulting Details: I paid $350 for a 45 minute initial phone call, one 15 minute phone call every week for 3 weeks after the initial call, and moderate email support (she was readjusting policies when I was doing my consultation with her) for 4 weeks.  $350.  That’s a lot of money to me.  I dare say that’s a lot of money to most people, especially new parents who’ve spent God knows how much money on their baby recently.  What I couldn’t find the answers to that prompted me to hire someone were these:   “How long should my baby be napping?”  “How long should she be going between naps?”  “What do I do if she wakes from a nap early?”  “How long do I try to get her to go to sleep and what do I do when that time is up?”  “What sleep training method is best?”  I could find some answers to these questions, but they always seemed directed to younger babies and I wasn’t confident that it would suit my baby because she was a little older (it seems “the rules” change every 3 months with a baby, until they’re one).  I already knew that babies like routine, that nap and bedtime routines were (are) important.  I knew that I could create new sleep associations that I may not intend to and was very aware of the steps I was taking.  I already knew a lot of things.  In the end, I still did things a little differently than advised and imagine this – my baby is sleeping quite well these days. What is the point of this post?  I’m going to be reading and reviewing some more sleep books and methods and I would like to offer some free help to as many people as I can with the knowledge I gain from my research and firsthand experience.  You could read these books yourself, yes.  But if you’re a tired parent, it would nice to have one place to go that would consolidate all of the different methods and the like to help you get your sweet pea to sleep better!  That’s what I’m setting out to do.  It’ll require some lengthy posts no doubt and research, that’s ok though, because I like to write and I like doing research.

What I Need From You: I need any tired, frustrated parents of babies 3-12months to contact me.  If you have a younger baby and would like to know some things you can do to create healthy sleep habits from birth I would be happy to hear from you as well.  I do not really advocate sleep training before 3 months old.  However, I do feel that you can begin to create healthy sleep habits early on.  I want you to contact me like you would a sleep consultant.  There is a contact form with this post.  I’ll try to give you an outside look at what’s going on and help you “piece the puzzle together.” Why should you trust me?  I’m not making this stuff up myself.  I will always be referencing other sources with any advice I give and will do my best to provide those references in my posts or with any correspondence with you.  If I had not been so tired myself, I probably would’ve been able to do the research to figure out my own baby’s sleep problems as my unanswered questions weren’t really all that difficult, but the answers were important details.  And frankly, sometimes you just need some support.

If you would like some help, fill out the contact form below and I will send you a detailed questionnaire. Before contacting me, I would suggest you read this post.  It explains that good naps = good night sleep and has some links that you may find helpful.  I find that there are a lot of babies not getting adequate naps, which is resulting in horrendous nighttime sleep!  Of course, there may always be multiple issues you are dealing with, but I felt the need to have a post about the importance of how sleep begets sleep.  I’m continuously working on the baby sleep inspired posts for this site, so follow me and let me help you out!

 

Sleep Training Results

Here I am, several weeks after the end of my sleep training sessions with Belly to Bean Sleep Consulting and I’m typing this as the baby bear naps soundly in her crib!  I’m so glad that I decided to go ahead and sleep train.  I actually prefer the term “sleep teach,” as she’s not a dog, she’s a person who really did just need to learn something.  It was hard at times, but we’re now in a fairly good routine, I’ve learned a lot and it was worth all of the effort!

In the beginning, my baby wouldn’t sleep without being held and even at that was having more and more trouble sleeping well.  It turns out that she’s a belly sleeper!  Something that she couldn’t do in our bed.  She also wouldn’t nap well and my days were chaotic, I just never knew what to expect.  I was exhausted and completely worn out.  Now, I get her ready for bed and she will easily sleep five hours straight, wake to nurse, go right back to sleep for about another five hours, wake to nurse again, go back to sleep for another couple of hours before getting up for the day.  Knowing what to expect and what is age appropriate for her is such a relief.

I don’t second guess my decision to put her down for a nap or that it’s time for bed hardly ever anymore.  Now, I can confidently say, “It’s time for her to nap,” even if she resists at first, I know it’s what she needs and how to achieve it.

Tired Baby and Mama

Before I had my sweet little baby, I hadn’t realized how much of an “attached” parent I would be.  Co-sleeping wasn’t something that was even on my radar.  Babies slept in their beds and that’s just how I thought things went.  When the little showed up, she did indeed sleep in her bed for a good three months.  The bed was in our room so I was able to easily check on her at night.  However, over that three months she slowly grew to want to sleep in my arms or nestled next to me more and more.  She usually napped in my arms or on my chest during the day, which I usually welcomed as I had dedicated the fourth trimester/ newborn months to learning her ways, learning to breastfeed, and just enjoying having her in my life.

I was the typically exhausted mother of a newborn, nothing unexpected or outrageous thought.  She woke about every 3 hours in the night to eat and usually went right back to sleep, my main nemesis was her getting the hiccups!  I pushed through the first three months of motherhood a happily sleep-deprived Mama.  It may sound crazy, but I made the decision that until she was three months old I would not impose any major sleep training.  I’m glad I made that decision.  The only thing I honestly think I would have done a little differently is put her down more while she napped so that she would have gotten used to the feel of her own bed early on.  Not that I wouldn’t have held her while she napped, but just not for every nap 😉

I had begun to put the baby in bed with me when she woke for her 5ish AM feeding.  And we both slept wonderfully during the following hours.  However, I quickly realized that I was putting baby in bed with me more and more.  One particular morning, she awoke, just wanting to cuddle with me.  Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue, but I had, had a long night and was completely exhausted and just wanted to stretch out in bed instead of curled into a protective ball around her.  I found myself wondering and frustrated with why she wouldn’t just sleep in her own bed, like babies were “supposed” to do.  What made the matter most frustrating was that I felt guilty about putting her in bed with me, like I was doing something wrong!  As I lay there, now wide awake from my frustration, I Googled some term that brought me to this article by Dr. Sears.  The article brought tears to my eyes as my heart and mind were opened to co-sleeping to meet the needs of my sweet little girl.  This morning was a turning point for me.  I decided that if co-sleeping was what it took to help us both sleep better, that’s what we would do and I embraced it with open arms.

At the same time, I decided it was time to help us both get a better night’s sleep.  At this point all I knew was that we needed more restful sleep and I didn’t plan on letting her cry it out (CIO).  So I began to search for solutions and read The No-Cry Sleep Solution By Elizabeth Pantley and The Baby Sleep Book by Dr. Sears.  While I loved both of the books, I wish I had read them sooner.

Fast forward two months and things had gotten worse!  She would wake up as soon as I laid her down and wouldn’t sleep in her own space at all.  I enjoyed having her tucked in bed with me at night, but her night wakings were becoming more frequent instead of less frequent.  Co-sleeping wasn’t helping her anymore and that was a big problem.  I know there were times that I woke her by trying to put a pacifier in her mouth when she would begin to stir!  While Pantley and Dr. Sears had some really great suggestions and Dr. Sears taught me a lot about baby sleep, the fact remained that even after following their advice, things weren’t getting better overall.  I could get her to sleep, but it still involved her relying on me to do so and it just wasn’t sustainable anymore.  I needed her to be able to at least stay asleep for a little while when I laid her down.  I could go on about what parts of the books suggestions worked and how I think I might could have used them and prevented the situation I had created, but I will save that for another post.

At this point I decide to follow a friend’s advice and contact the baby sleep consultant she had used.  I want to make it clear that I’m not in any way being reimbursed, etc. for mentioning the books or the sleep consultant, just mentioning them as tools and resources for others that may be looking for answers.

I will be posting more about my experience with sleep consulting and teaching my daughter to sleep better, I hope you will follow along!

Sleep Baby Sleep

I expected to be exhausted as a parent of a newborn, but at three months old I knew she and I were both ready for sleep training. While my little angel was doing fairly well at night – waking about every three hours, eating, and then going right back to sleep – it was beginning to wear heavily on me.

So I dove head first into a couple of sleep training books.  I wasn’t a fan of crying it out and was very wary of the books that promoted strict schedules.  The first book I read was The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley, the second was The Baby Sleep Book: The Complete Guide to a Good Night’s Rest for the Whole Family by Dr. William Sears.  I would recommend both of these books, by the way.  Enlightened by Dr. Sears’ explanation of how a baby sleeps, I began to implement some of Pantley’s techniques and began to feel like maybe I had some direction to getting my baby to sleep better and longer.  For two long months I did everything I could to get my baby to sleep.  I even wore her to bed a few times and slowly took off the sling!  If you are pregnant and reading this, I say this to you: I know you are most likely receiving all of the parenting information you never asked for, but I promise you one thing, you will do what you need to in order to sleep.

Now, let me clarify, this baby wasn’t just up screaming for no reason.  What prompted me to begin sleep training was I needed her to sleep longer stretches at a time and be less dependent on me to fall asleep (namely nursing to sleep).

Fast forward two months (five months old), I was even more tired.  Things seemed to have gotten worse!  I don’t know how, I don’t blame the authors of those books, but I just could not get her to sleep like I needed her to do.  When I seemed to make headway on a particular issue, she seemed to pull the rug out from under me!  We would take two steps forward and one step back.  I became so discouraged, confused, and just… at a loss as to what to do. I reread the books and with every new day I awoke, bleary eyed and tired, with a new resolve to help us both get better sleep.  As any new, sleep deprived mother does, I turned to those who had been there and done that.  I asked questions on Facebook and did more research on the Internet, all to no avail.  There were plenty of suggestions, but I don’t think anyone really understood what was going on.  When you tell people your baby isn’t sleeping, they assume that you’re up all night with a screaming child.  ‘Tisn’t so my friends.  One dear friend of mine had previously had sleep issues with her little one as well and she urged me to contact the baby sleep consultant she had used at Belly to Bean Sleep Consulting.

Now, another month later (baby’s 6 months old), I’ve contacted Nicole (the sleep consultant) and am anxiously awaiting my consultation.  I’ll be blogging about my journey with this sleep consultant, but not revealing any secret methods she may have.

In case you’re having the same issues, here’s what I’ve been facing:

-Rocking and/or nursing to sleep

-Wakes upon being laid down

-Night time is anyone’s guess

-Wakes too frequently at night (I’m trying to get night wakings down to two wake ups at least)

-Can’t settle herself back to sleep