I am excited to introduce Rachel Mitchell, Founder of My Sweet Sleeper. She is a Certified Maternity, Infant and Toddler Sleep consultant and the resident sleep expert at Motherly.
We were so lucky to have her takeover @dreamlandbabyco Instagram stories earlier this week and answer all your burning baby sleep questions. We hope Rachel's expert answers can help you and your baby on your sleep journey!
Q: How long does it take to see progress once you start sleep training?
A: Anywhere from 7-14 days you really want to give it, with consistent application before you are going to see any type of progress. Remember progress can be very small in the beginning. Long term progress really does depend on the age of your child and how long you have been implementing a specific method. Also remember, it does vary from child to child.
Q: Early morning rising, how to handle them? 13 month old is waking up very early no matter what I have tried!
A: I know that can be so frustrating. There are a lot of different reasons why early morning wake-ups tend to happen.
One of them can be that your child is going to bed over tired, either from lack of naps or bedtime is not appropriate for their age group (too late). So that is the first place you will want to look.
Keep in mind, in the morning babies don’t have as much sleep pressure built up. It is the lightest stage of sleep. So even the slightest noise or light or anything like that can be really, really over stimulating.
Q: Weaning the pacifier when it is affecting sleep?
A: Taking away the pacifier at the toddler age can be difficult but it doesn’t have to be. My recommendation is always the gradual approach.
Make your child part of the process. It could be telling a fun story, talking about another toddler friend who gave away their pacifier, tucking away the pacifier and saying goodbye.
Q: Why won’t my baby sleep in a crib?
A: A lot of the time it can actually be the timing of when you put your baby in the crib. If your baby is already overtired it can seem like she is rejecting the crib, wants nothing to do with the crib.
Actually, baby is already over tired so no matter where (unless maybe baby is like snuggled against you) then baby is still going to be fussy.
Q: Is it bad to put your child to sleep later in the night so they will later in the AM?
A: This unfortunately often backfires because it can result in an overtired baby if you miss their natural sleep window. Depending on the age of your child I typically recommend an earlier bedtime, not later!
Q: Is it safe to lay a 9 month old to sleep on their belly?
A: We always recommend laying your baby on their back for sleep. But if your baby is able to roll from back to belly and back again, then it is fine to leave them on their belly.
Q: 2.5 year old that still wakes up all the time despite our efforts. What can we do!!?
A: Identifying the issue of the wakeups is step 1! A few other areas to consider..
Is bedtime appropriate? Should be no later than 8pm and might need to be as early as 6pm
Is she/he getting a minimum of 1.5 hours for a nap?
Is she going to sleep independently? And if not how can you take steps towards that?
Q: When do babies start sleeping longer stretches? Weeks or at a weight?
A: Typically by 12 weeks you’ll start to see more consolidated stretches and then by 4.5/5 months you might see consistent stretches as long as 10/12 hours (although many babies at this age still wake to feed overnight)
Q: Best tips from transitioning my 1yr old (who safely cosleeps with me) into her own crib?
A: Practice time in the crib as much as possible. Start all naps in the crib even if they end up being short to create a positive crib association.
A version of the sleep lady shuffle can also be really helpful at night!
Q: Me 2 month old won’t nap longer than 45 minutes at a time during the day, how can I extend baby naps?
A: That is pretty common at that age since sleep cycles are still forming.
Make sure you’re swaddling, using white noise, encouraging a pacifier, and when baby wakes at the 45 minute mark try soother baby back to sleep. You also want to make sure you’re attempting naps every 75-90 minutes.
Q: How to handle regressions?
A: This is probably the number one question I get asked. First, I want you to understand not every disturbance in sleep means a regression is happening. A lot of the time when it seems like you are in the middle of a regression, it is actually caused by a development leap, a change in family dynamic, or something more obvious like sickness or teething. The best way to tell if your baby really is experiencing a regression is if new sleep habits have presented and stuck around for longer than two weeks. In this case the most important thing to do is remain consistent in your approach. Often I see parents try to implement several new methods or suddenly change their baby’s sleep environment which can create more chaos and further the regression. You also want to make sure you are meeting your baby where they are developmentally. If your child’s schedule is no longer appropriate for their age/development stage it might be time to shift. Just make sure you are getting to the root of the cause before immediately trying to change things.