Bedtime Routines #2: Sleep Patterns and Children’s Health

Following up on Friday’s post, I would like reinforce the message of how important bedtime routines are for our children. A child’s bedtime routine could affect his or her sleep pattern throughout a lifetime. Setting bedtime routines and bedtime can improve sleep quality and quantity for infants and toddlers. Not getting enough sleep affects children’s behavior, memory, attention, and emotional well-being.

“Sleep patterns and sleep routines matter because they have both long-term and short-term implications for health and cognitive development,” said Lauren Hale, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at Stony Brook University Medical Center in Stony Brook, New York. “If it sets a pattern in the way you treat sleep or bedtime, these patterns may last your whole life unknowingly.”

Devote time and effort to make sure your children get enough and proper sleep, it’ll be a fantastic health gift for life.

Much love, Diana-

 

Bedtime Routines #1

As promised, I will share some tips about how to set up a good bedtime routine that fosters connection, good sleep habits and peace. Our bedtime routines should be calm, relaxing, loving and smooth.

A large part of creating positive sleep associations is crafting sleep time routines that will reinforce good sleep habits.  Developing a soothing and calming routine that helps your baby transition from awake to sleep is essential. Setting sleep routines can improve sleep quality and quantity for infants, toddlers and children of every age; and it’s a fantastic way to bond with your child.

A child’s sleep routines could affect her sleep pattern throughout a lifetime. Our goal is to teach our child the process to fall asleep and to help her feel safe, secure, and comforted so she can feel asleep on her own.  If the feeling around bedtime is a good feeling, your child will fall asleep easier.

There is a major connection between time in front of the screen and sleep disorders. Avoid television watching, video game playing, and other exciting activities the hour before bedtime. Do not allow children to have a TV in their bedroom, and do not allow them to watch TV prior to bedtime. Children who watch a lot of television, especially at bedtime, and those with a television in their bedroom are more likely to resist going to bed, have trouble sleeping, wake up more often, and have a poor quality sleep overall. Watching television tends to stimulate children, whereas for adults it can be relaxing. Do not allow children to watch violent television programs. They can contribute to restless sleep and nightmares (among other things).

Similarly, video games can impact a child’s quality and amount of sleep. Do not allow children to play video games anywhere near bedtime and always check the appropriateness of the rating.

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Don’t change your child’s routine every day, but let it evolve as your baby grows. For example, your bedtime routine with your newborn might involve giving him a bath, massaging him, putting him in his pajamas, giving him a bottle (or nursing him), rocking him a little, and putting him in the crib. By the time your child is 9 months, it might evolve to giving him a bath, massaging him, putting him in his pajamas, giving him a bottle (or nursing him) while you sing to him, giving him his lovey and putting him in the crib. By the time your child is 2 years old, it might evolve to giving him a bath, putting him in his pajamas, brushing his teeth, reading him a book, giving him his lovey, and putting him in the crib. By the time your child is 9 years old, it might evolve to let her take a bath and get ready for bed, and lay with her on her bed as you read aloud a book together.

What routines do you have around bedtime? Are they working? Let me know!

Much love, Diana-

 

Nightmares and Night Terrors

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

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

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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 she’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 way to prevent future nightmares is to help your child confront and overcome his fears of the dark, such as leaving a nightlight on or having a special stuffed toy to sleep with.

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, they 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. Night terrors 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 he will have no memory of the incident in the morning.

The best responses to night terrors are:

  • Give him a gentle pat, along with comforting words or “shhh” sounds.
  • Make sure he doesn’t hurt himself.
  • Don’t speak to him, ask him questions, or try to hold or 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. 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 types of sleep disturbances.

I hope this was helpful!

Much love, Diana-

 

4 Steps to Remain Calm During Sleep Coaching

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!

Much love, Diana-

Children 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 contact@smoothparenting.com. We will choose two questions every month and I will answer them. Don’t miss that chance! We might pick yours!

Much love, Diana-

How to be calm, patient and nurturing, while you teach your child 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.

Much love, Diana-

Constant Night Wakings

Smooth Parenting Approach to Sleep:

Angelina ~ Constant Night Wakings

Is your child waking up constantly at night or during naps? Angelina used to wake up several times throughout the night before her mom seeked the help of Smooth Parenting. I’m proud to say that Angelina doesn’t wake up at night anymore! Learn more about their past and current situation from Angelina’s mom:

Angelina’s main sleep challenge was her constant night wakings. She would wake up 3 – 4 times during the night, every night.

Angelina_Smooth Parenting
Angelina

She would have her first waking at 9:30pm, her second around 12:30am and her third around 3:30am and so on. I would go in, nurse her and she would fall asleep until she was about 9 months old. After 9 months, she would no longer fall asleep while nursing and she would stay away sometimes for over an hour.

At 11 months old, I contacted Diana for help! She prepared a detailed plan to help Angelina sleep better, without those dreaded night wakings; which included a schedule that was perfectly tailored to Angelina’s natural cycles.

That night I decided to implement the plan, I was prepared for a long night with tea, chocolate and a good movie to distract me. She woke up as usual at 9:30pm and to my surprise, she fell asleep after a few minutes of implementing the plan. I stayed up until her second waking – which never happened, so I was the one who was losing sleep for no reason! She had the usual third night waking and fell asleep after a couple of minutes. I was shocked!

The next night she only woke up once and fell asleep very quickly. Ever since she has been sleeping 11-12 hours straight and falls asleep more easily for her naps as well. I no longer need to stay in the room and creep out hoping that I do not step on a squeaky floorboard!

Smooth Parenting has definitely changed our lives! Thank You!”

Brooke B. Mom to Angelina, 11 months old

Boston, MA United States

 

The Colon Twins ~ Smooth Parenting Approach to Sleep

I first met the Colon Family at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at New York Presbyterian Hospital after my daughters were born. Their gorgeous daughters had been born over 2 months premature and needed some special attention.

We continued our relationship after all four girls came home from the hospital, and I saw them struggling with health issues as well as sleep issues. By the time the girls were 15 months old, both parents were exhausted and out of resources.

After some hesitation about having someone come to their home and help them with their daughters’ sleep; they decided to hire me to work with them. I was obviously thrilled for them! Their in-home sleep consultation was great success, but I’m going to let you read what Maria, the mom has to say about her experience and the transformation that Smooth Parenting brought to their family.

 

“My twin daughters were 15 months old, they had never slept in their cribs and never slept through the night. One of them slept in a co-sleeper and the other one in the bed with us, and they woke up many times during the night, every night. They both napped at different times, always with me in my bed. I was completely drained out and exhausted.

I read books, went online looking for tips and nothing worked for us until I spoke to Diana about it. When she told me “Maria, your little angels will nap and sleep through the night in no time” I was so hesitant. In my mind I was thinking “I’m the mom. If I can’t make them go to sleep, how is she going to do that?” But something about Diana and the way she coached me, with her smooth and relaxed tone, made me feel at ease and trusted her. She was so patient, really listened to me and, best of all completely understood my frustrations. Oh, it was MAGIC!

Sure enough, she came up with a schedule and a plan for my daughters and it worked! My husband and I were in heaven. After just two days of following Diana’s advise, we put an end to 15 months of struggle. My daughters were sleeping 12 hours through the night and napping another 2 hours. Now at 22 months, they’re still following the plan and continue sleeping wonderfully.”

Maria Colon, R.N.

Mom to Jazmine and Isabella

Wayne, NJ

Love Your Sleep! Valentine’s Day Gift

Are you ready for Valentine’s Day? Dinner reservations at a romantic restaurant, heart-shaped yummy dessert, babysitter already booked… and maybe a big wish in your mind?… ‘I hope the kids sleep through and don’t keep us up all night’.

Wouldn’t it be great not having to wish for it and just know they will sleep through and let you enjoy your night? Well, that can be my Valentine’s Gift to your family.

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For 5 days only, starting Monday, February 14, and ending Friday, February 18 at midnight, you can get a 15% discount for ANY of my private consultations (phone, in-home and overnight). It’s my way of spreading my love to all of you!

Just remember, the offer it’s only for Valentine’s day week, so it hasn’t started yet!. Watch your inbox on MONDAY for more details!

Happy Valentine’s Weekend!

Baby Sleep Confusion: Who’s right and who’s wrong?

Sleep is, without a doubt, the number one topic of conversation among new parents. ‘Does your baby sleep through the nigh?’, ‘Did you let him cry?’, ‘Does he still feed at night?’, ‘How do you get your baby to sleep?’… and many more are the frequently asked questions.

There is so much conflicting information out there, that many new parents feel completely overwhelmed by it, to the point where it paralyzes them. That coupled with the constant external and self-imposed guilt that many new parents (especially new moms) are surrounded by, is a recipe for disaster.

Kelly Mathews, sleepless mom 9 month old Willow, was in that situation a few weeks ago. She didn’t know what to do, she had heard it all: ‘You should respond to her every movement’, ‘You should let her cry it out’, ‘You should breastfeed her until she falls asleep’, ‘You shouldn’t breastfeed at night’, ‘You shouldn’t take her out of your room’, ‘You shouldn’t co-sleep’

‘You should…. You shouldn’t…..’

 

Everyone was telling her something different and contradictory, and the panorama didn’t improve when she resorted to books. Every book gave her a different advice, and criticized the other ones. Not even the medicine professionals would agree on what the best approach to teach children to sleep is.

Do you want to know why?

Because there is not one single method/ approach that works for every kid and/or for every family!

Every child is different, and so are his/her parents. When it comes to sleep coaching, you have to follow a plan that fits your child’s unique personality, your family situation, your values and your parenting approach; otherwise it won’t work. Having said that, I do believe that some methods shouldn’t be followed by any family, such as the popular ‘cry-it-out’. Under any circumstances, family conditions, child personality… would I recommend a parent to let his/her child to cry indiscriminately.

STOP! Stop following one advice each day, following a different method every night. Think of what your goals are in terms of baby sleep and make sure they are realistic. Forget about what worked for your neighbor, your brother, your sister-in-law, that mom on your support group… forget about what others are doing and what they tell you to do; and start looking inwards. Look at your family, at yourself, your spouse and your child; and then (and only then) decide what plan you will follow. Be consistent with your decision (don’t quit after the second night), but also be open to adjust your plan as you go along.

That’s what I do with the families I work with… I admit it! I don’t have a magical strategy that works with everyone! I do, however, design unique and personalized plans for every family I work with, that is aligned with their personalities, lifestyles, values and parenting style; and that helps them reach their sleep and parenting goals. And that’s exactly what I did with Kelly and her husband Sean. Within just a few days, they were getting the sleep they needed and deserved, they were happier, more adjusted and empowered.

When it comes to sleep training, do what feels right to you and your family. Trust your intuition! If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. If it doesn’t resonate with you and your family, don’t do it! Trust yourself! Even if it’s your pediatrician giving you the advice; even if your mom is the one telling you;… even if a sleep consultant suggested it. If she/he is good at what she does, she will work with you to find the best plan for your family. I Do! 🙂

Trust yourself! Much love, Diana-