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You have to let him cry it out.

"You have to let him cry it out.  It's not a big deal, it's only two, maybe three nights? And then, they sleep. You'll see....I was a wreck when I did it, but now it's all good."

 

Sleep solver infant New Baby new paltz1

The first night wasn't so bad.

 

Steven and Monica looked at each other in disbelief as Henry's crying slowed and then stopped. She glanced at the clock--25 minutes--5 trips in to calm him down. The schedule said to wait 10 minutes, but that had seemed inhumane and they went in before he got extremely upset.

He slept until about two o'clock in the morning. Steven ninja-sprinted to pat his tummy and amazingly, Henry went back to sleep.

 

The second night, they had been warned, it would be worse, and it was.

 

Henry took one look at the crib and clung tightly. Steven pried him off Monica and set him in the crib and patted his chest. Monica left. Henry cried harder. Steven calmed him and then joined Monica in front of the video monitor. The sound was turned off. 

"I can't bear to hear him cry in stereo. This can't be right--it doesn't feel right. I wouldn't want to be left alone if I were upset. But, everyone says this is how it is. He'll get used to it, I guess. I guess we all do." 

Steven wrapped his arms around her and comforted her. They watched Henry cry and heard his cries through the wall.

Monica's phone dinged--time to check--Henry was still crying. Steven went in to soothe him. He patted him and whispered "You'll be okay buddy... just go to sleep." And left the room.

 

He came back and held Monica, and they sat, glued to the monitor, again.

 

Steven went in again. And again. And again. And again. And again. He made sure not to go in before five minutes had elapsed. After an hour, he sat on the chair in Henry's room and put his hand on Henry's chest, with tears rolling down his face. 

Monica watched them on the monitor. 

On the third night, Steven and Monica sadly completed each step of Henry's bedtime routine. Monica nursed Henry and handed him to Steven with tears in her eyes. Steven put Henry in his crib and sat next to him on the chair, his hand slowly stroking his chest. Henry cried and cried. Then he slowed and after a few minutes, he fell asleep and Steven tiptoed out of the room barely able to believe it.

Steven and Monica lay down on their bed. She nestled her head on his arm. They drifted into sleep. Exhausted. 

 

20 minutes later, Henry started screaming.

 

Monica leaped out of bed ran to Henry's room and Steven followed. He was screaming, crying and barely able to catch his breath. 

"Something's wrong. I can't do this training, Steven."

"Honey... I can't either." 

They sat side-by-side on the couch while Monica nursed Henry. Monica cried as she expressed how upset she was and how guilty she felt for upsetting Henry. Henry nursed and dozed. Each time he released the nipple, he cried in a panic, rooting to find it. Each time he cried, Monica felt her tears well up. Steven stroked her hair and her shoulders. 

Henry fell into a deep sleep. Monica carried him into their room and slid him into the bassinet. He was too big for it really, but for tonight, it would do. She lay down on her side with her hand out-stretched onto his chest. Steven pulled in tightly behind her. He stroked her arm and soothed her. 

"He'll be OK. We'll find a way so he doesn't cry. He's too little to be left alone. That's all he was trying to tell us."

Is Night Weaning Necessary?

kiss mother infant new baby new paltz

You've decided to night wean your baby or child.

And unlike your friend's experience, it has not been going very well. 

 

How can this be? 

Children are all different in how they handle weaning. Some kids are easy going and others are not. Some parents are very sure that it's the right time for weaning and others aren't. They are exhausted and grasping for any end to their exhaustion. When you are tired, it's hard to think clearly and make a plan that will work for you and your child. 

Before you continue weaning, take some time in figuring out why your child is nursing so much, and also why it's important for you to wean. Often times we are so tired that we forget this essential step. When you know why it's important to your child, you can compensate for not nursing in a way that will eventually be acceptable to your child. 

And there aren't any "right answers" here. It's your family and your lack of sleep!

Here are some common reasons why children will nurse non-stop at night:

Is the child missing you during the day and catching up at night? Are they hungry from skipping meals or eating an early dinner? Are they scared of the dark? Or are they anxious when they are apart from you? Is your exhaustion or something else upsetting you and causing you to act in a way that makes them worried? Are they teething or sick? 

These are all reasons why babies and children don't sleep and not coincidently, they are also reasons why adults don't sleep. In fact, your own poor sleep habits or sleeplessness can be keeping your child in a light sleep that's easy for them to wake up from.

Breastfeeding is soothing and effective in easing a child back to sleep in all of these examples. It's completely fine to continue if it's ok with you and working for the child. It is the path of least resistence and at some point, your child will outgrow it and sleep for hours and hours. In fact, you may find yourself wide awake in the middle of the night wishing you had some company. But that is a little ways off.

If night nursing is not working, then night weaning may be the best, but certainly not the only, solution.

Spending more time snuggling or playing together during the day can create a secure bond that stands the night separation test. Feeding a meal right before bed can keep your child settled through the ups and downs of sleep cycles. Having a trundle bed or sleeping mat next to the parent's bed has also allowed everyone to get more sleep and decreased demand for night nursing. Snuggling, comforting and offering water or milk are all things that can be tried before allowing nursing. Often they work. Having the other parent soothe them during a stretch of the night so you can get a solid block of sleep can help you handle a four-hour nurse-athon in the early morning or late evening.

Here's the secret: when a parent decides that night weaning is simply the best course of action, a child will comply without a prolonged fuss.

When you are sure weaning is the best thing and have a plan of action, you are firm and clear. You will offer water or food, snuggles and empathy and be present if your child protests. When you know deep in your heart that weaning is the very best solution to your problem, you don't give in, not even when your child pitches a fit. And they learn that this is the new normal and they get used to it. Children know that life isn't perfect and that they don't always get their way. If they sense any wiggle room, they will explore it to see if they can get what they want after all.

You've probably learned how to handle many battles of will. Car seat refusal is a common experience where parents don't give in and children learn to accept it. When you are conflicted because you aren't sure refusing your child's demand is the very best option, your child picks up on that and will push until you give in.

Times when night weaning may not be the best course of action.

If your baby is under 12 months, they probably need a few feeds during the night in order to get enough calories. If you are working during the day, your baby still has vital needs to be with you. Night time is their only option to connect with you. If you have refused to breastfeed for a few nights and notice that your child is unhappy during the day or is regressing into behaviors like biting or tantrums, they may not have been ready. Its always ok to reverse your decision and apologize. You will probably have a clingy child for a few weeks before they resume their previous ways. 

If you are exhausted and not functioning, then something has to give. It can either be you, your relationship with your child or something else. Putting it into simple choices like this can help you clarify what is important to you and help you make a decision you can live with. 

Toddler Sleeping (Or Non-Sleeping)

Ember has now slept through the night 3 times, in her 18 month life – not 3 nights in a row, but rather once every few months we get a joyous surprise when we wake up, look at the clock, see it is 3 AM, 4AM, 5AM, 6AM and she is still asleep! But her more typical night involves random wakings, where she needs one of us to soothe her in some way back to sleep.

I know that sleep experts says, stop soothing her! She needs to learn to fall asleep on her own! Well, I challenge those sleep experts to come to my house for a week and give it a try. She will defy them. I am sure. I have (too) many sleep books all worn out from being fretted over, pages marked, read and reread. None of their methods worked.

It’s getting easier. She wakes up less often and needs less when she does wake, but don’t get me wrong - it’s still hard. For my little family, the most effective solution we have found so far is to do whatever it takes for each one of us to get the most sleep possible, and that's a moving target.

My younger self would never have guessed that sleep would be tied to my mothering identity, but somehow, it is. My self-confidence wavers. At a low, usually after a particularly sleep deprived point, I am very sensitive to judgment. I prickle when I sense people assume that if we only did this thing or that thing she would be sleeping by now. At a self-confident high, I know that we know our daughter best and know what does and doesn’t work for her and we are all doing our best, including Ember.

When Baby Drives You to the Edge

crying babyWhat do you do when your baby drives you to the edge?

You know, the point where you say, "I can't take it any more!!!" and "Why me?"  You feel so frustrated and angry and more than anything else, guilty, because: "She's only a little baby!"

I heard a story from a dad that has stuck with me.

Apparently, his son had cried day and night from the time he was born. After 6 months, he was desperate. He looked his son in the eye and said: "If you don't stop crying, tonight, I will throw you out the window." And he meant it.

"You mean, you were really going to throw him out the window?" I asked.

"I was. I didn't care anymore. Something in me gave up. I didn't want to be responsible for him anymore. My life was hell, my wife was crying almost as much as he was. This was not what I wanted. I pictured showing off my son in public. A smiling, happy, bouncing, baby boy, swinging in my arms, cooing at grandma, walking down the street.

"Instead, we dreaded going out and we felt like people were avoiding us, even our families. We could never tell how long he would be quiet for. All of a sudden, he would start screaming or crying. He was obviously in pain, but it seemed like there was nothing that helped. We went to the doctor. We tried everything. In retrospect, it doesn't make any sense. It didn't make any sense then. I was beyond sense. We still don't know what was wrong. And you know what?  That night, he didn't cry. It was like he heard my desperation. I don't know why, but he never cried like that again."

"He's 15 now and he says things that make me wonder if I damaged him that night with what I said. It haunts me."

There are two things to look at in this story.

The first is the father connecting his words to his son's current behavior and the second is his guilt around "the damaging action".

When you are a parent, you try so hard to do everything right and yet you will still you make mistakes. Some of these mistakes will haunt you even after it seems like your baby is OK. And sometimes your child will behave in a way that you can directly link to a specific event. One example might be a nursing strike. which is often a response to being scared or startled while nursing. Another might be leaving the baby with a babysitter and getting the the cold shoulder when you get back.

Most of the time, parents understand their child's distress and comfort them. This is appropriate, healing and what all humans, not just babies, need.

So, what causes the trauma and scarring? It's not what you think... literally.

It's what your baby thinks is hurtful that matters.

Three people can go through the same experience and come out of it with totally different perspectives. One may be deeply wounded and set up a protective response to ensure that that type of event never happens to them again. Another may shrug it off as "all in a day's work" and never think about it again. The third may relish the challenge presented and revisit the memory as the catalyst to their present success.

And as a parent who feels guilty, it can be very hard to know what your child has felt about an experience.

With babies, if you are responding promptly with love and attention most of the time, and keeping them company even if you can't figure out why they cry, that's all you have to do.

So what do you do about the guilt?

  1. Understand that your baby is going to hit some tender spots from your childhood. You are going to have times when you act irrationally because you are still mad (or sad or frustrated from your childhood. These memories may be obvious or may not. Forgive yourself.
  2. Accept that you are going to make mistakes. You can't be perfect at what you don't know. Even if you have had other babies, you have never had THIS baby. Forgive yourself.
  3. Most great parents agree they are "good" only about 50-75% of the time and "great" about 5% of the time. Forgive yourself that other 50% of the time.

So... the father in the story?It has a happy ending. It turns out that his son was going through a breakup with his girfriend. It wasn't really about the father's remembered situation.


We all want to do a better job than our parents.

We all want to keep our child from suffering and harm. Overcoming guilt is about acknowleging your imperfection and your baby's needs and doing your best, even when it's not perfect. What your baby needs is not a "Perfect Parent."

What your baby needs is you to be loving, gentle and patient to the best of your ability. You have plenty of time to figure it out, though you will always be guessing, and you will get better at it as you go along.

Sooo Sleepy- 10 Ideas to help you and your baby right now

Millions of parents have survived babies who don't sleep. You can too.

1) Adjust your attitude about nighttime parenting. Babies sleep differently from adults because their brain is growing at a tremendous rate. Sleep happens best when you and your baby are relaxed and comfortable.


2) Decide where you, your baby and partner sleep best. There is no right or wrong place for families to sleep. Wherever you sleep the best is the right place for you and your baby. In a recent survey about where their baby sleeps, most parents said: "The crib." When asked where the baby wakes up, most parents said: "My bed." Try a mattress on the floor or a sidecar with your crib. Be flexible, you might need a few different combinations.

3) Try soothing techniques besides nursing to get your baby back to sleep. Sometimes nurse her off to sleep, sometimes rock her off to sleep, sometimes sing her off to sleep, and sometimes use tape recordings; and switch off with your partner getting her to sleep. Some babies will refuse this and that's OK, too.

4) Dad's part in nighttime parenting. It's important for dads and babies to have their own relationship. In dad's arms, babies learn about safety and protection and this helps mothers get more sleep. If nighttime doesn't work, early morning or evening might.

5) A peaceful daytime carries over into a restful night. The more you hold your baby and are calm during the day, the more likely this peace is to carry through into the night. If your baby has a restless night, slow things down the following day.

6) Create the right bedroom atmosphere. Make bedrooms sanctuaries of sleep. No phones, TV or media. If you have outside noise, use a white noise machine to mask it or a bubbling fish tank, a loudly ticking clock, recordings of womb or whale sounds. (These can all be put on a CD or iPod and repeated.)

7) Sensitive Skin. Some babies are not comfortable in synthetic sleepwear like polyester sleepers. Try 100% cotton, bamboo or wool clothing. Some babies are also sensitive to new clothing, detergents, perfumes and fabric softeners. They may be unsettled, restless or have a skin rash.

8) Be boring. Repetitive, monotonous sounds, humming while rocking and lullabies in a soft tone can all ease babies to sleep. Recordings of lullabies on continuous-play can help you remember the words or inspire you to sing.

9) Skin to skin nursing. Dress your baby only in a diaper and sleep on your bed together. Curl up around your baby, face-to-face, tummy-to-tummy, and let the baby nurse. Most babies love the combination of warm milk, your breathing and heartbeat, along with gentle strokes from your fingers and will relax.

10) Think about physical causes of nightwaking. If you've tried a lot of different techniques, he might be hungry or there may be an underlying medical problem contributing to your baby's nightwaking.

In short, moms wonder "Why everyone else's babies sleep and mine doesn't". My personal opinion is that a few babies are good sleepers, their parents brag excessively and the rest of us are jealous as hell!

I offer the following for your consideration. Most paents are paying attention to their babies--which is good--that's what babies need. Babies are supposed to have short, light, sleep cycles until they are about 9 months old. It is because their brain is growing and developing so much. It allows them to wake easily if their breathing stops. It is also a way to eat more and grow.

While it is true you can 'sleep train' some babies, it is not good for them, nor does it guarantee they will be good sleepers as children. When you are paying attention to your child, you are going to notice that they need to eat frequently and they need you to hold, love and reassure them constantly. All humans need this, even when it is nighttime.

The Myth of Sleeping Through The Night

Waking every hour or two to nurse ALL NIGHT LONG. Ugh. Whether you do it for a few days because your baby is teething or have been doing it for months or years, it takes a toll on you.

Sick of it? Probably.
Cranky? Yes.
Tired? Definitely.

First, I'd like to address some common misconceptions:

Myth # 1 Formula fed babies sleep through the night. Some do, some don't. Formula is harder to digest so babies do stay fuller longer. Formula fed babies have completely different sleep cycles from their parents. That's why experts recommend that parents who formula feed do not share a bed with their baby.

Myth #2 Sleeping through the night is a desired outcome. You really don't want your baby sleeping all night until they are 9 months or older because their brains are not fully developed. Some babies go to sleep, forget to breathe and can't wake themselves to breathe. This is SIDS and it's different from suffocation or overlaying. Things that help the baby wake to breathe are breastfeeding, sleeping with the parents in the same bed (if breastfeeding) or room (if not).

Myth #3 "Everyone else is sleeping through the night." In 14 years of counseling mothers, I have met a number of babies who slept well from birth until 3-4-5 months when they started teething. I have met a only handful of babies who are good sleepers even through that period. Many babies settle down to predictable naps and 4-5 hour stretches at night by 9-12 months with occasional interruptions for growth spurts, teething, or overstimulation.


Some babies are not good sleepers. What I have found these babies have in common is one or more of the following:

    Parents who are not good sleepers
    Disharmony in family relationships
    Stress from moving, unemployment, siblings, etc.
    Mom working
    Lack of nursing limits

I'll just cover the last two for now. If Mom is working, many babies catch up on their "mom time" at night. Being connected is essential for babies to survive. It's not just something nice to have. It is essential. It's hard to accept and usually something has to give. Either go to bed earlier, get some domestic help, let things go or work less. This really is important to do for the first year or so.

When your baby is about a year and eating a good amount of complementary food, you can start setting nursing limits. If you plan on weaning around a year, this will come naturally because you are clear that you want to end the breastfeeding relationship. You understand your baby may fuss and find ways to deal with it.

If you would like to have Baby-Led Weaning, you may find yourself in conflict because babies usually don't agree with you refusing to nurse. Up to this point you have probably nursed whenever and wherever. You can give yourself permission to set some limits on nursing. When you start with little requests, you keep the balance in your nursing relationship. Up until now, you have given and given. Your baby can learn basic principles of human relations in a gentle way.

Here are some things to try:

Substitution:  Nursing is a fast way to get calories. Limiting nursing will mean a hungry baby if you don't keep them fed and watered.
Distraction: A howling fire engine racing by wins hands down over nursing. Keep a supply of novel, or huggy distractions at hand.
More Love: Make a point of snuggling, smootching, holding, and wearing your toddler without nursing.
Not here, Not Now. When your toddler can understand, you can insist on, "No nursing in the store." "No nursing in the dark." "You can have milk now and nursing next time." "You can nurse until the count of 10 or the ABC song." "You must keep my shirt on."

This is an important skill to learn. It helps your baby feel secure and it helps you feel good as a mom.

My Love to you and your family,
Donna
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