Who Knew Sleep Could Be So Difficult
As an adult wouldn't you LOVE IT if someone tried to “threaten” you with an afternoon nap?
I understand that our little creatures are growing and developing every second of everyday and they simply don’t want the fun to end especially if it’s for the dreaded NAP! However, the more tired they become the more unruly they are to deal with.
When our youngest was born, Steve and I spoke to a sleep specialist about sleep routines and rituals for our 3 youngest. We were witnessing a regression in sleep routines and patterns in our son along with every excuse as to why he shouldn’t go to bed. It got to a point it would take us 2-3 hours to put this boy to bed - every night- and turn into a lot of fighting. BED TIME WAS AN AWFUL ORDEAL IN OUR HOUSE THAT MADE ME VERY ANXIOUS.
Once we got our son to bed, it was time for our new borns evening routine that started nightly at 11:30 PM! Needless to say this was becoming too tiring and taxing on everyone and something had to change.
I had been reading a lot of co sleeping articles and all the benefits of co sleeping that I never once stopped to think it was a tough routine to break, once it was developed. My husband and I allowed our daughter to sleep with us nightly so I could nurse her and increase my milk supply. There were points through the night that we would reposition ourselves to be sure our daughter was between the two of us at all times and she would continue to cluster feed through the night. This went on for 4.5 months before I started realizing that I wasn’t sleeping as well anymore and I was really missing my hubby. We agreed that it was best for our daughter to sleep in her own crib and we would have our bed TO OURSELVES.
Night one, this went really well…until we went to actually put her in her bed and walk away. She was so upset that she was no longer going to cuddle with mommy and daddy. Her eyes we’re so full of tears and her sad cry, we had no other choice than to cave and bring her in bed with us.
Our kids were bed hogs, cramping our relationship and we were staying up until the wee hours of the night 7 days a week. All I knew was this mama had to sleep or someone was gonna get hurt (haha).
I was scrolling through Facebook one afternoon and came across a page about sleeping children. I remember the little chuckle as I thought ‘sleeping children, yea right’. For the sake of mine and my husbands sanity I had to check out these other people’s “sleeping kids” so I clicked on a few of the articles briefly skimming them. In an instant, I knew that our kids sleep issues were going to be a thing of the past and our routines were only days away from small gains.
We contacted Restful Parenting by email, explaining our family situation, sleep regressions and lack of routines. We went over the ages of the kids and basic day-to-day routines to give a whole picture of the family dynamic and our activity level. In less than 12 hours Pam, the Co-Owner of Restful Parenting replied to my email, reassured me that there were SEVERAL other families just like mine and I was not alone.
A little about Restful Parenting
PAM AND ELISA, CO-OWNERS OF RESTFUL PARENTING
At Restful Parenting, they bring you over 15 years of experience working with children of all ages and their parents. They are both Early Childhood Educators and Infant and Child Sleep Consultants and have extensive experience in early childhood development as well as a natural ability to understand children and their sleep.
TEACHINGS AND TRAININGS
Both Pam and Elisa have the following certifications
- Early Childhood Education – Algonquin College
- Maternity, Infant and Child Sleep Consultant – International Maternity and Parenting Institute
- Happiest Baby on the Block Instructor
- Hand in Hand Parenting by Connection training
- Breastfeeding Peer Support Volunteer
These ladies have several years of experience and strategies to understand your little one’s sleep patterns and behaviours. When Pam and Elisa spoke with us they spoke about diet, exercise, family, sleeping patterns etc. There was more to their preliminary assessment than just sleep related questions which I found was REALLY interesting.
Here are the top 5 things you should know about Elisa and Pam:
1. Their background is children
2. They consider your child’s 24-hour day
3. They customize their approach to you and your child
4. They’re not “no-nonsense” types (at all!). They pride themselves with their kind mannered compassionate approach.
5. They work within all parenting styles.
Some of the best advice I received was from these two ladies! My husband and I spent an hour on a video conference call going over our adversities. It took roughly 15 minutes of us explaining our situation and they were ready to offer advice on how to get our 4.5 month old to bed and not spend hours trying to get our son down.
The first week was a challenge because YOU have to be CONSISTENT! It's not as bad after the fact but in the moment its heartbreaking.
Lets take a look at what our subject experts, Pam and Elisa have to say...
As infant and Child Sleep Consultants, we often get parents asking what they can do to establish healthy sleep for their infants. There are many things that can be done and we have put together our top 3 newborn sleep tips.
This is probably the hardest part to follow as new babies have very short awake times. They really only need to be awake for a feed, a diaper change and a few kisses, coos and hugs. Ensuring that your newborn is going to sleep at the right times can really help with how much of a battle there is to get them to sleep, how well they sleep and also how overtired they become as the day goes on. Sometimes, being overtired can be a contributing factor to that dreaded witching hour! Some babies will naturally fall asleep within their window while others need a little more help and convincing.
Will you always be able to follow the timing for their exact wake windows? No, probably not. Getting your baby to bed within such a short time frame can be a source of stress for parents so do what you can, when you can!
Now that you understand your child’s wake windows, you can start thinking about a sleep routine that will work for the family and ensure your little one is not over tired.
Lets take a look..
HOW AND WHEN TO ESTABLISH AN AGE APPROPRIATE SCHEDULE FOR YOUR CHILD
Routines are an important, essential part of your child’s overall day, but a schedule can be just as important!
Having a predictable schedule with a new baby may sound great however, their systems are too underdeveloped and their internal clock doesn’t develop until closer to 3/4 months old.
Although it might sound amazing to have your new baby on a schedule right away it doesn’t always work that way. There definitely are some theorists who do recommend rigid schedules right from infancy however, in certain infants it can lead to some negative health issues including failure to thrive and slow growth. We prefer to focus more on the wake windows as opposed to a set schedule in the beginning.
When it comes to children under the age of 6 months, the schedule is not the main focus
You will want to make sure your child is falling asleep or sleeping within a certain amount of time vs. at a certain time. Some babies will naturally fall asleep within the appropriate window while others may need a little more help getting to sleep on time. An infant or baby that is awake for too long between naps will quickly become overtired causing them to struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep.
HOW TO CREATE AN AGE APPROPRIATE SCHEDULE:
Wake windows and Sleep Cues
The difference between using wake windows and a schedule is simple. The wake window is the amount of time your child is awake between sleeps. A newborn’s wake window is very short, roughly 45 minutes while a 4 month olds’ is closer to 90 minutes. The goal is to work on getting them back to sleep within those time frames. Around 4 and 5 months old you will see the morning nap start to develop and become a little more consistent. This will help if your child has a consistent morning wake time. We genuinely understand that waking your child in the morning seems counter active and setting an alarm to have to wake your child sounds crazy but in order to establish a great daytime schedule, having them wake up every morning within 30 minutes will be important.
Following your child’s sleep cues is a wonderful way of being able to tell when your child is tired however, some children will have very subtle sleep cues, which can make it very difficult for parents to decipher their tired signs. This is why it is important to use both the clock and follow your child’s sleep cues to ensure that they are going to sleep at the right times.
We have made identifying the sleep cues a little easier for you by breaking them up into three sections. They will be more receptive to sleep if you start your routine and get your child off to bed before the advanced sleep cues begin.
First sleep cues:
Fidgeting, turning head away from people or objects, loss of interest in toys, zoning out staring blankly, slowed activity.
Mid range sleep cues:
Rubbing eyes, pulling at ears, scratching face, less coordination, arching back, leaning backward, and yawning.
Advanced sleep cues:
Burying face in caregiver’s chest, red eyelids and eyebrows, fussing and/or crying are signs that the child is starting to become overtired or you have missed the window for optimal sleep.
Struggled with the 1 nap transition
The transition of 1 nap was such a tough phase that was avoided for as long as possible. With the support of Pam and Elisa, we knew it would be easier but we obviously had to put in the work to get through this phase!
I would be kidding if I said this transition was easy because there was a lot of crying in the beginning (baby and ME) but it only lasted a day or two and it quickly developed into the nap time ritual for our daughter. Any sleep issues with our youngest were not long term as we had the right sleep consultants working with us from early on.
My overall experience with Restful Parenting
Pam and Elisa were really down to earth and easy to work with. They were understanding to our busy family dynamic and offered advice based on our personal sleep patterns rather than the “traditional child”. The instructions provided were very clear with a possible follow up date in case we had any additional questions. Mom Wins highly recommend Restful Parenting to anyone with a new family member or anyone wanting to learn new behaviours. Sleep and nutrition are huge for your functionality and care for the family, so be sure you’re resting well! I valued that I could take the call from the living room and I didnt have too pack up and go anywhere
Do you have sleep regression with your little one? Perhaps you’re still expecting? Its never too late or too early to start talking about sleep, contact Pam and Elisa
Pam Larouche and Elisa Costanza
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