Sleep Coach Advice
When we brought Molly home from the hospital, you could say that Carter had a rough time. I will save you the details, and not having to re-live it myself, by only sharing a small part of what we went through. Basically, every night was a struggle to get Carter into bed. JUST INTO BED! We would have to lay down with him until he fell asleep, and sneak out possibly an HOUR later. It was too much. Especially when he demanded me, and there was a newborn in the other room who was also demanding to be nursed. WE TRIED EVERYTHING FOR HIM! I even talked to his pediatrician about it.
Finally, I threw my hands up and did what every mother does best, googled it. I searched the crap out of sleeping articles for toddlers. I reached out to Facebook, SPEAK TO ME OH WISE MOTHERS! After one of my late night nursing sessions googling about sleep, I found a site called "The Sleep Lady." It is gentle sleep training without having to let your child cry it out. SIGN ME UP! WHO DO I PAY!?
I was there connected with Karen, and I have jokingly said I should have named my second child after her. SHE SAVED ME YOU GUYS!
In my initial e-mail to Karen, I told her that I was about to scare her away from working with us. Karen reassured me that she was not scared, and sent us the paperwork anyway. I was fully expecting her to respond back and say, "Uh, yep. You are on your own. He is too far gone. You will sleep when he goes to college." But, she didn't. We talked for a long time about the recent life changes for Carter, his personality, age, current routines, etc. She developed a specific plan for us, and it worked.
Within 2 weeks after talking to Karen, Carter was not only going to sleep on his own, in his room, by himself, but we didn't even have to be in there. Viola. Done. I could cry just thinking about the difference it made. I started sharing my story and quickly realized that EVERY MOM ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET had a sleep question. It made me feel like I am in good company, but it also made me want to connect them to someone who can help, like Karen did for us.
I reached out on social media and gathered some questions for Karen to answer. Obviously, she could not answer them all. Each family, each child, each personality, each age, is going to have a different method that works for them. This is why it is important to have someone evaluate your specific problems/child/family to find what is going to work best for you! However, for some of the more generic questions, she did give us a lot of *FREE* info, and for that, I thank her...again! For the others, you will not regret hiring someone who is trained in sleep coaching to help you!
So, here are some answers to the questions!
- "What is the prime age to move a child from a crib to a bed. Are there cues to look for? Also, if a child is throwing a huge fit when you put them in their crib, does that mean they are ready for a toddler bed?"
We received a few questions on moving children from a crib into a bed. The earliest cognitive age that children can understand "Stay in your bed all night long" is 2.5 to 3 years old. Part of this is a parent's intuition regarding if your child can really handle it. I have met many people who have moved their children around age 2 with no problem, and others who have their going on 4 year old still in a crib. Often parents get rid of the crib because the child is climbing out or crying when they go in, only to find that the problem only gets worse. I move kids out of their cribs when they are able to fall asleep independently (if that's your goal) and stay asleep all night. Before then and you're asking for lots of little feet pitter pattering to your room and little eyes staring at you sleeping in the middle of the night!
- "How do you get an early bird to sleep later if they are too young to talk/understand/rationalize what you are saying?"
Early rising (any wake up before 6am) has a few causes: too long of a window between nap and bed (no more than 4 to 5 hours for a well rested child), nap deprivation, too late of a bedtime (average for children is 6-8pm), or a child that's going to bed too drowsy.
- "Why would a child wake up hour after hour and need reassurance (patting/rocking)to go back to sleep?"
Several readers also asked questions regarding babies that need to be rocked back to sleep or that wake repeatedly throughout the night. Without knowing specific situations, I can't give you a golden rule on why this happens, however, in general it is because he doesn't have the skills to put himself to sleep. Many babies when rocked to sleep will go through a sleep cycle, have a partial arousal and think, "Hey! How do I go back to sleep? Where's that rocking or patting??" The easiest time to learn the skill of putting yourself to sleep is not at naps or middle of the night snacks, it's at bedtime.
- "How do you get children comfortable sleeping other places? (different cribs/relatives houses)"
Some children are better at this than others. Try to make the environment as close to home as possible. For example, we take our kids lovies with, try to make the room they'll be sleeping in as dark as we can, and provide white noise if possible. That being said, for things like a nap at Aunt Gertrude on Thanksgiving, I know I'll have to sit next to my toddler while she falls asleep even though I never do that at home.
- (This one I am leaving as the mom's own quote because I thought it was funny) "How do you get a nursing, VERY ATTACHED TO MOMMA SHE CANT LEAVE MY SIGHT EVER OR I MIGHT DIE, 11 month old to sleep through the night in HIS crib even though he shows very strong signs of needing to co-sleep.
I love the description of your son! :) As a sleep coach I would get an extensive history form from you, and ask lots more questions to ensure I'm providing a plan specific to you. And one of my questions would be, "Does he show signs of "needing" to co-sleep, or "wanting" to co-sleep." I'm not opposed to co-sleeping if it works for you! But rarely does someone who is happy co-sleeping contact a sleep coach. ;-) That being said, I recommend the "Sleep Lady Shuffle" found in Kim West's book "Good Night Sleep Tight" if you're over co-sleeping.
- "How to make a baby who is a cat-napper to take longer naps?"
My first question would be "how old is the baby?" Sleep is related to neurological development and cat naps are perfectly normal until at least 4 months. If your baby is definitely old enough to nap longer I recommend dark room, white noise and if the child wakes too early, I take 30 minutes up to an hour trying to get him back to sleep (nap coaching is not fun!!)
- "What do you do when baby (has generally been a good sleeper) but has mastered a new skill (aka- standing up) and several nights a week will not sleep, and instead, will stand in bed and play and refuses to go to sleep."
Practice, practice, practice! Babies learn to stand before they learn to sit, so you spend lots of time during the day practicing standing and sitting.
A note from Karen:
I am so glad to have this opportunity to answer some of your sleep questions! Thank you for that opportunity, and let me tell you a little about myself. I am a social worker by trade, currently also working as a child and family therapist. I am passionate about health attachment, positive parenting, and overall mental well-being for all. I embarked on this parenting journey with very specific ideas about how easy it would be to have my baby sleep 12 hours by 12 weeks. Boy oh boy had we read different books! She slept through the night at one month (8pm-6am!!) and I thought I had it all figured out. Until 3 months when that all came crashing down and she didn't sleep through the night again for months. In my desperate search for sleep answers, I found Kim West, a.k.a. The Sleep Lady. In reading lots of information I decided I was so passionate about creating peace in other families through achieving restful nights, that I went through my certification as a Gentle Sleep Coach. The certification program lasted a few months and covered 80 hours of training in sleep science, techniques, medical conditions and much more. Moonbeam Sleep blossomed from there!
As a sleep coach I love getting to know each family and finding a plan that works for them. The most important part of my job is fully listening to each parent and supporting them through the process. You may have read many sleep books and still your child will not sleep. My job is to come alongside you, evaluate for any problems that may be affecting sleep, then create a sleep plan and support you while you carry it out. When a family hires me, they complete an extensive history form, meet with me for 1-2 hours to create a plan (in person, via phone or video chat), and then implement the plan over the course of 2-3 weeks. During those weeks we keep a sleep log back and forth between us and have calls or email support to problem solve and tweak the plan as necessary. I love to celebrate the successes and problem solve the difficulties.
If you would like more information about me, or would like to work on achieving sleep for your family, please check out my website at www.moonbeamsleep.com or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hiring Karen was one of the best decisions of my mothering life! Being patient, creating a routine, keeping consistent, and following her plan has not only gotten us more sleep, but it has helped our sanity with Carter in general. Do not hesitate to contact her!