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Hello, Courtney Zentz here, the founder of tiny transitions. And this week I’m talking all about supported sleep, over on my Instagram, where you can follow me at tiny transitions underscore sleep underscore, coach. Now, let’s get into the importance of what we’re going to be covering today, in the blog of the week. I have a lot of folks ask me questions around supported sleep, rocking, bouncing, feeding, anything with your to sleep in the sentence is going to be supported sleep. So as parents are working to transition away from supported sleep, to help get longer naps for your baby, to help them sleep through the night. And to ensure that they’re settling without tears, a child has to foundation-ally have that independent skill set. Watch the complete video to help support your early riser! 

So what do you do at five o’clock in the morning, when they’ve slept enough, but they’re still pretty tired. Early morning. wakings are one of the bigger challenges because you have to balance whether or not a child is actually ready to get up for the day, and whether or not you should support them going back down. So many of my current clients struggle with this. So many people I talked to who become clients struggle with this, because what ends up happening as a parent, you go, you know what, they’ve slept well enough. And they don’t seem like they’re going to go to bed or all of a sudden they were sick. And then they started waking at five o’clock. And because they were sick, I got them and brought them into my bed.

Well, guess what happens? Now they’re better. And they expect to go into your bed every day.

So if you’ve gotten into this situation, where you may be introduced a feed again, and they didn’t need it, you know, most of the time babies over six months of age do not. Maybe you introduce your bed because they were sick, you introduced holding them for two hours, because that was the way to do what is called a continuation of sleep nap if you will, right. It’s a continuation of that night’s sleep that you’re sort of bridging by picking them up from the sleep space and then holding them until a reasonable hour around seven o’clock. So if you’ve fallen into any one of these challenges or habits, there are a couple of things that you have to look at to break the challenge. And to fix the issue altogether.

First, you want to look at the environment that your child is sleeping in. Is there anything from an environmental standpoint that could be impacting your child’s ability to settle? The first thing you want to look at is the room dark enough? Okay, that sunlight is starting to come up and you want to make sure that it’s not creeping through the curtains and allowing them to perceive that it’s okay to wake up in the morning. In my own children’s rooms, I use blackout blinds and blackout curtains just to be sure it stays like a batcave and I have done so since birth.

The next thing you want to look at is what are the environmental noises around them? Do you have a noise machine going? Do you have a fan going something to drown out the background noise both outside and also inside, you want to take a look at things like is the garage door opening at a specific time is the heater kicking on at a specific time, children’s coldest body temperature is between four and six o’clock in the morning. So you want to make sure that from a temperature standpoint, they’re not waking up chilly if they’re not dressed properly. out on my website, I do have a bunch of different downloads. And I’ll put the link into it here for a baby dressing guide. It’s probably one of the most downloaded pieces of content in my entire Pinterest account. But it is showing you exactly how to dress a child based on the temperature in the space. And you have to remember what the thermostat says downstairs in the dining room might be different than what your child’s room is, depending on the number of events. My son’s room has one bed, my daughter’s room has two beds. So their temperature in their rooms is a little bit different as a result of that the rooms are the same size though. So it was just the way the ducting happened when they built the house. And so you know, it is what it is. But they have to dress a little bit differently.

Okay, so you want to look at things like the environmental factors, then you want to look at true hunger, right? If your child’s around six months of age, and maybe you are exclusively nursing and you’re like, you know, I don’t really know what they’re getting. I’m not sure how much they’re transferring. I’m not sure how much they’re eating, are they hungry, you want to make sure that you either do a way to transfer the doctor, you go to a lactation support group and do a way to transfer you get a scale and weigh how much they’re eating so that you can start to understand is it true hunger? Or is it a habit? When when I work with clients between four and six months of age, if there’s an early waking but they’ve slept all night, we’ll do a quick feeding because it’s technically still the middle of the night. But then the baby lays back down. Parents are out of there and they resettle themselves back to sleep till somewhere around seven o’clock in the morning. Right? Anything, after 6 am, is considered a morning wake-up. So you do have some time as it relates to that in order to ensure that your little one is you know, getting the right amount of sleep at the right time. If your child’s waking up at like five o’clock in the morning. It’s not time to start the day, right 530 is not time to start the day. Now,

if you’re stuck in the cycle, which many of you probably are if you’re watching this you go well Courtney We’ve looked at the environment, we’ve looked at temperature, we’ve looked at how they’re dressed, we looked at how they’re eating right? What the heck else could it be? If it’s pooping, you know, and they have a bowel movement every day at 5 am, you have two choices, you either bind them, or you flush it out, right. And depending on their age, things like an ounce of prune juice in a bottle, right? A little prune juice popsicle, or some things like banana and rice and oatmeal and toast, right, the BRAT diet, depending on their age, can also help to bind them up.

So you either flush that poop out and have it kind of rebuild not to be gross at a different part of the day, or you have to bind them up. So it stays in there a little bit longer. And they’re not pooping at five o’clock in the morning, which is causing them to wake. And then because they’re getting picked up and they’re getting changed and super overstimulated, they’re not going to go back to that, right and you end up with a lot of tears. So if you’re in this place, and you’re going alright, we’re checking on the pooping, check on the food, check on the temperature check on the environment, check on the noise machine, everything else is good. It’s pitch dark, everybody should be sleeping and you’re not you probably have a habit, right?

You started to bring them into your room, you started to go in and lay with them, you started to go in and offer comfort or you just said forget it, let’s get up at five and start playing because what the heck else to do, you’ve got to break the habit, it is a habit. children sleep the same number of cycles every night. So what happens is they start to perceive that after 10 cycles, for example, it’s time to start the day when in reality, they should be sleeping like 11 or 12 cycles as an example, right? Most sleep cycles are 45 to 60 minutes and children. So what ends up happening is they sleep a certain number, they pass through the cycles, and then they hit that spot and go time to get up.

And really they should be sleeping, but they don’t really know that because they’re used to getting picked up. They’re used to getting held, they’re used to getting rocks. So it just becomes that natural body clock where they say, hey, it’s now time to get up. And you have to train them into another cycle so that they understand and recognize that if they’re going to sleep through the night, they need to sleep until seven o’clock in the morning. Okay, as a child sleep consultant, I work with babies, infants, toddlers, on good nap times leading through the night like all these different things that early morning. wakings always come up right? And it’s because you end up so easily getting into this little vicious cycle.

Well, the problem is if you do that, then you have to change the naps. So now you’re conforming to the early waking your nap schedules a mess bedtime ends up creeping earlier and earlier on earlier because your kids fall asleep at dinner. So when you need to do this to break the cycle, the first thing you want to do is make sure you’re not conforming the naps to the wakeup you need to conform the naps to the ideal wakeup time. Okay, that can be hard for a couple of days, but you have to start there, then you have to get them to go into another cycle. Okay, I’m a pediatric sleep consultant. And I had to do this to my own kids because for one reason or another, they got sick at the time as I’m thinking about it with my daughter. And I was like, sorry, dude, you got to work it out. You know, you have to go into another cycle. I’m not getting you up at five o’clock in the morning because you’re a dumpster fire.


So not are you now that I saved you from crying, you’re just going to be pissed off and whining for the next three hours. Neither is good, your body is still tired and it needs rest. Okay, so you’re not doing them any favors by getting them up to save a few tears. Okay. So how do you execute? How do you get your child to connect that final cycle or two in the morning and get them getting up at a normal time when they wake in the morning, and you’ve gone through all the other things I’ve talked about, my advice to you does not go in the room, or do not go to them. If they are sleeping in your room, use the monitor and check what’s going on. Make sure there are no limbs stuck, you know, make sure there’s nothing obvious going on. If you do go in and check on them, you have to get right back out of there, you can start to create excess stimulation because they’re not going to go back to sleep. But you can go in give the sniff test their poop. So everything okay? A lot of times kids just know you’re coming because they expect to get up. This is a habit. Okay? So you’re going to walk in that room, they’re like…

“Hey, Hey, get me.”

And you don’t want to get them all excited. And then they’re going to get even more pissed when you leave. Some parents aren’t comfortable with not going in at all. So, you know, go in and check out like they’re still babies, right? You go in and check on your child, your infant, your toddler, make sure they’re good. But you have to set that expectation, right? For kids under 18 months of age, you got to train them back into it. It is sleep training, okay, you have to make sure that they are, you know, in a safe space, everything else in that checkbox is good. And then they have to, they have to understand that they’re not finished sleeping yet. And the only way to do that is to force them into another cycle. And it sometimes takes a few minutes to tears. I’m talking five minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, you’re gonna hear spikes in protest, get me out of this crib. And then you’re gonna hear him come back down and go and spike in protest, come back down. And that’s normal. They’re gonna be pissed. You’re not getting them What the heck you’re used to getting them and they’re used to getting up right. So there’s about a day, sometimes two days of protest. {You HAVE to show them they need to connect, they don’t know that for themselves, but they also do know they feel not good, even as babies.}

That’s it. You will lick The early morning waking, it takes two days and you’re done. Otherwise, you’re gonna have weeks and weeks of perpetual chronic sleep deprivation, they’re tired, you’re tired, and you’re not doing them any favors, trust me, people get very worked up about tears.

Nobody wants to hear a kid cry. But they’re crying out of protest, not crying out of a need.

As a parent, we always support our children when they need us. But we also have to level-set expectations that it is appropriate that they are sleeping, okay, so you have to not go in there or go in and check on them. And then get right back out of there, keep it calm, dark, cool, no night lights or anything because they’re stimulating and watch them on the monitor, you’re going to hear after a period of time, these cycles, and sometimes it can take 10 minutes to hear that cycle start to come back down. That’s the average amount of time and many of my clients that I tell parents like you’ve got to wait about 10 minutes because they have to get through and realize they’re not getting up, then they’ve got to practice coming back down.

Okay, as you have this happen, so for two days, you’re committed to saying I’m not getting you, even if it becomes six o’clock until you fall back to sleep, you have to get them to actually fall back to sleep, not just let them cry for 20 minutes, and then get them up at six o’clock. Because all you’re then doing is letting them cry for 20 minutes and teaching them that they’re going to cry for 20 minutes before you get them. Okay, you’re teaching their body clock that they’re still tired, and you can see it visibly, they’re still tired, they have bags under their eyes, they’re crying when they wake up, those are general signs that your child hasn’t slept enough, okay, if you break this after two days, your child will wake somewhere typically between 6:00 am & 7;30 am, they will be laying in that crib quiet, they will be laying in that bed quiet. And then they will wake up and go “hi, good morning, come get me whether they’re talking or put their hands up or going into the crib monitor depending on their age, right? You have to make sure that you’re setting them up with the expectation now for kids over 18 months of age, right? They are toddlers, they are not going to sleep train into it, okay, there has to be behavior modification and behavior set up so that they understand that it is not a welcome time to get up using things like an okay to wake clock.

So if your child is three years old, and is waking at 5:00 am the morning, you have to set that okay to wake clock the first day for like 5:05 am lets them get a victory. Okay. And then the next day, you get 5:10 am. And maybe they get a sticker on their chart, right 5:20 am. And you start to slowly back up to what’s appropriate.

But there can’t be any bending. If you bring your three-year-old into your room at five, they’re getting up every day.

The expectation is you don’t have to sleep, but you have to lay in that bed until that light comes on. You can read a book you can play with your trucks, you can do whatever you want in that bed, no tablets, but you can, you know, have like some stuffies my son used to smash like Matchbox cars together, whatever. But you have to set an expectation. With toddlers, it’s about starving a behavior, right? If they know they can get up they will. But if the expectation is that you’re laying in that room till the clock comes on, after a couple of days, it loses its luster and they’re going to go back to sleep because there’s nothing else to do.

You’re not bending the rules, and they’re not getting out. So it does take a couple of days of force training. But you can get there you can get over the hump. And if you have any other questions, be sure to join me out in my Facebook community called Slumber Made Simple.

Until next time, I hope you all have a beautiful rest of the day. Good luck with those early wakings. You got it two days, and you’ll be out of the bad habits and we’re always here to help if you need additional support. Thanks so much. Again, my name is Courtney Zentz, the founder of tiny transitions myself and my team all over the country support tired parents just like you with sleep coaching for your newborn infant and toddler and we’d be happy to help you further if you need it. Thanks so much. Bye for now. 👋