Monday, August 11, 2014

Tips for a Good Sleep Start - {Guest Post}

Today's guest post is from my newest Honeybee Mama Sponsor, Tara Hess, owner of Tulsa Pediatric Sleep Consulting. I'll allow Tara to introduce herself: 

Hi! My name is Tara Hess and I am a Gentle Sleep Coach trained and certified by Kim West, LCSW-C (a.k.a. The Sleep Lady. I received my Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Oklahoma and then taught everything from second to fifth grade before "retiring" to be a stay-at-home mom. My first colicky baby hardly slept and therefore, neither did my husband or I. After successfully sleep training her I learned the skills and confidence to use on my second and third children, who were putting themselves to sleep and sleeping through the night from very early on. I was once the tired parent I enjoy helping today!

As a parent I have learned so much about the importance of sleep, both for myself and my children, and am so thankful that I learned early on how important it is for the health and well-being of my kids that they get appropriate amounts of sleep. This helped me to make the sometimes difficult choices of routines and techniques to ensure my kids got the sleep they needed. Once I learned some key tricks of the trade, my life became so much easier!

Although my primary role with parents is in the prenatal period and in coaching them through birth, I am very concerned with their success as parents as well, and often emphasize the importance of getting good information about infant and child sleep needs. So, without further ado, I'll turn this post over to Tara, so she can share her tips on getting off on the right foot with healthy sleep from the very beginning!

Parents often ask me when they should expect their baby to sleep through the night. The truth is, you can't really EXPECT anything in the early months because newborns vary in their sleep needs. I know that's probably not the answer you were hoping for, but the saying "all babies are different" really applies here. There is a wide range of what "normal" newborn sleep looks like. While some babies may sleep through the night very early on, most don't. There is too much variability in feeding patterns. Young babies need to eat around the clock because of their tiny bellies. Also, some newborns have their days and nights reversed and sleep more during the day. So I guess the only thing you can expect in the first several months is that you will be exhausted. Just try to remember that this is the time where you are building life-long bonding and attachment skills in your baby, and that should be your focus. The sleep will come! And if it doesn't, call me ;).
Tara's Top 10 Tips for the Early Months:
  1. Keep visitors to a minimum in the early weeks.
  2. Keep baby's environment as calm as possible so he does not get overstimulated.
  3. Try feeding your baby when he wakes instead of right before he goes to sleep. This will encourage great feeds and prevent the "feed to sleep" association. The Baby Whisperer's EASY routine is great!
  4. Newborns can only stay awake for 45-60 minutes before they need to sleep again.
  5. Establish a consistent bedtime and nap routine (swaddle, white noise, dark room).
  6. Put your baby to sleep on their back but give him or her plenty of tummy time during the day, which reduces your baby's risk for SIDS.
  7. Learn your baby's sleepy cues. Watch for yawning, rubbing eyes, zoning out, etc. and get your baby to sleep. Don't wait until they are overtired or they may have a harder time sleeping.
  8. Daytime sleep is not developed in the brain until between 4-6 months. It is normal for naps to vary in their timing until this time. It's okay to do whatever you have to do (as long as it is safe) to get your baby to nap.
  9. When you have to feed your baby at night, keep lights and stimulation to a minimum.
  10. Putting your baby down awake but drowsy will encourage the development of self-soothing skills. Practice at bedtime when your baby is between 6-8 weeks old. If it doesn't work, soothe your baby to sleep however you usually do and try again in another week or so. Some babies need more soothing than others. 

For more great tips and information, like Tulsa Pediatric Sleep Consulting on Facebook and CLICK HERE to contact Tara!

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