In this episode, Courtney Zentz, the Founder of Tiny Transitions, takes us through the signs we need to look for as to whether we can DIY solve the sleep issue ourselves or when it’s time to call in the professional sleep consultants to get the job done.
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Podcast Episode Transcripts:
Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.
Welcome to the kids sleep show where we help tired children to fall asleep independently sleep through the night and build healthy sleep habits for Life. I’m your host, Courtney Zentz. Now let’s sleep together. Hey, everyone, welcome back to this week’s episode, I am talking to you today all about baby sleep help. There are so many families around the world that struggle with getting their child to settle independently at bedtime, sleep through the night and wake rested and refreshed so they can take long, consolidated and consistent naps every single day. For the past eight years, myself and my team have worked with parents all over the world to provide virtual sleep coaching for families who are struggling just like you. So today, we are talking about the foundations around what makes a baby sleep well. And whether or not you’ll need baby’s sleep help after this episode. So to begin, I want to start with some sleep foundations because it’s important that you understand the needs of a child, and how they change and transform over the entire first 12 months of life. When children are born, they’re actually born with sleeping in two different stages of sleep, either REM sleep, or non REM sleep equally 50% of the time, somewhere between eight and 12 weeks, they actually shift from stage based sleep to cycle based sleep and that cycle based sleep sticks with them throughout their entire rest of their life. The typical sleep cycles for a baby are anywhere between 45 and 60 minutes. So if your baby is waking frequently in the night, this will help you understand why and how we can fix that. So as we dive in the first thing I want to talk about before we get into the why is actually how in the form of how much sleep children need. After four months of age, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine says children need 14 to 16 hours the entire first year of life for optimal health. As a newborn, you can expect that it’s a bit more between 14 and 16 hours in total sleep. But around 12 weeks or four months of age that actually shifts to about 12 to 16 hours depending on your child’s needs. So that typically means that your child needs a certain amount of naps in the day to balance 11 to 12 hours of sleep overnight. Now, when you talk about total sleep, you also have to understand what is happening with your body when it’s awake. And when you’re sleeping. Even as a baby hormones play a huge role in what happens to our child. And why you may be seeking baby’s sleep help now because your little one is waking a million times at night isn’t napping super well. And there’s all sorts of issues going on. When a person wakes in the morning, whether a baby or an adult, their body actually starts to create something called adenosine. Adenosine is known as the sleep pressure hormone. And that hormone level rises as you are awake and falls as you go to sleep. So you’ve got this ebb and flow that happens throughout the day and the overnight not only for babies and toddlers, but also for you as an adult. Now melatonin, which many people have heard of, is actually referred to as the hormone of darkness. Melatonin is trip triggered typically in the evening hours because of the darkness outside, it has to do with the amount of light that your eyes are processing, which then triggers your brain to begin to create melatonin levels are typically the highest around bedtime. And then those levels fall as the rest of the night goes on. In between there you have adrenaline and cortisol, which is firing based on different activities that are happening inside of a day. So you have to understand that first and foremost, if your child isn’t sleeping well, you’ve got to assess their timing. Are they overtired? Are they under tired because if it is one or the other, which we’re going to dive into a little bit more. They’re gonna have their schedules out of whack. Okay?
So when you have a child who’s overtired, what happens is the brain thinks you’re actually trying to stay awake. So then it triggers stimulant hormones. And then you have a baby who’s crying to go down, crying when they wake up. Their naps are really short. They’re not sleeping through the night. They’re often waking early in the morning. Because they’re overtired is triggering stimulant hormones that stimulates them. It’s almost like snorting a pixie stick and then your kids trying to go to bed, right? Nobody’s going to sleep well like that. So overtired is the number one thing that I always tell parents you need to focus on, especially with babies because they’re so subject to the right awake window, that if they get overtired, you’re going to have have a baby who doesn’t eat well, and who is extra frosty cries and then also doesn’t sleep well. So managing awake Windows is super important to avoid overtired. Just as an example, a three month olds typical awake window is about 90 minutes. At four months of age, it jumps to about two hours. At five months of age, the awake window is about two and a half hours, at six months of age, you can go upwards of about three hours. So somewhere between 245 and three, and then by seven months, you should most definitely be at about a three hour awake window. And that’s going to carry you all the way up through 10 or 11 months, when you start to notice your little one can probably go three and a half hours. And by their first birthday four or five, even six hours depending on your child and their current sleep situation, whether they’re at home and you can manage things, or whether it daycare, they forced train them to sleep one nap a day, my kids were both in daycare at 12 months of age, they were on one nap a day. So as you grow through that whole first year, there’s a lot of shifts that happen with that awake window. But if you’re not paying attention to it, your child can either be overtired, or frankly, under tired. I work with a lot of clients in our private sleep coaching practice, who were like no, my seven month old is tired after an hour, I’m like that is impossible. And they’re probably bored. And I mean that very nicely. So you have to make sure you’re paying attention to your child’s age, and then their ideal awake window. And if they’re struggling to get to that idea awake window, my advice is first put them near the window, get the natural vitamin D that comes from the sunlight, have them do sensory stimulating activities. Like for example, playing in the bath in water is a great one. And then also doing just different one to one activities where you’re engaging them from an eye contact standpoint, you want to keep them engaged and active so that they don’t get bored. And then you mistake the boredom for signs of tired. I know none of us want to think that our children are bored. But sometimes they can only last about 10 or 15 minutes in the swing or the jumper before they’re ready to move on to the next activity. So pay attention to the awake windows because that’s going to manage your hormones which is going to manage how well your child sleeps. The next thing we want to talk about is intake. One of the biggest questions I get as a lactation counselor is also around how much milk a baby eats right in that entire first year. The difference between breast milk and formula, how much of both they should have and what the cadence for the feedings should be. So first things first breast milk and formula it is the same ounce amount. Over the first 12 months of life. A child needs 24 to 32 ounces of milk in a given 24 hour period for optimal growth and health. Some children will just naturally be on the lower end, some children will naturally be on the higher end. I hear oftentimes parents say Oh, well my baby sleeps better because they’re formula fed and my baby sleeps better because they’re breastfed and I don’t have a lot of fat and my breast milk. Okay, newsflash, your boobs do an amazing thing. So let them do what they’re meant to do. Don’t worry about for milk and hind milk. Yes, it is a thing. But it is not actually impacting how well your child is doing. From a sleep standpoint, your boobs actually fluctuate with the milk fat that is in them throughout the course of feeding, just let your body do what it’s supposed to do. Don’t try to pick that part apart. Okay? So when it comes to formula, it’s also the same right? 24 To 32 ounces. No, adding, you know, rice cereal to a bottle doesn’t help your baby stay hungry, or full longer. And it’s just like all these different myths that are out there. And it’s actually comes down to frankly habit which we’re gonna get into next. So if you want to check the box for intake, you have two ways one, if you’re bottle feeding, whether it’s breast milk or formula, you can see the actual ounces that your child is getting in the daytime manage that if they’re getting 24 to 32 ounces in the day, they do not need to eat overnight, and if they are over six months of age, they should not need to eat overnight if they’re growing appropriately. Okay. So if they are it tells me that you probably have a habit that is leading to the feedings, okay, which means they you are doing something to get that child back to sleep. And it has become a habit, a reliance or a prop for your baby to sleep through the night. Okay, and then they’re waking up a bunch of different times and having you do the thing to get them back down. Okay, so when we talk about intake, if you’re breastfeeding, one of the things I encourage parents to do is to either call the doctor and do a weighted transfer at the pediatricians office or visit a lactation counselor. There’s free lactation support groups that many hospitals or for 60 bucks buy a scale on Amazon and weigh your baby. So you can do weighted transfers every single time they eat and you know exactly What a baby is getting intake wise, right? If you know your child is getting the right amount, it relieves you of that stress or anxiety wandering, I had a client that swore up and down her boobs were just sock full of milk. And when we did this exercise, she was like, Oh, my gosh, they are getting two ounces of milk at my one o’clock in the afternoon feeding, and I’m emptying both breasts. So you have to understand that sometimes the science is a bit more on point when you can measure it and take the questions or the variables out of it. Okay, so so far, we’ve covered sleep foundations, right total sleep needs by age, and then the hormones related to sleep, we’ve looked at intake, your baby needs 24 to 32 ounces of milk. Okay, now we’re going to look at Independence. Okay? If you are doing the thing that puts your child to sleep, whether it’s giving them the pacifier, every time they wake, whether it’s rocking them to sleep, bouncing them to sleep, carrying them to sleep, wearing them to sleep, nursing them to sleep, feeding them to sleep, whatever the thing is that you’re doing to sleep is stripping them of learning the skill of independence. So while in the moment, it feels right to be doing that, you’re creating a reliance that, frankly, your baby doesn’t want, but they don’t know that they possess the ability to actually do it themselves. Because they’ve never been shown how sleep is a skill. It is the skill set that develops that can be done gently and effectively. And your child once they have that skill. They don’t want to rely on you. They don’t want to wake up crying, do you think your baby feels good, waking seven times a night crying for five minutes every single time. And that goes on for months and months and months? Do the math. That’s a lot of tears. People often come to me as a sleep coach or a sleep consultant and say, Is my baby going to ever cry when we do this? Well, of course, you’re changing behaviors, there’s going to be some aspect of protest for any age, right? As adults, we’d protest if we got a new pillow all of a sudden, and we didn’t like it, right? I don’t think I’m gonna sleep on this pillow. And then all of a sudden, you’re passed out in a little bit right? With babies. We don’t afford them the skill. And that’s a shame because they want the skill. Once they learn they have the skill. That’s the tool they go for. Right? They’re using the wrong tool in the tool belt right now. Because it’s all they really know, they didn’t know that this other tool existed that was easier, better and faster, right? From an independent standpoint, that’s the foundation of it. If your child is waking every 45 minutes to 60 minutes overnight, right? And you’re doing something to put them back to sleep. Why would they stop waking because right now they believe they need that to go to bed. So yes, they are going to continue to wake Now typically, when you talk about sleep cycles, okay, the deepest and most restorative sleep is from seven o’clock till about two in the morning. So, if your child is sleeping from seven to two pretty well, maybe they focus a little bit one time two times, right. But otherwise, they’re sleeping, all right, and then the back half of the night is just a total dumpster fire. That’s because they are actually waking much more frequently, right? Your deepest most restorative sleep in those deep, you know, stage 1234512345, that happens the first chunk of the night, the back half of the night, you’re actually only sleeping between rem and non REM. So you’re in really light sleep, which is why many parents between two and 7am experienced so many more wakings because no matter what, like happens, right? Baby twitches, you fart, something goes on, that baby wakes up because they’re in this lighter stage of sleep. Okay, so fostering independence is something we do here with families at all ages. I’m working with a 10 week old now who is doing amazing settling independently for naps, gently and effectively, we taught them how to settle for bedtime, they’re waking twice at night to eat. And they’re going back to sleep independently. And every week, the time in which they wait for that first feeding is going out by about 30 minutes. So over the course of the next two or three weeks, the baby is naturally without ever needing to sleep train or without ever needing to cry it out. Going to sleep through the night, right? I mean, we see this all the time with the clients we work with the sleep is the skill. And then that consistency and repetition in helping to sharpen that skill is what makes things so unique. Now here at Tiny transitions, we use something called sleep steps. That is our sleep training methodologies that we don’t need to teach cry it out. And then we can have a slow transformation at a pace of parents comfortable with with appropriate steps throughout our private coaching time together to make sure everybody is on point, including your little one with what changes we’re making whether this is a newborn and infant or a toddler that were sleep coaching, okay, some of this is developmental, right so I have a lot of parents that will come to me and they’ll say my baby’s naps are short. Why? Well, your baby’s three months old and they don’t yet have the ability to Take unsupported consolidated naps, right? So developmentally what happens is around 12 weeks of age, they move from that stage to cycle based sleep. Okay. And then after they’re there, and they have the independent ability to settle to settle, they then start to take natural unsupported longer naps. If your baby’s being rocked to sleep, their naps are always going to be short because it’s a reliance. So what’s happening is they’re passing through one cycle and going, Hey, how did I end up in this crib when I like fell asleep in your arms? And can you rock me again, because that’s how I go to sleep, right? So if your baby has a true crutch or dependence on something, they’re not going to take long, consolidated naps independently, because they’re reliant on you, right? So you got to fix that root problem, which is the independence, which then leads developmentally into like what they’re able to do three months, they’re gonna start consolidating into their cycles of sleep. And then between four and five months, they start consolidating, taking longer naps. But the sooner you introduce the skill, the better they get my newborn, 10 weeks old, took an hour and a half nap yesterday. Right? It’s not every day, but it’s getting there. And it’s independent, and it’s in the crib. And the parents are like, this is insane, right? Like when you teach that skill, children as the skill grows and gets stronger developmentally, are going to do the things that we as parents want them to do, right, settle independently, and bedtime, sleep through the night wake at a normal time in the morning and take a consistent nap on a schedule, whether they’re three months, four months, five months, six months, you know, it’s really just about creating that independence and then setting them up for success with the right awake windows and the skill to be able to do it. Now, as I mentioned, naps, those are variable, right. And I’ll say that because my kids were in daycare, and their naps looked like a dumpster fire some days. And other days. They were perfect and beautiful. Right? We definitely always got better, more consistent naps on the weekends, because my kids were in cribs in a dark room where it was quiet, right. But little Johnny whips a pacifier across the room at daycare and it flings into CIVILUS crib, she’s probably going to wake up when it whacks her in the face, right? So there’s a little bit of balance with naps. The first thing I would say is just get the nap. Right. While you’re teaching independence, you got to get the NAPS because you got to avoid overtired or everything’s going to be derailed. There are sleep consultants that do everything on the first day. And I’ll tell you frankly, that’s because they’re only working with you for like two weeks, and they don’t have to sit and listen to your baby cry. And then what they’re going to tell you to do is they’re going to tell your baby to cry for 45 minutes and then pick them up and rescue them and rock them to sleep. Which all that really does is train your baby to cry for 45 minutes, and then get rocked to sleep. Do you think that’s a healthy way to sleep? Train a baby? No. And nobody wants to hear Tears for 45 minutes. Through our coaching here we take a gentle, effective approach where when your child starts building that nap, there’s no tears needed because they just understand the expectation. They have the skill and they settle to sleep. That’s the biggest difference. Right? So with naps, we are balancing the awake windows to manage overtired, we’re looking at the skill of independent sleep. And we’re balancing your child’s unique needs based on their age. And frankly, based on the realities of parenting. I sometimes have eight month olds who are at home and they do two beautiful long naps a day. I just had a mom who I worked with has an eight month old who can’t do two naps a day because the baby’s on a feeding tube. And because they have to do a car line pickup. So there’s no way between the hour long tube feed and the baby’s schedule with the older kids pickups from Carline. To make it a two nap type of day, you know what we’re just keeping them on three naps. And they’re properly spaced and balanced throughout the day. They’re getting the right amount of sleep during the day so they don’t get overtired. And they’re able to settle on a seven to seven type day. Everything is possible when you understand first, the age and needs of your child. Second, the root cause of why they’re not sleeping. And third, that you have 100% consistency in like what you’re doing to understand your child’s sleep needs like you can have the flexibility when your child has the skill of independent sleep, you can go to the lake, you can go to the beach, you can go on vacation, you can do all of these amazing, beautiful things. At the same time have a child that sleeps well. I think people believe that when you sleep train a child, that you lose freedom, and it’s actually the opposite. Your nursing supply is better your freedom and mobility is better. You know why? Because your kid knows how to sleep. They sleep wherever and whenever they eat better because they’re not using it as a mechanism they’re actually eating cuz they’re hungry, right, especially in the middle of the night. I don’t ever rip feedings out from kids, like many sleep consultants do if your baby’s hungry they need to eat. But if you’re using the food as the mechanism to fall back to sleep that’s a prop needs to go right. And we balanced that through our first week of coaching together to identify where things are habit and where things are hunger, and make sure that your child is getting everything they need to be their best, including the ability and skill to independently sleep. So if you need baby sleep Help. Please know that the team here at Tiny transitions is more than happy to chat with you. We offer a ton of free information out on our website. We have free discovery calls where you can meet with a team and work with someone. We are always happy and ready here to help you on your quest for rest. So be sure to check out tiny transitions.com and connect with us. Connect with me if you need any further help. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode. And we’ll see you next time here on the kids sleep show.
One more thing before you go, did you know that we offer a risk free guarantee on all of our private sleep coaching services. In addition, we have the largest library of free sleep training content available for children of all ages. Jump on over to tiny transitions.com and learn more about how we are supporting and changing the quality sleep that your family gets one family at a time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai