Our clients are always shocked when they hear this. They've been breaking a sweat rocking their baby into a deep slumber, waking up every 2 hours to feed throughout the night, or wringing their hands in frustration with a wide-eyed, nap-resistant toddler.
But it's true. Sleep is a basic action that babies are naturally born to do. Their bodies crave healthy sleep, and their brains are wired for it. By five or six months of age, almost all babies are capable of sleeping well without much assistance from Mom or Dad.
So why do so many families struggle at night? The answer is that most parents do what works today, don't notice when it's no longer needed tomorrow, and then keep pushing even harder when it's become a hindrance the day after that. They work overtime with all kinds of fanfare and tricks to put their babies to bed. We've heard it all: parents feeding, rocking, and bouncing on a yoga ball for 45 minutes every night, lying down with kids, re-tucking and re filling water glasses endlessly-one couple even told us they found themselves putting on a full music show with guitars, singing, and lights every night before bedtime.
Over time, parents’ “helping ways” overshadow their baby’s natural sleep abilities. Children get confused as to whether they or their parents are doing the soothing, and parents aren’t sure when and how much to back off so their little ones can take over the job.
Kids don’t need to be trained to sleep; they’re built to sleep. Think about it: sleep is like other areas of development, and you know how quickly your baby learns. Within a year, a baby can sit, pull to stand, and maybe take her first steps. She understands language and soon she’ll speak in sentences. Almost overnight, she’s a master in all realms.
So why should sleep be any different?
But over and over in our practice, we see that it is. Children take off in their motor, social, cognitive, and language skills, while sleep skills stall and even decline as the months go on. It’s a common course for little kids—they show robust, thriving development in all other domains but actually regress in their ability to sleep.
In the early months, this happens when a soothing technique like nursing or rocking to sleep works and becomes your go-to habit (and we don’t blame you!). The problem is that while newborns often need these soothing devices, they outgrow this need quickly as their natural self-soothing abilities grow—sometimes within a matter of days or weeks. With toddlers and kids, the same idea applies. We know that they can sleep, but milestones and life transitions (learning to climb out of the crib, starting preschool, or having nightmares) rock the boat just enough to warrant a new trick (like lying down with the child until they doze off) that kids quickly become reliant on.
As parents get stuck in a habit of soothing their little one to sleep, it masks the child’s natural abilities and makes it look as if she can’t sleep on her own.
Imagine your child was capable of walking, but you still carried her everywhere instead of letting her practice this new skill! This overhelping is the crux of family sleep problems. Eventually parents become exasperated, while baby’s sleep potential has actually been stifled.
Why We Wrote This Book
We wrote this book to help solve a dilemma. Over and over in our parenting groups, we’ve seen moms and dads work diligently to be responsive and nurturing around sleep, only to become frustrated, exhausted, and confused as their baby’s sleep gets worse instead of better. These parents feel stuck, and many reach the end of their rope and turn to a harsh, shut-the-door-and-don’t-go-in approach.
We know that sleep is a natural, hardwired function that shouldn’t be so difficult. As clinicians who follow science and new thinking on child development, we realized why sleep was stumping so many families—it’s the same overhelping or “helicopter parenting” dilemma that parents find themselves in elsewhere. Logic tells us (and research confirms) that overhelping doesn’t work: When we do things for our babies and kids that they are capable of doing for themselves, it keeps them from developing to their potential (in this case, their sleep potential). The problem is that, as parents, we don’t know how to stop overhelping, while still being warm and supportive to our kids.
The topic of baby sleep needs a fresh perspective. It’s been bogged down in old-school notions like “training” and misunderstandings of basic concepts like attachment. In this book, we take an integrated approach that is sensitive, simple, and truly effective. We don’t want anyone suffering sleep deprivation unnecessarily, nor do we ever want a baby to feel alone or fearful. Happily, neither of these ever needs to happen.
--Excerpted from The Happy Sleeper (Penguin Random House, December 2014).
Catch Heather & Julie lecturing at The Pump Station & Nurtury™ in Santa Monica and Hollywood
The Happy Sleeper Class for parents with babies 5-18 months old
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Love it or dread it, daylight savings time is one of those facts of life that we have to adjust to. Before you go to bed on Saturday night, November 1st, turn your clocks back one hour. There are 2 different ways to approach helping your baby make the time change…
You can have your child simply jump to the new time. This often works just fine for older kids, who might feel a little groggy for a few days while they adjust. Since the time is falling back, you can just put your child to bed at the time according to the clock on Sunday night and he will most likely be very tired.
SHIFT YOUR BABY GRADUALLY
Another approach is to anticipate the change and help your baby gradually shift to the new time. Babies tend to have a slightly harder time with the change than older kids.
Once Sunday rolls around, what used to be 8:00 p.m. will now be 7:00 p.m., so your baby will be sleepy before it’s bedtime. Adjust sleep times a little later each day in anticipation.
STEPS FOR SHIFTING YOUR BABY GRADUALLY:
- If your baby’s schedule is just where you want it, you’ll help her adjust to the new time gradually, by moving her bedtime and naps about 15 minutes later each day leading up to Sunday. This works best if you start 4 days in advance.
- If your baby’s current schedule is off and the time change will help (for example, it’s fall and you want him to go to bed an hour earlier), you’re in luck. You will be able to shift your baby immediately to the new time. It will still be very important to pay attention to blocking out daylight and keeping bedtime and nap time routines consistent.
- If your baby’s schedule is off in a direction where the time change will make it even worse (it’s fall and you want her to go to bed an hour later), adjust gradually to the new time and then continue until you’ve reached the desired bedtime. One of the most daunting scenarios is when it’s fall and your baby is already waking up way too early in the a.m. Make sure that you have blackout shades or curtains, for a very dark room in the morning.
- If your baby hasn’t completely adjusted by the time daylight savings time arrives, no worries; just continue the adjustment during the next few days.
Remember routines and environment. Keep bedtime and naptime routines in place and predicable. All that effort and consistency will pay off now, as these cues help your baby adjust to the new time. Also make baby’s room very dark. Light creeping in earlier in the morning or lingering into the summer evening can add to baby’s challenge to adjust to the new time.
Adapted from The Happy Sleeper by Heather Turgeon, MFT and Julie Wright, MFT
Join us for The Happy Sleeper Baby Sleep Class
Babies 5-18 months (all ages welcome)
at The Pump Station & Nurtury™ Santa Monica
Nov. 6th, 1:30pm – 3pm
Call 310-998-1981 to register!
Heather Turgeon, MFT, is a psychotherapist who writes about child development and parenting. She authors the long-running column “The Science of Kids” for the popular online parenting magazine Babble, and is a writer for the National Sleep Foundation.
Julie Wright, MFT, is one of Los Angeles’s best known parenting group leaders and has taught thousands of moms in her Wright Mommy and Me groups at The Pump Station & Nurtury. She specializes in early childhood development, attachment and mindful, empathic parenting.
Julie and Heather co authored, THE HAPPY SLEEPER: The science-based guide to helping your baby get a good night’s sleep (Tarcher/Penguin Random House), coming in December 2014. The Happy Sleeper approach is also taught as part of the Wright Mommy & Me Classes here at The Pump Station & Nurtury!
Monday, October 27, 2014
Last week, a dear mom in my Mommy and Me group walked into class looking drained and about to cry. “Sophia has forgotten how to sleep! She was sleeping 9 hours straight, but in the last 4 nights, she’s been waking up every two hours from midnight on! I’m losing my mind I’m so tired. I thought her sleep would keep getting better but now it’s like she’s a newborn again!”
We’ve heard a version of this countless times before. It’s classic sleep regression—something we call the ‘cognitive surge,’ when babies become more awake, more discerning and better able to detect patterns (good news for their smart brains, bad news for their sleep patterns). This new alertness feels very novel and exciting to them at first and makes it hard for them to fall back to sleep easily during the night.
Here are some important ideas to keep in mind when sleep seems to have gone off the rails and you’re working to get it back on track:
Don’t assume you have a “bad sleeper”! Waking up at night is rarely a sign that your baby is an inherently bad sleeper—it’s a sign that her sleep patterns need adjusting. In an interesting baby study, researchers asked parents if they had a “good sleeper” or “bad sleeper,” and then they observed those babies to see how many times they woke during the night. Surprise, both groups woke exactly the same amount. The difference was that the “good sleepers” were used to falling asleep on their own, whereas the “bad sleepers” were in the habit of reaching out for help falling back to sleep. Both groups have all the brain power needed to fall asleep independently and sleep well at night; the difference was the babies’ expectations and habits.
Ride the hump. Your baby is so much smarter and aware now—she has a new level of consciousness and there’s so much to do, see, and test out! But this new excitement will wear off eventually, and she will go back to sleeping. The silver lining of sleep regressions is that they often signal your baby’s blooming abilities and smarts. She just needs time to adjust and for you to resist changing up your patterns and behaviors too much—you should be steady and she’ll come back around.
Make sure you’re not overhelping. The most common problem with sleep regression is that parents automatically start helping, helping, and then overhelping. When your baby was a wee thing, all that helping and soothing was what she needed. After 5 months or so, babies don’t need so much help—in fact, they need more space to practice their self-soothing. At this point, parents’ helping ways can start to get in the way of a good nights sleep. Signs of overhelping are when an older baby starts…
- · Waking more rather than less during the night
- Adding new nighttime feeds
- Taking longer and longer to fall asleep
- Resisting your help (rocking, feeding, holding etc.)
- Popping awake after 45 – 60 minutes
- Waking up way too early in the morning
Hold tight to your routines and schedule. Babies are highly sensitive to routine and timing. When you’re seeing sleep derail a bit, make sure your baby is going to bed at the right time (usually between 7-8pm is ideal), falling asleep independently (on her own, without you feeding or rocking her to sleep) and at the same time every night. Hold on to her nap schedules too. Ironically, overtired babies are more likely to wake up at night because their systems become wound up and dysregulated.
Hang in there. Even though they seem endless at the time, sleep regressions—whether they’re from new cognitive leaps or motor milestones—will eventually pass.
Whether you have a sleep regression on your hands, or just want help smoothing the way to better sleep for your baby, we’ll see you at The Happy Sleeper class for babies 5-18 months (although all ages are welcome). You’ll come away with a clear and gentle plan for turning over the soothing to sleep role to your very capable baby, so everyone in the family can get a full night’s sleep.
The Happy Sleeper, sleep class for babies 5-18 months
Nov. 6, 2014 at 1:30pm – 3:00pm
The Pump Station & Nurtury - Santa Monica
Call 310.998.1981 to register
Sunday, October 19, 2014
No one likes to talk about dying, but accidents and illnesses don’t discriminate. Over and over I see families who had all the best intentions to get their estate plans in place, then they get caught off guard with a sudden death or diagnosis. No one thinks it will happen to them, until it does.
As a mother of two little girls, I more than understand that when you’re raising a family, your daily to do list becomes your top priority. Which in turn makes it hard to get everything else done. But this is an important one. Because, with estate planning, there is such a thing as being “too late.”
One reason parents procrastinate is their inability to agree on a specific guardian. Often times, this is so daunting that many parents give up before even starting. But as difficult as this may be, it is much better that you make this decision rather than a judge who does not know you, your children, or the potential guardians. Naming guardians yourself will avoid fights between both sides of the family and will protect your children from needless friction and heartache.
To learn more on how to name a guardian and protect your children with an estate plan, come to the next The Pump Station & Nurtury's Sizzling Hot Topic Lecture Invest in Your Nest: Protect Your Family with Estate Planning and Life Insurance on Nov. 5th in Hollywood and Nov. 11th in Santa Monica. To register please call 310-998-1981 for the Santa Monica location or 323-469-5300 for the Hollywood location. Click here for class and instructor info.
If you have any questions about how to name guardians for your children, feel free to get in touch at 818-956-9200 or email@example.com. I’d be happy to answer your questions. And remember, as overwhelming as it may seem, the alternative is much scarier.
Sona A. Tatiyants
Sona is the owner of Tatiyants Law, P.C., a law firm that specializes in estate planning for young families.
Friday, October 3, 2014
Monday, August 25, 2014
We are happy to announce the start of our new Music Classes with Paulie Z!
Come try out this FREE Demo class
on September 22nd at our Santa Monica Store
Now taking sign-ups for the 8-week session starting September 29th. Parents receive a FREE Rug Bug Music CD when they sign up for the session.
For babies 0-12 months old
This environmentally-minded music program will accommodate even the youngest music-fan-in-training. Our classes include original compositions and all-time faves selected to inform and entertain everyone (you too, Moms, Dads, and caregivers!) With help from our signature Ballibrary (a carefully compiled assortment of spheres) and inspiring instruments recycled from common household objects, simultaneous to a swinging good time, students will be bolstering size, shape and tactile discrimination, gross motor skills, rhythm and reflex abilities and auditory development. There is little time to languish when you’re a growing Rug Bug: dynamic ditties and compelling curios reinforce our eco-conscious outlook; without giving too much away, we suggest you come prepared to rock your socks off! And, while our musical medleys may alternate effortlessly between gentle and jamming, one thing’s for sure: there is never a dull moment in a Rug Bug Music experience.
*For our youngest participants: With song sharing to accompany your day-to-day play, we'll equip you with music for every moment. Together with your family we’ll provide the know-how to make your own great green toys, and suggest sweet, soothing ways to bond over books, blankets, baby sign language and massage. Last but not least, little hearts begin to learn how they can change the world by giving back.
Instructor Biography: As a professional musician and teacher, Paulie Z (Paul Zablidowsky) has a unique ability to entertain and educate simultaneously. Whether he's in a classroom or on the big stage, Paulie's number one goal is to keep you engaged and ensure that you have an unforgettable musical experience. For 16 years now, he has been teaching in private and public schools and has been touring and recording his own rock and children's music. Being a rock musician who works with children enables Paulie to connect not only to the kids, but to the adults and caregivers as well. To date he has designed and created original music programs and curriculum for kids ages 0-10 years old worldwide, released multiple rock and children's CDs, toured the country, starred in his own TV series, had a podcast on iTunes and even founded his own non-profit organization for kids!
Paulie's mission is to seamlessly combine his two passions in life: music and education.
Click here for more info or call 310-998-1981 to RSVP/Register.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
By Jill Campbell, Psy.D.
There are many different reasons why parents’ feel the need to potty train their children. Some parents feel pressure from their peers or family members, some fear that they are not doing a good job as a parent if they wait too long to potty train, others are pressured from their child’s daycare or preschool. In addition, many parents are just tired of having to change diapers and eager to get on to this next stage in their child’s development.
For your child to be successfully toilet trained, however, he or she must be physically, cognitively and emotionally mature enough to understand and to control what is happening in the toilet teaching process. If you begin to toilet training before your child is ready, chances are it will lead to a lot of frustration. A child who is toilet trained much before the age of 2, usually has a parent who knows when to put the child down on the potty, and wait for the child to go.
Mark Wolraich, the author of the "American Academy of Pediatrics' Guide to Toilet Training," says that children typically begin to toilet-train between the ages of 18 months and 4 years. Some learn quickly and others take months. Many learn, and then regress. Accidents are common. Most children are daytime independent by age 4, but about 20% of 5-year-olds will still have some daytime accidents. Nighttime accidents can continue for much longer. Wolraich says that the push for early training is more a reflection of parents' need for accomplishment than of any understanding of child physiology. "It's almost like a super-mom/dad issue," he said. "There's not been any evidence that children who get trained earlier are any smarter or more accomplished later in life.”
The AAP states that most child development experts believe that toilet training works best if it can be delayed until the child is ready to control much of the process herself. Please remember that your child’s readiness for toilet training is not an sign of his or her intelligence, or your level of parenting ability! When your child is truly ready, physically, cognitively and emotionally, toilet training will happen much more easily. It is important to go by your child’s cues for readiness. The right time to begin this process will vary from child to child.
Signs of Readiness:
The more readiness signs that your child is demonstrating, the quicker and easier the toilet training process should be. Look over the list below to help determine where your child is at in the readiness department.
Your child must have voluntary control of his or her sphincter muscles. This means being able to open and close very specific internal muscles. This gives your child the ability to delay excretion for a brief period of time. The AAP states that children’s sphincter muscles reach full maturity somewhere between 12-24 months with the average age being 18 months. While this is usually possible by about 18 months, this voluntary control only truly begins when a child can distinguish the sensations that precede a bowel movement or urination. Due to this fact, most children will not be reliable until after the age of 2.
Your child is no longer excited about walking and being on his feet all the time. He is at the maturity level where he is ready to sit down and learn a new task. Most children are at least 18 months, often older, before this happens.
Your child is more aware of his body and of the “need to go” (urinate or have a bowel movement) and shows it by facial expression, body gestures, telling you, and possibly going off somewhere (a corner of the room, behind furniture) when he/she feels the need to eliminate.
- Your child is able to stay dry for at least two hours at a time during the day.
- Your child often wakes up dry after a nap.
- Your child urinates a lot at one time vs. a little throughout the day.
- Your child usually does not have a bowel movement through the night.
- Your child starts to urinate and move her bowels at more predictable times.
- Your child does not like to be in dirty diapers and wants to be changed.
Cognitive and Verbal Signs:
Another sign that your child may be ready to be toilet trained is that he or she has good receptive language skills. That means your child has the ability to understand what you are asking of him or her.
Your child can follow simple instructions. For example, “Go to your closet and bring me back your red shirt.”
Your child can say the words “yes” and “no.” She needs to have the ability to make her own decision about whether or not she is ready to use the potty.
Your child can express and understand one-word statements, including such words as “wet,” “dry,” “potty,” “pee,” “poop,” and “go.” Your child may even begin to tell you, “I peed.” Or “I pooped.”
Your child starts putting things where they belong. He may begin to pick up his toys. He may put his blocks in the box where they belong. He may start arranging and organizing things like his toys or his books.
Emotional and Social Awareness Signs:
Your child wants to please and imitate you. This natural ability to observe others and the desire to imitate them will help with the toilet teaching process.
- Your child expresses interest in using the potty or toilet.
- Your child wants to wear “big-kid” underwear.
- Your child has a desire to master one’s own body and environment. “I want to do it.”
Motor Skill Signs:
- Your child can walk to and from the bathroom and help undress.
- Your child is able to pull underpants and pants up and down.
Dr. Jill Campbell teaches Toilet Teaching: A Gentle Guide to Potty Training Success at The Pump Station & Nurtury and partner locations.