Sleep

How to Help Your Baby Develop Good Sleep Habits

At best, most newborns don’t sleep more than two to three hours at a time, day or night. A newborn’s nutritional needs and developmental maturity won’t be ready for a full five to seven hour stretch for a while. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t start helping your baby develop good sleep habits. By creating a healthy, safe sleep environment and planting the seeds of good sleep habits, you’ll plant roots for a lifetime of high-quality sleep.

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A Safe Sleep Environment

Even if you set up the nursery long before your baby arrived, it’s a good idea to give everything a last check to make sure all safety measures are in place. A baby-safe sleep environment include:

  • A crib, bassinet, or playpen that meets all current safety guidelines including no head or footboard with decorative cutouts and slats that are no more than 1 ⅜ inches apart.

  • A location that’s away from windows or cords that could be reached by your baby.

  • No toys, blankets, and crib bumpers as they pose a suffocation hazard. Extra layers, as well as sleep sacks or sleep blankets, should provide the warmth your baby needs.

  • A mattress with a snug fit that’s low enough that your baby cannot crawl or fall out of the crib. You’ll have to keep an eye on it and lower the mattress as he grows.

While baby monitors aren't a necessity, they do offer peace of mind and give you some extra freedom while your baby sleeps. Be sure the cord is kept well away from the crib.

The Start of Healthy Sleep Habits

Unfortunately, babies don’t normally have a regular sleep cycle until they are about six months old. However, healthy sleep habits can begin even before your baby is able to sleep through the night. Try to:

  • Keep nighttime feedings and diaper changes quiet and dark. Nighttime feedings should be all business so that your baby is wakened as little as possible.

  • Develop a bedtime routine. Bedtime routines can start as soon as your baby comes home from the hospital. As your baby’s nervous system develops, a regular routine will help trigger the release of sleep hormones. Some classic bedtime activities include reading a book, taking a warm bath, or rocking in a rocking chair.

  • Play and stimulate your baby’s senses during the day. As your baby stays awake longer during the day, he’ll start to sleep for longer stretches at night. It also helps to start establishing those developing circadian rhythms, the natural cycles the body uses to time the sleep-wake cycle.

  • Lay your baby down when he’s drowsy, not asleep. Your baby will learn how to self-soothe as he gets used to falling asleep on his own. This can also cut down on nighttime waking as he’ll learn to put himself back to sleep as he gets older.

  • Don’t jump to soothe. Some babies fuss a little before bed to let out some pent-up tension. Let your baby fuss for a few minutes before going in to soothe him. If he continues to fuss, make sure to keep the room dark and quiet so as not to overstimulate your baby when you soothe him.

Stacey L. Nash is a Seattle area writer for Tuck.com whose insomnia led her to research all aspects of sleep. With a degree in communications from the University of Puget Sound, she helps put sleep into the forefront of the health and wellness conversation. When not researching and writing about sleep, she spends time with her husband and four children on their heavily-wooded, twelve-acre piece of heaven.

Looking & Feeling Beautiful & Radiant

A couple of weeks ago on the Mom Show we talked about a Spring Detox. Doing a basic detox is a great way to kick into a healthy life style shift. Life's busyness can get in the way of us feeling good about ourselves. Here are some tips on how to feel radiant from the inside out!

Supplements: Supplements can be very helpful for your body to feel good and balanced. A good food-based multivitamin is a nice start. Make sure it is food-based, they are much easier for your body to absorb. Some other key supplements are B Complex, fish oil, magnesium and vitamin D-3. This regimen will help with long lasting energy, improved mood, healthy cholesterol and strong immune system.

Sleep: Eight hours of sleep every night is ideal. Sleep deprivation can wreck havoc on your body. Sleep helps your skin glow, your mood to be steady, you body to be free of illness and of course good energy levels! If you have to wake up early, plan to go to bed and hour or two earlier. Do something relaxing before bed to help you get into a deep sleep such as reading for 10 minutes, a bath or meditation.

Water: Try and make 3 liters of water per day your goal. Get a water bottle that holds a liter and keep track of how many you drink. If you need something more exciting than water, try adding fruit. You can add any fruit to water. Put it in the fridge overnight; pour it into your water bottle the next morning and you have an amazing tasting beverage! Water does wonders for wrinkles and just helps you feel good in general.

Skin Care: There really is no reason to spend hundreds of dollars on skincare, unless you want to of course! If you are looking to save money and have beautiful skin, you can keep it simple. Buy a micro-fiber cloth and wash your face with a gentle soap in the morning and before bed. After washing use a toner is important; it helps your moisturizer soak into your skin. Use a moisturizer with an SPF to protect your skin from sun damage daily, even in the winter. Last, use an eye cream for around your eyes, not face moisturizer. The skin around your eyes is sensitive and needs something formulated for that area.

Exercise: There are so many exercise programs out there today. There is something for everyone! Whatever route of exercise you use, whether it be walking, running, yoga, a home DVD or crossfit, it is important to move your body for at least 30 minutes per day.

Diet: The main thing to keep in mind for your diet is eating whole foods. If you can stick to fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese, nuts and whole grains, that is key. Stay away completely from all processed foods. Sleep, water intake, exercise and diet all work together for a healthier, more radiant YOU!

How to Manage Newborn's Sleep Schedule

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Newborn sleep can be tricky. If you are wondering how to manage your newborn's sleep schedule, there is no perfect instruction manual when it comes to your baby and his sleep. Around 4-6 hours after your baby has been born, he will take a 4-5 hour nap. This time is crucial for mom to take advantage and get a good nap in. This period of sleep will help restore energy levels after labor and give you a boost for the next few days of very frequent nursing as your milk comes in.

Every baby is different but there is a general pattern that most babies seem to follow during their first few weeks earth-side. There are some things that you can do during this time that will hopefully guide your baby to learn a good sleep pattern as he grows. 

Days vs Nights: Your baby may take a week or two to figure out days and nights. To help encourage sleeping at night, keep the lights low, voices quiet and after feeding lay your baby down. A white noise machine can also be helpful. During day sleeps, keep it light in the room with some noise and in between sleep talk to your baby frequently.

Swaddle: Learn how to swaddle! Up until now your baby has been warm and snug in your womb. Swaddling can be very soothing, especially when he is tired or fussy.

Shush: To help soothe your baby to sleep, shushing can work very well. Surprisingly, it can be quite loud! While in the womb, the sound of the blood flow is louder than a vacuum!

Sucking: Sucking is very comforting to an infant. Once your baby has established a good latch, introducing a pacifier helps satisfy this need.

Deep Sleep: When initially laying your baby down, wait until she has reached a deep sleep. This takes about 20 minutes of rocking. Watch for unclenched fists and "loose limbs". This will help your baby to stay asleep once you lay her down.

Though this period of time can be exhausting, it does get better! Remember that there is purpose in frequent waking and light sleep. The purpose of this ensures that your baby will wake to feed when hungry which is incredibly important.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Road Map for Moms: Beating Stress and Overcoming Fatigue

Dr. Amy Johnson-Grass

Don’t skip breakfast!

Starting your day with breakfast is a quick and easy way to jump-start your metabolism. Eat something within 30 minutes of getting up.  Make sure to get in 12-15 grams of protein with your breakfast. This could be:

  • A protein shake with fruit and greens
  • Eggs, veggies and whole grain toast
  • Greek yogurt and fruit

-> Check out our blog for great recipe ideas!

Be Mindful of Meals and Snacks!

Moving forward from breakfast, make sure you have protein with each meal and snack. It is important to stick to 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day. Here are some great, healthy protein options:

Source

Amount

Grams of Protein

Fish, cold, deep water

1 ounce

7g

Turkey – organic

1 ounce

7g

Tofu

½ cup

10g

Whole Beans

½ cup

7g

Quinoa

½ cup

11g

Brown Rice

½ cup

3g

Yogurt

1 cup

8-14g

Egg, whole

1

7g

Nuts

¼ cup

8g

Stay hydrated!

Drink 80 ounces of water daily. Adding lemon or lime to your water is a great way to make it a little more interesting! Hold yourself accountable and purchase a reusable water bottle and keep track of how many you have to drink each day to reach your goal.

Basic Supplements to keep on hand!

Multivitamin: Try and find a food-based multi. These are easy to digest and absorb.

B complex: B vitamins have an important role. They help convert our food into fuel for our body, providing more energy throughout the day.

Adrenal Support: Continued stress causes fatigue of our adrenal system. There are many ways to help keep the adrenal system strong and well supported. Some examples include: Vitamin C, Magnesium and B vitamins. There are also a few herbs that are helpful but my favorite is Rhodiola Rosea, which can be taken as a capsule or tincture.

Fish Oil: Fish oil supports healthy cholesterol levels and also is a great mood booster!

Vitamin D3: When choosing a Vitamin D3 supplement, it should have at least 5,000 IU. Not only does healthy levels of Vitamin D3 help maintain a health immune system, it is also another great vitamin to help with mood.

Get Your Labs Checked!

These basic labs are so important to keep on top of as a woman. They are frequently missed so be sure to ask your doctor the following:

  • Iron (hemoglobin, ferritin)
  • Vitamin D3
  • B12
  • Thyroid

Schedule Some “ME” Time!

This is easier said than done but it will make a huge difference! It doesn’t even have to be more than 30 minutes. Some days take longer breaks if you can, other days you may only get 5 minutes of deep breathing. Here are some examples of things you can do to relieve stress:

  • Exercise. Yoga is a wonderful way to calm your body down and rejuvenate.
  • Reading. Grab a book or magazine find a quiet place and let the world round you melt away for a little while.
  • Laugh. Get a few girls together and have an hour or two of fun and laughter. It does wonders.
  • Take a bath. Buy some Epsom salt and your favorite essential oil and take a 15-minute bath before bed.

Sleep!

Try and get to bed by 10pm every night. Having a full 8 hours of rest is ideal

 

Don't miss Dr. Amy Johnson-Grass next Sunday, September 11 at 11:00am on the Mom Show with my Talk 107.1. The topic is A Road Map for Moms: Beating Stress and Overcoming Fatigue. 

Helpful Tips for Gentle Night Weaning

Night Weaning Baby

If you’re a new mom, you’ve likely seen the acronym ‘STTN’ in all the mommy blogs, articles and Facebook groups alike. STTN or ‘sleeping through the night’ might seem like an unimaginable feat that could never possibly be accomplished by your baby. One of the biggest barriers to sleeping through the night can be frequent nighttime nursing. Night nursing is a perfectly normal and healthy practice for babies. However, if night nursing is interfering with your ability to get sufficient rest or function in your daily life, you may be considering night weaning. Here are some tips for gently night weaning your baby or toddler.

  1. Don’t night wean until your baby is ready: Although there are various schools of thought about when babies are ready to give up eating at night, it’s best not to try night weaning before six months of age. Young babies are not intended to sleep through the night and need the nutrition as their bodies undergo rapid growth and development. Talk to your pediatrician to see if they feel your baby might be ready for night weaning and as always, trust your motherly instincts first and foremost.
  2. Increase baby’s intake during the day: Often it can be a cyclical effect when babies don’t eat very much during the day and then love to snack all night long. Try increasing the frequency of nursing sessions or number of bottles and solid meals offered to ensure baby is getting adequately filled up during the day. If your baby is older and on the move, this may mean taking time out of their busy play schedule to add an extra feeding.
  3. Introduce a lovey: Quite often, if your baby is nursing frequently at night it may be for comfort and not because they are actually hungry. Begin the process of conditioning other comfort items such as a small stuffed animal or muslin blanket. Try sleeping with the lovey yourself for a while to get your scent on it and hold it in between you and baby whenever you nurse or bottle feed.
  4. Give more snuggles during the day: If your baby is nursing at night for comfort, increasing daytime touch may help reduce the need for those midnight snuggle sessions. Try wearing your baby in a carrier or sling during the day and giving lots of extra attention and cuddles.
  5. Break the eat-to-sleep association: Although feeding to sleep is a healthy and natural practice, many babies can ONLY fall asleep if they are nursing. Breaking the eat-to-sleep association by finding other ways to soothe baby to sleep can help with the night weaning process. Try rocking, patting, shushing, singing, snuggling and other forms of comfort to help baby help baby drift off to slumber.
  6. Get your partner involved: Getting your partner involved with the nighttime routine and with night wakings can help with the process of night weaning. Although your baby may protest this change at first, eventually your partner will develop their own routine and soothing techniques to help baby get back to sleep without nursing. 
  7. Feed your baby before you go to bed: As long as you’re still up, try sneaking in a dream feed before you hit the hay. A dream feed is when you feed baby late at night while they are still sleeping with the intention of filling them up. Adding a dream feed, particularly for younger babies, is a great way to get a few hours in before the next waking when you go to bed. 
  8. Shorten night time nursing sessions: Rather than cutting out night nursing cold turkey which can be distressing to your baby and cause engorgement issues, try gradually shortening your nursing sessions a little bit at a time. Cut back each session by one or two minutes over the course of a week and begin to break baby’s latch when his sucking slows but before he falls asleep. Then try using other forms of comfort (see #5) if he’s struggling to fall back to sleep.
  9. Create new sleep associations: If your baby is accustomed to nursing to sleep, they may have developed the belief that they NEED to eat in order to fall asleep. Creating new sleep associations can help teach babies new cues that it’s time for bed. Try incorporating some relaxing music, soothing scents like lavender or a nice massage at bedtime as part of the new routine. Be sure to use these new associations every night so that your baby learns when he hears the music or smells the lavender, it’s time to sleep.
  10. Create distance between you and baby at night: If you room share or co-sleep with your baby, adding a little distance between the two of you may help with the process of night weaning. Whether this means staying in the guestroom for a few nights while your partner works on their night soothing skills or simply moving baby’s crib a bit further away from your bed, a little distance between baby and his favorite snack may help with the night weaning process. 
  11. Stay calm if baby protests the new routine: It’s likely that baby will put up a fight over this change to his routine. Try to keep your cool and stay calm to demonstrate to baby that you are there to help him through this transition and you won’t be rattled. 
  12. When in doubt, consult the experts: Here are a few of the most knowledgeable experts on the process of gentle night weaning. They’ve done the research for you and have step by step plans for the process. 
  13. Talk to baby about the change: As silly as it may sounds, try talking to your baby during the day about the changes you intend to make. Your baby, and definitely your toddler, can understand more than you think. There are also a few great books on the subject like Nursies When the Sun Shines that can help your baby understand the concept that eating is for daytime. 

Remember, that night weaning is a process that takes time, patience and a commitment. If something doesn’t feel right or your baby seems negatively impacted by the change during the day, consider waiting a little while longer before cutting out night nursing. Many babies still need to eat once or twice during the night at a year or beyond and there’s nothing wrong with that if it works for your family. For questions about night weaning, pregnancy, natural birth and more, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife or for a tour of our Birth Center. We are here to support you beyond the birth of your baby!

Nighttime Parenting Against the Grain: A Guide to Safe Bed-Sharing

Bed-Sharing with Baby

Bed-sharing continues to be a hot-button topic among parents and pediatricians alike and despite current AAP recommendations against it; the practice is on the rise.  A study completed in 2013 by the National Institute of Health showed that the number of parents choosing to bed-share with their babies more than doubled between the years of 1993 and 2010 from 6.5 percent to 13.5 percent. Reasons cited for the decision to bed-share include strengthening the breastfeeding relationship, improved sleep for mom and baby and fostering a secure attachment. Renowned advocates of bed-sharing like Dr. William Sears and Dr. James McKenna tout its short and long term emotional and physical benefits for mom and baby and believe that it can even prevent SIDS when practiced safely. If you are considering bed-sharing with your baby, here are some tips to ensure that your baby sleeps safely.

  1. Choose a firm mattress with tightly fitted sheets: Remember that adult beds were not designed with infants in mind and therefore need to be tailored to create the safest sleep environment possible. In addition to a firm mattress and a tightly fitted sheet, ensure that your baby’s sleep space is free of pillows and loose blankets. Place baby slightly higher than you to avoid contact with your blankets and scoot your pillow away from him. 
  2. Position baby in between mom and the wall or mesh guard rail: The safest place for your baby when bed-sharing is next to mom. Mothers have been found to be more in tune with baby’s presence even when they are asleep and are less likely to roll onto the infant compared to fathers. It is very important to make sure that the mattress is flush with the guardrail or wall and that there are no crevices in which the baby could become lodged. 
  3. Make sure both parents agree to bed-share: Bed-sharing with your baby should be a unanimous decision and it is best if both parents go into the practice thinking as if they are the primary person responsible for baby’s safety and wellbeing at night. Never bring your baby into the bed at night without alerting your partner of their presence. 
  4. Invest in a large bed: The more space available to your family in the bed, the easier it is to create a safe spot for baby. If you plan to bed-share with your baby, consider the money you will be saving on a crib and invest in a king size bed instead.
  5. Always put baby to sleep on her back: Whether your baby sleeps in a crib or in the bed with you, the safest position for her is on her back. Even if you turn baby to her side to nurse, be sure to return her to her back before you go back to sleep.
  6. Ensure baby is a comfortable temperature: The safest temperature for baby while sleeping is between 65 and 68 degree. Dress baby warm enough that he does not require a blanket but don’t over bundle him. The use of a ceiling fan to circulate airflow has also been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. Also, do not swaddle a baby when bed-sharing. In the event that an adult does roll onto baby, it is safer if they have use of their limbs. 
  7. Don’t use sheepskins, stuffed animals, pillows or other fluffy objects around or under baby: Baby’s sleep space should be as bare and firm as possible to reduce the risk of suffocation. 
  8. Do tie up excessively long hair that may pose a strangulation hazard to baby.

DON’Ts of Bed-Sharing:

  • DO NOT sleep with your baby if you smoked during pregnancy or are currently a smoker.
  • DO NOT sleep with your baby if you are under the influence of alcohol, sedatives or any mind altering drug that may lessen your ability to rouse when necessary.
  • DO NOT sleep with your baby if you or your partner is extremely obese.
  • DO NOT sleep with your baby ever on a couch or a waterbed.
  • DO NOT allow siblings to bed-share with a baby under 9 months of age.
  • DO NOT bed-share if you are extremely overtired. 

DO NOT sleep with your baby if they are premature or low birth weight.

Bed-sharing is a personal family decision that must be made with a comprehensive understanding of the necessary safety precautions and the associated risks. Although there are many reported benefits to bed-sharing, the safest sleep arrangement for your baby is for him to have his own space. Co-sleepers and sidecar cribs offer a great alternative to bed-sharing and allow mom and baby to be close enough to nurse and touch while providing a safe and separate sleep space for baby. Whatever sleep arrangements you choose for your family, be sure that both parents are on board. For questions about safe infant sleep or for any and all inquiries about pregnancy and natural birth, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.