First-time mom Nicole Simaan of Grand Blanc thought she was prepared for the birth of her son last fall…Until it came to helping him sleep.
At 3 months old, her son was not napping during the day or sleeping any substantial stretches at night. Worn out and frustrated, Simaan needed help.
“My husband and I were out of sorts. The pediatrician said everything was fine medically. We had no idea why he wasn’t sleeping,” Simaan says. While she knew babies would wake to eat and needed playtime, she also knew the adage “sleep begets sleep” – and that without a good nap schedule, her son would never sleep well at night.
As she struggled to feel rested, she searched for others who could understand what she was going through. She read blogs, participated in online communities and talked to anyone she could. A friend soon connected her with local sleep coach Patty Werner, founder of Baby Sleep All Night in West Bloomfield.
“We’re all sleeping now!” Simaan says.
What’s the secret? There isn’t one particular thing, says Werner. It’s a combination of the baby’s sleep environment, temperament and consistency from the parents.
In the dark hours of a sleepless night, parents are often left wondering what to do and where to start.
“When we go home from the hospital, we get our car seat checked and we learn how to swaddle and we learn everything we need about nursing if we are going to do that, but no one says anything about sleep,” Werner says.
Werner learned this firsthand when two of her three children did not sleep well. Werner did the only thing she could – she called her mother.
“My mom had seven kids, and she had us all in a sleep routine. After I had my kids, I went to my mom and she guided me,” Werner says. With everything she learned through experience, along with a Maternity & Child Sleep Consultant certification, Werner is trained to help moms-to-be, as well as struggling parents, get beyond the sleep issues and teach their babies to self-soothe and sleep well.
Good sleep beings on a schedule
Werner says restful nights really begin in the morning.
“A good night’s sleep actually starts when baby wakes up in the morning. The wake-up time should be consistent,” Werner says. The baby’s day should be filled with consistent, planned and deliberate times of eating, activity and sleeping. Each sleeping period should include a wind-down routine, which is expanded at bedtime. “This is what I call sleep foundations. Many times, once these are in place, baby sleeps through the night.”
Werner’s method usually involves a modified version of cry-it-out, without making the parents feel uncomfortable. Her approach is to spend time talking with parents, learning more about the baby – and she gathers information about the baby’s sleeping arrangements and daily schedule before making a recommendation. Then, through phone or in-person meetings, she supports parents around the clock until baby is self-soothing and getting a good night’s sleep.
“The first three nights, as a mom, it was really hard,” says Simaan, who has used the Baby Sleep All Night services for several months.
“To have Patty in your corner to remind you that you’re not a bad mom, you’re doing a great job, it just makes it so much easier.
At first, I think I cried more than he did. I had to learn the cries. At first, I assumed if he cried, he needed me, but that wasn’t true.”
Werner says that mentality has led to a sleep problems for many families.
“We have a sleep epidemic right now because we want to do everything for our children and we want to help them,” Werner says. Sleep, she says, is not something parents can do for them, but rather something they need to teach them.
There are hundreds of books related to the topic of sleep. There are many parents searching for help and support from each other online. The issue of sleep is an important one.
- Get baby ready for sleep: Make sure the baby is eating enough calories throughout the day so he isn’t hungry at night.
- Check baby’s environment: Babies need a dark room, white noise and a temperature of about 72 degrees to sleep well.
- Create a bedtime routine: Using a routine each night and at nap makes baby aware that it’s time to sleep.
- Opt for an early bedtime: A later bedtime does not equal more sleep. The more overtired a baby becomes, the harder it is for them to sleep well.
- Use regular naps: They may not appreciate the day-naps now, but parents need to keep baby from becoming overtired.
- Set up a schedule: There needs to be a flexible yet predictable routine for baby.