A lot of the moms out there are going to LOVE this post.
I’ve talked super openly on Instagram about how sleep with a baby can be rough. & I mean REAL rough. It’s something that ebbs & flows in my opinion and to be totally transparent, when Zaza was born I had a night nurse for 6 months. It was amazing!
I really value my sleep & I took like, one second of maternity leave ( LOL literally one second ), so it was necessary. To be real, if I have another baby I’m going to take time off & be more mindful about the precious time when they’re a newborn.
Anyway, when the night nurse left, Zaza was sleeping great until she was about 18 months old. That’s when we hit a very interesting patch where she would wake up screaming PAPA at 3, 4 & 5 in the morning. It really fucked up our sleep & we probably got in one too many fights the next day because of sleep deprivation ( thank god for noise canceling headphones, white ones, specifically ).
So then, an amazing sleep coach named Melissa Brown reached out. & I thought it would be perfect to invite her on the blog. In this post you’ll learn about how she got into sleep coaching, how your child benefits from routine ( all about this! ), & little tips & tricks that can help your little one get a better sleep, & therefore you too!
Get Your Baby To Sleep With Melissa Brown
On that note, I’m really excited to introduce you to Melissa Brown! She is the founder of Sleep Shop, a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant with a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Care & Counseling. She lives in Orange County, California & has 4 children. Safe to say she knows what she’s talking about. Let’s get into it.
I have been asked the question a million times: “What got you into sleep consulting?” And although I swear there must be something more to it, it was as simple as this: I just didn’t want to be exhausted all the time & I was going to figure out a way not to be. Sleep deprivation has become sort of a badge of honor these days. And doesn’t take into account how greatly it negatively impacts our health. I have become obsessed with SLEEP & how healing & restorative it is for us all.
My background is in counseling, & many years ago prior to all this sleep stuff I worked as a family counselor. I have always seen it as an incredible privilege to be able to walk with people through some of their most vulnerable & sacred journeys- having a new baby being one of them.
I did all the certifications, read all the books, scoured all the blogs, asked all my mom friends all the questions & began implementing all the techniques with my first daughter as soon as she came home from the hospital. And I had no idea what I was doing but was committed to doing something. And luckily enough it all began to work in my favor. She was sleeping. I was on a schedule, she knew what to expect, as did I. And it only got easier & easier the older she got.
At first I just helped friends. Then friends of friends. Then friends of friends of friends, & I loved it.
Mostly because they were so happy with the results but also because I got a front row seat to their success & was so thankful to be a part of it. At the time I had two babies ( 17 months apart ) & we were trying for our third with no luck. By the 5th miscarriage I decided to bring another baby into this world & that is where Sleep Shop was born. I made a blog post. Then I sent out a link to family & friends. I had 5 new clients in my first week. I couldn’t believe it. Then it just grew from there. I was so grateful for all the families that trusted me with their little ones. I was also so grateful that later that year I got pregnant with twins.
Well that was almost 10 years ago & here I am today. I love sleep. It is restorative. It is healing. It’s foundational to living a healthy life both physically & mentally. It impacts our moods, our mental health, our productivity & how we show up for the people in our lives. We NEED sleep. Our babies need sleep. Our partners need sleep. And our marriages need sleep & having a baby ( or babies ) doesn’t mean that falls to the wayside forever. It is possible not to be constantly sleep deprived. And my mission is to help as many families as I can to get the sleep they ALL need.
We can all have good sleep hygiene, & it should be a priority for everyone in the house. Here are some tips for setting your family up for sleep success:
♡ I cannot stress enough how important it is to have the right sleep environment for your little one ( & you! ).
It makes SUCH a difference & when you do the math on the amount of hours spent in their room sleeping it is worth it. You want it as dark as can be. Think Vegas. When the shades are down you don’t want to be able to see your hand if you hold it up in front of you. We all respond to light in the same way: the second our brain sees it, it stops melatonin production. Keeping the room dark will help in the early morning hours, when they have an earlier bedtime over the summer months & for naps- it will make the difference of hours of sleep per day.
You also want to make sure the room temp is between 68 & 72 degrees. Baby’s temperature rises & falls throughout different sleep cycles, & if they are too hot or too cold their body works too hard to regulate their temperature & prevents them from falling back asleep. This goes for us parents too- keep the room colder than you assume might be comfortable. You get much deeper & much better sleep when you are cooler rather than warmer. The Chilipad is my absolute favorite product for adults & helps TREMENDOUSLY with sleep.
♡ Have a sound machine that you put on for every nap & for all nighttime sleep.
Make sure when using sound you have it on rain or white noise. It needs to be a consistent sound ( no ocean or birds chirping ). The consistent sound helps baby’s brain get into deeper sleep cycles & it also is comforting to them because it reminds them of being in the womb. The sound machine should also be loud enough to block out outside noise. You do not want the Amazon guy waking your baby up every time he delivers a package. They will use these sound machines through toddlerhood & sometimes even through childhood. My 11 year old still loves his!
Routine, routine, routine
♡ We all will thrive with a wind down & wake up routine.
You want to prepare your baby for sleep both physically & mentally but also help signal to them what is coming next. For nap time you will have a short routine: turn down the lights, close the blinds, turn on the sound machine & sing a short song as you snuggle or rock your little one, then put them down. For bedtime the routine will be a little longer. It could include a bath, baby massage, jammies, reading a couple of books, singing or praying with your little one, soft music, turning on the sound machine, feeding them ( bottle or breast ) & then down for the night. It signals their brain that bedtime is coming & most of the time they start to relax & show sleepy cues.
♡ The routine is also important when you are out of your environment, traveling, or another caregiver is taking care of your baby.
It makes your baby feel secure anticipating what is coming next & they tend to be able to sleep anywhere with a similar routine before every nap & bedtime.
♡ Having a set bedtime & wake time is part of helping their natural circadian rhythm.
When we go to bed around the same time each night & wake around the same time each morning our bodies produce the right amount of melatonin & cortisol that not only contribute to a good nights’ sleep but influence the kind of sleep we get. The deeper the sleep the more restorative. Think how essential that is to your little one- their brain is constantly changing, growing & evolving. And growth hormones are released during these sleep cycles – babies only grow when they sleep! Adults produce this hormone too- it’s anti-aging so the more you sleep the less you age 🙂
♡ No one can sleep well when they are hungry.
When your baby is brand new it is imperative for them to eat every 2-3 hours in order to stay hydrated, get proper nutrition & continue to thrive. As they get older they will not have to feed as frequently at night. But that doesn’t mean they take fewer ounces during a 24 hour period. It just means those ounces are reallocated. As they grow their meal size also increases, & keeping up with that increasing meal size makes all the difference in the world in getting them to sleep at night.
♡ So the cliff notes:
As your baby goes longer stretches at night ( eg. 3 hours, then 4 hours, then 6 hours, etc. ) slowly increase how much they eat during their daytime feeds. Babies need 24-32 oz of milk in a 24-hour period. Think the more they sleep the fewer TIMES they eat but the bigger their meals should be getting.
♡ As babies & toddlers get older they tend to be more distracted at meal times.
So try & have set times for them to eat & cut down on the snacking ( impossible with a toddler! ) but the closer meals are together the less hungry they will be & the less likely they will eat a full meal. Spreading the feeds out will help ensure that they are actually hungry & more likely to eat a full meal, rather than just a snack.
Ideal Wake Times
♡ We all respond to wake times differently & because sleep pressure builds throughout the day, responding to that sleep pressure will greatly impact how well your little one sleeps at night.
When babies are little they must alleviate their sleep pressure multiple times throughout the day. Their sleep pressure builds much more quickly than it does in adults & that is why your baby will nap frequently when they are younger & have an increasing “ideal wake window” as they get older. When babies are kept up past their ideal wake time they not only get instantly overtired & overstimulated, but their body creates a hormone similar to adrenaline which makes it seem as though they are getting a “second wind.” Their little bodies literally go into fight or flight which makes it even more difficult to get them to sleep.
♡ You want to manage wake windows & try to be one step ahead.
This goes for your toddler too! Too late of a bedtime will cause early morning wakings. Too late of a nap time will cause a shorter nap that also might lead to terrorist-like behavior before bed from your two year old.
♡ Sleep cues to look out for ( & if you are seeing these consistently I would recommend moving the nap time or bedtime earlier so they don’t get too overstimulated ):
red eyebrows, staring off in the distance, very fidgety, watery eyes, red eyes, crying, kicking fit, & rocking head side to side. These are all signs that your little one’s sleep pressure is building & they need to relieve it by getting some sleep.
Falling Asleep Independently
♡ Here is the key to getting your baby to sleep through the nighht:
Teach them how to go to sleep on their own. Because a baby that knows how to put itself to sleep knows how to put itself back to sleep. All of us transition through different sleep cycles & stages of sleep during the night. Babies that are rocked, held or fed to sleep will be looking for those sleep props to put them back to sleep.
I hear from people every single day, “My baby only sleeps 45 minutes! Help!” That is because that is how long sleep cycles are for babies. If they are rocked all the way to sleep & wake up 45 minutes later they will expect to be rocked back to sleep again. If they initially put themselves to sleep on their own they usually wake & – as long as they’re not hungry or in pain – can easily put themselves back to sleep & into another sleep cycle. Connecting cycles give your baby more consolidated, restorative sleep, which ultimately results in a much happier kiddo.
♡ Regardless of your little one’s age, try putting them down in their sleep environment awake.
You can stay with them, you can hold their hand or even sing to them. But think of it more as HELPING them get to sleep not actually doing it for them. Personality & age will be factors in how quickly they can learn this but I would try & stay the course! I have never met a baby that didn’t learn independent sleep when given the opportunity. And once they learn it they never forget it! Plus if you can follow all the tips above, you have a much higher likelihood of them learning this new skill more easily.
So the long & short of it is this: We all need sleep, & there are a lot of things we can all do that help both our children & ourselves sleep better. Prioritizing sleep as a family will make such a difference, & the long term benefits of a well-rested household are worth the effort! If you need sleep help, please reach out! I am a concierge sleep service & work one on one with families to help them not only get the sleep they need but find a system & routine that is tailor-fit for them.
No two babies are alike & that’s why it is so important to work individually with each family to make sure we meet all of their specific needs & also get their babies sleeping through the night!
Feel free to reach out!
+ IG @sleepshopconsulting
+ tell: 949-842-2529
There you have it. I’m praying for everyone out there with a baby or toddler who doesn’t sleep. That shit is hard! Hopefully you learned some things from this post that can help, & if not, be sure to reach out to Melissa & follow her on Instagram.
+ check out the pancakes your kids will love.
++ stalk my time management tips for new parents.