Susie Parker is a certified Sleep Consultant and founder of Sleep Baby Love, Child Sleep Consulting.
Thinking about getting baby sleeping BEFORE baby comes prepares you for the reality that they are not naturally great sleepers. Acknowledging that it could be difficult, will help you deal with it more confidently, because at least you will expect it.
Exhausted parents need support. Sleep consultants change lives! Get help if you can’t see an end in sight.
Sunit says many people associate “sleep training” with crying it out. She asks Susie, what is the definitiom of sleep training. Susie says sleep training does NOT equal CRYING IT OUT! It means teaching independent skills.
Sleep training is just teaching your child independent skills. Call it whatever you want, but it can be sleep coaching, sleep helping. You are helping your child learn skills to fall asleep independently. There are many methods, and much gentler techniques to teach your baby these foundational skills.
Just cover the foundational skills-put baby down awake, don’t use props, put them down before they are overtired, pay attention to total daily sleep needs.
Sunit asks what can a woman being doing before baby comes to prepare. Susie says don’t over stress/overthink-every child is different. Do prepare, be aware, once they are born get to know their sleep personality!
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. -great first book on sleep-covers the why of sleep importance. Also gives total sleep needed by age. Susie says if you are going to read one book, read that one.
It’s very typical that newborns don’t know how to sleep. It’s natural that they are fussy initially. Babies do not come knowing how to sleep. They are supposed to be fussy and bad sleepers in the first 6-8 weeks. They need closeness, rocking etc in the first weeks.
Don’t let your baby cry too long in the early days. Some experts are now saying even 4 months is too early for sleep training, but when you are desparate, you want it to happen as early as possible. Talk to your pediatrician. Do what feels right to you but it’s never too late. Susie works with people who have kids all the way from babies to 6 and 7 years old.
Consistency is key. Whenever you are ready to be consistent-that’s when it’s time to start. That is the biggest component to addressing sleep challenges.
When you are ready, if you can’t go it alone, and know that you will be successful-get a sleep consultant. All the information on the internet can be overwhelming. Ask for help. There are sleep consultants everywhere!
Habits that are never too early to start:
Dissociate food and sleep. Do not nurse your baby to sleep! Feed baby while they are awake.
Do not rock to sleep.
Put baby down when they are drowsy but awake.
Use nap time as practice.
Swaddled! If baby doesn’t like swaddle, find something they DO like. Babies have a moro reflex until about 4 months, their arms flail and they can’t control this. Swaddling keeps them from being annoying to themselves! Temper this with swaddling.
Mimic their in utero environment-white noise machine mimics what they hear in the womb, is soothing, and also blocks out other noise.
Dark room or blackout shades if needed.
Sunit asks if we are setting babies up for a crutch if we do things like sound machines or blackout blinds?
Susie says Maybe- but the worst thing that can happen is they sleep well but need something. It’s not a big deal. Typically kids will outgrow white noise. Every “crutch” is different-blackout blinds may create more reliance on a really dark room but again, look at your life and assess how important this is to you.
Babies SHOULD be sleeping in their room/crib for the most restorative sleep. Napping on the go might be convenient in the short term but in the long term it’s not optimal for good sleep.
Babies who are good sleepers with good sleep habits are more amenable and flexible when the time comes to go on a trip.
Sunit asks what advice do you give to the mom who is very active and doesn’t want to put that on hold. Does she have to sacrifice that to create good sleep habits? Assess your child and go with what they need. Don’t be selfish. Put baby's sleep needs ahead of your own habits and activities and work around that.
No one can make you sleep train your child. You do what’s best for you. You will only be successful if you are in the driver’s seat. Understand your child and your life, prioritize, and do what’s required.
Susie and Sunit both agree that even now, even at preschool age, their kids will never be the ones that are up late every night-it’s special occasions only. Sunit says when you prioritize your child’s sleep early on, it always pays off. That is her experience with twins.
Dr Ferber (Ferber Method)-Solving your Child’s Sleep Problems-is very detailed if you like that
Kim West "The Sleep Lady Shuffle"-a gentle method and good for an older child (1 year and older)
Sometimes blogs are better than books!
www.babycentre.com is a great resource
Communities with birth boards-have babies with the same birth month so you can compare notes
One piece of advice Susie would give to a woman for whom motherhood is in the near future.
Don’t stress: create knowledge and foundation to be ahead of the game. Just listening to this podcast puts you ahead!
Studies show that confident parents have better sleepers. Babies pick up on uncertainty. Fake it til you make it. If you’re struggling-REACH OUT!!!
Sunit says she wants to inspire women to not lose themselves in motherhood. Having good sleepers allows her time to do things she still likes to do.
She asks Susie the one thing about her life that she loves that sleep training allowed her to keep. Susie says watching TV! Early bedtimes allow for tv time, time for nice quiet dinners, time with your husband etc.
Susie and Sunit talk about the real housewives and how addictive it is.
You can find Susie and her blog at www.sleepbabylove.com
“Sleeping Made Easy” is her FREE facebook community. Search for it on FB!