If you’ve ever asked, “is it bad my baby naps less than my friends’ kids?” “is it too late to break the poor sleep habits I created?” or the all too common “am I doing this right?,” this sleep episode is for you! Along with my guest, infant and child sleep consultant and owner of Lolo Lullaby, Lauren Wolf, we’ll be busting parents’ biggest sleep myths.
Whether it’s navigating power struggles, setting proper developmental expectations, making mindset shifts, or learning to find what works best for you and your unique child and family – by the end of this episode you’ll walk away with some concrete strategies you can implement to help sleep time turn from stressful to restful.
I have 12 week olds who are sleeping completely through the night, 10 plus hours. I have 12 week olds who are waking up every two hours. Both are normal. Every child has their own path of when they meet different milestones, whether it’s sleep, whether it’s walking, whether it’s talking.
Dr. Sarah (00:24):
Today is all about busting the most common myths about sleep and helping your kids and you get a little more of it. We’re going to be talking about myths that limit our understanding of children’s sleep, but also myths that increase parenting guilt and reduce confidence in ourselves and in our children when it comes to nurturing sleep. So in my opinion, these are myths that really need to be busted. I’m joined by certified infant and child sleep consultant and the founder of Lolo Lullaby, Lauren Wolf. Lauren has so much knowledge, both from her studies in the field and from being a mom of two herself. So sit back, relax, and let us help you catch a few extra zzz’s this week.
Dr. Sarah (01:13):
Do you sometimes feel that while you love parenthood, it’s also overwhelming, messy, confusing, and not exactly what you thought it would be? Do you wish you could stop worrying if you’re doing it right and just feel confident, trusting yourself? If that sounds like you, you are not alone. I kept hearing the same thing over and over in my clinical practice. And that’s exactly why I created The Authentic Parent: Finding your confidence in your child’s first year. Whether you’re a brand new parent, or maybe you’re thinking about how to approach a second or third child with a different set of skills, in this six week virtual course, I will teach you the fundamentals of psychology, neurobiology and child development. And I’ll walk you through integrating this new knowledge into your own unique family. I will help you learn to tune out the noise so you can feel confident responding to any parenting problem that arises, connect authentically with your child and truly enjoy parenthood.
Because this is a guided course with access to me as your coach enrollment is very limited. Make sure to sign up for the waitlist and you’ll get access to register for the course before doors open to the public. Go to my website, drsarahbren.com/TAP to sign up and learn more. Knowledge leads to power and power leads to confidence. Don’t miss your chance to take part in The Authentic Parent and learn to confidently move through parenthood during your child’s first year.
Dr. Sarah (02:45):
Hi, I’m Dr. Sarah Bren, a clinical psychologist and mom of two. In this podcast, I’ve taken all of my clinical experience, current research on brain science and child psychology and the insights I’ve gained on my own parenting and distilled everything down into easy to understand and actionable parenting insights. So you can tune out the noise and tune in to your own authentic parenting voice with confidence and calm. This is Securely Attached.
Dr. Sarah (03:17):
Hello. I’m so excited about today’s guest. I have with me today, Lauren Wolf, the founder of Lolo Lullaby. And she is a brilliant sleep consultant. And I am just, really cannot wait to like, launch questions at you because I myself have two children who – one is an amazing sleeper, but one I’ve definitely consulted with you on her before. She doesn’t like to sleep like my son. But today we’re really going to do some, some exciting myth-busting about sleep. But before we get into that, I just, can you tell us a little bit about the work that you do and how you got into this?
Yeah, definitely. Well, like you, I’m a mom of two and I have two girls who are newly five and almost three. And you know, when I had my first daughter, I felt very prepared on a lot of fronts. Like I took a childbirth class, I took a CPR and choking class. You know, I felt like there were a lot of resources out there that were kind of at my fingertips, but I quickly learned that I didn’t really know anything about baby sleep and, you know, five years ago, of course there were social media, but not to the degree like it is now. So, you know, when I joined a new moms group, everyone just talked about sleep at every session. That’s all anyone wanted to talk about with sleep. And that’s kinda how I learned, right? Like, I didn’t know that baby slept like ultimately 12 hours.
Like, I didn’t know anything about schedules or wait times or anything. So you know, I had a very good sleeper from the start in terms of nighttime terrible with daytime. And I ended up calling a sleep coach, you know, when she was like four months, five months because she wasn’t napping. And I was so intrigued by the 15 minute call I had, like, I had just learned so much. And I was like, why isn’t this information available? And I was, I just was really passionate about it. I started reading books about sleep and decided to you know, take my passion a step further and, and become certified. So I went through a six month training program through the Family Sleep Institute all while I was working, still full-time in the corporate world. And, you know, after I became certified, I kind of, you know, was doing it on the side a little bit.
And then, you know, I decided, you know, this is what I want to do full-time. I really want to try and make a career out of this. So I’ve been doing it full-time for a few years now and I absolutely love it. I think I really love connecting with other parents and helping parents one feel less alone in this crazy world of baby sleep and to just, you know, to help get information out there, right. And tools to help families, you know, set a healthy foundation from the beginning and apply tools that you can, that can grow with your child over time. So I work one-on-one with families. I also offer, you know, pre-recorded webinars and I’m excited to be here today. I love talking about sleep.
Dr. Sarah (06:22):
And I feel like it’s interesting, cause we’ve been talking a little bit in preparation for this episode about the things that you, the common things that you come across and the common worries that parents have and some of the pitfalls. And it was so striking to me that there are so many parallels in my work with what you do. Like, I feel like parents have a lot of myths and like you know, beliefs that they have to do something a certain way exactly. Or can’t do something a certain way ever. And there’s so much guilt and there’s so much worry and doubt, and I think sleep is, it’s very, very similar. Like, what do you see? What is the most common question that you’re getting asked by parents?
Well, you know, I think a lot of my conversations start with I ruined my baby or everything so far has been my fault. I’m responsible for this. I created bad habits and I find just so many conversations with clients start with so much self-blame with sleep. When really, you know, sleep is just so challenging in the beginning. Right. And we have to teach our babies to sleep. Just like we teach them how to ride a bike, just like we, you know, work on separation with nursery school. Right. These things don’t just happen one day. And they’re perfect. It’s a process. There’s a lot of preparation. You know, there will be times where it’s really hard. And then times where it’s a little bit easier and more intuitive. So, you know, I, I really always try and educate my parents that there’s, there’s no bad habits that can’t be undone, you know just like us, right?
Like we all have bad habits every day that we’re working to, to maybe improve like I’m, you know, trying to use social media less, and I’m trying to, you know whatever you name it, we’re always working to improve things. So nothing can’t be undone. So I always spend a lot of time preaching that for sure. But yeah, and I think, you know, so there’s a lot of conversations too. Well, you know, my friend has this four month old and you know, he’s taking, you know, two, two hour naps, for example, and, and why isn’t my baby doing that? And you know, I’m on the other side of the phone, always where I have four calls a day with four month olds who are not napping. So to me, when I hear a story about a four month old, who’s taking, I’m like, who is this, this very baby, you know, like, so, but in their mind, you know, that’s now they’re comparing their child to that baby.
And what am I doing wrong that my child is not sleeping like that. I recently had a call with somebody who said, I think my baby’s going through the eight week sleep regression. And I said, there is no regressions, like in the first few months of sleep, like it’s a constant progression. Your baby is constantly evolving. Sleep patterns are changing. Their needs are changing, like their, their gastrointestinal.
Dr. Sarah (09:35):
Yeah, exactly. Like their eat, their food needs are changing. Their, you know, everything is changing so much. So I always say you, might’ve had two amazing nights. Don’t expect the third night to be perfect. Growth is not linear with sleep. It’s going to be a constant up and down, honestly, for the first like year. You know, of course a lot of things get smoother after five, six months, I feel, but there’s always changed, right? Your baby starts crawling, sleep gets affected. Your baby starts walking, sleep is affected. Your baby starts talking, sleep can be affected. So yeah, I mean, it’s just, it’s a constant rollercoaster the first year.
Dr. Sarah (10:18):
Well, what’s really interesting is you’re laying out all these examples of how children’s sleep naturally kind of ebbs and flows with their development and it’s, and you know, but what parents are experiencing or what they’re interpreting as they watch their child’s sleep, move forward and backward and forward and backward. Is they’re internalizing, I’m causing this, I’m messing this up. And I think there’s two possible reasons why that’s happening. One is that they don’t understand, like there’s just not enough knowledge out there collectively about what’s normal sleep behaviors, what are appropriate expectations developmentally of children. And I see this again, there’s a parallel. I see this same thing in my clinical practice, where I have parents who are like, my kids doing all these things and it’s freaking me out. And in reality, many of the, most of the time, very often those things that they’re observing are really developmentally appropriate behaviors, but parents don’t know, and they’re not supposed to know we’re not born.
Dr. Sarah (11:21):
You know, the day we have a child, we don’t like get downloaded into our brain, like right. You know, tremendous knowledge, all of a sudden about child development and sleep development and all this stuff. So we’re not supposed to know this, of course not. And that’s the other piece is that we’re blaming ourselves for not having this information. And it’s causing a lot of distress among parents. It’s causing them to worry and doubt themselves and have a lot of anxiety. So like, I think – what can we do in this episode to help parents feel a little bit more grounded, feel a little less anxious, feel a little less responsible?
Yeah. Yeah, no, it’s for sure. I think that’s such an important message. And I think, you know, again, I always say on my side of the phone, because everything is virtual now is. You know, everything is normal, right? So I have 12 week olds and we kind of talking about this before recorded, who are sleeping completely through the night 10 plus hours. I have 12 week olds who are waking up every two hours, both are normal, right? Every it’s, every child has their own path of when they meet different milestones, whether it’s sleep, whether it’s walking, whether it’s talking. So, you know, again, some babies are born naturally good sleepers. I think I’m going to give the example of my first daughter, who I want to say at nine weeks old was sleeping like seven to seven. And I didn’t really do anything.
I mean, I swaddled her. I tried to get her to bed at a somewhat reasonable time every night, but like, that was it. Like I was feeding on demand. I wasn’t on a daytime schedule. She wasn’t taking good naps and I, you know, she just stopped waking up. And my second daughter who I actually tried to be a lot more methodical with her sleep when she was born, because at that point I was doing what I’m doing now. Terrible. Terrible night’s sleep. Like definitely I remember like feeling even in our marriage, like, it was really hard. Like we were constantly arguing about what to do and when to do it and it was hard. So I’m glad that I’ve been on both sides. Cause I think I can really, like, I have a lot of parents who call me who have the same story either.
Like their first child was an excellent sleeper, second was terrible or vice versa. So, you know, I had to sleep, train the younger one and that was hard. But I’m glad I did it, you know, it worked for my family. And yeah. So I think, you know, every baby is so different, so I always, you know, don’t compare yourself to anyone else. And you know, it’s like really what type of parent you are. So I find that people call me a lot, you know, asking, well, my, you know, my friend did this method of, let’s say moms on call. So, you know, what do you think? And I’m like, well, listen, if you are the type of person who you want to be very scheduled and that works well for you, then yes. Like you could try a method like that.
But if the idea of being on a very, very tight schedule with very little flexibility feels like it’s going to be overwhelming or stressful, then you don’t have to do that. So I think that’s, what’s hard, right? Is there are so many approaches out there to really all sleep – newborn sleep, toddler sleep challenges. It doesn’t, there’s no right or wrong. You just kind of have to pick what works for you. And that’s why it’s hard. It’s not like this is what you should do. It’s like, here’s option a, B, C, or even D. And you know, what, what, what do you think will be the best for your family? And even like, I I’m going, I’m kind of all over the place, but I worked with a mom of a three or three and a half year old recently who was having, you know, struggles.
He was getting out of his bed at night. He was wanting the mom or dad to fall asleep in his room. Things like that, things that were becoming very challenging for the parents, the mom was pregnant. So it was an interesting conversation because she said, you know, I’ve asked all my friends what they’ve done, and they’ve all worked with different sleep coaches and they’ve all had different, they all did different things. Right. So, and she’s like, and my friend told me what she, her sleep coach told her. And I didn’t feel like that was right for, for my child. And it’s just so interesting because just because one sleep coach did that for a different child. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be right for your child. Right. and there’s no like knocking it. It’s just like, you know, I might have two different three and a half year olds with the same kind of challenge. But after spending an hour on the phone with a family, I might make different recommendations based on little tidbits of information. They’ve told me. And I’m like, you know what? I’m not going to go down that road. I can tell the family might, that might not be the best. So…
Dr. Sarah (16:32):
I think what we’re really talking about here is busting that myth, that there is one right way to do this. Exactly. I have to figure out what that one right way is. And in reality, I think, you know, and I will say this a thousand times probably on this podcast, but it’s not what you do. It’s how you do it. And it’s knowing how to be attuned to your child. So each child is going to have a very different, they might, like you said, they might have the same sleep challenges, but how we support them through those challenges, how we help them learn strategies to fall asleep that work for them is going to require a nuanced, attuned understanding of that kid. And also the family system as a whole, because a kid doesn’t want to sleep all alone.
Dr. Sarah (17:24):
Like you were saying like that mom who, you know, maybe has the tolerance for a really highly regimented sleeps, sleep learning or sleep training process can handle that kind of thing. Whereas like, I would lose my mind. Like it wouldn’t work for me. It may work for my kid, but it wouldn’t work for me and has to work for both of you.
Right. Yeah. And I think too, you know, going back to the myths I think a lot of people will try sleep training and they’ll say, well, we tried X method and it didn’t work. And I’ll say, well, explain to me what you mean. It didn’t work. And they’ll be like, well, you know, he cried for X amount of time or, you know, the book or the internet said it was gonna take two days. And by day three, we weren’t where we’re at. So we thought this is not working. And I always say, listen, you could like one again, I’m going to go back to the riding a bike example. I have a, my little brother the first day he learned to ride a bike. He started riding down the street, like at three years old. And then there’s, you know, Jennifer who it took her two months to learn how to ride a bike.
It doesn’t mean it’s not working. It just means that there’s two different kids who are going to learn at different different rates. So, you know, your sleep training method. Yes. Some kids night two, sleeping through the night. Some kids, it takes two weeks. It doesn’t mean it’s not working. It just means it might be taking your child a little bit longer. And that’s okay. That does not mean it’s not working. That doesn’t mean you’re a failure, just so I always try and de myth, the like sleep trains can take one night, sleep train is going to take two nights. Usually not have I had those cases? Absolutely. Is it the exception to the rule? Yes. Always. It usually takes one to two weeks to see significant improvement to sleep, to be honest.
Dr. Sarah (19:24):
And I think that’s also why it’s nice to, obviously it’s a privilege to be able to work with a sleep coach. Although the resources out there from really well-vetted sleep experts are becoming more accessible. Like you have great sleep courses on how to drop from two to one naps. And like, but I do think having somebody who can reassure you, who can say, Hey, you know, you keep going. It’s okay. Like give up yet. And let’s fine. Tune it here. And let’s fine tune it there. But I think sometimes parents think, okay, like you said, like they have a preconceived notion in their mind for how long it’s supposed to work. And if it doesn’t do it, if it’s not working by then it’s deemed unsuccessful and it’s abandoned.
Dr. Sarah (20:11):
Um so that might be another important myth to bust, which is there is, you know, it either works or it doesn’t. It’s like, it might be working. You just might not realize it’s working. Cause it takes a while.
To your earlier point. I sometimes will compare a sleep coach to like a health and fitness coach. Right? So like, we all know, let’s say your goal is to lose weight. We all know how to lose weight. Right. We eat less and we exercise more, right. Or some formula of that. But why do people hire, hire a fitness coach or a dietician or something because they need, they need more, like they need accountability, they need support, they need more resources. They need to help fine tune. You know, what should I get at the grocery store? They need someone to check in. They, whatever it is, you just need someone to support you and to give you to help you with accountability. And so that way, you know, after two weeks of your fitness program, if you haven’t lost weight, you have someone on the other end, who’s going to be like, this is normal. You’re doing great. It might take you a little bit longer to, you know, it’s very, there’s so many parallels I feel like. And you know, when I explain that to people, like they get it. Because most people like intuitively you sometimes know what to do to get your child to sleep, but you’re like, I need to get from A to B and I need help doing that. Yeah.
Dr. Sarah (21:42):
I feel like another myth that’s, or maybe a couple of different myths that are sort of, kind of tied together is that comes up sort of with a lot of what we’re talking about is that we are responsible for our children’s sleep and that if they’re not sleeping, I’m in some way a bad parent or I’m failing at this.
Yes. I love that. And one of my like favorite quotes is I always say it’s a little more specific, but I always say it’s our job to offer the nap and it’s their job to take the nap. Right? So it’s a very specific example, but I always tell parents, here’s what we can control the timing of sleep, the environment of sleep you know, so schedule sleep environment and, you know, we can make sure our baby has the skills to put themselves to sleep for example. But other than that, we can’t control when they fall asleep, when they wake up. So you might have this perfect schedule, you have a perfect sleep routine. Everything’s great. Your child’s taking an hour to fall asleep and maybe they’re waking up an hour earlier than your desired wait time. There’s that there might be a case where you’re not doing anything wrong.
So you’re, you’re checking all the boxes you can and the rest is just going to be up to them or you just have to learn like, okay, I can’t control that. And I always tell parents like for early rising, which is a very common, common sleep problem. You know, again, if we’ve checked all the boxes schedule looks good, sleep, hygiene, sleep environment, child’s still waking up at 5:00, 5:30. I say, here’s what we control. We can control what time we start their day, what time we take them out of the crib and we have to be okay with that. And it’s probably going to be a phase and then it’s going to get better. So yes, I think, again, we, we, we have limited control, right? So especially with like my daycare parents, very like a lot of struggles there because some kids don’t sleep that well at daycare or the daycare has them on one schedule that might not be their ideal schedule.
So I get a lot of calls with parents, especially right now, like September, a lot of kids are going back into daycare or school environment where maybe they’ve been home for 18 months and parents have had complete control over the schedule and now their child is going into, you know, unchartered territory. So yeah. You know, just talking about here’s what we can control, can’t control what happens at daycare. We can have conversations with the providers you know, we can do our best, but you know, what we control is bedtime during the week and the weekend schedule. And we have to trust that our child is going to learn to adapt to the new environment and they will. Right. But it might take an uncomfortably long time. It might take a month. So just focus on what you can control.
Dr. Sarah (24:35):
I love that so much because I also think, like we said, it, that myth that I’m responsible for this, and if it’s not working, I’m failing as a parent creates so much pressure on the parent to dive deeper into control, right? If you think it’s my job to control this. And if I don’t, I’m a failure, you’re going to be highly motivated to double down on control whenever something’s not working. And it’s actually like the antidote to the child’s sleep issues. It’s not control more. It’s let go more, it’s accept more trust, more step away a little bit.
Definitely. And you know, that’s a good segue into, you know, for toddler sleep, especially and you’ll probably be an expert in this as well. But when I have calls with toddler parents, I really talk about how we can give more choice and more control to the toddlers during the bedtime routine. Now, maybe that means you know, mom and dad get to pick out how many books we read at night, but child gets to pick out which books they read. Mom and dad get to pick or, you know, they don’t have a choice whether or not they can brush their teeth, but maybe you get two toothbrushes, a purple one and a blue one. Every night, they get to pick which toothbrush they use. You know, maybe you get out two sets of pajamas, they get to pick the green or the blue, right.
So they don’t understand that you’ve kind of calculated these choices for them. They just feel like, oh, I get to pick my pajamas. I get to pick the books. I get to pick my toothbrush when really like, we’ve kind of set that up for them, but trying to make bedtime really more collaborative versus combative, I think can be really important, right? Because they go around all day with zero decision-making power, whether at home or at school. And so they kind of crave that ability to have a choice and have a say. So, you know, adding in those choices throughout the bedtime routine can really help
Dr. Sarah (26:30):
It’s funny that you say that. Cause I literally kind of guide parents to do the exact same thing for other types of power struggles. Cause really for toddlers bedtime is a power struggle, right? You want me to go to bed? I don’t want to go to bed. Who’s going to win this. Guess what? It’s your kid, because there’s certain things that they can control that we have no say in. One of which is if they sleep, the other is, you know, if they eat, like if they actually put food in their mouth screaming is a big one. You know, we can’t stop our child from screaming. These situations where like, we, we actually literally are not going to be able to stop it from happening or make it happen. It’s like, you can either, if you recognize that you don’t have control over that, not getting into a power struggle over those particular things is very valuable.
Dr. Sarah (27:22):
But the thing you were saying about authentic choices. I always tell parents, like whenever you’re noticing an uptick in power struggles, whether it’s at sleep or meal time or wherever, chances are, your kid is not getting enough opportunities for choice, any like, you know, in general. Look for ways to add that authentic choice in as much as you can, wherever you can throughout the day. Because that aggregate sense of control that a child gets when they get to really choose stuff, pays off, it builds up and then they have less of a need to dig in.
Dr. Sarah (28:04):
In certain times. It doesn’t make power struggles go away. If I could come up with a way for that to disappear. I would be, you know, that’s a whole other level of… But it certainly helps.
Dr. Sarah (28:20):
So I’m thinking too, like, cause that when you’re talking about toddler sleep and this idea of offering them more choice, giving them more opportunities to feel like they’re a part of the process. That makes me think also about like the level, the level of separation anxiety, the role that separation anxiety plays in toddler sleep, which I think taps into another really big myth in sleep, which is separation, anxiety around sleep is a problem that needs to be fixed. It’s a sign that something’s wrong. Right? How do we bust that myth? Because that’s a big one.
Totally. And yeah, I’m glad you brought that up because I’m thinking back to that same three to three and a half year old, who I worked with a few weeks ago and the mom said like, I feel like I’m the only one going through this with our kids. Like, you know, why, why is, why is everyone else’s kids just go to bed? And I’m like, no, no, no. They don’t like me here. Other side of the phone. Like, it’s just funny because again, I just, I see these cases every single day, every single week and yes, like our kids crave proximity to us. Right. So all of a sudden, you know, we separate at bedtime, you know, in a dark room for 12 hours. Yeah. Like that’s hard. And then I find there’s a lot of challenging questions. Well, you know, why do you and daddy get to sleep in the same bed?
And I have to sleep alone in my bed, you know? And it’s, it’s, it’s hard, you know, and sometimes we feel like, oh, geez, yeah, this is, this is tricky. Like how do I explain this to my kid? Because I understand, like, I think, you know, trying to really understand where they’re coming from. Right. And then once you can connect there and understand it, I think that’s big. And validating, I understand that you’re scared and you know, or you don’t want to sleep alone as always, you know, want to make sure that they feel heard. So that’s always an important piece, but yes, it’s very, very, very normal. And you know, I, I think too one tip, I always try and give is try and add in five or 10 minutes of one-on-one play time with your child either before or after, like bath time, for example you know, no phones, no distractions, which we’re all, you know, we’re all guilty of that.
Right? We’re eating dinner or looking at our phone, we get, you know, we’re always, at least me, I feel like I’m always distracted and I’m trying to make an effort of just separating, like, you know, and it’s hard for my job because I have a job where clients depend on me to be on the other side of the phone for a text message when they’re in a tricky situation. So I have to set boundaries to where, you know, my responses might not be right away, you know? And that’s hard for me. But you know, I do think it’s important for, to send a message to our kids like before bedtime, like let’s focus on connection time. So can we play a game? Can we do Play-Doh, can we do a puzzle together? One-On-One really connected. Can we name it, make it a special time? You know, and, and, you know, psychologists, like you would say, you know, filling their bucket, right? Like, can we fill their bucket up a little bit before bedtime to kind of maybe help lessen that anxiety going into bedtime? And it does work for a lot of kids. Does it work for every kid? Of course not. But it does help in a lot of situations. And I’ve seen it myself with my own kids.
Dr. Sarah (31:56):
Yeah. My family. So we do this sort of ritual for bedtime that often surprises people. But I actually think there’s a very important reason why we do it. And so after dinner we go upstairs and the deal is you got to brush teeth, you’ve got to get your jammies on. And then we can have a dance party, mom and daddy’s room. And we play music. We dance, we jump on the bed. We, and we do a lot of like sort of rough and tumble play in this period of time. And it’s like right before bed and people, I know a lot of people are like, I thought we have to have these quiet…
Wind down time. Yeah.
Dr. Sarah (32:34):
Tranquil experiences before bed. And when my kids want to run around me, I have to stop it. And when my husband wants to wrestle with the kids, I have to yell at him and stop it. And I think this is, again, this is, this works for my family. It doesn’t work for everybody. Some kids do do very well with that calm, tranquil evening. But a lot of kids who resist it, my thought is lean into that. Your child’s body is telling you something, they need to move. They have pent up energy that needs to be released. The rough and tumble play piece specifically, like the dance part is where we’re jumping and we’re dancing and I throw, like I’ll swing them onto the bed or dip them upside down. Because those kinds of movements where their body’s going upside down,
It’s really like a sensory input experience.
Dr. Sarah (33:25):
Exactly, right. It calms down the nervous system and actually activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
Dr. Sarah (33:31):
So it’s, despite the fact that it appears to be rowdy, it’s calming down their body and it’s helping them to get ready for sleep. So it’s counterintuitive. And I know it kind of goes in the face of what I think a lot of people have thought was the rules around evening time, but it’s worked so well for my kids to get that out before bed. And they do, they go to bed, like they can switch out of that phase. And we know the routine then is we go into, you know, I take my daughter into her room and my husband takes my son into his room and we do story time and bedtime. And that’s it, that’s our routine. And it works for us.
Yeah. No, I think that’s great. I’m happy you brought that up because, agreed. I think a big myth is, you know, Zen before bedtime. And you know, I’ve worked with a handful of clients over the years who have actually brought in an occupational therapist because, you know, one, I’m not an expert there. But I would kind of hear some things that led me to believe maybe there’s some like sensory seeking behaviors happening before bedtime or, you know, kids who bang their head on the crib or, you know, there’s different behaviors. And bringing in an occupational therapist to teach them some pre bedtime changes in the routine. And a lot of them are like running into a pillow over and over, or, you know, all these things to help kind of get that sensory input and, you know, increase activity before bedtime. And it really helped with sleep and for settling into sleep. So, yes, I think I agree with you. I think it’s a great thing to experiment. And I’m, I’m definitely all for it.
Dr. Sarah (35:20):
Amazing. I also feel like we would be remiss if we didn’t talk a little bit about sort of common, unrealistic expectations about developmentally appropriate sleep behavior. Cause I got, I feel like you must get a lot. Cause you know, and I think this goes to the whole idea of comparison or not having all the information. And so obviously, a parent has maybe one, maybe two or three case studies right, your own children. And then a handful of people around you that are, you know, doing something. You know, whether it’s working or it’s not working. But that’s not actually like a lot of data points. And so the sort of point of reference for a lot of parents is arbitrary and random and not, not necessarily an accurate depiction of what’s an appropriate behavior. Like I think it leads to a lot of people having really unrealistic expectations of their kids. And I also think there’s a societal piece of like the good baby, bad baby kind of conversation about like good babies sleep all night and bad babies don’t. And people asking like, is your baby a good baby? Are they a good sleeper? The worst question.
I hate that, I hate that. I mean, way to add to a mom’s potential postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression or whatever it is when they’re already not sleeping, struggling. And then, you know, someone said, oh, are they a good baby? Are they sleeping? You know, it’s, we have to get out of that as a society. And you know, normalize, you know, that babies struggle with sleep for a long time and normalize that it’s hard to fix these problems and normalize that not everybody wants to do that. Right. So not everybody wants to sleep, train, not everybody. And that’s okay. And yeah, I think you know, there’s a lot of information out there now there’s a lot of books, there’s a lot of Instagram accounts you know, different things that are really pushing having your baby sleep through the night by 12 weeks.
That is like a big one now. So whether it’s like the 12 by 12 book or the there’s a recent one called full feedings, I think I’m hearing about from clients and things like that, moms on call at different programs. Right. And you know, it’s, it’s hard because the new standard is sleeping through the night by 12 weeks, which is just not normal.
Dr. Sarah (37:53):
Which is so unrealistic.
Right. And so now I even get clients who just, yeah. At 13 weeks, they’ll say, okay, well, my child is sleeping seven to five 30. Like, how do I get rid of that early rising? And I’m like, your child is sleeping 10 and a half hours straight at 13 weeks. Like that is incredible.
Dr. Sarah (38:13):
That’s like the 1%
Like if anyone’s telling you it should be better than that, they’re wrong. And I even see, I even have a post on my Instagram account that says, not all babies sleep seven to seven and it’s true because everybody wants their baby to sleep seven to seven.
And it’s like, someone’s created that. That is the new expectation. So if your baby’s sleeping seven to six, that’s not good enough. Like it’s crazy. And you know, I mentioned earlier, before we started recording that I have a family member who has a nine week old, who, you know, came up to me this morning or this weekend we were talking about baby sleep. And you know, she said, I need to schedule a call with you soon. I’m like, oh, okay. Like, is everything okay? She’s like, I don’t know. You tell me. And I’m like, well, what’s tell me what’s going on. She’s like, well, like he’s nine weeks. He’s waking up once around 3:00 AM to eat and I’m like, that’s it? And she’s like, yeah. And I’m like, that’s incredible. And she’s like, well, yeah, but then like last night he woke up at 1:00 AM to eat and the book said, you know, don’t feed him.
And it’s just the stress of like, the book is telling me, I have to consistently move in this direction to see progress. And I wish the books would say, it’s okay to have up and down a little bit. Right. It’s like climbing a mountain. Sometimes you have to go down to go up. And it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get to your goal. It’s just, they’re not, they’re not robots. They’re going to have bad nights. They’re just, we have bad nights. Like my husband was up like in the middle of the night, all last night. I don’t know why. Like I was like, what happened? Like, are you okay? What happened last night? He was like, I don’t know. I couldn’t sleep. I was up. I was like, yeah, like you’re a human right. You have bad nights of sleep even as adults. So yeah, I think, again, there’s so much pressure to get your baby sleeping through the night really early. And honestly, even now, like there’s pediatricians who are pushing sleep training at the three month mark, which is not great. What’s interesting.
Dr. Sarah (40:15):
Yeah. When is a good time? Cause like, I have lots of thoughts on I’m actually in favor of sleep learning, you know, some forms of it. I don’t believe that…
And I’m all about fostering secure attachment relationships and creating safety with our kids. I don’t believe it’s for every family and I don’t think everyone has to do it. But I do think that it is absolutely okay to do it. And I think that you can very, very effectively help your child learn how to fall asleep by themselves without damaging the safety of that relationship. I will say that they, again, it’s the, how that one does that and the win for babies. I do think that it can be done too early. What is your, I’m curious, your thoughts on learning.
I totally agree with that. So I think when people say what’s the right time to sleep, train, my answer is when you’re ready, because I really believe that the parent and both parents have to be ready to make a change, wanting to make a change if you’re not ready. And if you’re not wanting to make a change, it’s not going to go well. So sometimes like I do a lot of like those complimentary 15 minute calls. And if somebody is interested in sleep training, I really spend a lot of time kind of understanding where they’re at and it, and if it’s the right time for them to sleep train. And if I sense that there’s kind of hesitation, I’m just like, you know what? Let’s just revisit later. Like you want to be ready. You want to make sure it’s the right time. I see this, especially with reflux, babies, the parents have a really hard time knowing when to sleep, train, because they don’t know if the baby’s crying cause they’re in pain from the reflux or if they’re just, you know, crying, cause they’re frustrated.
They don’t know how to put themselves to sleep. So I always encourage waiting a little bit longer until the reflux subsides and gets better so that you, as a parent know that your child’s not crying because they’re in pain from the reflux, because that is going to be horrible for you if you’re like second guessing things. So I don’t like that at all. If you’re ready to sleep, train, and it’s something you really want to do, I think four to five months is a great time. You know, I think before then I personally think it’s too early. I just think, you know, I have an example of somebody who was at a certain practice in New York city who was kind of pushed to sleep train around 10 weeks, I want to say. And they had called me for some schedule questions and you could tell that there was a lot of crying and they felt horrible about it.
And they didn’t. And I said, when your baby’s so young, like something feels not right when your baby’s crying. Like we don’t want our babies to cry at all, really. Right. No one wants their baby to cry. But I do think when they’re a little bit older and you kind of know their needs are more met and you know, that they’re more capable of self-soothing and things like that. There’s a little bit more of a comfort to being like, okay, I trust I’ve checked all these boxes and you know, there’s a lot of research out there. And I, I really think it’s just as a confidence thing. Right? So like a lot more people feel confident when they get to a stage where the baby’s a little bit older. When they’re younger, you know, under four months, I think people are, they don’t feel good about it, right.
No one feels good about sleep training. Like it’s hard, but like you feel more like, okay, I’m ready to make the changes. I think my baby’s ready. And again, I think everybody comes to that time at a different point. Right. And so I have, you know, parents who come to me with an 18 month old and they say, is it too late? And I’m like, it’s never too late. Are we going to do things a little differently than we would if you had a four month old? Yes. Is it going to take maybe a little bit longer? Yes. But it’s always possible to make changes unless there’s, you know, an underlying like health concern or something. Right.
Dr. Sarah (44:22):
I think, I mean, I could talk to you about this for hours. Cause like I have so many sleep questions, so you’ll have to come back cause we’ll have to bust some more myths.
Yes. So many.
Dr. Sarah (44:33):
Thank you so much. And if people want to learn more about the work you’re doing or watch one of your sleep courses or book one of those complimentary 15 minute calls, like how can they get in touch with you?
Yeah. So my website, everything you just book directly on my website. You don’t need to reach out to me. My whole calendar is there you book appointments there, which is really nice. All my pricing is there. All my webinars are there. You can download from my site. And then I also have an Instagram account where as much as possible I do free question Friday. So you can submit a question in the question box, I’ll answer your question. And you know, sharing, sleep tips along the way and little tidbits about my kids sleep and things like that. But yeah. So my website, Lololullaby.com and @lololullaby on Instagram.
Dr. Sarah (45:22):
Yes. I watch your free question Fridays. I love them. Yeah. all right. Thank you so much for being here and we’ll have you back again soon for sure.
Sounds good. Thanks for having me.
Dr. Sarah (45:34):
Dr. Sarah (45:43):
I hope this episode will help take some of the pressure and guilt off of our shoulders as parents and allow us to create a healthier and more peaceful sleep routine. There is still so much more to cover with sleep. So if you have a specific question, head over to my Instagram page @securelyattachedpodcast and let me know what your biggest sleeping pain point is right now.
Dr. Sarah (46:08):
And don’t forget to check out my virtual course, The Authentic Parent: Finding your confidence in your child’s first year. In this six week guided course, I’ll break down the psychological principles of brain development, behavior, relationships, personality, mental health resilience, and you guessed it, sleep. Lauren from this episode is actually featured as a contributor in the course with some really helpful tips that new parents can use to create more successful sleep routines for the entire family. Because as she said in this episode, it’s about finding a strategy that works best for your baby and for you.
Dr. Sarah (46:42):To learn more and to sign up for the waitlist head to my website, drsarahbren.com/TAP. Space is limited, so sign up today to make sure to reserve your spot. And while you’re there, you can check out my free resources like a toddler sleep workbook targeted, specifically to that age group book recommendations for you and your little one and a ton more. Thanks for listening. And until next week don’t be a stranger
I want to hear from you! Send me a topic you want me to cover or a question you want answered on the show!
✨ Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
✨ And check out drsarahbren.com for more parenting resources