2/4/2018 3 Comments
Andrea De La Torre is a Sleep Consultant whose business Tiniest Dreamers is helping parents and their little ones sleep better. She wrote a post in October for the Indy FertilityCare Blog, so if you have not checked out her first post, make sure you check that out here.
As a Sleep Consultant this is one of the questions I see the most. Parents want to be proactive but respect their child’s development (my favorite type of clients!). My answer is always the same: it depends on you. Whenever you want to start, go for it. But don’t start until you are ready for it: know your comfort level, know your child, and pick a method that works for your whole family.
Having said that, I always suggest you start as early as you can, with the appropriate method. Gentle Sleep Training for newborns is pretty useless in most cases. I would go as far as to call it a waste of time and tears. Newborns don’t have the same learning capabilities as older infants, they go through many growth spurts, and it is sometimes difficult to really differentiate between their hungry, tired, and comfort cues when they are that small.
You can, however, start building good sleep habits from the first weeks. These sleep habits will be worth their weight in hours of sleep (basically gold) in the future.
1-Work towards setting baby down ‘drowsy but awake.’ This does not mean baby is already asleep and or blinking slowly, it means baby is showing signs of being very tired, baby is fed, changed, and comfortable, and it is an appropriate bedtime.
2- Make a bedtime routine. Routines are babies’ best friends. Having a positive routine before bedtime helps them wind down and get ready when it is time for sleep.
3-Do not make nursing/bottle the last step of the routine. By separating feeding from sleep you avoid creating a feed-to-sleep association. A huge percentage of sleep problems in infancy and toddlerhood are because of this association!
4-Have a sleep environment that can recreate the environment they knew in the womb: dark, quiet but with a little muffled noise (for example: white noise), tight and confining space (ie swaddling), and a place they feel is their own: somewhere they feel loved (a lot of cuddles before bedtime!)
Now here is the catch with newborns: even if you do all of these things, sometimes newborns will cry and not want to sleep. If you’ve done these things and your baby is crying then pick baby up, rock him, bounce him, soothe him, etc… until they are comfortable sleeping. Just try these little things every naptime and bedtime so that they become part of your habits as well as theirs. With time it’ll be a routine that you both enjoy and that is very successful. Don’t stress out if your baby needs a lot of soothing to fall asleep: it is normal and common. As long as you try to teach them individual sleep at least once a day, you’re working towards the right goal.
When your baby hits 3.5 or 4 months, I typically suggest starting real sleep training. There are many successful methods, some gentler than others, all with the possibility of success. If you feel like you’ve tried everything and nothing is working, please contact me so we can set up a consult and I can see how I can help you!
Here to help you get your tiny one dreaming,
Andrea De La Torre, Certified Baby Sleep Consultant, advocate of good sleep
Tiniest Dreamers Website
Above: Big brother Teddy's proud moment meeting his baby sister Jennifer on April 21, 2016.
Watching our children become siblings is a memorable and formative time. When my husband and I were expecting our daughter, Jennifer, we prepared our son (as best as possible) by reading him a lot of books about being a big brother, mommy having a baby in her belly, and what would happen when baby arrived. While he was a little under 2 at the time, these books have indeed become favorites that we still read now that he is becoming a big brother again to his new brother coming in March. Jennifer has a slightly different taste in books (word and board books are her favorites), but she loves babies SO MUCH that I am not quite as worried about her transition to becoming a big sister as I was with Teddy.
Since it's so cold in many parts of the United States right now, it's the perfect time to snuggle up with your little one(s) and read some good books, perhaps with a warm tea, coffee, or hot chocolate for yourself.
Here is a list of my top 3 favorite books about becoming a big brother or sister, in no particular order:
1. The New Baby by Mercer Mayer
This one is precious, especially because it emphasizes that the older child is indeed “so lucky” to get a baby sibling. It has a positive tone that getting a sibling is indeed a good thing, and that there are important ways the big kid can help with the new baby.
2. I’m a Big Brother/I’m a Big Sister by Joanna Cole, Illustrated by Rosalinda Kightley
Teddy has this one nearly memorized, which is absolutely precious. It does not hurt that he looks a bit like the boy in the book. I also like that you can get a boy or girl version of the book based upon which sex your child is. The story emphasizes that there are exciting things about being older, like being able to walk, talk, play with toys, and eat “big kid” foods and reminds the child of their parents’ unconditional love, even though that love is now being extended to the new baby too.
3. On Mother’s Lap by Ann Herbert Scott, Illustrated by Glo Coalson
This book was first introduced to me by my own mom. It is about an Eskimo mother and two boys. The older child enjoys being rocked by his mother and seems to be okay with his toys, special objects, and puppy also being rocked by his mother. However, when his baby brother begins crying, his mother suggests that she rock him too, reminding her older child that “there is always room on Mother’s lap”. Although he is a bit stubborn at first, he warms up to the idea eventually. My mom loves getting this as a present for mothers expecting their second child. The illustrations are captivating.
Will any of your older child(ren) be attending your birth? Birth Boot Camp has an excellent Sibling workbook on preparing your children for the birth of your new child. Check it out here!
What have been some of your favorite books to read to your kids during your pregnancy? What am I missing on my list?
By Liz Escoffery
Certified FertilityCare Practitioner & Birth Boot Camp Instructor
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