Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 


NYC
USA

iStock_19977674_MEDIUM.jpg

the crib sheet

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!

How to handle the time change (gracefully) ...

Elizabeth Nalle

The World Series is on, the Halloween costumes have been worn and photographed, and we are deep into the Halloween candy -- must be time for the Fall time change.

At Sleepy On Hudson, we keep it simple, there are 3 ways to handle it.  Just pick your path and go for it -- in the mean time, petition your local senator to work on getting rid of these crazy time changes once and for all!

1. DO NOTHING (this is Brooke's favorite, because she always means to do something but very often ends up doing nothing): That's right.  Just put them to bed at the old time and let them wake up to the new time (it will be too early).  Run your day on the new time, moving meals, snacks, and naps to the new time.  The early wake ups might continue for a few days, but maybe you can squeeze in later nap and push bedtime a bit later.  This approach takes a day or two to even out and is better for more flexible sleepers.  It also works well with older children.

2. DO SOMETHING in advance (this is for those of you who are 'on it' like Lindsay:  She suggests 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 Sunday 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 this week, 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 move into the new time each day by 15 minutes, moving everything closer to the new time, hoping to get there in 3-5 days.  For example, your baby has been going to bed at 6:30 old time, 5:30 new time.  Put him to bed at 5:45, 6, 6:15, and then finally 6:30.  If he used to wake at 6am old time, 5am new time.  Get him up but don't feed him until 5:15, 5:30 and try to get that first nap to start 15 minutes later.  Make sense?  Kind of?

Good luck!

if the Brady's could do it, why can't we?

Brooke Nalle

The Brady Bunch was my favorite tv show when I was little.  To me, their mix of family fun and drama (always resolved) was perfect.  For some reason, I was especially fascinated with the room sharing dynamic.  I used to watch all 3 sisters climbing into their respective beds with relative ease and good will and wonder just how they did it without fighting and disrupted sleep (I guess I was destined for my profession).  In fact, room sharing is all over family tv shows and movies; it just seems so natural, so fun, filled with a good balance of sibling hijinks and love.

When I became a parent of one child and then two and then three children, I quickly fell out of love with room sharing and then slowly came around and fell back in love with room sharing after a lot of heart ache, misery, anxiety and overall mixed feelings.  I just didn't see how it could work, but then very slowly with time and patience and back up plans, it did start to work and has worked well ever since.  It has over the years become just what I saw on those shows - a mix of hijinks and love with a lot of fights and reconciliations thrown in for good measure.  How did this tale that started off pretty badly get turned around and end well?  Here are the important lessons that I learned therefore tips for you to make it work.

 

  1. It takes time.  It will not go well the first week, it will get better the second week, and it will feel normal after a month.
  2. Plan for every scenario.  Say to yourself, "if Mary screams and wakes up the baby, I will...," and have an answer.  I find taking out the older child is usually the better call.  Give them a neutral place to be until they can be a better room sharing partner.  
  3. Babies tend to do better if they are allowed to stay in their crib even if they make noise.  If you constantly rescue them every time they make a noise, then it will inevitably get worse.
  4. If you need to sleep train your younger first, do it in his new room (with the older sibling enjoying a sleep-over elsewhere in your home or even elsewhere, grandma's?)
  5. Prepare your older sibling, tell her what it will be like and how to respond.  Explain that you hear the baby and that she - - big sister -- doesn't need to listen to her sister or brother.  Instead, she can ... give her a concrete activity such as, 'roll over, hug your kitty, and go back to sleep.'
  6. Have an alternate sleep space prepared, if your big kid is really bothered by an early wake up from his brother, move the baby to a travel crib if absolutely necessary OR move your older sleeper to a cot or nest in another room or hallway, preferably not your room.
  7. Trust that they will be able to sleep through more than you might imagine.  Use white noise, and give them the chance to learn each others noises.
  8. Figure out bedtime and practice how to be quiet or whisper - - if your older one comes in after the younger is asleep.  Use flashlights, headlamps, a light up turtle or special nightlight to give him some feelings of bedtime in his room, in his bed.
  9. If your older one is purposefully waking up the baby to get to you (been there), take him out and let him wait until he is ready to do bedtime properly.  Don't let him sit on the couch and watch tv with you (you are just rewarding the behavior).  Instead have some sort of neutral space to take a break -- kind of like a bedtime time-out.  Explain the structure and consequence before you start.
  10. Point out how siblings share rooms.  As mentioned above, it's in most books and tv shows about family.  Also listen to concerns and validate them.  Create a special big boy or big girl space either in the room or elsewhere in your home, so your older child doesn't feel like he is losing his things and his space.

 

Please believe me that this does work.  It does get sorted out, and you will be AMAZED by what they can sleep through.

 

Good luck!

reflections on the hardest and best decade of my life

Brooke Nalle

Happy Birthday to me!  Sorry I had to say it, but once you are a mom you have to take over celebrating yourself because the loved ones in your life aren't mature enough to put their needs to the side and remember that it is your birthday.  My husband did a good job; he should, he's not 10, he's 40.  He made me breakfast, coffee too, took over bathtime and let me read the paper.  The next day after my birthday dinner, he made me breakfast again.  It is awfully nice just sitting down in your own home and having someone serve you a meal.  It makes me realize how grateful my children should be.  I do it for them ALL OF THE TIME.  

People keep asking me how it feels to be 40, and I say fantastic because I am happy to move a step or two away from my 30s.  Those years were hard, really hard.  I also feel a bit sad because they were also really good and life changing.  Rather than go on and on, I will organize my decade as clearly as I can so that I can move on and get ready for this decade which I am guessing will be hard and good in other ways (not sure what they are yet but everyone says having teenagers is really hard, ugh).

My 30s were hard because:

1. I had 3 pregnancies, 3 labors, and 3 recoveries.

2. I had to figure out boob - bottle - and back again.

3.  I felt guilty that I had to use formula for my first.

4. I felt resentful that I and only I could nurse/feed my other two.

5. I had to go back to work and balance a 5 month old who didn't sleep with a career that demanded 150% of me.

6.  I had to leave a career that I loved and had worked hard to achieve.

7. My husband drove me crazy, and we had some tough moments.

8. I left the city for the suburbs.

9. I had to make friends ... again.

10. I had to clean up a lot, a lot, a tremendous amount of vomit.

 

My 30s were amazing because:

1. I had 3 pregnacies, 3 labors, and 3 healthy babies - - this is a gift, a true blessing.

2. I experienced first steps, first words, cuddles, smiles, and gratitude.

3. I got to teach fabulous 7th graders, then tutor amazing adolescents, and finally find my calling.

4. I got to make new friends and keep the old ones (that's a song right?)

5. I got to watch my husband become a father and thrive, and we have had some amazing times together through our better and even our worst.

6. I got to feel the relief when teeth finally came in and cheer when they fell out 5-6-7-10 years later.

7. I found my stride in the suburbs and stopped looking at apartment listings.

8. I trained and started sleepy on hudson.

9. I met my clients, their babies, their partners.

10. I learned that I am resilient and stronger than I ever thought, so primed and ready for the next 10 years.

 

thank you...

don't stress summertime sleep

Brooke Nalle

or maybe just stress less!

Here are a few tips to make trips with your sleepers a little easier:

 

  • Plan your trips around nap times.  You can also drive at night.  If sleeping in the car is a disaster no matter what you do, then drive in the morning so you can have the afternoon to get back on track and settled before bedtime.
  • Pack like a crazy lady.  Bring whatever gear your baby or toddler might use at home (within reason), bring his white noise machine, any lovies, special pajamas, etc.
  • Put all of the sleep stuff in your bag so the crib sheet and pajamas smell lke you.
  • Get the room and all kinks ironed out before bedtime.  
  • As soon as the crib is set up, put your baby in there to play.  Let him see it, smell it, touch it etc.  
  • Make sure your baby is truly exhausted before you put him down for the night and/or naps.  
  • Although you need her tired, take some time 15 minutes or so to unwind and decompress before bed.
  • If you can normally walk out of the room at home after saying good night, you might need to hang out closer to the crib for the first few nights or naps to help your sleeper feel secure.
  • If you end up breaking all of the rules, you can get it back when you get home.  Just be super consistent and focused as soon as you get back.
  • If you have a kind relative offering to do a nap or bedtime, then let that person spend some good quality time with your baby before they take on this endeavor.
  • Naps on the go are fine!
  • Good luck and try to have fun!

 

The worst sleep advice out there!

Brooke Nalle

Let's face it.  In life, there are people and places that give terrible advice, about anything and everything.  When I was in college, a girl at the dining hall revealed her big weight loss secret to a bunch of us struggling with the freshman 15: stop eating fat and only eat carbs.  I thought that was brilliant and happily gobbled down 2 bagels covered in jam for the next 9 months for most meals.  Let's just say I neither looked nor felt healthy.

The bad advice continued through my 20s (a lot of it revolved around careers and cocktails) and then when I hit my 30s the parenting bad advice started.

I should pause here though, because I have gotten a lot of fabulous advice these past several decades.  I could write a lot about the good advice coming from very wise and resourceful friends, but that might be boring (at least for the purpose of this little missive).

That said, I could write pages and pages on bad parenting advice, but tonight I will narrow my focus.  

So here you go...

The top 10 WORST Sleep Tips...

1. Keep your baby up all day so he will sleep at night.

2. My baby slept through the night at 8 weeks; I bet yours is ready too!

3. Give him rice cereal to keep him full all night.

4. Let her sleep in a loud noisy environment; life is loud and noisy.

5. You are a bad mother if you let her cry.

6. You are a bad mother if you bring him into your bed.

7. Keep her up super late, and then she will sleep super late.

8. Just do cry it out until it works.

9. You are a bad mother if you don't let him cry.

10. It is too late to sleep train; you might as well accept your situation.

I am sure you all could add to this list, it's just a start.

 

 

It's here! Springing forward - - one step closer to spring

Brooke Nalle

As I write this, I am looking at the tundra outside my office window, wondering just what is waiting for me under all of that snow.  A friend of mine just discovered a racoon popsicle on her deck and is going to have to remove it with the spring thaw.  She is not thrilled, and I am now wondering about the possum who lives or lived under our deck.  Either way, bring on the spring thaw and let's get these kids outside, moving around, getting some vitamin D, and better sleep.

To kick off the spring, here are my top three tips for handling the time change:

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 scheudle 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 this week, 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!

I am selfish

Brooke Nalle

I feel guilty.  Is it selfish?  I really wanted to be a mother, but I am just so tired.  I miss my old life, my pre-baby body, my Saturday mornings, my Thursday nights.  I know I shouldn't look forward to work, but I need to get out of here! 

Let me be clear, just because you wanted to and for many of you fought hard to become a parent, it doesn't mean that you have to punish yourself for the next I don't know 18-30 years.  You should miss these things, these memories of adventure, energy, endless weekends, thrilling professional opportunities, cute outifts for a night out, or even better a new bikini for a get away.  I sure do miss them.  I look at pictures of myself 10 years ago, and I can't help but say out loud again and again, "wow, I looked so young".  

I am going to go out on a limb and say that we should more often tap into these memories, these desires for independence, for accomplishment outside the nursery walls.  It is not weak to want your baby to sleep so that you can sleep.  It is not selfish to look at and even apply for jobs that you know you shouldn't consider.  In fact, if I ran an online diaper company website, I would sell cute clothes, shoes, and accessories for moms so that my customers could get one small break from ordering wipes and lotions and of course diapers.  

I love being a mother, but I am not a martyr.  I complain a lot and look for ways to catch a break here or there.  I started small - - a detour from the grocery store to get a cup of coffee before I got home, dinner by myself.  On the sleep front, I took work that required me to be out of the house at bedtime and believe it or not, my husband was able to put the children to bed without me.  In fact, I think Loewy was a better sleeper because of it.  I met friends for a quick drink after work, and boy oh boy I was tired the next day, but I was happy. 

I work with women who need to work to feel better, and I work with women who need to not work to feel better.  I help families who have no choice but to work and wish they could change that.  These parents might initially seem very different, but they do have quite a bit in common.  They all feel guilty for wanting or having to work (or not work); they all feel selfish for wanting to sleep and get a break.  I understand that.  I wish I could change it, but I can't even get rid of my own guilt about working, needing a break.  However I can say with confidence that I respect a parent who is willing to say that this is tough, much tougher than she thought it would be.  Honestly, I think the choice to take a moment and be kind to yourself is heroic and one of the best things you can do as a parent.

I am thankful for ...

Brooke Nalle

Every day I drop Loewy off at pre-school I walk by the beautiful class projects that adorn the hallways.  I love to see what everyone is being for Halloween, which play dough color won the vote on election day, and my personal favorite, what each child is thankful for.  Like many of us, they are thankful for their families, their siblings, and like many of us they are thankful for fun things too, "my toys", is a popular one.

This morning Loewy proudly pointed out her piece a rainbow and grass drawing - her two favorite subjects - and I read her submission, "I am thankful for my birthday".  I smiled because naturally she loves this day that celebrates her, and shouldn't we all be a little more thankful for our own grown up birthdays?  

Back in the car, I started to consider whether I, like Loewy, am thankful for my birthday.  This is tough to answer because this year's birthday was pretty epically horrible in a very mom way.  I'll go in order of the day:

1. 4am wake up to take Loewy to the bathroom (her winter pjs make it almost impossible for her to do it herself).

2. Never able to get back to sleep because sadly now that my children sleep, I sometimes can't.

3. Alistair emerges with a fever, call to the doctor.

4. Take Alistair to the doctor and then drive myself to the doctor to deal with a sinus infection that won't go away.

5. Decide to turn the day around and take Alistair and Loewy out to lunch.

6. Loewy doesn't eat, just picks at her food (see photo).

7. Grumpy afternoon, leave early for birthday dinner.

8. Parallel parking on a very busy and dark street, finally into the spot, to turn my head and watch Loewy projectile vomit her lunch, milkshake included (see photo), all over me, the car, and her sister.

9. Home to clean the car and eat pizza picked up by my husband.

10. To bed, happy to end this birthday.

Later via email, I grimly recounted this tale to my husband's Aunt Kerry (an uber mom of 4 amazing, now grown up, boys).  She sagely remarked, "Wow, that was a perfect mom day."  She was right, so right.

Loewy is on to something.  I am thankful for my birthday because these experiences reminded me of who I have become these last 10 years.  I like the difference of celebrating a birthday as a mom as compared to the all about me celebrations I celebrated my first 29 years.  I won't lie to you it was not a pleasant day, and I was exhausted by the end.  I also am eagerly planning my escape to a spa day my husband generously purchased for me for my birthday- a chance to forget being a mom, even if it's just for a few hours.

Happy Thanksgiving!

we went on vacation and forgot to pack sleep

Brooke Nalle

Fireworks, in multiple locations, multiple nights in a row?  A pack and play that is safe but super uncomfortable?  Naps on the go for your crib sleeper?  Does your family think letting your baby cry is the worst thing in the world?  Or does your family think you don't let your baby cry enough?

Sound familiar?

Here are some tips to save (what's left) of your vacation or to help you get your next vacation a little more vacation-like:

1. If your child is refusing, really refusing to nap with you, i.e. screeching in the pack and play while you deal with the awkward silence from your relatives or freaked out fellow guests, take him out, change his diaper, feed him, calm him down, reset his buttons, and try again about 45 minutes later.  This time sit quiety in the room where he can see you and shush/sing quiety, reassuringly.

2. Make use of an experienced friend or relative - I recently had the pleasure of helping my sister in law with my nephew's naptime.  It really was a pleasure for me (crazy, right?), and she was able to get a break.  As soon as her son realized he was getting my loving arms, not hers, he decided that maybe a nap was a good idea after all.  The same applies for bedtime.

3.  Give your baby as many safe reminders of home as possible - same white noise, same lovey, same book.  Give it 3 nights, and bedtime should get better, naps too.

4.  Either sit by the door or near the crib, reassure your baby in this new environment, you can then progress to just outside the door or check-ins every now and then.

5. Check out local babysitting services.  We recently attended a wedding on Block Island, and I was really impressed with the babysitters available to help us.  They were very experienced and happily took on our routines and sleep expectations.  

Your baby is self-soothing for sleep if she ...

Brooke Nalle

Raise your hand (virtually) if your baby ~

thrashes his head back and forth in the crib,

lifts up her feet and slams them down on the mattress,

hums or moans in the crib,

pushes her face hard up against any hard surface,

scoots to the crib railing and sleeps pushed up against them in a seemingly very uncomfortable position.

 This is just a partial list of activities that your baby does to self-regulate (get physically, mentally, and emotionally comfortable) so that she can fall asleep and sleep well for a cycle or two and eventually more.  So let your baby slam his legs, sing, moan, scoot to the side of the crib; if you give him the space to get himself comfortable on his own then you will be creating a healthy, happy, and independent sleeper.  Next time you want to readjust your baby, just imagine how mad you would be if you finally got comfortable and someone moved you to the other end of your bed.  

As long as your baby is safe, then let him enjoy and express his free will in the crib.

How to bribe ... I mean, incentivize, your sleeper(s)

Brooke Nalle

I will cut right to the chase here.  I have had personally very little success bribing my children to stay in bed later, stay in their rooms, rest quietly during nap time.  Professionally, I have seen very few families have solid success with incentive programs.  I have heard of promised toys, promised treats, even promised vacations - trip to Disney World if you stay in your room until 7.  I also have seen (and engaged in myself admittedly) empty threats, promised cancellations for play dates, loss of tv, loss of iPad, and so on.

That said, they could work.  I can say so with confidence because it's working for me right now in my house!  Granted my son is older and his incentives are about doing homework, piano practice, and being nice to his sister.

 

Here's my advice: 

make your incentive small and immediate - if you stay in your room until 6am (for example) you can have a treat at breakfast, a special surprise ... pancakes with Hershey kisses?  A new creature from a creature tube?  A temporary tattoo?
do not threaten to take away anything in the heat of the moment because you probably will not be able to stick to it in the morning.
make sure that your prize isn't too hard to earn or too conceptual - sometimes a trip to the toy store doesn't make as much sense to your child as you think it might.  
put some prizes in some sort of see through container that can visually motivate your child.  Tell them they can pick a prize if they successfully complete their sleep challenge.


Finally - make your sleep challenge or goal realistic for your sleeper.  If he wakes up every day at 5:30, make his goal to stay in his room until 5:45, then move it to 6 and so on.  Or if you want to teach a rest time, start with 10 minutes a day and then go from there.

 

One last little nugget of advice.  Make sure that the comforts of you and/or the entertainment that you offer in the early morning isn't too much of an incentive for your sleeper to wake early.  If playing games, watching tv, or having yummy snacks is your go to plan to survive until a respectable hour, then you might want to make the early morning less fun.

spring cleaning - it's not just for your closet

Brooke Nalle

Once again we are approaching a good season for change.  Spring is coming, our clocks are springing forward, and sweet mother nature is teasing us East Coasters with one warm day and snow the next.  We spring clean our closets, our homes, and why not, our lives, our partners, our children, our sleepers.

This crib sheet is dedicated to those of you who are trying desprately to change something ... to spring forward and tackle a sleep challenge that has been beating you up all winter.

If you are trying to change early rising ... embrace this new time change, but remember move your naps and your meals too, shift the whole day.  Use the daylight to adjust your child's clock - get him out in the fresh air and sunshine (hopefully) to set these new patterns.

If you are trying to change naps ... think carefully about where you want your baby/toddler to nap and teach them how to nap there, figure out the best awake interval, and tackle one nap a day offering a back up or emergency nap for the non training naps.  That said, if you rock - hold to sleep and want to teach crib napping then avoid rocking and holding for naps that are not going well.  You also should not rescue your napper just because his nap in the crib was too short.  By this I mean don't run in when he wakes, pick him up and rock him back to sleep.

If you have a baby or toddler in your bed, and you are ready to move them to their own bed or crib, then consider the following:

 

  • Are you really ready, 100% ready, so that you can respond calmly with conviction that you support this chage.
  • Will your toddler understand this switch?  If so, go for it!  He will still protest, but at least he undersands what you are doing and why (you can tell him).
  • Is your sleeper too young to understand stay in your bed all night (under 2/2.5 years usually), then come up with a good way to keep her safe and secure in her room or keep her in the crib until she gets it.

 

If you are trying to change your bedtime routine, make it calmer, more efficient, then think about what you dread the most.  Bathtime?  Move it to an earlier time, even before dinner.  Endless books?  Earlier in the day, before dinner ideally, choose the 3 books you plan to read at bedtime, but them in a special place and only read those books, no  matter what.

Finally whatever change you are working on, tell a friend, tell your partner, get some moral support and maybe some good advice.  Create accountability for this project.

Just think once you are finished cleaning up sleep in your house, you will have so much more energy to devote to other spring cleaning projects (taxes, files, drawers, garages, baby clothes....).

Good luck!

 

giving the gift of sleep

Brooke Nalle

Like many of you, my holiday season isn't feeling too festive yet.  I am working, parenting, working and parenting, and I am not really sure how I am going to get my holiday game on.  So to kick off the holiday spirit, I am going to offer a few little sleep nuggets to help you and your family this holiday season.  

1. If you want your son or daughter to sleep through the night, then you need to help them learn at bedtime ... not at 1 in the morning (for the first time).  No one likes that kind of surprise, especially a baby or a toddler.

2. You don't need to cry it out, but you do need to be consistent and confident.  Whatever approach you try, do it consistently for at least 3 nights - and start at bedtime!

3.  Naps and nighttime are apples and oranges - work on bedtime first and hold your baby and get cozy for naps.  Let them sleep during the day so they will be ready and feeling less frazzled at bedtime.  You also will feel better if you didn't listen to a crying baby all day.

4. Don't let your mother, sister, brother-in-law, babysitter (or your best friend) tell you what to do about sleep - do what feels right for you and your sleeper.

5. Travel with reminders of home for your sleeper - bring the white noise, the sheet (if you can), the lovey, and so on.  Offer naps on the go and offer your sleeper a little more support if she needs it.  This isn't a regression; this is a vacation (HA!*)

6. If you have a very strong feed to sleep association that you need to change, then use your partner or a beloved family member or babysitter, and let them teach your baby a new way to go to sleep.  It will take about 3 nights, and you will be amazed by your sleeper's new skills.

7. Finally, give yourself a break, accept and love the 'mess'.  My uncle Dini calls it, 'x-mess'.  The New Year is right around the corner, and who doesn't love a good resolution?

 

*travel with children is a trip, not a vacation, to clarify