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How to help baby sleep through the night from a child sleep consultant

I’m sure a good majority of mamas out there would agree with me that a lack of sleep can have a HUGE impact on our daily lives.  Which is why I am so excited that Becca from Little Z’s Sleep took the time to share some of her expertise surrounding babys and sleep with us!

In the short time I have worked with Becca, her passion for helping mothers has become so apparent. I would highly encourage you to follow her on social media for her endless tips and listen to her podcasts! Links for both of these can be found at the end of this post! Let’s jump into it…

Start by telling us how did you become a Child Sleep Consultant?

There was once a time I was a totally sleep deprived Mom of a 4 month old. I was up with her every 45 min (worst) or 2 hours (best) every night, struggling with PPD (that I didn’t understand), and creating really dangerous sleep habits.

My husband and I would wake up and not remember where the baby was: “How did she get on you?” “When did we feed her last?” “Why is she not in the bassinet?” We were SO sleep deprived, we couldn’t think straight. That sent BIG alarms off for the two of us- and one day before I left for work I sat down and Googled, “How do I get my baby to sleep?”

Turns out (as you know) there are a LOT of blogs, books and support groups for tired moms. I totally thought I could read a book and make it happen- so I spent $20 and tried to DIY this big problem. In case you didn’t know, when you’re tired, you can’t follow through on ANYTHING.

So after a few nights of nothing really happening, I asked for help from a sleep consultant. And within a few nights my daughter was sleeping 12 hours! I couldn’t believe it! I was shouting it from the rooftops, telling anyone with a breath that I was sleeping!

This motivation triggered me to pursue my own path in Sleep Consulting,  so I became certified and now here I am almost 3 years later having worked with over 160 families all over the world…that’s right! Multiple continents thanks to technology. My goal is to resolve your child’s exhausting sleep habits so you can all look forward to bedtime. Sounds like a dream right? Except that it’s a total reality!

 

What’s the most common misconception first time parents have about sleep and their newborn?

I think it’s safe to say that new parents are scared out of their minds when they bring home a new baby. You might have taken all the classes on swaddling, breastfeeding and infant CPR, but when you actually have that new baby- everything goes away. You’ve got to learn ON the job.

When I work with newborn parents my goal is to educate them on how to develop  some great habits SO THAT you don’t have a 6 month old waking all night  long. We want to focus on small things like awake windows (awake for 45-60 minutes, down for a nap!) and also the biggest focus is on the Mom. She’s gone through a LOT and needs rest. In fact, studies are now showing that if Mom can get 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep she is far less likely to develop Postpartum Depression.

Sleep is a foundation of our health- but we think that when we have a baby it’s a badge of honor to lose that important factor. My goal is to teach parents that we can build great skills, from the beginning, while also enjoying those newborn snuggles that are life’s biggest joys!

 

What do you see as the most common cause for sleep issues in infants or children?

When parents come to me ready to make change NO ONE is actually 100% ready to dive in. They are always nervous and might even regret their decision after hitting “purchase” on my website! That’s okay! The whole reason I see success is because of the accountability. So far, no one has been keeping you accountable at midnight, 2am, 4am…you’re just surviving and trying to preserve through even the worst amount of sleep. We’re building habits that are chaotic and stressful, and the most common issue I see is parents knowing they need to make the change, but not understanding HOW to do it.

The other day a mom of a 9 month old boy told me, “Becca, I know you’re not supposed to nurse to sleep. I heard it all the time from my lactation consultant, pediatrician and even my sister! But what else am I supposed to do?!” Maybe that’s you- maybe you don’t want to use the pacifier all night, maybe you’re ready to have your bed back. The problem is, you have no idea how to make that next move.  You’re  stuck in a system of bad habits because you’re  scared to change things and rock the boat. That’s my job, to come in and give you a plan of action that actually works- and hold your hand the entire way.

Can you give us some insight on the dreaded sleep regression? Are they as terrible as everyone makes them out to be? What’s the cause behind these?

Oh boy! Sleep regression! A truly hot topic! Here’s the bad news: your child has a whole slew of regression to go through. 4 months, 12 months, 18 months, 2.5 years old…and even small ones in between these. Here’s the  breakdown:

  • At four months old your child’s sleep cycles are totally changing!  They aren’t newborns anymore and can actually do some self-soothing.
    • Here’s what I’d want you to do:
      • 1) Implement a solid bedtime routine (see an example here in my free guide!)
      • 2) get them out of the swaddle and into an arms-free sleep sack so they can learn some self-soothing skills
  • 12 months old is when we look at your baby going through nap transitions AND separation anxiety (YAY!).
    • Here’s what can help:
      • Incorporate playtime in bedtime to give them 1:1 time
      • Stick to your expectations! Don’t go changing things just because it’s sweet they say, “Mommy!” They need that precious sleep.
  • 18 months is also a time when separation anxiety surges again AND they might be learning more words, being more active and definitely saying NO more often.
    • Here’s what you can do:
      • Be careful that you’re not getting too all over the place with their sleep. They may not seem tired, but they are. Stick with your mid-day nap and strict bedtime.
      • They’re not ready for a toddler bed! You might be expecting Baby #2, and your friends might be doing the transition, but honestly you’ll save yourself some sanity by keeping them in the crib until age 3. That’s when they can truly understand freedom/boundaries (kinda, ha!)
  • 2.5 years old is typically a language acquisition regression. It’s normal for kids to be awake at night just practicing their words!
    • Here’s what you can do:
      • Celebrate! They are moving forward in their language skills. Tell them how proud you are of them, love on them, cuddle and snuggle, read more books.
      • Give an early bedtime if they seem extra cranky from the loss of sleep at night. Putting them down 30 minutes early can be a key!

 

I think most any parent who has worked to help their baby sleep better has read a ton of posts and maybe seen all the typical advice. Do you have any outside of the box tips? Something you’d bet most of us haven’t heard before?

Oh this gets me revved up every time! Why? Because maybe you’ve posted on Social Media suggestions for helping your kid sleep better and soooooo many people commented with what worked for them. You get excited and start going after these suggestions ASAP!

The problem is, their kid isn’t your kid. Every child is different. What works for your sister’s kid doesn’t work for yours, and what works for their daycare teachers will probably not work for you. Every child is completely different and the KEY is to understand what’s going on with YOUR child.  I always advise parents to stop listening to the world of advice, and focus on your family.

I also want them to stop trying things different every single night. Would you do a diet program for one day and switch to another the following because you didn’t see results? NO! Sleep is the same. It’s so complex and takes time to see results. Be consistent with your baby and know that  small changes can add up.

On the flip side, I would NEVER want you saying “But Becca, I’ve been doing CIO for a week!” For one, I guarantee you’re not shutting the door on your child from 7pm-7am. That’s the true CIO method, and one that I don’t advocate for. CIO is not having your child cry for 30 minutes and rocking to sleep. That’s conditioning your baby to cry for 30 minutes, and then you’ll rock them to sleep. I’m never about that!!! We need your baby and your child to latch onto a new expectation and be able to get it quickly. We do see results soon, but there are ups/downs in sleep training.

It’s a process, not an event. Remain consistent and fair to your child, and you’ll reap your rewards!

At what point in a child’s sleep journey would you suggest a parent reach out to someone like you for help?

The beautiful thing about parenting is that everyone does things differently. I’ve had a Dad call me after one night in the hospital and ready to follow someone’s professional advice. Then I’ve had 7 year olds work with me to break years of bad habits. There is always one common thread: parents tell me over and over again “I wish I had known about you sooner!”

It doesn’t matter if it’s your first kid or your fifth kid, every child is different and every child needs to sleep a full night.

One of my most recent clients said it best:  “Becca helped me (a mom of five kiddos) with my 5th and last baby – after almost a decade of not sleeping I was dying! BEST DECISION EVER. Within a week of training my sweet 6 month old boy was sleeping 12 hours a night. I’m sad that I had never heard of a sleep specialist with my other kids! Before Becca I was scared of nighttime because it meant being woken up over and over again. After Becca, I know that at 7pm, my baby goes down, puts himself to sleep and it’s peaceful for the next 12 hours. It’s life changing!” –Jeanna, mom of 5

Ready to take the next steps?

Grab Beccas FREE Guide: 5 Steps Through The Night

FOLLOW HER ON SOCIAL MEDIA”

INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | WEBSITE

Listen to her Podcast here!

 

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