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Friday, January 10, 2014

Amazing Mom Part 2: Sleep Advice from Helen Sands, Hushababy

 Last week I featured the lovely Helen Sands of Hushababy Sleep Consulting and this week I though I'd keep the conversation about sleep going, since it's one so many parents seek information on. Helen graciously answered some questions for TPB about common sleep concerns and how to identify if/ when your family is in need of a sleep consultant (hint: if no- one's sleeping, I'm sure you've already got it figured out!) ;)

I hope you enjoy this Amazing Mom: Part 2 Feature!

1.     What are some common concerns about sleep? Specifically for babies and young children?
Many parents don’t know how to teach their little one how to go to sleep “on her own” or independently, so they resort to using “tools” or “sleep props” to get their baby or child to sleep. The list is long but some examples include rocking and holding the child in their arms, stroller walking the baby off to sleep, walking around the house (or outside) with the baby in a carrier strapped to their body, nursing or bottle feeding off to sleep, bouncing on a yoga ball off to sleep etc.

2.     How do you recommend parents establish healthy sleep habits? 
Babies can be taught right from birth about how to sleep well. This does not include sleep training but merely shaping the baby’s sleep from the moment she comes home from the hospital. I did this with my twins and they slept through the night for 12 hours by age 3 months. I do offer parents a great deal of advice for newborns, to ensure parents can teach their new baby how to sleep well so sleep training is unnecessary later in life.  If the child is older than a newborn, it is important for the parents to work hard on putting their baby or child down awake, so the child learns to go off to sleep on her own. All experts say that a baby needs to go to sleep in the place where you want her to wake up, so if that is the crib, she does need to close her eyes and go off to sleep in the crib, to learn the skills necessary.

3.     What are some ways to identify sleep issues? 
Usually parents know their child has sleep issues when the adults are having to intervene a lot or help the child go off to sleep using sleep props. If a Mom or Dad is spending more than half an hour to get their little one off to sleep, chances are the parents know there is a problem!

4.     When do sleep issues usually become evident? (Are certain ages more prone to sleep issues?)
The most common age group I work with is between 3 and 6 months, which is usually when the so-called “4 month sleep regression” seems to hit. Even parents who had their child sleeping very well up until (example) 14 weeks, or 21 weeks or whatever, may see this arising.  At around 4 months, the baby is starting to go through some cognitive development. This means baby is learning new skills and the most common one in this age group is rolling over back to front, or front to back, or both! Baby spends a great deal of time practicing this newfound skill and if things don’t go well, she will cry and scream for you to come and help her! Her sleep is constantly interrupted and of course she becomes overtired and very very cranky!

5.     What do you recommend parents do to address sleep issues? 
There are so many options. It really depends on what the parents have been doing up until that point, in terms of helping their baby to sleep. I do an extensive assessment on the baby and family to ensure I know exactly what is going on with every aspect of the baby’s life and world, so I can prepare the appropriate sleep plan. The personal plan will be tailored not only to the baby’s age and developmental stage, but also to directly address and correct the way the baby is being put to sleep, or put back to sleep at awakenings.  Day and night sleep will be addressed, as it is certainly intertwined.

6.     When should parents contact a sleep consultant? What can they expect? 
Parents should contact me when they believe they have a problem and if nobody is sleeping, parent or child. I want all parents to experience great sleep especially when it can be so readily attained. For example, I’m working with a very skeptical mom right now who has a 12 month old girl who has been bedsharing her entire life, as well as nursing back to sleep every hour. Mom was shattered, completely exhausted and her marriage is suffering, Dad slept in the basement and the baby was exhausted all day long from the constant awakenings. I am also working with a 6 month old girl right now who has the exact same scenario in place. The 6 month old’s training was completed in the first 24 hours and she is doing beautifully. The 12 month old slept through the night on night 4 and her Mom cannot believe it! She is not only surprised and delighted but was almost crying with joy on the phone!  So as you can see, there is no reason for a family to suffer through in their sleep deprived state, when the issues can be corrected so easily and in most cases, fairly quickly. I really do call this giving the gift of sleep. How many of us can say we view sleep as a gift? I know as a single mom of almost 4 year old twins, I do! I have my own business and a very busy family life and sleep is paramount, not only for my twins but also for myself. How can we possibly be the best we can be, without being well rested?

7.     Any other advice or considerations for parents? 
Don’t wait. There is no reason to soldier on without help. Perhaps you have tried a few things yourself but it’s not working or helping you to your goals? As a sleep consultant and newborn specialist, I have so much knowledge to pass on to my clients and cannot wait to help you! I even work with parents who are expecting a baby and want to help their baby off to a great start with sleep, in advance of her arrival! Life is too short to walk through it feeling exhausted and overtired. Imagine how much better life would be if you could greet each day with renewed vigour and vitality due to being well rested! The entire family benefits when baby sleeps! I work with children up to age 7 years and look forward to helping your family. 

To find out more about Helen's services check out her website or her contact info below
·       www.hushababy.com
·       Cell: 604 803 0068

Image Source: http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=30886006&parentid=A_NEWARRIVALS&cm_mmc=CJ-_-Affiliates-_-rewardStyle-_-11292048
Logo Courtesy of Helen Sands