Monthly Archives: November 2019

Infant Safe Sleep Do’s and Don’ts

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We have come a long way with educating parents on infant safe sleep do’s and don’ts. Just think, moms slept with their babies for the first three months to keep them warm (houses were not heated well back in the 1800’s and earlier so this was the reason for co-sleeping with baby).  

We’ve even had dangerous and bizarre cribs that were recommend. The most bizarre crib was what they called the window crib. Not too long after American pediatrician Luther Emmett Holt insisted in his book The Care and Feeding of Children that “fresh air is required to renew and purify the blood” and that “those who sleep out of doors are stronger children” these window cribs started to emerge.  No doubt, they would not meet infant safe sleep guidelines today.

Eleanor Roosevelt used one in their townhouse window for their daughter, Anna, until a neighbor threatened to report her for child cruelty. “This was a shock to me,” Roosevelt wrote in her autobiography, “for I thought I was being a most modern mother.” (SOURCE – Smithsonian)

On the opposite end of the spectrum from the cage style, open-air crib, there was the Air Crib in 1944 — a completely enclosed crib with three solid walls and a ceiling, and a safety glass front, that allowed both temperature and humidity to be controlled for baby. (SOURCE – Smithsonian)  This contraption may meet today’s infant safe sleep guidelines since it hosts a thin, flat mattress.

The Skinner Air Crib

Looking at these past normalities, we have come a long way, although we only recently have seen major changes in infant safe sleep education and parents taking action in only the last two decades.  The history of infant safe sleep first started back in 1969 when scientists start applying the term “sudden infant death syndrome” (SIDS) to infants who died for no apparent reason while sleeping.

Throughout the 70’s and 80’s , research proved the link between stomach sleeping and SIDS. In the 90’s, the recommendation from the US Surgeon General issues a policy statement about proper infant safe sleep practices.  It states that “healthy babies should be placed on their back or side to sleep to reduce the risk of SIDS.”

By 1996, the infant safe sleep policy changed to  placing baby wholly on their backs to sleep as the safest sleeping position.

In 1997,  bed sharing studies confirm that sharing a bed with a baby increases the risk of infant sleep related deaths.  The infant safe sleep policy was amended to eliminate bed sharing.

By the late 80’s, the “Back to Sleep Campaign” begins by a small organization in Michigan devoted to infant safe sleep and decreasing infant mortality rates.

In the 2000’s, a lot of workshops and education began committed to educating young parents and caregivers on infant safe sleep recommendations.   The World Wide Web helped quickly spread and amplify infant safe sleep messaging and practices..

(Source:  HHS.gov)

We still have a ways to go in supporting infant safe sleep recommendations. We still see photos of moms sharing a bed with their baby, babies in cribs with blankets and toys, bumper pads in cribs, and siblings sleeping together.  

DO’s and DON’Ts for Baby’s Safe Sleep:

DON’T put anything in the crib except properly dressed baby.

Pillows, blankets, bumpers, toys, and other items should NEVER be in the crib while baby is sleeping.   These items will only put your infant’s safe sleep at risk.  It’s good to just not have these items ever in the crib. These items can easily block baby’s airways. Babies are not able to move themselves or roll over in the first few months which creates a dangerous situation where they cannot help themselves if they cannot breathe.  These items can also trap harmful carbon dioxide which has been linked to many infant sleep related deaths.

DON’T use a traditional swaddle blanket.

Swaddling creates an infant safe sleep environment to keep baby warm instead of using blankets – but not all swaddles are created equal! Traditional swaddle blankets can easily come unraveled and cover baby’s face which is very scary – especially when parents are sleeping at night themselves and cannot watch of check baby every moment.

Infant safe sleep recommendations warn that baby’s arms are no longer bound in a swaddle once they show any signs of beginning to roll.  Infants normally begin to roll from back to tummy at around four months.

The best swaddles are the swaddles that require no wrapping. The Woombie baby swaddle pioneered the no-wrap, peanut-shaped swaddle years ago.  The Woombie is still our favorite go-to swaddle company. We love how easy it is to swaddle baby – just put baby in and zip! The 4-way stretch fabric gently cocoons baby snugly imitating the feeling of the womb yet baby can stretch naturally.  It’s perfect for infant’s safe sleep during nap and at night.

DON’T Place baby on stomach to sleep.

Safe Infant sleep policy dictates that back is best when it comes to baby sleep. However, some babies are tummy sleepers and always end up sleeping on their stomachs no matter how many times you place them on their backs. Also, there comes a time when baby will begin to roll and baby may not know how to roll back over so becoming face-down on the mattress poses a risk of suffocation or SIDS.

The best solution is to choose a breathe-through crib mattress – this is NOT a “breathable” crib mattress, but a mattress that baby can literally breathe through normally, even if face straight-down all night.  The SafeSleep Completely Breathe-Through Crib Mattress meets and exceeds all safe infant sleep policy guidelines.  It is commonly referred to as the World’s safest and most comfortable mattress. The perforated topper sits over a hollowed airspace allowing baby to breathe right through the mattress without trapping carbon dioxide. There’s no sheet required. and it is made from recycled and eco-friendly materials.

Features and Benefits of the SafeSleep Breathe Through Crib Mattress

DON’T co-sleep with baby.

A baby that won’t sleep is exhausting.  Resorting to un-safe infant sleep practices like co-sleeping is too dangerous and not worth the risk. It’s important to develop healthy infant safe sleep habits from the beginning – at around four months babies start to learn and form their sleep habits.

It’s very important that babies know how to fall asleep on their own and to self-soothe.  If we rock baby to sleep every time this creates a sleep crutch that baby depends on to fall asleep. Waking up every 1-2 hours all night long to rock baby back to sleep will disrupt your entire household and life. I’ve been there and it’s not pretty. So do yourself and your baby a favor by letting them fall asleep on their own as a baby.

If you find yourself in a situation where your baby does not know how to fall asleep on their own – it’s okay. You can teach your baby how to do this. Work with a certified child sleep consultant to help you – we recommend The Baby Sleep Whisperer. When we worked with a sleep consultant, our son went from waking up every 1-2 hours all night long needing me to rock him back to sleep to sleeping 6 hours straight in his crib on day one of implementing the sleep plan. He’s a rockstar sleeper to this day at age 3.5!

Healthy and Safe Sleep for Babies

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Healthy and safe sleep is the foundation of every family.   Getting the ideal sleep for you and your baby, helps your baby thrive and develop. If baby is sleeping well, this means parents are too. 

  • Newborns sleep 16 to 18 hours per 24 hour day.  This is the ideal sleep time for babies.
  • Babies wake up often because their stomachs are small and get hungry again.  
  • Newborns have two different kinds of sleep: Active Sleep and Quiet Sleep.  Both are considered healthy and safe sleep for baby.  During active sleep, newborns move around a lot and make noises. They can be woken easily during active sleep. During quiet sleep, newborns are still. Their breathing is deep and regular. They’re less likely to wake during quiet sleep.” (Source)
  • A newborn’s sleep cycle is 40 minutes long. After each sleep cycle your baby may start to cry and need help to go back to sleep. Holding baby or rocking helps.
  • Around 3 or 4 months babies start to form sleep habits. So if you rock your baby to sleep, this is the time where you want to lay baby in the crib sleepy but not totally asleep so that baby can learn how to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own. The earlier the better than you start with this. If your baby is older and is still waking up multiple times a night needing you to rock him or her to sleep, check out our blog on the magic cry it out method that worked in ONE night  to help our baby learn to fall asleep on his own.
  • Also, around the 4 month mark, your baby will be sleeping longer (4 to 6 hours straight).  All babies are different however.

The Ideal Sleep Environment:

Dark Room
This is very important. Any type of light will stimulate baby and keep them awake. No nightlights and even the little light on the sound machine should be covered up. Room darkening shades or curtains work great, and can add some flair to the nursery.

Empty Crib
No mobiles with music, no musical or light projector toys, no pillows, no blankets, no bumpers, no toys, or anything else should be inside the crib. Only your swaddled baby.

We love the Woombie no-wrap baby swaddle the best.  We also love and promote the SafeSleep Breathe-Through Crib Mattress.  Baby can breathe through the mattress normally if they roll over and are face down; there’s a SIDS and suffocation risk when baby’s become face down on regular fiber-fill crib mattresses. SafeSleep Breathe-Through mattress eliminates this risk with their unique constant-air flow design.

Temperature
The optimal temperature for infant sleep is between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  Overheating is a risk factor if SIDS and it’s very important to keep baby the right temperature – not too hot and not too cold. Using a ventilated Woombie baby swaddle on hot/warm nights helps keep the air circulating over baby’s skin and in the winter try the Winter Woombie swaddle which has more warmth. and also the SafeSleep crib mattress is designed to keep air
flowing so baby does not get too hot or too cold.

It’s amazing how much better babies sleep when following these tips. Our son is 3.5 and is still a rock-star sleeper.

Crying it Out Method That Works Like Magic

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“Crying it out” is a sleep training method that lets your baby shed a few tears before running in and consoling them. This teaches baby how to self-soothe which is a crucial skill for babies to be able to fall asleep on their own.

A newborn’s sleep cycle is 40 minutes long so at the end of each cycle instead of waking up and crying for mom, baby will learn to self-soothe back to sleep (unless it’s time to eat of course). A toddler’s sleep cycle is 60 minutes so teaching baby how to fall back asleep on their own early on will set you up for years of healthy, successful sleep.

Rocking your baby to sleep is a habit that will prevent them from learning how to self-soothe. I know because this is what I did with my son. As a first time mom who was exhausted, my son would cry for me and I would pick him up right away and rock him to sleep and then go back to bed. Doing this all night long every 1- 2 hours for 16 long weeks made my life fall apart.

Severe sleep deprivation set in. I was so tired that my health deteriorated. 

I was too tired to eat properly and go to the gym like normal so I gained 40 lbs.

My marriage was affected – we both were so exhausted that we often argued and there was no intimacy because we were so tired all the time. We dreaded nighttime sleep.

My business began to suffer which affected our livelihood and income. 

And the worst part of it all was, our baby was not getting healthy, good sleep.

Babies thrive and develop best when they sleep well – we desperately needed a change and wanted our son to thrive.So, we hired a certified child sleep consultant and our lives changed the very first night of implementing the sleep plan.

Three things we learned about the Cry it Out Method:

1. It does NOT means letting your baby cry all night long or for hours at a time.

2. WITHOUT proper training and support, Cry it Out probably won’t work. We tried it on our own from reading a book and articles on the internet, but it didn’t work. We were worried about our baby crying so hard and we gave up almost right away. Working with a sleep consultant however, was completely different. She educated us on the gentle cry it out method and healthy sleep overall for babies. She empowered us so when it came time to follow the plan, we knew exactly what to do, what to expect, had  the confidence that we would be successful, and most importantly we knew that our baby would be okay no matter how hard he cried in the allotted Cry it Out time frame.

3. Crying it Out is harder for the parents than it is for the baby. Our sleep consultant assured us that babies are okay to cry and this is the best ways to teach them how to self-soothe on their own. It’s hard for parents to hear their babies cry, but she was right!  We followed the plan and it worked. 

I remember vividly when we started to implement the sleep plan to teach our 9 month old to fall asleep by himself. It was a few days before New Year’s and after such severe sleep deprivation we wanted to start the new year off right and get back to a healthy sleep routine.

As a reminder, at this point I was waking up every 1-2 hours ALL NIGHT long to rock my son back to sleep. The sleep consultant explained to us what my baby felt was this – say you went to sleep comfy in your bed under the covers and then when you woke up, you found yourself sleeping outside on the front lawn. This would be scary and startling right? This is how a baby feels when they are used to being rocked to sleep. They fall asleep in mom’s arms (or dad’s)
and while sleeping are placed down in the cradle or crib to sleep. When they wake up in between sleep cycles, they realize – “Hey, wait a minute. I’m not in mom’s arms anymore.” Then the crying begins. Only after being in mom’s arms again will baby fall back asleep.

So there were multiple other elements to the sleep plan such as a specific bedtime and nap routine along with sleep environment factors, so everything together with the Cry it Out Method made this process so successful for us, but I will focus here on the gentle cry it out method only and how it worked for us:

We first determined a key phrase. Something we say firmly when it’s time to sleep. We decided on, “Na-Night Vas. Time to Sleep.”

Day 1 began and we were 100% all in. You must be 100% committed for this to work. IT WILL WORK. DON’T GIVE UP.

So we started at night and after completing the sleep routine and getting the sleep environment just right, we laid our baby in the crib swaddled in a Woombie baby swaddle and on his back.  We turned on the sound machine, shut the night light off so it was pitch black, and said, “Na-Nigh Vas. Time to Sleep.”

We have a SafeSleep Breathe-Through Crib Mattress, so we don’t worry if he does roll during sleep since we know he can breathe normally right through his mattress.  Thankfully, the SafeSleep Breathe-Through Crib Mattress has removed anxiety from our sleep problems.

Next, we closed the door and left the room. We set the timer for 10 minutes.  There’s an important rule too – if baby stops crying completely or has a low calming cry the timer must be reset to 10 minutes and start over. So say your child cries for 4 minutes but then stops crying and then a minute later cries again, the timer restarts at 10 minutes when the crying starts again. These periods of crying and stopping is when your baby is teaching themselves to self soothe so this is why restarting the 10 minute timer based on baby crying and stopping is so crucial.

Our son cried hard for the first 10 minute timer – we kept reminding ourselves that our baby is okay even if he’s crying and we are helping him not hurting him.

When the timer went off we went upstairs for the next step to console our baby and let him know we were there for him.  This took a very specific technique. Without turning the lights on and without picking up our baby we went into the room, closed the door behind us so baby cannot see me, and did a very loud shooshing sound over and over. Our baby continued to cry very loudly but we shooshed as loudly as possible for two minutes and I even touched his head lightly to let him know mama was there. DO NOT PICK UP YOUR BABY.

After 2 minutes, we said the key phase again with a firm voice, “Na-night Vas. Time to sleep.” And we shut the door.

I went back downstairs and my husband and I again set the 10 minute timer. 

Our son continued to cry the entire time. After 10 minutes we repeated the process of going in the dark, not picking baby up, and doing loud shooshing for 2 minutes. I touched my baby’s head lightly while I shooshed. Then as I left the room, “Na-night Vas. Time to Sleep.”

Again the timer was set for 10 minutes.

The first night we had to set the timer 5 times – so that was a total of 1 hour of setting the timer and shooshing for 2 minutes each time. Then something magical happened. Our son fell asleep! He slept in his crib 6 hours straight on night one. It felt like heaven being able to sleep all night. I was really shocked that it was working so fast.

Night two came and we did the exact same method. It’s SO important to stick to the method and don’t change or waiver.

On night two we only had to set the timer 4 times do 4 shooshing times and our baby was sleeping 11 hours straight all night long.

On night three we only had to set the timer 3 times and go up and shoosh three times and he again slept 11 hours all night.

On night four we only had to set the timer 2 times and go up and shoosh twice and then he slept all night for 11 hours straight.

On the fifth night something miraculous happened. Our son cried a little but within the first 10 minute timer he was asleep! We never had to go up and shoosh. 

The sixth night and every night since there was NO crying when we put him down. By then he knew that it was time to sleep and he knew how to self-soothe himself to sleep.

Sleep is so important for the harmony of a home and despite the strong opinions about the Cry it Out method, for us it worked like magic. We believe that without the help of a certified child sleep consultant we would have never been able to do the correct cry it out method and be confident enough to succeed. We highly suggest parents work with a sleep consultant around 4 or 5 months of age when baby is first learning how to sleep, but if your baby is older and is still
not sleeping, working with a sleep consultant will change your life.

We recommend finding a certified child sleep consultant at the Family Sleep Institute.  We also recommend following safe sleep recommendations.  We purchased the SafeSleep Breathe-Through Crib Mattress after our pediatrician recommended it, and we love it.