Pregnancy, Sleep, and New Baby Sleep Expectations

 

Many thanks to Bamboobies for sponsoring this important discussion on sleep expectations related to the arrival of a new baby. 


And heartfelt thanks also to Rebecca Michi, Children’s Sleep Consultant, for providing her expertise in this conversation. Connect with her through her Facebook page, her website, and her excellent book: “Sleep and Your Child’s Temperament.”

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Important points shared by Jessica and Rebecca during this Live Stream:

Today we are talking all about sleep in pregnancy and sleep expectations with a new baby. Some sleep myths, such as baby sleeping through the night, are just not true.

Sleep During Pregnancy (focus on 3rd trimester)

Peeing

Rebecca: I think in that last trimester sleep becomes more and more challenging when you’re pregnant. And it’s for a couple of reasons, one of them is that you’re probably gonna need to pee five times a night and that you’re being kicked in the bladder. 

Jessica: You have a little human being on your bladder, you’re gonna need to empty way more often. Plus, your blood volume more than doubles during pregnancy and at the end there that means you’re filtering all of that out, you’re gonna have to pee more often. This is just the deal. Plus the baby’s contributing to that so yeah, lots of peeing. You’re gonna have to get up and pee.

Discomfort

Rebecca: And then you’re just uncomfortable as well and you get more uncomfortable quicker  in a position than you would pre-pregnancy and feel like you’re having to move around lots. Pillows can really help but when you gotta move you’re gonna need to move pillows. Also, your whole center of gravity is different than it once was. You’re not just easily rolling over. So even if you were just gonna come into a light sleep, roll over and go back into a deep sleep, chances are you’re actually gonna be really fully waking up because the whole, “I’ve got to move pillows,” or “I just gotta move this bump from one side to the other,” is just uncomfortable and you’re just waking up way more. 

People say you need to be getting lots of sleep, and that stresses you out, which also impacts your sleep. Good news is you can’t stock up on sleep. It’s not something you can put in the bank and so when baby arrives we’re not as tired. You are going to be tired. 

Sleep is very different with a newborn than it is in the last trimester. 

Sleep training babies before birth

Rebecca: The idea that you can train a baby to follow a sleep schedule in utero is completely ludicrous. It’s absolutely bonkers. There is no actual way that this can happen. What you’ll notice is when you are up and about and moving the baby can be very quiet and very still. And then the second you lay down and try to go to sleep or to sit down and rest that’s when baby starts getting really active. 

Normal newborn sleep, first 24-48 hrs

Rebecca: Remember that all babies are good babies, regardless of how they sleep. They’re gonna sleep like a baby which is what we want. In the very early stages you may be lulled into a false sense of security because there’s a lot of sleep going on. Being born is absolutely exhausting. So you may find that your newborn sleeps really long stretches and you just think, “We’ve got an awesome sleeper! This is great.” But that quickly changes: they will soon be spending more time awake and much shorter stretches of sleep.

They’re always hungry, because your milk hasn’t come in yet, and that quickly gets in the way of sleep too.

Rebecca: The great news is we cannot create any bad habits, whatsoever. It’s just impossible to create bad habits. And that’s when you’re feeding, you’re rocking, you’re bouncing, you’re jiggling, you’re singing, you’re talking, everything is completely fine. The nurturing that was happening in utero continues when you’re with a newborn. You’re now in the fourth trimester  and it’s just survival mode for at least the first twelve weeks. 

Jessica: Just be responsive and watch your baby and interact with your baby. Let your baby sleep and feed them appropriately. 

Rebecca: You don’t need to worry if your 2 day old is not on a sleep schedule. Not in the slightest. I wouldn’t even think about getting on a sleep schedule until over twelve weeks old. 

Jessica: Our bodies do the most milk making processing at night. As wonderful as it is when babies start sleeping longer stretches at night it does, to some degree, threaten your breastmilk supply.

Can't create bad habits with newborns

Week one

Rebecca: Getting into that week one we’re still in that survival mode. They have no idea what is day or what is night and so they’re going to just be continuing to sleep, wake, sleep, wake, sleep, wake. Sleep is just sleep. They’re not thinking of it as nighttime sleep or as daytime sleep. So if you think that your child has days and nights mixed up, they can’t because they don’t really have days or nights.

Rebecca: When they’re born their stomach is so tiny it’s the size of a marble. And that’s tiny. As they grow older and they get bigger the stomach gets bigger and your supply begins to alter as well. That’s gonna really dictate why your child is waking up and when they get hungry. 

That can continue throughout that first twelve weeks. And you may notice that you’re able to get a little bit longer between the feeds and we’re not ever dropping feeds during the night, we’re stretching the time out between the feeds.

Rebecca: The majority of children, about seventy percent, at twelve weeks old are not even getting a five or six hour stretch of sleep. 

Jessica: One of the things we know is that that interrupted sleep for the baby reduces their risk of SIDs. 

I know for me, when I was really struggling, one of the things I would tell myself is, “I’m so glad you’re awake, just keep on being alive.” Because it was hard, and I would feel a little angry or resentful like “Please just sleep!” but it was so important for me to remind myself that her frequent waking was maybe even saving her life. So, just something to keep in mind, it’s important that our babies do what they need to do. 

Rebecca: Sleep deprivation is incredibly tough when you’ve had a newborn you can see why it’s used as a form of torture because it is so effective. 

Jessica: We need to recognize that it is a part of normal human development that, starting as infants, we wake often. Most of us do.

I’ve had one of those kids that slept long stretches right off the bat, that was super easy, immediately threatened my milk supply, immediately made some growth issues for us actually, and so my doctor was telling me to wake her because this became a problem (and to this day she is still a very good sleeper). But my very next kiddo still at 15 feels like she only believes in sleep when she wants to sleep on her terms. That has not changed. She was that way from coming out and stayed that way. We kind of have this range of normal for humans and what our sleep patterns look like as an adult it’s not fair to impose those on to babies. While at the same time there are different sleep personalities, or personalities in general, and my 15 year old’s sleep patterns are, in many ways, much better than they were when she was an infant – it’s true (in large part because she’s responsible for them and not me) but she doesn’t wake me up either way so she lets me sleep. There’s a pretty big spectrum here but I think one of the biggest mistakes we make going into parenting a baby is we expect our newborn human beings to function, in terms of sleep, as adult human beings. And that’s simply not how we’re wired, that’s not how we’re gonna work. 

Week one to week six

Rebecca: More of the same. Just waking and feeding and this is gonna be happening 24 hours a day. You may have wake ups where it’s not just straight back to sleep after the feed but these are gonna be quite short. And then as your child is getting older these awake periods just get longer and longer – but not hugely.

As we get to twelve weeks the longest awake period we should have is an hour and a half and that’s where we’ve got to get everything in. That’s the feed, the diaper change, the playtime, the bath, whatever it is, we’ve got 90 minutes to do that. So don’t feel you have to be home for every nap because you’re not going to be able to do feed, diaper change, getting dressed to go out to the car to get to the store to get back for that next nap. That’s going to be totally impossible to do. So whenever you can, napping on the go is completely fine. 

Jessica: I have definitely had those kids that have slept so much better when we are on the move and the reality is I have things to do. 

Rebecca: Temperament really does play a really big part at really young ages as to how your child is gonna sleep and that’s actually normal.

Jessica: So learn what’s normal from your baby. And be educated with your healthcare provider to make sure they’re growing appropriately and they’re developing on track and all of those things. You’re going to want to recognize that there is no one size fits all sleep standard. So normal is a range. And you have to learn your baby. 

Rebecca: Only help when you need to help. Your baby knows exactly how to get you to help, their cry is very effective, it’s not something we can easily ignore. Which is one of the reasons why the human race is still here, that cry getting us to do whatever we need to do to get it to stop because that’s how we survive. Don’t over help. If they’re happy to just hang out, perfect. It may be they’re happy to hang out for 10-20 minutes and then they may fall asleep or maybe then they need help. But you don’t need to over help especially in the middle of the night if you don’t actually need to be there helping. Generally when they’re crying they need something, even when they need sleep they’ll cry because they’re overtired. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should just leave them, if they’re fussing that’s fine, but you’ve got to figure out what works for your child. Because it may be that they actually need to be held and rocked whilst you’re patting their back. It may be that you need to rock side-to-side rather than back and forward. Every single child is completely unique with what it is that they need but when they’re crying and they need something they’re not manipulating you. 

Jessica: When they wake at night, close to twelve weeks, and they want to be awake for a little while do we engage them during that time or do we keep the lights low and things quiet?

Rebecca: I would keep the lights low with low interaction. And it may be that you need to do a diaper change or whatever it is you need to be doing and we don’t want to be creating this our awake time we actually want to be encouraging sleep at this time. Just keeping it dark, dim and using a very low voice and really low interaction because we want to be encouraging sleep. 

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Ask the Sleep Expert- Rebecca Michi- Sleeping Transitions for your Baby – Sleep In Arm’s Reach

The Leakies with Rebecca Michi
This post made possible by the generous support of Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper

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We asked sleep consultant Rebecca Michi to come help us all get some more sleep and we asked the Leakies to share their current sleep struggles. Here are a few of the responses, followed by Rebecca’s support.

 

My son is 13 months old and has co-sleept with us since birth. At first he was in a co-sleeper next to our bed and when he outgrew that he was in our bed with us. I’m feeling ready for him to be in his own sleep space because my back gets sore. How can we transition him to his own little bed in our room for now without traumatizing him and making him feel rejected?

Thank you so much for your support!

Ready to sleep alone.

 

If you’re beginning to think about making the transition to more independent sleep, now is the time to start preparing. Getting ready to make the move will take you much longer than actually making the move.

Make sure that your son is comfortable with the space you want him to sleep in, so set up the toddler bed and make sure he has plenty of awake/playtime there. Start small and increase the time as he gets more and more comfortable with it. You can play with him initially, but do work on moving away from the bed, you can do other things in the room as well as leaving for short periods of time. When he is comfortable with around 20 minutes you can work on making the change.

Make sure the mattress is on par with yours, if yours is super squishy and his isn’t he may have a tough time sleeping there as it is so different. You may want to buy a mattress topper or put a quilt or blanket on top of the mattress but under the sheet.

You could start with naps in his bed or just the beginning of the night. It is never an all or nothing when it comes to making changes to sleep, you can gradually make the changes. You just want to make sure you are being consistent with the changes. If naps are going to be in his bed, then naps need to be in his bed, especially when you begin to make these changes, changing venue one day to the next can be very confusing and unsettling and he could have a much harder time making the transition.

Good luck.

 

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My mother-in-law insists I’m spoiling my son by rocking him to sleep and then transitioning him to his own sleep space. Is this the case? He’s 6 weeks old and I just love this time with him snuggled up to me, I’m not ready to let it go. Am I ruining his sleep by doing this?

I appreciate all you’ve shared with us before, thank you!

Still Rocking

 

You are certainly not spoiling him, food spoils babies don’t! He’s only 6 weeks old, he’s just so new. I suggest you give him all the help he needs to get to sleep and enjoy those wonderful cuddles. When he goes through a really big sleep transition at around 12 weeks old (52 weeks from conception), he will sleep quite differently and at that point you may want to try for the elusive drowsy but awake, though I do feel that drowsy but awake may be an urban myth! Make changes when you are ready and enjoy those amazing snuggles.

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I love bed sharing, as a matter of fact I sleep better with him next to me and my partner and I love waking up with his smiling face between us but I have Problem …. Naps! I love laying with him but I cannot get anything done during the day because I’m stuck in bed with him. He will sleep without me for about 30 minutes but he needs more than that and I need to be productive! He’s 8 months and I can no longer spend a couple of hours in bed during the day. I want to do crib naps but he will NOT tolerate it as he will scream for 30 minutes with me next to him patting him etc. I don’t feel comfortable getting him to sleep and then sneaking away, in part because he won’t sleep long but also because of the safety of him alone in my bed is an issue, he wakes up silently and will crawl right off of I’m not there.

Thank you for your help!

Searching for a miracle Answer.

 

One day stay near him and watch him sleep as he naps, you need to know when he comes into a light sleep, this will be when he make a noise or moves and should be around 10 or so minutes before he actually wakes. Take a note of the time he begins to make those movements, that is when he is coming into a lighter sleep. At this point you want to be really hands on and help him back into a deeper sleep. This can take 10 minutes or more so don’t rush off. When he has got back down into a deeper sleep you can leave the room. The following day/nap you want to go back into the room a few minutes before you expect him to come into a lighter sleep, be hands on again, pat, shush until he is in a deeper sleep and then leave. As he gets really used to not waking up you can try leaving him and see if he can get through the sleep cycle without any help. It’s not a quick fix, but it is super gentle.

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Be sure to check out Rebecca’s book Sleep And Your Child’s Temperament and don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in her Sleep Academy here.

If you have a question you would like Rebecca to answer next time, leave a comment.

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small Rebecca Michi121

 

Rebecca is a Children’s Sleep Consultant who has been working with families for over 20 years. She is a gentle sleep consultant who doesn’t believe in leaving your child to cry-it-out when teaching them to fall asleep more independently. She is passionate about helping children and their parents build healthy habits so they can finally get some sleep. By transforming drama into dreamland, her mission is to help your children—and you—get a good night’s sleep.
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Ask the Sleep Expert- Rebecca Michi- Mothers, Restless Toddlers, and Newborn Nap Schedules – Sleep In Arm’s Reach

The Leakies with Rebecca Michi
This post made possible by the generous support of Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper

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We asked sleep consultant Rebecca Michi to come help us all get some more sleep and we asked the Leakies to share their current sleep struggles. Here are a few of the responses, followed by Rebecca’s support.

 

Dear Rebecca,

With my first baby my mother came and helped. It was nice to have her but at night she wanted to have the baby in her room to let me get more sleep. I was uncomfortable with it for some reason I still can’t explain but it was nice to get a little more sleep. She would comfort my daughter when she would wake, bounce her, give her the pacifier, change her diaper, and try to get her back down. If that didn’t work, she would bring her to me to feed. Several times a night it did work so I did get more sleep. But it never felt quite right even though I appreciated the sleep. My daughter is a pretty good sleeper and my mom says it is because she taught her to sleep as a newborn.

This time I know she’s going to want to do that again and I’m torn about it. Is this ok to do or are is it potentially causing problems? I’m just not sure.

Thank you for your help,

Conflicted mom-to-be again.

 

Hi Conflicted Mom,

How lovely that you have family who come and stay and help you with your newborn. Don’t worry, your Mom helping at night will not cause any problems. Having said that. Don’t do anything that is making you feel uncomfortable. Maybe have your Mom do this once or twice a week, or after the first week or two. If you’re feeling uncomfortable you probably won’t be able to relax and sleep, always trust your Mommy instinct.

~Rebecca

 

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Dear Rebecca,

Every night around 3am my 2.5 year old wakes up. I try taking her back to her bed but she’ll just cry and cry and I’m so tired I lay back down with her or let her get in bed with us. Sometimes she needs to go potty but not every time and she’s always very confused. If I let her in bed with me she’ll fall asleep and everything is fine but I wake up sore. If I take her back to her room she’ll be up repeatedly for the rest of the night. I don’t want to reject her but I need her to go back to her bed and sleep. How can we gently help her get there?

Sincerely,

3am Zmombie.

 

Hey Zmombie,

I would work on eliminating this wake up, as it is happening at the same time each night it is happening out of habit. That’s a good thing as we can work on breaking habits!

If she’s waking at 3am, you’ll want to set your alarm for 2:20am (sorry), go into your daughter and rouse her from her sleep, you don’t want to wake her, just bring her into a lighter sleep. Put your hands on her and rub her tummy/back until you see her move or make a noise. When you do, stop and creep out the room. She shouldn’t wake at 3am as she is going back down into a deeper sleep. Try this for 3 nights before seeing if she has eliminated the wake up herself. If she wakes as you expected her to you will need to wake her slightly more the following night as she wasn’t quite woken enough.

~Rebecca

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Dear Rebecca,

Naps, how do I get my 10 week old to nap somewhere other than on me? I love babywearing and I love holding my baby but sometimes I just need a break and would like to set him down to rest on my own or take a shower or something. He loves to sleep but only in my arms. At night he sleeps in the cosleeper next to me and I can transfer him pretty well after feeding but nap times during the day are an entirely different matter. It seems like he always wants to sleep during the day but it’s only in little bits here and there because if I try to transfer him he wakes up. I end up feeling stuck sitting there holding him until he wakes. Is there anything we can do or have we already made a bad habit we have to live with?

Trapped under a baby in the midwest.

 

Dear Trapped Momma,

This is very normal behavior for a young infant. I can guarantee that it will certainly not last forever. Sleep will really change at around 12 weeks of age (actually 52 weeks from conception).  At this point I would try for 1 nap a day in a swing or crib, the easiest is the first of the day. Don’t worry if naps are short, that is very normal as naps don’t develop until sometime between 4 and 6 months. In the meantime I would make sure you are swaddling your little one, making sure they aren’t getting overtired, dark room and have white noise playing as you work on a nap. You never know you may be able to pop them down whilst they are sleeping.

~Rebecca

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Be sure to check out Rebecca’s book Sleep And Your Child’s Temperament and don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in her Sleep Academy here.

If you have a question you would like Rebecca to answer next time, leave a comment.

____________________

small Rebecca Michi121

 

Rebecca is a Children’s Sleep Consultant who has been working with families for over 20 years. She is a gentle sleep consultant who doesn’t believe in leaving your child to cry-it-out when teaching them to fall asleep more independently. She is passionate about helping children and their parents build healthy habits so they can finally get some sleep. By transforming drama into dreamland, her mission is to help your children—and you—get a good night’s sleep.
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Ask the Sleep Expert- Rebecca Michi- Sleeping Through The Night, Transitioning, and Night Weaning- Sleep In Arm’s Reach

The Leakies with Rebecca Michi
This post made possible by the generous support of Arms Reach Co-Sleeper

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We asked sleep consultant Rebecca Michi to come help us all get some more sleep and we asked the Leakies to share their current sleep struggles. Here are a few of the responses, followed by Rebecca’s support.

 

Dear Rebecca,

Is it normal for a 4-5 year old to not sleep through the night yet? At 4, my son still wakes to come co-sleep with us and my 6 year old also goes through phases where she won’t sleep through the night. Is there anything we can do to help this? I worry because night wakings sometimes affect school. I think this is normal, but my husband doesn’t sleep well when they crowd us. My daughter says she wakes and is too scared to return to sleep alone. How can we make both my son and daughter feel more safe and/or my husband feel more comfortable?

I really appreciate your advice, thank you,

Feeling Crowded

 

HI Feeling Crowded,

We all wake during the night, up to 6 times is quite normal but it is no wonder you’re feeling a little crowded! I would make up beds for them on the floor of your room, don’t make them too comfortable, just a blanket and pillow is fine. When they come in to your room they can sleep on the floor but not in your bed. They may soon realize that their bed is much more comfortable than the floor of your room and want to stay in their own bed.

Hope that helps!

~Rebecca

 

Dear Rebecca,

My 17 month old co sleeps and always has. He lets me leave at night when he’s asleep for the night but I cannot sneak away from him at nap time. What can I do to start having him nap on his own?

Sneakily yours,

Ready To Have Nap Time To Myself

 

Hi Sneakily,

Nap sleep is quite different than night sleep. At the beginning of the night we all get into a deep sleep, this means that you can sneak away after getting him to sleep. He will get into a deep sleep at nap time, but it’s not as deep. Try shifting away after he’s been asleep for 10 minutes. Pop a pillow next to him so he has something to snuggle with. When you do shift away initially stay next to the bed, place your hands on him if you can see he’s coming into a light sleep (moves or makes a noise) jiggle him a little and help him back to a deeper sleep. Don’t rush off when he’s asleep, spend the time helping him remain asleep and he will have an easier time sleeping for longer.

Good luck sneaking away!

~Rebecca

arms reach image

Dear Rebecca,

When is a reasonable time for a baby to stop nursing to sleep? I keep being told that if I give my 9 month old more solids he won’t want to eat at all at night. I feed him all he wants but I try not to push him after he stops showing interest. I don’t mind the night feedings since we co sleep and he takes the breast when he wants at night without waking me much. I have been told we should stop night feedings once a baby has teeth.

Do I need to start weaning him from nursing to sleep by a certain point? I really don’t want to but maybe I’m just trying to hold on to his baby stage.

Nursing to sleep and fine with it,

Holding On

 

Hello Fine With It,

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! He will need to fall asleep independently at some point, maybe before his first sleepover or when he goes off to college and I’m quite sure that he will have been sleeping independently before that!

You don’t need to stop nursing during the night because he has teeth, you don’t need to stop nursing through the night because he’s on solids, you don’t need to stop nursing through the night because someone told you to. You continue to feed during the night until it is no longer working for the both of you. When it’s not working, that is the perfect time to stop.

Enjoy what’s working for you!

~Rebecca


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Be sure to check out Rebecca’s book Sleep And Your Child’s Temperament and don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in her Sleep Academy here.

If you have a question you would like Rebecca to answer next time, leave a comment.

____________________

small Rebecca Michi121

 

Rebecca is a Children’s Sleep Consultant who has been working with families for over 20 years. She is a gentle sleep consultant who doesn’t believe in leaving your child to cry-it-out when teaching them to fall asleep more independently. She is passionate about helping children and their parents build healthy habits so they can finally get some sleep. By transforming drama into dreamland, her mission is to help your children—and you—get a good night’s sleep.

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Ask the Sleep Expert- Rebecca Michi- Night Weaning, Co-sleeping, and Crib Training- Sleep In Arm’s Reach

The Leakies with Rebecca Michi
This post made possible by the generous support of Arms Reach Co-Sleeper

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We asked sleep consultant Rebecca Michi to come help us all get some more sleep and we asked the Leakiaes to share there current sleep struggles. Here are a few of the responses followed by Rebecca’s support.

 

Dear Rebecca

How do I get my almost 2 year old to sleep through the night? She wakes 2-3 times a night to comfort nurse and I’m desperately in need of a fully night’s sleep. I don’t want her to feel rejected but I’m at the end of my rope. She naps once a day for about an hour and a half and our bed time routine is pretty simple (bath, pajamas, brush teeth, story, nurse, sing a few songs, bed). What can I do to gently encourage her to sleep more at night? I’m not ready to fully wean but I have to do something.

Thank you for any help you can give me,

Red eyed and bleary in Missouri

Hi,

Do you have someone who could help during the night? Could your partner help? If so, I suggest you sleep somewhere else for a few nights (if you’re bed sharing) or have your partner go in and help during the night. They need to help the same time you would have done, we don’t want her left upset for any duration of time, and help soothing her any way they can. When night weaning (recommended after 12 months old or older, before then babies often still need nutrition at night), expect strong emotions from your child. Your daughter will be mad, quite mad I imagine, but she is just that, mad and someone is with her the whole time helping her with these emotions. Habits are broken after just 3 nights so it shouldn’t take long for her to not expect a feed during the night.

Wishing You Rest,

Rebecca

 

Dear Rebecca,

My question is about a safe sleep space. My son is 3 months and growing out of his bassinet but I’m not at all ready to put him in his crib in the nursery, I want to keep him near me. What are my options? He’s pretty big, in the 98th percentile. I don’t have space to move the crib into my room and I’d like to cosleep but I’m not sure it is safe for us to bed share as my wife is a heavy sleeper and we have a queen bed. Should we get a king sized bed? Is there a cosleeper option for bigger babies?

Deeply grateful,

Craving Cozy

HI,

Take a look at a co-sleeper Arms Reach co-sleepers, they attach your bed, and are the same height as your bed. Your child is sleeping right next to you, but in a separate sleep space, this would be the safest option for you with a smaller bed and a heavy sleeping partner.

Happy Co-Sleeping,

Rebecca

sleep article image

Dear Rebecca,

Our 1 year old sleeps for a max 15 mins in his crib. if he’s in bed with us we get an hour or 2, if we’re lucky we may get 4 hours. . Any little movement he does wakes him up and he can’t get back to sleep unless he’s nursing. I’m exhausted during the day and can barely keep up.

Something has to change.

Overly Exhausted mom of 2 + a pup.

Hi,

Make sure he has plenty of playtime in his crib each day, he needs  to be comfortable in his crib when awake to be able to sleep there comfortably.

Compare the mattresses, if they are different and I bet they are, try making the crib mattress more like yours. Some crib mattresses have a softer toddler side, you can also buy mattress toppers for crib mattresses. Some families put a quilt or blanket on top of the mattress but under the sheet to make the mattress more comfortable.

Making these changes to the crib can make the world of difference, if you are still struggling with wake ups during the night, you may want to take a look at some gentle sleep training techniques.

Best Wishes,

Rebecca

____________________

Be sure to check out Rebecca’s book Sleep And Your Child’s Temperament and don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in her Sleep Academy here.

If you have a question you would like Rebecca to answer next time, leave a comment.

____________________

small Rebecca Michi121

 

Rebecca is a Children’s Sleep Consultant who has been working with families for over 20 years. She is a gentle sleep consultant who doesn’t believe in leaving your child to cry-it-out when teaching them to fall asleep more independently. She is passionate about helping children and their parents build healthy habits so they can finally get some sleep. By transforming drama into dreamland, her mission is to help your children—and you—get a good night’s sleep.
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Ask the Sleep Expert- Rebecca Michi- 4 month olds, 3 year olds, and Partners- Sleep In Arm’s Reach

The Leakies with Rebecca Michi

This post made possible by the generous support of Arms Reach Co-Sleeper

Arms Reach Banner Logo

We asked sleep consultant Rebecca Michi to come help us all get some more sleep and we asked the Leakiaes to share there current sleep struggles. Here are a few of the responses followed by Rebecca’s support.

Dear Rebecca,

Help! I have a 10 week old and a 3 year old. The 10 week old sleeps pretty well, considering, but it is the 3 year old that is pushing me over the edge. The baby sleeps in a cosleeper next to me and my son sleeps in his own room but usually joins us in our bed in the very early morning. I’m fine with that, I like the extra snuggles then. What is getting to be too much is our bedtime routine. It is pretty straight forward; bath, pajamas, brush teeth, read a story, go potty, lights out, sing a few songs while I rub is back… and we should be done. Except we’re not. He won’t fall asleep without someone sitting there and what he really wants is me to lay there with him. It can take him an hour and a half to go to sleep! In that time I usually need to feed the baby and he’ll come out looking for me when I go get her. My partner isn’t home most bedtimes so I’m on my own. I’m getting so overwhelmed and frustrated that the other night I yelled at him to stay in bed and he ended up falling asleep crying. I feel horrible, that is not how I want to parent. How do I get him to stay in bed without needing me right by him for 90 minutes? I’m so tired by the time I leave his room, I struggle with picking up the house and getting the dishes done. Is there anything I can do to help him settle quicker?

Sleepily yours,

Grumpy and tired mommy of 2 in Idaho

Dear Grumpy,

It should take us between 10 and 20 minutes to fall asleep, if it’s taking longer than that chances are he’s not tired enough. I’m not sure how long her is napping during the day, but it does look like he is getting ready to drop his nap. I would start by reducing the nap down a little (maybe 15 or 20 minutes), that will probably mean that you need to wake him from his nap. Give it a week and then see what impact it has on the beginning of the night. You can continue to reduce down as you need to.

It’s okay for you to be in the room at the beginning of the night as he falls asleep if it’s not taking you so long, his whole world was turned upside down with the birth of his sibling less that 3 months ago, so give him the support he needs at the beginning of the night.

 

Dear Rebecca,

My husband seems to think we’ve spoiled our 4 month old by not leaving her to cry at bedtime and when she wakes. He thinks that the night wakings (usually 3 times a night) are out of hand. I’m actually ok with it, though I am tired, but I expected to be tired with a baby. The thing is his mother is telling him that our daughter should be sleeping through the night from 7 to 7. It doesn’t help that his sister has a 6 month old that has a baby that has loved sleep from the get-go and is happily sleeping 10 hours a night according to her. He thinks we need to sleep train her and that it is ok to let her cry. I don’t and feel that her sleeping patterns are normal for her age. Is there some kind of happy middle ground I can suggest?

Thank you,

Searching for middle ground in Georgia

Dear Searching,

At 12 weeks 70% of babies are sleeping for less than a 6 hour stretch. Waking 3 times at night at 4 months old is perfectly normal. I would not advise you leave your little one to cry-it-out. She is still so tiny and new and is only just beginning to understand that she is separate from you. Her tummy is also tiny, she will wake out of hunger during the night.

It’s awesome that your sister-in-law has a little one that sleeps through the night, most don’t, she is certainly one of a few.

Hang in there, sleep will change and those stretches of sleep will get longer and longer.

Rebecca Michi normal sleep 4 month old Arms Reach 01.16

Dear Rebecca,

My wife is an excellent mother but she puts a lot of pressure on herself to do everything. I work long hours and want to take on the parenting responsibilities I can when I’m home, even if they are in the middle of the night. She’s breastfeeding our 2 month old son, which I fully support, and it is going well. However, I’d like to help more at night, in part so she can get a break and have more sleep, and in part because I selfishly want to have some time caring for our son as well. Unfortunately, with breastfeeding she says there is nothing for me to do, he just wants the boob. Are there ways I can help with sleep and nighttime routines that won’t interrupt breastfeeding? I know she doesn’t want to pump but our son does wake frequently and I want to be able to help. He is sleeping in a bassinet by our bed so she can reach him easily. I know it sounds selfish but I just want to be involved and I don’t feel very needed in caring for our son at the moment. Any ideas?

I appreciate your help,

Daddy just wants to help

Dear Daddy,

There is plenty you can do to help with sleep. How about you do the getting ready for bed routine and your wife does the feeding to sleep? The night routine can be around 30 minutes long before a feed, that can include a bath, massage, diaper, pj’s, walk around and then the hand off to Mom. Chances are at this age your little one will fall asleep whilst nursing at the beginning of the night and during the night and that isn’t something you can get too involved with. You can give him a diaper change during the night, give him a quick snuggle before you pop him into the bassinet, get your wife a fresh glass of water and of course be ready to help if she does struggle to get him back to sleep.

Sleep is going to change so much over the next few months and I’m quite sure that you will be able to help more and more during the night.

____________________

Be sure to check out Rebecca’s book Sleep And Your Child’s Temperament and don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in her Sleep Academy here.

If you have a question you would like Rebecca to answer next time, leave a comment.

____________________

small Rebecca Michi121

 

Rebecca is a Children’s Sleep Consultant who has been working with families for over 20 years. She is a gentle sleep consultant who doesn’t believe in leaving your child to cry-it-out when teaching them to fall asleep more independently. She is passionate about helping children and their parents build healthy habits so they can finally get some sleep. By transforming drama into dreamland, her mission is to help your children—and you—get a good night’s sleep.
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Rest Well- Sleep Support For You and Your Child From Sleep Consultant Rebecca Michi

The Leakies with Rebecca Michi

sleep consultant Rebecca Michi

We asked sleep consultant Rebecca Michi to come help us all get some more sleep and we asked the Leakies to share there current sleep struggles. Here are a few of the responses followed by Rebecca’s support.

 

Chris: My 20 month old has an average 7 hour window of awake time after she wakes from her nap- this is killing me when she doesnt go down for nap til 1:15-2 and then sleeps til 3:00! I can’t stand a 10pm bedtime!! What should I do? should I drop the afternoon nap? My mom said I stopped napping all together at age 2. Worried we are headed this way as well. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

 

Rebecca: I would work on gradually reducing down the nap. Have her wake at 2:45pm for a week and see how that impacts your nights. You can then reduce down another 15 minutes for a week. You should be able to find the perfect nap length, though it may be that she is ready to drop the nap.

Take a little look at your night routine, you want it to be between 30 and 45 minutes long, nice and consistent, same thing in the same place in the same order. Take a look at the environment as well, nice and dark (through the whole night), no energy saving light bulbs in the sleep space and no screen time an hour before bed

 

Courtney: Naps! How can I get my 15 month old to take a nap without getting nursed to sleep. He’s not one of these “drowsy but awake” kind of kids, you can’t rock him because he squirms and won’t settle. I just want to get to the point where I can put him in his crib and he falls asleep on his own. Wishful thinking? We also nurse to sleep for bedtime and when he wakes in the night.

Rebecca: You will need to teach him the skills to get himself to sleep. I suggest some gentle sleep training. When you are gently teaching sleep skills you are always with your child and you can pick them up and soothe them. Take a look at The Baby Whisperer book, Kim Wests book and my book. We all have our own sleep training techniques that are more gentle and hands on. Find a technique you like and stick with it. It’s actually easier to work on nights first, you can work with naps first, but it will be more of a challenge.

 

CarolineMy 7.5 month old never naps (ok maybe twice) longer than 70 min Is there a way to get her to nap longer? When she was younger than 3 months or so she only ever napped being worn and she would nap longer but in her crib she maxes out around 75 min. We would love it if she took longer naps – is this just what she needs? 3 30 -75 min naps (first two usually lose to an hour but the last one of the day frequently only 35 min or so)

Rebecca: How long is she awake between naps? Try aiming for the 2-3-4 routine (awake for 2 hours, nap, awake for 3 hours, nap, awake for 4 hours, down for the night. With 3 hours of nap you have a 12 hour day). Changing to this schedule should help those naps stretch out a little. Have your nap routine within your awake period, so you want to be actively working on getting to sleep at the 2 hour point and the 3 hour point. The last awake period can be a little longer, we have a longer routine so it can be longer than 4 hours. If she has had shorter naps you can have a catnap in the 4 hour stretch, this nap just needs to be long enough to keep her going until bedtime.

 

Cailyn: My 7 month old doesn’t nap in her crib. If I put her down she either wakes up immediately or within 5 minutes. We are currently doing cuddle naps, but would like to get her napping in her crib. She sleeps fine in her crib a night, provided she has napped well in the day. We have been using a lovey to try and get her to associate it with sleep time, and not the cuddling, but so far that hasn’t made a difference. Do we just have to keep trying to put her in her crib for naps, knowing that if she doesn’t nap for long her night time sleep may not be good?

Rebecca: It’s not unusual for children to sleep very differently for naps and night sleep, the reason behind this is due to day sleep (naps) and night sleep being managed by different areas of the brain. Make sure she has plenty of playtime in the crib each day, she needs to be comfortable with the space to nap in the space, this comes with play. When you do work on having her sleep in the crib you will probably notice that the naps get short, this is very normal, naps do reduce in length as we make changes to them. The naps should begin to lengthen out but themselves, but it may take a week or more for them to lengthen out. As we don’t want nights to be too impacted I would suggest having and emergency nap towards the end of the day. Maybe run some errands so she can fall asleep in the car or go for a walk so she can nap in the stroller or carrier, this way she can catch up on a little lost sleep, but you are not going going back to doing those cuddle naps.

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Be sure to check out Rebecca’s book Sleep And Your Child’s Temperament and don’t miss out on the scholarship opportunity to participate in her Sleep Academy LIVE, here.

If you have a question you would like Rebecca to answer next time, please use this form to submit your inquiry.

_____________________

 

small Rebecca Michi121 Rebecca is a Children’s Sleep Consultant who has been working with families for over 20 years. She is a gentle sleep consultant who doesn’t believe in leaving your child to cry-it-out when teaching them to fall asleep more independently. She is passionate about helping children and their parents build healthy habits so they can finally get some sleep. By transforming drama into dreamland, her mission is to help your children—and you—get a good night’s sleep.
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Rest Well- Sleep Support From Sleep Consultant Rebecca Michi

The Leakies with Rebecca Michi

We asked sleep consultant Rebecca Michi to come help us all get some more sleep and we asked the Leakies to rate how they were sleeping on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best and to tell us about it. Here are a few of the responses followed by Rebecca’s support.

Rebecca Michi sleep consultant

Brittany: I would say a 4. my 13 mo wakes up every 1-2 hours and wants to nurse like a newborn. We co-sleep and started to transition to his crib. but I’m still not getting sleep he sits up and cries cause he can’t find the boob. He has never slept more then 3 hours. We have been on a bedtime routine for months now started bedtime at 7:30p and nothing seems to work. Read books about sleep did everything and still a short sleeper.

Rebecca: How long do you think he could go between feeds during the night right now? 3 hours? He could probably do without a feed at all during the night, but as he is used to feeding lots his tummy will be hungry if you drop to no feeds or have a long time between those feeds during the night. Get a little nightlight that you need to turn on before you feed at those 3 hour intervals during the night. This is the cue for a feed not just because he woke up. In between those feeds times do whatever you can do to help him back to sleep, rocking, walking, patting, singing, dancing, shushing, anything! If your partner can help in between those feeds it would be very helpful. Maybe you could both take short shifts. If you are trying to get him to sleep as it wasn’t a feed time when he woke and he doesn’t fall asleep, but you get to a feed time, turn that light on and feed him. Don’t worry if he falls asleep feeding. As he gets used to not being fed at every wake up and so often he should begin to increase those periods of sleep. You can continue to work on this until you are comfortable with the amount he’s feeding (or not!).

 

Lauren: I get less then 5 hours of sleep at night. In short 2 hour chunks. My son is 14 months, and barely goes 2h between comfort nursing. I would cosleep, but then he crawls all over me, and pinches and nurses all night long. I can’t take it any more. He hardly eats solids, and barely eats during waking hours. I love the snuggles, but have seriously contemplated bottle feeding my next child just so he/she isn’t so attached at the hip to me. I have never been away from my son for more than 4 hours in his life. It is very tiring, and does affect my relationship with my husband and older daughter (4).

Rebecca: If he’s getting the majority of his calories during the night he will wake often to nurse. Try as best you can get a few more nursing sessions into him during the day. Often people have success feeding before or after their child has napped, the room is dark, their child is relaxed and there are very few distractions around. You can also try offering solid foods little and often throughout the day. You can always add breastmilk to his solid foods.

During the night set your feed times, how long can he go between feeds? 3 hours? Only feed at those times. Have a little nightlight as your cue for feeding (turn it on before you feed) and help him back to sleep any way possible when it’s not a feed time. Don’t worry if he wakes after 2 hours, help as much as you need to, if he hasn’t fallen asleep at 3 hours since the last feed, turn the nightlight on and feed him. Continue through the night. He will have fed less during the night so make sure you are offering more nursing and solid foods the following day. Stick with the 3 hour feedings for 3 nights and then stretch out a little further (3 ½ or 4 hours?). Having your partner help with this would be a huge benefit as it will become more of a challenge before it gets better.

Sleep training 12 weeks 4 month sleep regression

Tearra: My 5 month old was such a good sleeper only waking every 4 hours at night. Untill he reached about 3 months old. For the last 2 months he has been waking every 1 to 2 hours at night wants to be nursed back to bed every time. Will not take a bottle. He sleeps in his own room. He’s my 3rd baby, and I can’t Cosleep. It’s not comfortable to me. I’m so tired. I don’t know what to do. My other little now 2 and 5 never did this and our still great sleepers.

Rebecca: There is a very big shift that happens with sleep at around 12 weeks of age (52 weeks from conception, so it does depend if they were born early of late), children shift from having infant sleep cycles to having adult sleep cycles (they are shorter than ours). From then on they have REM dream sleep and a deep sleep (they didn’t before). They also begin to produce melatonin (a sleep inducing hormone) when they get into a dark dim environment. Going through this shift can make very big changes to the way a child sleeps and as parents we get to help them through that. It’s not unusual that this began around 12 weeks of age.

First off I would take a look at the day routine, whenever I work with a family we always work on the routines first, it can have a huge impact on night sleep. Have a maximum of 2 hours awake and then a nap, have a 10 minute nap routine (really consistent and within your awake time), all throughout the day. Being awake for longer can result in short naps and then overtiredness when going to bed at night, when we are overtired we struggle to fall asleep and remain asleep.

As you are not bed sharing it doesn’t look like you will be over helping (where you are helping too soon), I presume he is wide awake before you are going and helping (this is a good thing to do, we want to make sure he is awake and actually needing help when you go in). Have you tried not feeding? Sending your partner in to help? If feeding is the only way you can get your child to sleep (at the beginning of the night and as back to sleep during the night) you may want to consider some gentle sleep training. My technique, The Michi Method is a very hands on gentle technique. This will gradually and gently teach your child to fall asleep more independently and back asleep more independently, when it isn’t a feed time. He may still need a feed during the night until he is around 12 months old, just not every 2 hours and not as they only way to get back to sleep.

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small Rebecca Michi121 Rebecca is a Children’s Sleep Consultant who has been working with families for over 20 years. She is a gentle sleep consultant who doesn’t believe in leaving your child to cry-it-out when teaching them to fall asleep more independently. She is passionate about helping children and their parents build healthy habits so they can finally get some sleep. By transforming drama into dreamland, her mission is to help your children—and you—get a good night’s sleep.
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