It used to be believed that you were teaching a baby to cry more if you picked them up when they cried, thinking that that baby will learn to cry to get attention. The opposite has been proven to be true.
When you pick up a crying child, you are helping them to regulate (co-regulation) and they will, as a result, be more resilient, especially when this attention is given in the first year.
When a toddler, ages 1.5, 2, 3 (or sometimes older too), has a meltdown and is crying, it is often related to autonomy and security. Their idea of independence and having a lack of physical ability to accomplish what they are imagining themselves doing. They need your positive attention, picking them up, responding with love and patience, please don’t feel threatened. It’s not about you.
Dr. Jean-Victor Wittenberg,(child psychiatrist and Head of the Infant Psychiatry Program at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and Co-Chair of Infant Mental Health Promotion (IMHP) which provides teaching for front-line professionals and develops advocacy initiatives on behalf of infant mental health), recently stated that you don’t need to squelch that behavior. When they are having a meltdown, It’s about them and their development and personal frustration and insecurities. By helping them regulate, offering help and concern, hugs and attention, it helps them know that this world is a good place and you are not going anywhere. You child may be realizing there are relationships outside of yours and theirs and they are insecure about it. You need to fortify that bond for them.
It’s understandable that you want to teach good behavior but it’s the underlying regulation issues going on under the tantrum that need addressing which will bring about better long term behavior with resilience and independence.
Learning Self Regulation is a long, ongoing process and in the learning period, there is a lot of co-regulation that goes on between caregiver and child to help the child learn to control his/her emotions and modify them, or in other words, to deal with the big emotions that come with the ups and downs of life.
This is why I like gentle methods when it comes to sleep. The temperaments of babies vary and we as caregivers need to modify our responsive to give them the best chance of good mental health and life success.
Tracy Spackman is a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach
Early Rising is one of the most frustrating parts of Baby and Toddler Sleeping Issues. You have put great effort into helping your child learn sleep skills and even though they are generally sleeping through the night, the early rising is slowly killing you. (I’m being just a little dramatic)
Early Rising is when the baby or toddler wakes and can’t get back to sleep well before you are ready to wake up and start your day. More technically, it’s likely before 6am. The body’s sleep cycles are different in those early hours and it’s harder to get back to sleep anyway.
Here are the things that typically cause Early Rising and once you have identified the cause, you can work on the solution.
1. Lack of day sleep. Your child’s body has a period of time it can stay awake and when she runs out of energy, she has a sleep window. If she is not falling asleep by the end of the sleep window, her body produces a hormone called cortisol. This is the stress hormone. The fight or flight hormone reaction. It gives you an adrenaline like burst of energy. It’s hard to go to sleep for her nap with that pumping through her system and it stays in your system for a while, messing with naps and night sleep. Often causing early rising.
2. Too late bedtime. Similar to Lack of day sleep, missing your bedtime sleep window also causes a rush of cortisol and its residual affect can cause early rising.
3. Lack of sleep skills from going to bed too drowsy at bedtime. If you used a sleep crutch at bedtime, like rocking or nursing or holding to sleep, your baby didn’t get the practice relaxing their body falling asleep. She will wake between sleep cycles, that’s normal but she will need you to help her fall back to sleep, especially when falling back to sleep is the hardest in the early morning hours.
4. Lack of skills from being put to bed asleep. If you hold or rock or nurse your baby to sleep, they are in a different place when she wakes up between sleep cycles and needs you to help her fall back to sleep. Again, she has insufficient sleep skills. She may get more cortisol in the night from waking and needing help and by the early morning hours, just can’t get back to sleep.
5. Tummy discomfort from food issues. If your baby had a food sensitivity or is having a negative digestive reaction to a new food, that can often manifest in the early hours when sleep is more difficult. Have you ever woken from a bad headache or a tummy ache? It’s in the early hours that it wakes you over and over again. At least you can mostly go back to sleep. And as an adult, you likely have pretty good sleep skills. It’s a rough time.
6. Developmental milestones like crawling and walking. These are major skills that require brain and muscle changes. When your baby is working on a new skill, they want to practice this new skill when they wake up between sleep cycles. It’s a very exciting time. The sooner she masters the skill, the sooner her sleep can get back on track.
Tracy Spackman is a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach.
Call her if you need sleep help.
Has anyone on this site really has success with sleep training!?!? By using Tracy or books? Just curious because I don’t see a lot of success stories. Maybe that is because the sisters with the success no longer check in with this group??
There seems to be a lot of pressure on moms to have a quiet, sleeping through the night baby at a very young age. But in fact this is just not normal. It’s not about weight, or even weeks, it’s about developmental readiness and temperament.
In and around the 4th month of age there is a lot of cognitive development. Some babies may be ready as early as 18 weeks and others need more time to grow and bond. Follow your heart and do what you feel is best for your baby. Bond, nurse, co-sleep, wear, whatever feels safe and right. It doesn’t matter what culture, neighbors, sisters or mothers in law say about it.
The range of what a baby can do it very broad. Some babies are naturally good sleepers. Others have a difficult time shutting down their minds to sleep. Talk to your doctor and still listen to your intuition. When he says babies wake a lot at night, he’s right. And some babies wake more than others. If you are sleep deprived and going crazy, try motion naps in the stroller, swing or carrier and part of the nights in a swing laid all the way back. Does co-sleeping work for you? Would room sharing help? Be responsive.
you have other options. The No Cry Sleep Solution is a long, slow drawn out, baby step plan that works for many families. But for some families it’s too long. The Good Night Sleep Tight book by Kim West is great if you have an older baby. For younger babies, it’s too visually stimulating and not responsive enough. There are methods of camping out where you sleep in your baby’s room. Methods of touching and shushing. Methods of Picking up and putting down. So many methods. What is right for you?
I have found that there IS perfect combo of methods that works quickly and easily but definitely takes more effort than Cry It Out. Where is this book? It’s not written. It’s a combo made specifically for you child’s temperament and age. You get that from a gentle sleep coach. That’s the advantage of a sleep coach, she will tell you what to do, work with you to find the fastest and most gentle approach, tailored for your child’s needs and his parents goals.
If you are at your wits end and just need a plan, I can help. I may just help you have reasonable expectations or there maybe a few things you can do to help your baby sleep longer stretches until your baby is ready to do more. But if you are fine, keep doing what you are doing. If you don’t have a problem with the waking, it’s not a problem. I can’t believe how fast they grow. Get past the 4 month vision changes and brain development and then see how you are doing. It’s so fun when baby can see you from further away. The increased perceptiveness is exciting for your baby and very distracting. So much of the world to see. Get to at least 18 weeks and re-evaluate. If you can hold off until 6 months, even better but I understand if you can’t get that far.
If you wonder if you have realistic expectations, I can talk to you about that for free. I speak on that subject regularly at the local moms groups, hospitals and baby stores and on Facebook groups. Let me give you some coping strategies.
Take a few minutes of my time for free. 602-524-7610. Call, text or message me to set up a free 5-15 minute call. I’m here to help. If you know you are ready to make major changes and just want someone to give you step by step instructions that fit with your family goals, book a consultation and we will get you all sleeping in no time.
Certified Gentle Sleep Coach
Hi Tracy, you came and spoke at my breastfeeding support group last week and I had asked a question about when and how to transition from the swaddle. My daughter will be 14 weeks on Wednesday and loves sucking on her hands. I think she finds it soothing. She still has a little of the startle reflex but she is gaining control of her hands more and more every day. I had asked you at the group meeting how to transition out of the swaddle but I forgot what you said — something about starting with the dominant or less dominant hand out first and for how long? If you could remind me, I would be so thankful!
It’s a great question, I’m happy to help.
If you want to take it slow then start with the least dominant hand out first. Do that for up to three days and then take out the dominant arm keeping the body wrapped tightly from the chest down. Do that for about 3 days and then transition to a sleep sack.
If you want to go faster just go cold turkey and switch to the sleep sack. You will need to offer lots of extra support over three days while she gets used to it. You will have to do lots of extra pick ups at bedtime and lots of pick ups in the night. Between three and four months is a great time to do it. She needs to practice controlling her body and develop muscle control in the bed time atmosphere of her crib or wherever you’re putting her down to sleep.
Tracy Spackman is a certified gentle sleep coach with GetQuietNights.com .
Is your baby waking at night because they are hungry?
That’s the first question. The second question is, Does your baby need to eat at night?
If your baby is under 6 months old, the answer is PROBABLY! Like the baby in this picture, she needs to eat at night.
If your baby is under 9 months, you should discuss this with your doctor and your lactation consultant. Many babies are ready to go all night without eating by 7 months old but each baby is unique and eating is more important than sleeping. Many mom’s choose to do a night feeding past 12 months. That is just fine.
If you have determined that your baby does not need to eat at night and he is eating out of habit, and you choose to make a change, then you can take gentle steps to wean your baby from night feeding.
There are 3 common ways to go about night weaning. One of them is to go cold turkey and just stop feeding them. This is not my favorite way but it depends on the age of the baby. When you stop feeding at night cold turkey, your baby will still feel hungry. And he will need extra attention and support as his body gets used to not getting those calories at that time.
Have you ever gone on a diet or changed your own eating patterns? Let me tell you my potato chip story: A few years ago, my husband and I would have all 5 of our children in bed by 7 pm. (Sounds heavenly, right? It is!) We would sit down to watch a show we had recorded on the DVR and relax together. After the show, we would pull out a bag of potato chips (salt n vinegar is our favorite) and eat the whole bag together while we watched another show. (sometimes it was plain ripple chips with homemade sour cream onion dip.) Well of course, after a few months of doing this stay home daily mini-date, we started to regret the potato chip fat factor. So we decided to stop. We heard somewhere that you shouldn’t eat after 8pm or something like that. We stopped cold turkey. The craving for the potato chips at 9pm was unreal!! I wanted to get in the car and drive to the store to get some, I craved them so bad. Ugh. It was awful. Was that my body telling me that I needed potato chips? Should I be listening to my body cravings? No. My body doesn’t need potato chips. What was happening to us is called a blood sugar spike. My body was used to getting those calories at that time regularly. It takes about 3 days to undo a blood sugar spike like that. And after 3 days of no potato chips at 9pm, I stopped craving them at 9pm. I never crave them when I’m shopping in the store so I just stopped buying them unless we are having a party.
So if you go cold turkey in taking milk out of your child’s night time responses, it takes about 3 days for their blood sugar spike to smooth out. Please be more responsive and attentive if you choose this method. They are experiencing real feelings of hunger that are uncomfortable. I know. I have been there. A hug, snuggle, your presence, your attention can help support them through the transition. Come when they call for you.
The other ways to wean night feedings are with dream feeds (my favorite method) or with gradual diluting. Those are a whole other subject for blog posts or consultations.
Every baby’s scenario is different and there are no cookie-cutter solutions. Age, temperament, past sleep experience and bedtime crutches make a difference.
As a gentle sleep coach, I look at the situation and create a plan unique to that family. Call me if you need help. Free 15 min initial evaluation.
Certified Gentle Sleep Coach
http://www.facebook.com/QuietNights Like me on Facebook
http://getquietnights.blogspot.com/ Follow my blog
@GetQuietNights Follow me on Twitter
A Wake up Light is a special light or device to help your child know when it’s “ok” to get out of bed in the morning.
Toddler’s don’t tell time but they do understand “lights on” or “lights off”. Lights on means it time to be awake. Lights off means it’s time to sleep.
You want a wake up light that is dark at night, not glowing. It’s better to sleep in the dark if you can. Many wake up lights you purchase at the store have night lights on them that glow all night so I choose to make one myself.
You can make one yourself, too. You probably have everything you need already in your home. Use any small lamp that you have. A pretty Mayan salt lamp or a cute Disney lamp or an old ugly, stored in the garage meant for the next garage sale lamp. It’s even fun to use a small green bulb (found in the outdoor Christmas lights section of your hardware store or in your storage Christmas lights box) or a chandelier light bulb. If the base of the bulb is too small for your lamp, you can get an adapter piece (also found at the hardware store -guys already know this) that screws into the lamp that changes the base size.
Plug the lamp in to the wall through an appliance timer (also found in your storage Christmas stuff, or the hardware store or in the hardware aisle of the grocery story $3). This is like the one you would use for your outdoor Christmas lights. Set it to go on at the wake up time like 6am or 7am. Everything you need you may have at home already or can be found for low cost at your local home hardware store. If you can use a green bulb, you can teach your child that green means go! Talk about the light at bedtime and again in the morning to reinforce what you expect. “When the light is dark, it’s time to sleep. When the light is on, it’s time to wake up.” The light shouldn’t be bright enough to wake her up but it will be a signal that sends a clear message for when she does wake up. If she wakes before the light come’s on, and she can’t get back to sleep, stay with her until it comes on to reinforce the meaning of the light.
Certified Gentle Sleep Coach
Helping children sleep better one family at a time.
Parents get crazy advice. Have you ever been told that “Some babies just don’t sleep“?
That’s so crazy! Babies desperately need sleep and may need special help learning sleep skills. I helped a family of 6 kids not sleeping and their doctor told their mom that her kids just don’t sleep. –As if it was natural and normal! I had her kids sleeping in about 6 weeks.
Have you ever been told “Your baby is playing you.”? “So let him cry it out.”
Manipulation is far too complex an emotion for a baby. (That’s more of a teenager thing.)
It’s just ’cause and effect’. Your baby has figured out that when he does this, you do that. So gently change your response and they will change their behavior. If your baby cries that way and you come running, they have learned to cry that way to get you to come running. It’s not a bad thing at all. At night, starting with bedtime, gently change how you respond depending on the situation to get a different behavior from your child.
It’s not rocket science. It’s behavioral science. It’s always great to be there for your child but you don’t have to give them everything they want.
My kids want chocolate for breakfast. Yeah, I don’t think so. But I am definitely going to be giving them breakfast, just not the one they think they want. Except maybe on their birthday.Tracy Spackman is a Trained and Certified Gentle Sleep Coach specializing in sleep for alert kids of ages 4 months to 8 years old. Tracy Spackman 602-524-7610 www.GetQuietNights.com https://www.facebook.com
Is your toddler climbing out of the crib? Are they losing sleep and up all nap/night with you bringing him/her back to bed? Are you thinking of transitioning to a bed instead?
Hold that thought!
The important question is, Is he/she still under 2.5 years old? There is a level of cognitive understanding needed to comprehend more complex concepts like…”Stay In Bed!” Most children under 2.5 aren’t quite there yet and so moving them to a toddler bed starts a whole new problem of your child getting out of bed and coming to you in the night or wandering the house in the middle of the night while you are sleeping.
Here are some tricks I have seem Mom’s get creative with in order to try to keep their toddler from climbing out of their crib. This is assuming you have already put the mattress on the lowest setting.
1. Dress them in a PJ night shirt that goes to their feet. That can help prevent them from getting that leg up.
2. Put them in a sleep sack. That also can help prevent them from getting a leg up. Some mom’s have sewn the bottom to be a little more narrow for added effect. Yes, they make sleep sacks in toddler sizes.
3. Sew the legs together of their sleeper. Very hard to get a leg up.
4. Drop the bottom out of your crib to make the rail higher.
Fill in the bottom with boards. Make it secure with screws. Be sure it is solid and Safe.
If you are determined to take them from the crib and use a bed instead, if they continue to get up in the night, you can try a gentle sleep plan. That still may not give you 100% success of keeping them in bed all night if they just aren’t ready. Putting a tall gate at the door and clearing the room of climbable furniture and distracting toys would be like turning the whole room into one big crib and there they would be safe all night.
If you have forgone the crib all together and are sleeping on a floor mattress with your child, that works too.
Everyone needs sleep to be healthy and productive.
Tracy Spackman is a gentle sleep coach living in Phoenix, Arizona and she is helping families get better sleep all over the world. To set up a consultation, go to www.GetQuietNights.com.