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Sleep Training

Sleep – It’s so important for our babes to get the well deserved rest their little bodies and brains need to thrive and grow. As a first time mom, I’ve always valued the importance of her sleep. I have been borderline crazy about my daughters naps and making sure she’s getting enough rest throughout the day and night.

Although we’ve been pretty lucky with her sleep, there were many times throughout her first year of life that I considered making an appointment with a professional for some guidance. I’ve read many books and have done a ton of research on sleep habits for babies. From sleep training techniques to co-sleeping and everything in between. I started off with following the natural baby sleep solution which worked extremely well for us from the age of 2 to 7 months. I tracked her natural 90 minute sleep cycles and she followed the N.A.P.S plan.

N – Note the time baby wakes up from a complete nap

A – Add 90 minutes (or 3, 4.5 hours etc..)

P – Play

S – Soothe your baby to sleep

For more on the N.AP.S technique, check out the book: The Natural Baby Sleep Solution

Other than waking up 1 to 2 times night for a 5 minute feed then straight back to bed, we were all sleeping very well. At that time I was still nursing her to bed at night as well as for naps. As the months passed Valentina started waking up more often at night and it was affecting everyone’s sleep. I did more research on the topic and I learned that nursing to sleep had to come to an end since that’s what was causing her to wake up crying. Whether it be nursing or rocking or using any prop to help baby fall asleep such as a soother, if they can’t self soothe, they will wake up in between sleep cycles looking for that comforting thing that helped them fall asleep in the first place. So, we decided to try out some sleeping training techniques. Our daughter was very stubborn and we had a hard time listening to her cry because she would cry HARD. She had also learned to pull herself up to a standing position at that time and she didn’t know how to get back down so that made things even harder. After several attempts we finally managed to sleep train her. We created a solid bedtime routine and stuck to it religiously every night. She was finally going down to sleep without crying and sleeping (almost) through the night at 9 months.. which is pretty late as this can be done much earlier between 4 and 6 months. However, she still woke up for an early morning feed. I thought the best thing to do about these 5am wakes up was to give her what she wanted and nurse her back to sleep so we could all get another hour or two of shut eye since letting her cry didn’t seem to be working.

It took a little longer for naps but we got there too. No props to get her down and she was having two decent naps per day at 9 months old. I soon learned that sleep habits are always changing and can easily be disrupted.

Upon our return from a recent trip to Italy for 2.5 weeks, we were faced with a serious relapse in my daughter’s sleeping habits. I resorted back to nursing her to sleep for naps as that seemed to be the only way she’d go down for me after having done that on vacation. Man do I ever wish I had consulted with a sleep coach before making that decision. Not only was she waking up at all hours of the night while on vacation due to this but coming back from vaca was a nightmare! She fought her naps sooo hard for about a month. It took an average of 30 minutes of crying anytime I’d put her down for a nap. I thought it must be time to go down to one nap, even though all my research said the average baby doesn’t give up their second nap until around 18 months. I tried that and it only made the situation worse. I could tell she was even more tired than before! It was about one month after returning from our trip when my daughter was about to have her first birthday party. After having dealt with a month of hell going down for naps, I started looking into booking with a sleep consultant. I had been following Antea for awhile and heard from friends that worked with her that had great success. Just my luck, she was doing a giveaway in celebration of her first year in business. I entered and guess what? I actually won! That just goes to show you should enter those Instagram contests and you might just get lucky!! I was gifted a more than sleep consultation with her. This was life changing. After filling out a detailed questionnaire that helped Antea better understand Valentina’s sleep situation we had a phone consultation where she asked me further questions to know exactly what issues we were having and what our goal was with her sleep. Having filled out the questionnaire prior to the call, we discussed the action plan and what changes I was to make to her schedule and why. I asked about a million other questions regarding nursing, going back to work and pretty much everything I had concerns about in these departments like how long should let the baby cry? How many hours of sleep does she need per day? How long can her awake periods be at this age?

After hanging up the phone, I was so excited and pumped to get started and felt like I finally had that support I needed. As a personal trainer and coach, I understand the value and importance of having that support system as well as the accountability.

That Monday, I started the game plan. She had suggested subtle changes to Valentina’s sleep schedule as well as changes to her awake schedule such as feeding and play time which were all meant to help me hit her sweet spots for naps. The first day involved some crying of course but by day 2, Valentina was going down for naps within a couple of minutes!! No boob, no rocking, straight into the crib!! I was amazed. I literally didn’t think that was even possible!! Then, by the third day, she went from waking up at 5am to sleeping until 7am! 12 full hours through the night without a feed. She is finally getting about 14 hours total per day, she doesn’t even cry going down for her naps or bedtime and everyone is well rested and happy!

Antea followed up with me daily to check in and see how everything was going. I couldn’t believe that after a few days her sleep was back on track and better than ever! There have been a couple of relapses where she fought her naptime but I contacted Antea she helped me make subtle adjustments which did the trick. She’s been so supportive and has been so helpful by answering my questions promptly and encouraging me to turn to her whenever I have any more questions. She genuinely cares about our well being and wants to help any way she can!

Since getting guidance from Antea, I’ve recommended her to other mama friends who are just as ecstatic about their speedy results as we are.

I write this blog post today because I want to share with other moms that are wondering if they should invest in this service. My answer I YES, ABSOLUTELY! I know she can help so many other mamas and babies dealing with sleep struggles that can easily be addressed with the right approach and proper guidance with someone with who really cares. Sometimes we just need that cheerleader who is going to motivate us to stick to a plan and not give up!

Here’s more about what Antea does to help other moms:

Antea is a registered nurse, lactation counsellor and sleep coach working with families in Ottawa.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR OWN JOURNEY AND HOW YOUR EXPERIENCES HAVE CHANGED THE WAY YOU LOOK AT MOTHERHOOD AND PARENTING.

“Becoming a mother myself has changed my perception and given me a better understanding of what families go through. It is an immense transition for most that craves and deserves support and attention. I had my two little guys 18 months apart which was extremely challenging on my relationships with others and mostly with myself. Getting the help and guidance that I needed to overcome my struggles was paramount in becoming not only a better mother, but a better person in general. This has greatly fueled me to guide and educate mamas and families so that they can be empowered to be the best that THEY can be”.

For more information about her services, check out her website and contact her to book your appointment!

Email: antea@themamacoach.ca

Website: https://themamacoach.ca/coaches/antea-corluka/

Instagram: www.instagram.com/anteathemamacoach

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Anteathemamacoach/

Thank you so much Antea for helping our daughter create healthy sleep habits that I know will forever benefit her.

If I could go back in time, I would have called and invested in her services months ago. Sleep is so important not only for baby but for mom and dad too!

Never underestimate the power of a coach.

Featured

Traveling With A Baby

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position where almost nothing seems familiar.

-Bill Bryson

If I were to tell you that traveling long distances with a baby is a breeze, I’d be lying. Is it worth it though? If you value seeing the world as much as I do, absolutely!

Our daughter Valentina is 11 months old, and she just got back from a 16 day trip exploring Italy with my husband and I. She’s now been on 7 flights all together in her short lifetime. Our first trip was with my hubby’s family when she was 7 months old to Punta Cana. At that age, she wasn’t quite crawling yet and was a lot less mobile so I’d say that trip was much easier. Our most recent trip to Italy was an international flight with two layovers to get to our first destination. At this age, they’re moving around a lot more and are very curious. That alone plus the fact that travel time was much longer (the flight home was 9 hours – 15 hours total travel time with layovers) made things a bit trickier! However, it was worth the trek. We visited 11 cities in 16 days, what an adventure! You know when people say they need a vacation after their vacation? I get that now! Here are a few tips that may help you and your family if you plan on traveling with a baby.

1. Take the red eye flight: If you have the option, fly at night. Especially if you’re traveling a long way. There’s a much better chance your baby will sleep through the flight or for a good portion of it anyway.

2. Request the bassinet: Most airlines require that your baby is under 25-30lbs and is unable to sit up on their own. You can call ahead and request the bassinet, however it’s usually still a first come first serve basis so arrive at the airport nice and early! You may have to pay extra for your seat or your partners seat as the bassinet clips on in the first row where there is more leg room. In my case, the seat upgrade was free with the baby. Every airline and country is different though. If the bassinet isn’t an option for you, you can ask the airline staff if their is a row of seats open or an extra seat available so baby can have some room to move around a bit. I had requested the bassinet so my hubby and I got to sit in the first row coming back from Italy on our 9 hour flight (thank goodness). However, when it came time to bring the bassinet over after take off, they realized that Valentina was too mobile even though she met the weight requirement. Luckily, I found a row of empty seats that we walked over to several times throughout the flight to go play.

3. Bring distractions: It’s definitely a good idea to invest in a few new toys for the plane as well as for your travels to keep the baby occupied and distracted. Simple things usually do the trick so visit the dollar store or bring some different coloured/shaped sensory balls or small board books. Your baby may be happier just playing with an empty water bottle or the string from your sweater anyway. The best way to divert a tantrum is to bust out something new and shiny, even if it’s just a map (which our Valentina loved during car rides abroad). Make sure they don’t eat them though!! If all else fails, start singing their favourite song or play a game to diffuse the situation.

4. Food and snacks: You’re going to need TONS of snacks on hand for the plane as well as your travels. I always tried to get fresh fruit at local markets to keep on hand but you can’t go wrong with baby crackers or good ol’ rice cakes. If your baby is eating solids they’ll likely be eating meals with you but I highly recommend bringing pouched foods with you as well as a backup. I don’t typically use these much anymore but they’re very convenient when traveling if your baby refuses to eat something you offer at a restaurant. Also, delays happen so it’s important to have food available for your baby in these cases. If you’re breastfeeding, that’s obviously going to be very convenient when traveling because you can do it anywhere and you don’t need to worry about bottles etc. If you are feeding your baby formula, a mini kettle can work at a bottle warmer and sanitizer.

5. Book a hotel over Air BnB: We have tried both the hotel living arrangements and Air BnB while on vacation and I must say hotel is a lot more convenient with a baby. Why? They’re a lot more likely to have necessities such a crib, clean towels daily and a restaurant on site where you can order room service (we had to do that a few times when V was exhausted and we couldn’t make it out to dinner). When we were staying at hotels that didn’t have a restaurant the hotel staff were able to give us recommendations to close by restaurants or even call and order food for us.

6. Stroller and baby wearing: I recommend having both a stroller and baby carrier or sling. Having both options when you’re out and about, especially for long periods of time is key!

7. Pack light: Easier said than done! I brought two outfits for each day, which was a bit excessive! I know my daughter though and she gets messy pretty quickly. That’s why I made sure to bring clothing that she could wear twice that go well with anything such as jeans, sweaters and a few good pairs of pants. PJs I made sure she would wear 2 nights. I also brought lots of bibs. Don’t forget a plastic washable bib or two for meals as well. It’s important to pack for any climate. It ended being a little chillier on our trip, so I’m glad I had a a few sweaters and pants even though I mainly anticipated warm weather. I also ended up buying some clothing when we were down there so if you know you’re going to be doing some shopping, keep that in consideration when packing. Also, bring a few different hats to match all of your chosen outfits to protect baby from the sun no matter what the temperature is.

8. Diapers and baby essentials: The great things about diapers and wipes is that you can buy them pretty much anywhere. So, if stuffing your suitcase with 2-3 weeks worth of wipes and diapers is going to make you go over and have to pay a fee for your luggage, you’re much better off bringing less and buying some more wherever you’ll be staying. We brought a double sleeve and two packs of wipes for just over two weeks. We ended up having to buy an extra pack of each for the last few days. As for other baby essentials like lotions, soap/shampoo, and sunscreens, I put my preferred brand of baby products from The Green Beaver Company into travel size bottles (from the dollar store) as I don’t believe that brand is sold in Europe and it can get pretty heavy in your luggage if you bring the full size bottles. I love their products because they’re organic and chemical free. I’m pretty picky about this kind of stuff and would rather not have to look for a different brand if I don’t know what’s in the product and will likely not be able to read labels as easily in a different language.

9. Routine. Let’s be honest. When you’re on vacation, you are completely disrupting babies’ schedule.. and babies like routine! So, my best suggestion is try your best to follow somewhat of a similar schedule in terms of naps, meals and bedtime routine. Naps may have to happen in a stroller, car or perhaps you’ll all take advantage of a nice afternoon siesta like we often did. Your schedule will obviously sway to some degree especially if there’s time change involved but if your baby can know what to expect throughout the day and be well rested, you’ll most definitely reduce crankiness and the risk of meltdowns.

9. Patience: When your baby throws a fit (it’s bound to happen at some point) be patient with them. They’re schedules and usual predictable routines are all out of whack. They’re likely not sleeping quite as long and have busy days exploring outdoors getting plenty of fresh air and fun in the sun which tucker’s them out even more. So, you can’t blame them if they are tired and cranky. Keep in mind, if you stress out or react to their tantrums, you are only adding fuel or the fire. Stay calm and use the distraction strategy such as a their favourite toy or games like peekaboo or hide and seek to avoid making the situation worse.

In conclusion, traveling with an extra human in tow is definitely more challenging. However, the adventures you will have are worth the extra work.

It is never too early to start exploring the world.

Until next time! ✌️

J