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the crib sheet

When you are least expecting it

Elizabeth Nalle

A welcome surprise — Kindness.

Just want to share, how I was knocked back on track by kindness the other day. I am going to try to spend the rest of this month intentionally being kind at least once a day to try to surprise someone else. I will let you know how it goes.

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10 Tips and Tricks for the first 6 months

Elizabeth Nalle

Today I am running a workshop for Hudson River Park Parents to discuss sleep during the first six months. I am sure we will discuss much more, but I wanted to share with you the content that we will be covering.

  1. Sleep matures, so infant sleep is very different than baby sleep. Most infants are very infant like until they are closer to 3 to 4 months. (And baby sleep is very different than toddler sleep, and toddler sleep is very different from school age children sleep, and so on….

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It is important to get help from someone who "gets it"

Elizabeth Nalle

Continuing on with this month’s theme of appreciation, I want to highlight Sara, our seasoned sleep specialist, who bring buckets of empathy to her work with tired families. As a working mom herself, Sara knows what it is like to juggle tough nights and demanding days. Moreover, Sara has personally dealt with various medical conditions that impacted her son’s sleep. She has been in the trenches and know how important the right support can be.

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Appreciation

Elizabeth Nalle

So in the spirit of appreciation, I thought I would share a part of Christina’s story that she posted on her Instagram account @christina_sleepyonhudson). Christina brings her A game to her work and her passion for taking care of mothers and their babies knows no bounds. She is tireless and patient. Her two young boys and sweet hubby are lucky to have her — and so are we!

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Schedule actually IS important

Elizabeth Nalle

Before I had my son (14 years ago), I had the Instagram version of me as a mother running through my head (even though Instagram was still a decade away). I thought I would be chill, relaxed, and have my son follow my cues and hang with me - eat when he needed and of course sleep anywhere.

Let’s just say that this version didn’t unfold as I hoped it would.

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Summer Sleep??? You've got this!

Elizabeth Nalle

Whether you have just sleep trained, not ready for sleep training, or are wondering if it's even worth it because it’s summer and well, you know, we all slide of the tracks in some way or another, then please read on because YES you can have your cake (or popsicle) and eat it too.

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Three Changes You Can Make Today (It's OK, You Can Start Tomorrow) to Improve Sleep

Elizabeth Nalle

Admittedly, as a sleep consultant, I help most of my clients prepare for, implement, and maintain new sleep routines -- in other words, I help parents teach their children how to go to sleep and back to sleep using detailed plans that are tailored expressly for the individual children.  However I find that a huge part of my work happens behind the scenes focusing on all of the elements that play a role in good sleep whether you sleep train or not.

I sorted through my lists of products, reached out to my team members, and considered my recent conversations with clients who are probably in the same shoes as you and have come up with three essential steps to improving sleep without requiring ridiculous hoops to jump through.

Change #1 -- My 3 month old has stopped napping, or if he does it is just for 20 minutes at a time!

Between 10-12 weeks, you can start to skip the micro nap and establish a pattern that combines eating and sleeping but doesn’t always link the two.  For many babies, feeding and comfort overlap; this is a good thing!  However sometimes it is so comfortable that they sleep/eat rather than just eat.  As a result, you get a micro nap (I call it a disco nap), your baby eats, sleeps while eating, and now is not tired enough to sleep easily and well for his real nap happening an hour and change later.  

To skip the micro nap, aim to feed your baby 15-20 minutes after he wakes up in the morning or from his most recent nap.  Make sure he is awake, hungry, and then engage with touch and voice while he is eating.  Touch his cheek, his hair, and chat.  If he is closing his eyes and no longer actively swallowing, then he is micro napping.  Take out the bottle or shift your position/location and start over.  Give it some practice, but it can help.

Change #2 -- My baby is too hot, he’s too cold, I need to check on him

What if there was a swaddle or a sleep sack that guaranteed the best temperature?  Well, good news, there is!  At sleepy on hudson, we are big, big fans of the sleep products at Little Lotus because they solve the problem of the over active heating/drafty house, and they do it with well designed sleep sacks and swaddles that improve sleep right from the get go.  They have the research up on their website to support this, and I can tell you that I am hearing the same from our clients.

Even better, Little Lotus is mission based.  They don’t just help us with our too hot/too cold houses making sleep for our baby just right (à la Goldilocks), they also help infants and babies in developing countries using their Embrace incubator.  I just love the idea that while your baby is comfortable sleeping at home, there is an infant in the developing world with access to an incubator bettering his chances to thrive.

Change #3 -- Have someone else take over bedtime or one nap time

I know, I know, you are the only one who can put your baby to bed.  Why?  Because you are good at it; in fact you are the best.  However doesn’t your partner deserve the chance to improve just a little bit?  Or your friend, or your mother in law?  If you step out of the routine (and I mean truly step out, not coach from the door), your loved one can do it.  It might be rocky at first, but after a few nights, a few naps, it will work.   So finish your feeding if you are breast feeding, and leave.  Go to bed, meet up with a friend, take a yoga class -- if you need more ideas, I have plenty ;)

Why does this help?  Your baby is ready to learn new ways to self regulate and is even open to it, if you give him the chance.  As your baby learns to sleep without your bouncing, boob, or rocking, he can discover his other innate calming abilities.  He might start sucking his fingers, his hands -- all essential tools for better soothing and better sleep.

What we do during the day ...

Elizabeth Nalle

Lindsay and I thought it would be fun to feature some of the amazing women we meet and work with in and around sleepy on hudson.  Because it is summer, and it is fun to take a break, we decided to look a bit beyond naps and nights and consider what other women/mothers are doing during the day.  

We are kicking it off with women is business, and we are narrowing our focus to photographers.  These three women behind the lens are so gifted and kind.  Each in their own unique way has gone above and beyond to help sleepy on hudson, and we are so grateful.

We have been super busy over here at Sleepy and have had an incredible time working with a few local photographers on some exciting projects.  We are so grateful and awed by these three women; we just have to share their work!  We hope you will consider them for any of your upcoming family photos or maybe even some business projects of your own ...  

In the Beacon/Hudson Valley area, check out Artistically Amy.  She did a phenomenal job working with Lindsay to shoot some of our favorite baby products.  A little further south and close to NYC, we love Alison Sheehy for her incredible head shots and family work.  She has this amazing gift to make you feel (and look) beautiful.  Finally we must give a big shout of support to Darrah Shea who jumped in and did a fantastic job shooting our story for DockAtot.  This girl knows how to get to work done and problem solve even when sprinklers start going off during a family picnic shoot.  Love her!

Taking sleep on the road -- packing essentials series, tip #1

Elizabeth Nalle

Whether you are planning to travel next week or in a few months, you are probably starting to wonder how sleep is going to work in this new place.  It might be lighter, noisier, smaller, and possibly super disruptive to your current family sleep situation.  Sounds fun, right?

At sleepy on hudson, we take our vacations seriously (when we can take them), and that's why we are sharing some of our favorite, beloved travel essentials.  Who knows, maybe you will want some of these awesome products in your every day life when you get back.

Let's talk temperature -- this is one of the toughest travel environment hurdles out there.  Some hotel rooms are freezing and impossible to regulate, and on the flip side, some sea side resorts can get quite muggy for you and your baby.

How do you keep your baby at just the right temperature so he can sleep well, even better?  Our friends at Little Lotus Baby solved this problem.  Using NASA inspired technology designed for astronauts, they created the perfect swaddle and sleep sack to keep your baby warm when he needs it and cools him should the room heat up.  You have to check it out!  Their company also has a great mission making and shipping incubators to be used in the 3rd world, using the same technology in the swaddles and sleep sacks.  

You can read about them here: www.littlelotusbaby.com and save 20% on your purchase here: http://www.sleepyonhudson.com/r-and-p/. Enter code SLEEPY20 when you make your purchase.  We think that this vacation item has a pretty big chance of becoming your go to swaddle/sleep sack even at home! 

Really?

Elizabeth Nalle

Maybe this has happened to you?  (If you are reading a blog about sleep, then probably at least one of these scenarios has been on your radar screen.)

  • You baby who is the most impossible napper takes a two hour nap with your mother in law but with you only sleeps 15 minutes.
  • Your two year old will only nap with your nanny, but with you on the weekends?  Forget it.
  • You have (well, now, 'had') a perfect sleeper for months and months, and now that child you have been bragging about is waking up 3 times a night.

Needless to say, I could go on and on with scenarios like these, and I am just drawing from my own experiences with my children.  Why?  What happened?  In honor of April Fool's Day, we thought it would be fun to point out how our children mess with us, and what we can do about it.

  1. It is pretty much a fact that after a certain age, our children behave better and yes sleep better for others.  This is why they go down easier and sleep longer for a care giver.  Don't despair.  Honestly in life you want your children to be their best selves when engaging with the outside world.  What can you do?  If you want your child to nap on the weekends with you, then you have to work hard to be consistent and structured so that she learns that you mean business too.  Allow a busy morning or awake period, offer a calming wind down, and then do your sleep routine and stick with it even when you get push back.  It takes practice and repetition, but it will get there (it just takes longer).
  2. What happened to your perfect sleeper?  Our guess is that he went from perfect to not so perfect for a distinct reason or a combination of reasons -- usually it is due to a developmental leap combined with sickness/teething/travel.  You can get your good sleeper back, but you have to reset a bit and sometimes even retrain.  I know this sounds daunting, but it is critical that your child learns how to sleep again now that he can pull to stand or now that he has finally gotten those three teeth in.  Just craft a plan that will work for you sleeper now that he can stand or roll or talk, and then just like before, start at bedtime and be consistent (confidence helps too?).  We can of course help you with this!
  3. Why are the long naps suddenly short?  Again, like above, something is probably affecting your sleeper when she hits a light sleep cycle.  Just focus on how she goes down to begin with, and give it some time, they should lengthen out.  You can also take a closer look at your schedule, if you feel that the timing is off.  Finally, give her 10-15 minutes to see if she can go back when she wakes after a short nap.

Finally, April Fool's Day holds a special place in my heart and will forever because, on this day, I jumped in cab with my giant hospital bag 100% sure I was in active labor with my son.  They sent me home.  The joke was on me.  I wasn't laughing.  He was born the next day.

Can you feel it coming?

Elizabeth Nalle

Last week I was freezing in Sunny Southern California while my friends posted pictures at beaches in New York.  Whacky weather or not, we have to admit spring is approaching and with spring our favorite (or not so favorite depending on your sleeper) time change.  Here are some tips to see you through!

1. DO NOTHING (this is my favorite, because I always mean to do something but very often end up doing nothing): That's right.  Just put them to bed at the old time and let them wake up to the new time.  Run your day on the new time, moving meals, snacks, and naps to the new time.  Bedtime might be a little rocky for a few days, but maybe this is your chance to get that super early sleeper to bed a little bit later.  This also might be time to experience a day without that impossible 3rd nap.  This approach takes a day or two to even out and is better for more flexible sleepers.

2. DO SOMETHING in advance (this for those of you who are 'on it'): Start moving towards the new time 15 minutes each day.  The key here is to move everything 15 minutes - meals, snacks, bottles, nursing, naps, and of course bedtime.  You will be living your new schedule and feeling very comfortable come Monday morning when the rest of the world is a little off their game.

3. DO SOMETHING after the fact (this is for those of you who couldn't get on it, have a sensitive sleeper, and need to do small steps to get adjusted): The time will change and you are going to react to this change slowly but surely.  You will back into the new time each day by 15 minutes, moving everything closer to the new time, hoping to get there in 3-5 days.  Here is an example: It is 7pm new time (but feels like 6pm old time).  Your baby isn't tired until 8pm new time.  If you want that 7pm bedtime, then put him to bed at 7:45 new time, then 7:30, then 7:15, then 7.  

Hope this all makes sense.  For some reason, time change instructions make my head hurt and feel like I am doing logic problems with little success.

Good luck and have fun!

Sibling Rivalry and Sleep - sleep survival guide

Elizabeth Nalle

First of all, don't freak out, this will come together, and yes, you can and will get everyone sleeping again.  Easier said than done, right?  Here are some of our essential tips for preparing your toddler for his or her new baby brother/sister.

  • Work on building your older child's sleep independence.  This is essential before the new baby comes because if you have to lie with your 2 year old for him to fall asleep and he comes to your bed in the middle of the night, how is that going to work when the new baby comes?  Construct a bedtime plan that ends with you leaving the room before your older child is asleep.  Have a plan for what to do when he leaves the room or protests in anyway.  Make sure you have the timing right, maybe her long afternoon nap means she needs a later bedtime?  After you have your plan in place, get to work, be consistent, and diligent.  Work first on bedtime and then address any lingering middle of the night wake ups.  We also can help you with this!
  • If you plan to room share, then set a realistic time line.  You might have the infant with you for a few months and in that case it's not worth stressing about this now.  You will have a much better sense of what needs to happen, when you are ready to move the baby.  You can always have your infant/baby nap in the room he/she will eventually share with your older child.  Also don't take your older child out of his crib just yet.  It really is better to wait until he is older, and your infant will probably not need the crib for a while.
  • Now is a great time to have your partner take on some of your sleep load.  If you are the only one who can put your older child to bed, then begin to be out of the house every now and then at bedtime to allow your partner success at putting your older sleeper to bed.  Once he or she is good at this, then you can start to alternate bedtimes.
  • Let your older child tell you or show you when he wants to talk about the baby.  Have books around or baby dolls mixed in with his other toys.  It can be very overwhelming if you constantly bring it up.  
  • Decide how you will get help for the baby so you can give  your older child one on one attention after the baby is born.  Remember it is about quality not quantity.  An attachment theory expert once explained you really just need 20 minutes minimum of uninterrupted time.  Leave your phone in the kitchen, set a timer if you need, and then get down on the floor and play.
  • Finally the months before baby comes are far harder for you and your toddler than the months that follow.  It is all so abstract and quite simply impossible to understand for both you.  This unsettled feeling is at the root of a lot of your child's behavioral struggles.  Offer a good balance of structure, routine, and of course love and comfort.

Fake it, til' you make it.

Elizabeth Nalle

 

Lindsay and I just had our weekly meeting.  Despite her possible sinus infection and pre-holiday exhaustion, she looks great.  We of course got to talking about how to fake it when you are exhausted.  This might not be the time of year to take on official sleep training, so you might want to just fake it until you can get to the time and place when you and your baby or toddler are truly ready to go.  Until then, here are some tips to trick your friends and family and possibly yourself that you are rested and ready to take on the world or at least your next holiday event.

1. Wake up your eyes with under eye concealer and mascara and brighten your face with a game changing tinted moisturizer.

2. Don't over nap!  You just need 15-20 minutes to power up and survive.

3.  Invest in a great post-partum and/or nursing top or dress that makes you feel like your old self.  Lindsay just admitted that she would wear this dress right now even though she isn't pregnant or nursing.

4.  Love a great dry shampoo for days when you can't get the shower in!

5.  Braids can give you style when you don't have any sleep.

Wait, where do I sleep? Teaching your baby how to understand where she sleeps and goes back to sleep

Elizabeth Nalle

Raise your virtual hand if you have ever done one or all of the following: woken up on the couch with no idea why you are there, woken up on the bathroom floor, the kitchen floor, or even someone else’s bed.  Usually as soon as you fully wake up you realize and remember how you got there.  Let’s be honest though that moment is quite startling to think you are somewhere and indeed you are not.  Usually you make it back to your bed and eventually go back to sleep (ideally).

 

At sleepy on hudson, we talk a lot about a phenomenon that we call ‘waking up on the kitchen floor’ when it comes to baby and toddler sleep.  As we believe that it is just as startling to wake up in your crib or your bed all by yourself if you remember quite well falling asleep with and on Mom or Dad.  We will get right to the point ... If you want your baby to sleep in his crib, then he needs to learn how to go to sleep and back to sleep in his crib.

 

Please know that when we were given this advice as mothers ourselves we knew it was right, but trust me we were not excited about the prospect.  It is daunting to think that you need to switch up a routine that might for the moment sometimes, kind of work.  Who knows, maybe it works for you, and you can transfer your baby no problem.  However if every time you put your baby down, she cries as soon as she hits the mattress, or is up 20 minutes later, then maybe it’s time to consider this next step.  

 

Here are some quick tips to teach your baby not only where she sleeps but also where she goes to sleep.

 

Have a clear routine with a beginning, middle and end before every nap and bedtime.

Have a sequence that you do with your baby as soon as you put him down.  Maybe you sing a song, rub a belly or shush 10 times - it’s your sequence do what works for you.

Don’t just do it one time (trust me you will want to give up).  Do it every time when you are using the crib for a nap!  Babies are fabulous students; they just need the lesson.

If you are worried about crying then start when she is already asleep and rouse her as she goes in and then shush or pat her back down.  

You can start small.  It is totally fine to start super super super drowsy.  Just focus on progress from there.

Make sure your baby is ready for this (and that you are too).  Every baby is different; however you can start this around 2 months on the early side or between 4-6 months -- really anytime!  Also this is great for a partner to do or a sitter if you worry it will be too hard.

Finally we love gear that can facilitate this process.  The Dockatot is a sleepy on hudson favorite, of course a good white noise machine, and maybe a crib soother or mobile?

 

If you need more individualized tips, you can find Lindsay and Brooke at www.sleepyonhudson.com

 

Good luck!