Saturday, June 28, 2014

To bathe or not to bathe at bedtime, that is the question.

Do you give your little one a bath before bedtime? Or read her a book? Serenade her with songs and kisses?
There was a small study done that showed that the children who got a bath thirty minutes before bedtime had an easier time going to bed. 

But why?

Was it the consistency of a regular routine? Did a bath relax them and thus encourage the production of the calming hormone, melatonin?

 What happens if the bath is very fun and exciting and ends up stimulating your child? If she is already tired and ready to sleep, would the bath just wake her up and give her a second wind? (Cortisol  rush—NOT what you want at bedtime!)
So, let’s approach bedtime in a totally different way (I say this a lot). Think of the “Bedtime Routine” as having two pieces. 

First, we have the wind-down activities. These are all the things you have to do to prepare your child for bed, such as supper, meals, baths (only if you like it and it is calming for your child), fresh diaper, maybe even a massage while she are undressed for the diaper, pyjamas and so on.  For the wind-down, it is best to do the activities always in the same order, but how long you spend on each activity can vary. This will give your activities consistency and a good flow. The routine will become familiar. If you like to do the bath every other night or less frequently, place it in the same slot in the order of activities.

Second, you have your routine of signals to sleep: three to five things that you do in the same order for the same amount of time in the same way. For example, you could do a story, a song, a prayer and a kiss.  When done consistently, these things will signal to your child that they are about to be put in bed.

So here’s the secret…

Between the wind-down and the signal routines, watch for sleep cues. If you see sleep cues while doing your wind-down, end it, skip the last steps if necessary, and do your signal routine.  Catching the sleep window helps everyone get to sleep more easily. If you can slide smoothly through the routines and catch the sleep window, you will be in a better place to get sleep success.

For more sleep secrets, call me for a gentle sleep consultation.  I create gentle sleep plans that don’t involve “crying it out”.

Tracy Spackman
Certified Gentle Sleep Coach
Call for a free 15 minute sleep assessment.
Specializing in alert, bright eyed, observant, curious, spirited babies and children.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

When should my baby be sleeping through the night?

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 temperment.

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.  Cry it out just isn't healthy for attachment and brain development at this age and isn't the only option at older ages. 

The range of what a baby can do it very broad. Especially before 4 months old. Some babies are naturallly 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. It can even be inconsistent about sleeping a lot or not. 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. Try to make it to 6 months. 

 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. Let me give you some coping stratagies.
Take a few minutes of my time for free. 602-524-7610. Call, text or message me to set up a free 5 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 sleeping in no time.

Tracy Spackman
Certified Gentle Sleep Coach

Saturday, June 21, 2014

How do you improve naps in 4-5 month old babies?

How do you improve naps in 4-5 month old babies?  (If I don't hold him, he won't sleep.)

Getting enough day sleep any way possible  is the building block for night time sleep and sleep skills. Night time sleep skills is the building block for daytime sleep skills. Especially in alert babies. Maximize day sleep by using your sleep crutch blessings. Work on night skills if your baby is ready and then work in nap skills. 

Do people describe your baby as "bright eyed", curious, observant, social, aware? If so then his alert temperament likely means he has an active mind and has a hard time shutting if off to sleep. It also means he is probably very smart. I have 5 of these alert children. They are very fun as they grow up but sleep is a real challenge at first. 

Learning to self-regulate (manage stress like going to sleep without mom) is much more difficult for alert temperaments and he needs you to help him. If he is over 18 weeks, was born full term, is heathy and you have seen an increase in his perceptiveness for over 2 weeks, then you can gently do some sleep shaping to begin working on night skills but take it slow. Usually, once the nights get to using less crutches, the naps get easier.  

Gentle sleep Tip for immediate results: Catch the sleep window. Doing this for naps prevents the cortisol hormone from complicating things. Cortisol is the hormone the body produces when it is ready for sleep (run out of energy) but not going to sleep. It's a defense mechanism. It feels like the second wind you as an adult get when you stay up later than usual. In fact, that is exactly what it is. 

How do you do it?   Try napping him after 60-90 minutes of wakefulness when you see him staring into space, zoning out, glassy eyes, disinterest. That should happen before yawning and eye rubbing. Pay close attention, it's easy to miss.  If all you see is yawning, take note of the timing interval from the last wake up. Then try for a bit shorter interval next time. So if it's been 1.5 hours since the last wake up when you see him yawn, try watching his body language closely after an hour and 15 minutes next time to see if you notice the earlier sleep cues. Some babies pull their ears, bonk their head against mom or have some other unique but subtle signal.  When you see this, put your baby down to sleep. You may even get a longer crib nap if you have caught the sleep window. Try a swing nap. Motion sleep is better than no sleep.  If notch at still doesn't get you longer naps, keep doing it while you spend some time on removing night crutches.  For some babies, naps just don't get better into 6 months and nights improve. Just be sure to get lots of those 30 min naps. (More than 3.)

If you are happy snuggling or nursing your baby to sleep and/or holding for naps, and you are both bonding, eating enough and getting an adequate amount of sleep, don't let anyone tell you that you have a problem. For young babies, sleep crutches are not a problem. You are a terrific mom taking great care of your baby. 

If you want to talk to me about gentle sleep shaping plans or your baby is older and need a gentle sleep coaching plan and don't want to do cry it out, give me a call. I'm a certified gentle sleep coach. No cry it out. I'm different from other sleep trainers. I'm pro nursing, pro attachment theory, and you can night feed and co sleep or not depending on your family goals. I look at your unique scenario and your unique baby and I will come up with the right gentle plan for your family. And it may not be what you think. I prefer resonsive methods that support the baby's healthy growth and development. 

Contact me for a free 15 minute sleep assessment.

Tracy Spackman  602-524-7610

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Epsom Salts! Can it fix...Acting out, Biting, acting violent...? Or is it sleep deprivation?

Talking with a wise friend today, she shared a great parenting tip. Epsom salts. If you have a child that is acting out, biting, acting violent and you don't know where these behaviors could possibly be coming from, perhaps they are low in magnesium which increases anxiety and causes discomfort in their bodies. She was the 4th friend to tell me she had done this with her children and seen dramatic behavioral improvement.epsom salts, bath, sleep babies, children
Epson Salts is Magnesium Sulfate. The body uses Magnesium to keep bones strong and the heart rhythm steady. It also supports the immune system and helps maintain muscle and nerve function. Studies indicate that giving your child take a bath can be part of a comforting routine (with or without adding Epsom salt) which can help improve sleep. Further, it is believed that Epsom salts especially help with stress, circulation and softening the skin. As an added health benefit, the Epsom Salt Council reports that magnesium and sulfates, both important minerals for the body, may be absorbed through the skin. (See Source)
Try giving your child an Epsom salts baths every other day or even every day and see if it improves the behavior.  Soak for 10-15 minutes.  Just get the no-name brand from the drugstore. It's very cheap. 
Edible sources of Magnesium include All-Bran cereal, nuts, soymilk, edamame, spinach, oatmeal, black and other beans, whole wheat bread, yogurt, brown rice, bananas, milk, raisins, avocado, halibut.  
 This is not the first time I have heard this great tip. So I'm passing on to you.
 Another common reason for this type of behavior is sleep deprivation.  If you need to improve your child's sleep, please give me a call.  Sleep consultations done in person or over the phone.
Contact me for a consultation today.
Tracy Spackman
Certified Gentle Sleep Coach

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My baby likes me better when...

My baby likes me better when...
1. I come to her as soon as she calls for me in the morning
2. I pay attention to her sleep cues and put her to sleep before she's overtired.
3.  I nurse and cuddle her before her nap since she doesn't have day time sleep skills yet.
4. I close the curtains for her nap.  She likes to sleep in the dark, just like me.
5. When she wakes up after 30 minutes, I snuggle her back to sleep and hold her for a while so she can finish her nap in my arms (she doesn't have daytime sleep skills yet and she needs 45 minutes to feel rested.)
6. I feed her when she wakes up from her nap. Her tummy is small and needs to eat frequently.
7. I talk to her and tell her what I'm going to do next.  I'm not sure if she understands but I think she does.
8. I watch the clock so I can be watching her body language for her next sleep window.  If I catch her tired signs, she seems happy to nap and less frustrated.
9. I sing to her. I want her to feel safe.
10. I put off sleep training him until she is ready.  No rush.  Her brain isn't ready until after 18 weeks and 6 months or later is even better.

I was thinking about 4-9 month old babys when I wrote this.

Tracy Spackman
Certified Gentle Sleep Coach

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Are you keeping a log?

Have you ever heard the expression, "Return and Report".   It means to get the job done and then report the progress or completion to your superiors or others who need to know.  This helps us keep track of progress.  We do it for work, health and goals.  It's very important in sleep coaching.

After a few days of sleep coaching, you start to forget what happens in the previous days and it all blends together.  So keep a log.  Then you can see your progress in black and white.  When keeping your log digitally, it's going to get lost unless you label it properly. It's called digital filing and as I was explaining my preference to a Mom I am working with she said, "you are so right, people don't realize how important proper labeling of digital filing is."  I look at a lot of logs and have found a way to keep them all straight. From person to person and from day to day.  Here's the secret.  Label Everything.
Name, age, city (this helps me know what time zone you are in for follow up calls), Night, Step, Date with Day of the Week.
So for example:  Baby Spackman, 7mo, Phoenix, Night 1, Step 1, Tuesday, June 10 2014
Then as you progress, the Night and Step and Date Change and if it goes long, the age adjusts.  This is especially important if your baby is 18 weeks old when you start.  Every week matters.
Title every log this way.  The order of the info can change, just be consistent about it.  Condensed, this log title may be: Baby Spackman, 7mo Phx N1 S1 Tues 6/10/14
The log itself is especially helpful if you keep it like a list. Start with the time and then what happened. Add as many details as you like.
For Example:

4-4:30pm Last nap (30 min)
6:30 in crib (1 pick up, lots of quiet breaks, moderate fussing)
6:50 Asleep

9pm woke up (coached step 1)
9:15 back to sleep

12 Dream Feed (10 min)

3 woke up (2 pick ups, lots of gas)
4 back to sleep

4:30 woke up
4:45 back to sleep
5 woke up
5:20 back to sleep
6 woke up
6:10 back to sleep
7 woke up  DWU (Dramatic Wake Up)  & Nursed.

With your logs, lay look at them in multi-day lists side by side.  Compare the falling asleep times.  Compare how many wake ups and how long.  Compare any early rising.  Where do you see the progress.  Have you gone from 60 min to fall asleep to 10 min to fall asleep?  Have you gone from 6 wake ups to 1?  Have you gone from 5am wake up for the day to 6 am wake up for the day?  These would be signs of progress.

If you need help putting a sleep plan together and want to do a gentle method, give me a call.
Contact me for a Free 15 min sleep assessment.

Tracy Spackman
Certified Gentle Sleep Coach

Thursday, June 5, 2014

9 month old success story

9 month old success story:
The baby was waking 4-8 times a night, re-actively co-sleeping in her parents bed, 45 min to get to sleep for naps.  Can you relate?  Here is what mom says,

"Hi Tracy! Just wanted to give you an update. Lina is now on day 8 of sleeping through the night. YAY!!! After we got back from our vacation I spent another two days on step 3, I was really nervous to "move out" but one night i just decided it was time. ... Did our bed time routine Said good night and walked out. And that was it. I haven't had to do another thing. No step 5 or 6. It's amazing how it just fell into place. She is now sleeping from 7-7. She does wake up around 5 usually but wines for a minute or two. Finds a soother and goes right back to sleep on her own. Naps also fell into place easily. I am able to put her down awake. She just lays herself down as soon as the lights are out and goes to sleep. Two naps 9-11:30ish and 2:00-3:30ish. I'm flexible with naps and just wait for sleepy cues. Thank you so much for all your help! I am so grateful. I will be back at work in two weeks so this couldn't have come together at a more perfect time. Lina will be starting with a day home on June 23rd so hopefully she will adjust and fall into a good routine.
 Thank you so much.  ...Changed my life!"
We started half way through May and even with disruptions, we got it all together before she goes back to work.  Mission accomplished.   Lina, Welcome to my Sleeping through the night club!

I am a sleep coach.  I help families all over the world with phone and skype consultations.
Tracy Spackman -Certifed Gentle Sleep Coach - 602-524-7610

Call me to get started.
Free 15 minute Sleep Assessment.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Confessions of a Mom who coached her baby to sleep through the night.

Confessions of a Mom who coached her baby to sleep through the night.

Kelly says:
“Confession: We got more sleep during sleep coaching. It’s true. Our sweet baby girl had become quite accustomed to her sleep crutches. We swaddled, pacified, rocked, swayed, jiggled, and shushed. She slept in the Rock n’ Play, and the Rock n’ Play alone. That it, if she let us put her down at all! After five months and several failed attempts to wean said crutches, we reached out to Tracy. We were tired, as was our baby. And we had a toddler to care for, as well. Our baby’s sleep needs were changing and we just didn't know how to help her in a gentle, supported way. Tracy was our answer. With her help, our little one did what we thought was impossible without hours and hours of crying and many sleepless nights. Now, she is placed in her crib, awake, crutch-free and is able fall asleep on her own with minimal support.
Update: It has been a few months since we had our consult with Tracy. Things are still going great! Our daughter is almost 8 months old and is sleeping 11-12 hours at night and is on a predictable nap routine. Now, like every child, she might need a bit more support with teething, milestones, illness, etc., but is able to get right back on track using the tools we learned during our initial consult.”
Every baby is unique and every coaching plan is individualistic and every coaching experience varies from super easy to very challenging. But I get comments like this all the time. What makes the difference?  Temperament, Consistency, Sleep experience, amount of day sleep, catching the bedtime sleep window and the unique qualities that make your baby unique.  However it goes, you can get there.
Read many pages of experiences of families coaching on my website here.
If you need help, call me, text me, message me. 
Tracy Spackman 602-524-7610
Free 15 min sleep assessments.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

17 months old - food sensitivities & waking screaming 'bloody murder'

I love getting emails like this:
Hi Tracy!

How are you? Long time, no talk which in your line of business isn't a bad thing ;)  I never began my 2 weeks of follow up calls with you because Hailey responded very well to some of the changes we made during the day. Following your advice, I began giving her a morning nap again (no more than 45 mins), changed the night light situation, I bathe her with lilac Epsom salts every night, and I have waged a war against any form of light entering her room. I think one of the biggest changes is that she now goes to sleep no later than 7 pm (whereas previously it was 8 pm) and I've been diligently paying abiding by the sleep windows. As such, she's been sleeping through the night and the world is a much brighter happier place for our family :)  In fact, we've fallen in love all over again with her!  She is a TOTALLY different kid and has such an unbelievable little personality.  She's more coordinated, there's no more raunchy, screaming crying, she's nowhere as intense, she's active, and best of all she's HAPPY!  Some of the things that desperately concerned me are no longer concerns as it seems that the sleep has fixed so many of my worries.  The more sleep she started getting during the day and the earlier bedtime allowed for her to start sleeping through the night.  I didn't have to do any of the shushing.  There was one week where she woke up often but she was getting 3 molars so I gave her an excuse.  Aside from teething she sleeps through the night and it has been glorious.

This mom's baby was 17 months old, we did some gentle things to adjust her schedule and she had food sensitivities and would wake screaming bloody murder.  The mom had serious health issues with her thyroid and what looked like PPD but guess what, getting back to sleeping all night fixed all the mom's health issues.  A good sleep makes a world of difference.  Sleep deprivation was wreaking havoc with her family and now it's wonderful again.  Getting enough sleep is the right place to start.

If you are sleep deprived, I can help.
Free 15 minute sleep assessment.  Just contact me.
Tracy Spackman