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How night weaning my toddler HELPED my business…

Night Weaning my toddler was pretty hard, but it helped me in my business today… 

If you’ve taken the night weaning course, you’ve heard me tell this story. So, I apologize for re-telling it here today. 

One of the things I love about parenting is how much I have learned from my kiddos. I know that might sound a bit overly cheesy. But I really truly believe our children are sent to GROW US UP into the people we are most meant to be. 

My business has been a pretty successful entity for me. I am grateful for it every day, and especially in covid times.. I am so grateful for the flexibility it has offered me. 

But my kids are the real unsung heroes of this business. Yes, I learned a lot from reading. I learned a lot from mentors in the baby sleep industry. I learned a lot from reading developmental journals, books, and blog posts. But, my children are the ones who have taught me the most essential lessons I needed to learn to do this job, and do it well. 

Night weaning my youngest son was a trip. I did it 100% on my own. My partner is a loving awesome human being, but in the middle of the night he seems to turn into some kind of banshee.. That coupled with my “control freak by nature” status meant that I would be handling the night weaning 100% solo. 

I waited ‘til I was BEYOND ready to go through the big emotions that I knew this experience would present me with. And at almost 14 months, I finally ripped the band-aid off. It was HARD and my littlest cherub was MAD. ha! He wanted boob, and he wanted it bad. 

But I was ready. I got his water bottle ready. I had my empathic responses prepared. Sports bra on. Turtleneck on. (So that he wouldn’t be able to get his feisty little hands down my shirt. ha!). And we rode the wave of big feelings together. 

Really, I can’t describe in a few words what this experience was like for me as a breastfeeding parent, and for him as a breastfeeding baby. But, what I do know is that going through this experience in saying no and holding space for him as he expressed tears of futility actually strengthened our bond. 

Do I always recommend a breast/chestfeeding parent night wean baby? No. No I don’t. But for some families, this is really the only way to go and it is what works best. I am grateful to have had this experience because it really shaped how I prepare families for the night weaning experience, and helped me write my course Night Weaning for Toddlers

If night weaning is on the horizon for you; I highly recommend you check the course out! There are so many awesome features that can help you with this experience and now you know, I really truly know how emotional this experience might be for you. 

XO

Lara 

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3 Things I Learned From My Baby’s Sleep

I always say that our children can be our BEST teachers if we are open to seeing all of the gifts of introspection and reflection they carry with them. Here are a few of the learnings I had as a result of living with two challenging sleepers. I hope you can enjoy, or at the least, relate.

1. Baby sleep is not linear

While it is true that baby sleep does improve in a linear trend over the first 5 years of a child’s life, that first 18 months is incredibly variable. I remember thinking.. Okay! I will work on my baby’s sleep when they are 6 months old, and then I will have a good sleeper for LIFE! This is not true. Our babies are firing more neurons per second in their brains at any given moment than there exists websites on the internet. We are talking millions of neurons per second. That is a lot of tabs to have open at once! As a result, their sleep is disrupted. Developmental changes present our babies with advanced gross motor skills, advanced cognitive skills. They have to work through this stuff! 

How this knowledge can help you: Know that your baby’s sleep pattern worsening is likely not a reflection you have done anything wrong. If your child was previously sleeping pretty well, in a developmentally appropriate way for their age, then their most recent sleep slide likely means something is happening for them. We can greet this sleep regression with patience and empathy, knowing seeing them is normal.  

2. Sleep time is not the only place parenting happens 

When my children were not sleeping well, I was 100% lazer focused on their sleep. I became so obsessed with tracking night wakings, and analyzing nap timing that I sort of lost sight of the big picture. We are in a relationship with our children for a lifetime. There is so much parenting that happens outside of those hours at night. I remember beating myself up over whether or not my nighttime responses were empathic enough, loving enough, engaged enough…. But what I forgot about was all the loving, empathic, engaged, awesome stuff that was happening during the day. That stuff counts too! The time where your child does not sleep well will be but a tiny blip on the timeline that is their life. We are talking about these kiddos growing to be 80 – 100 years old! You’ve got a lifetime to imprint what you’re hoping to. It’s not all about the sleep. 

How this knowledge can help: My hope is that you will give yourself some grace in knowing that you are showing your kiddo BIG love around the clock, and this counts for something! 

3. Learning to validate big feelings at sleep times has helped my parenting 

I used to be scared of my children’s cries… I’m not going to lie. I used to want to quite literally be as far away as possible from them! It made me feel so uncomfortable to hear them upset, and if I couldn’t “fix it” right away, I felt like a totally incapable caregiver. Shouldn’t I know what my baby needs? But the truth is; we cannot possibly know what our kids need 100% of the time and sleep times can be met with big feelings and unpredictability. But being there as their rock, being a reliable and predictable caregiver, that is super important! Responsive and respectful caregiving means that we accept our children’s emotions (no matter how ugly), we get curious about what is going on for them, and then we offer them empathy. The more that I learned to sit with my kiddo’s big emotions, the better I got at it! The more I offered myself empathy in knowing it was okay to just BE with them rather than FIX it for them, the more comfortable and confident I became as a mother. 

How this knowledge can help: Being with our kids through their big emotions is something that is likely to happen all of their lives! When you can be with your child through their feelings, you will increase your threshold for it. 

XO 

Lara 

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Should you sing your baby to sleep?

Should you sing your baby to sleep? 

Over the past few years my practice in sleep coaching has evolved. I ask parents to respond to their babies. This means validating a baby’s cry, using touch while the little one learns to settle in a different way, and responding with voice, eye contact, and constant reassurance if the changes we are making are met with tears. 

Babies are sensory creatures. We know this. And when you add in many layers of comfort and connection, sometimes you end up with an overstimulated babe who won’t be soothed by anyone! 

This is a place of frustration I really try to help families avoid. 

One of the “things” I have found myself telling parents to do while settling their babies is sing. 

At the time I started to offer this advice, I really didn’t know why I kept suggesting it. It had worked well for me personally, but I really hadn’t stopped to think too much about why this was a success, and if there was any science behind it. 

When my son T was 6 weeks old I picked his “bedtime song”. This was a lullaby I heard at the library. One I loved.. And knew I wouldn’t bore of if I was still singing it 3 years later. When I put him to sleep in his crib through patting, and affirming touch, I sang or hummed this song on repeat. Like I mean, on repeat. Sometimes probably over 100 times. 

The song itself is only 6 lines. It is an african lullaby from what I know. It addresses each person in the family. The mama, the papa, the brother, sister, and baby. Each is loved. Each is treasured and honoured in the song. And I love that about it. Every time I sing or hum this song, even if I am doing it for hours.. Or at 3 in the morning, I think about that interconnection. How the 4 of us are family, and how we will forever be connected at the heart. 

There are nights where I probably hummed this little song for an hour straight. Patting Theo’s back, waiting for him to make the vulnerable transition from awake to asleep. Something I wanted to be with him to experience when he was just a little guy. 

I was a tired mama, but somehow I never tired of this tune. I knew it so well, and I just kept humming. 

It became a source of comfort for me as well. The thing that I began to know as the last step that would eventually soothe Theo to sleep. Yes it took some time.. And my mind would wander. But the constant humming of the tune over and over on repeat became meditative for me. 

Rather than worry about how long I’d been in the room, or how long this particular bedtime or middle of the night soothing session was taking me – I had my plan. I had my constant reassurance I wanted to offer, and it allowed me to remain calm. To have a focal point. To be in control of my actions when in the room with my son. And this allowed me to keep my anxiety very low as I responded to his needs. 

I say often that we are connected to our babies on a cellular level. We grew them inside us for many months, and I believe they feel our feelings on the outside, just as they did when they were safe inside. Keeping sleeptime anxieties low while a parent attends to their child, just makes good sense to me. And if singing the same tune lets you do this, then great! 

What I started to notice with T, was that humming this tune was all he needed for middle of the night reassurance. We got to a point together where I could enter the room, hum my tune once, and leave. This really affirmed my belief in this technique. It was pretty amazing to see him soothe with my voice alone (sleep wizardry – I know). 

What I was actually experiencing was a term researchers have called, “synchronicity”. One study I found observed a mom and baby’s body heat, respiration, and heartbeat. The wavy lines she observed would begin to move together when mom began to sing a well-known lullaby to her baby. It was as if they became one!**

I knew for months that T had been listening to my voice, getting to know it. But what I didn’t know was that this actually has a scientific definition in the form of vocal timbre. This is, “the resonance by which the ear recognizes and identifies a voiced speech sound, or connects with the distinctive tone of a particular singing voice.” 

As I sang to T, he got to know me. He got to listen to my voice, and know me as the one who makes him safe, warm, and comfortable. He began to recognize my singing as part of the safety in transitioning from awake to asleep. He got to know me as his “person”. 

Every night we were communicating. Differently than if I was talking to him – I believe. He was able to pick up on the emotions that come in the form of sound. And I can tell you, if I was not singing… my emotions would have been all kinds of crazy in the times where I was unsure if he was EVER going to fall asleep. Although I may have been all kinds of worried, the emotion I was able to project was one of calmness, stillness, and love. 

The speed at which he fell asleep got faster with almost every passing night (there were exceptions of course). But having read what I have read now, there is real science behind babies soothing more quickly with familiar sounds. 

Now I know some of you are probably reading this thinking.. Lara.. this is not exactly profound information! People have been singing lullabies all over the world, every night, for many many years! 

And yes. This is true, friends. We sing our children to sleep for many different reasons. Some people sing because this is what their parents did before they fell asleep as children, and they want to recreate that love and comfort for their own babies. Some people sing to connect to different aspects of their culture through song, or to share a message or story passed down through many generations. 

For me – it began as a way to keep my sanity while I ventured in the realm of responsive parenting.. But it appears, it was likely much more for my son. 

XO

Lara

** More info on Dr. Anita Collins research can be found here https://www.thelullabyeffect.com/podcast

 

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Why does self care HELP your toddler?

When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, they need for us to share our calm, not join their chaos.”~ L.R Knost

This is one of our favourite quotes and it is often used in our consultations. It can be really difficult when you’re tired, frustrated, have an endless list of things you need to do, and your child just WONT cooperate.

Your child is not out to wind you up intentionally (despite the way it might feel sometimes!) – they aren’t born with the ability to regulate or manage their emotions.  Right from birth, we are our children’s first teachers. Their emotions will mirror ours; so if you are feeling anxious, stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated or another myriad of emotions, those are the feelings your child is taking on as well. 

Have you ever noticed that if you are in a good place emotionally that your child also seems to have less meltdowns or challenges? But when things start getting tough that’s when your child’s behaviour deteriorates as well which increases your stress level?

This is why self-care is so important.

If you aren’t able to take care of your own physical and emotional needs, then you aren’t equipped to take care of your child’s. Self-care is the least selfish thing that you can do. It will make you a better parent, partner, friend, son or daughter, aunt or uncle. Your child deserves to have you at your best, so make the time to get yourself there. 

We find the majority of parents are terrible for actually following through with self-care because they always put others first. Find someone to help keep you accountable! Whether its your partner, a friend, your mum, anyone who can check in on you to make sure you are taking time for yourself. There is no right or wrong way to engage in self-care – many people assume that you should be doing some sort of exercise or personal development (and if that’s something you like to do then yes!) but taking time out for self-care means doing something for yourself that you previously really enjoyed and makes you FEEL good and rejuvenated. 

I am someone who tends to be paralyzed into inaction by having to come up with things to do for myself. To help others who may fall into that category, here is a list of ideas that may or may not interest you:

  • Nap

  • Read a book

  • Have a cup of tea and stare out of the window

  • Go for a walk / run

  • Take a zumba class (if nothing else, you will get a good sweat on and learn to laugh at yourself!)

  • As a friend to meet you for coffee

  • Take a bath

  • Yoga class

  • Explore essential oils and make yourself a roller for stressful times

  • Make jewellery (youtube has lots of videos and you can get supplies off etsy and amazon)

  • Make bath bombs (amazon has 

  • Organize (This might sound strange, but if it makes you feel good then go with it! I get a lot of pleasure out of organizing and having things sorted into containers etc. When I feel anxious, I organize.)

  • Knitting (Again, youtube has tons of videos, your local yarn store would help you get started and often have knitting groups once a week) 

  • Go to the gym

  • Go to bed early

  • Cook or bake 

I could go on for ages, so if none of these appeal to you keep on digging! You are sure to find something soon enough.

So you have someone to keep you accountable, you have an activity that you are planning on doing (napping count’s as an activity) what is going to make it happen? The number one reason I hear for why self-care didn’t happen is because they didn’t have childcare or something happened and you didn’t get the time. So here is another list of strategies for making sure you are taking time to be the best version of you: 

  • Make a plan and schedule it into your calendar 

  • Make sure you have someone to take over your childcare responsibilities 

    • Self-care isn’t as restorative if you have to be “on” in case your child wakes up, etc.

    • Ask Grandma to come over during nap time

    • Put it in your partners schedule that they are on bedtime duty

    • Hire a babysitter to come over

      • If funds are tight and you are planning on being in the home, ask a teenage neighbour to come round and play with your toddler while you take time for yourself

    • Do a childcare switch with a friend – look after her tot while she takes care of herself and vice versa (this also works well for date nights!)

What are some of your favourite self-care activities? Comment below to help a fellow parent out! 

XO

Amy

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Making the Most of Your Own Sleep Space

Let’s face it. We focus a lot here on getting the babies and the toddlers sleeping. But, sometimes after we’ve worked together, baby is sleeping and parents still are not! Why is this? Well.. many different reasons, to be exact. One of the main ones being – they haven’t slept in 5, 6, 24, 36 months, and their body has forgotten how. If your child has just begun sleeping through the night, give yourself some grace and know that it will take time for everyone to adjust to the new sleep routine, and begin sleeping well.

But, let’s also take a look at our own bedrooms and see if there are any improvements that could be made.

I, for one.. Am a “terrible” sleeper. Which is one of the BIG reasons why I got into this field in the first place. So keeping my bedroom a “sleep sanctuary” is definitely at the top of my list. Here are a few things that I have considered in creating my sleep space. And, I do feel many of them have helped.

  • Make the Bedroom DARK. AS. NIGHT.

Light is the single most important environmental factor impacting your sleep. This can be from any source of light – computer, phone ding, but also the biggest one often ignored is our bedroom windows. Light streaming in from the street through your crappy bedroom blinds is going to keep you up people! When your environment is bright, your melatonin levels remain low. Darkness helps your body secrete this sleep hormone. In my opinion, great blackout curtains are a worthwhile investment for every room in your home. But, if this is not possible because you have just spent every last dollar on your nursery.. A good sleep mask will definitely also help in a pinch.

  • Your room is for sleep (and maybe sex.. But.. you are parents so.. you might be too tired for that.. :D)

Don’t make your bedroom an entertainment space. If you are using your room to watch TV right before bed, or play video games – this is going to impact your sleep. If your body and mind equate your bedroom with excitement, it will be really hard for your body to settle down and prepare to transition to sleep.

  • Calm, neutral wall colours make a difference.

Now, most grown adults don’t have their room painted bright red, pink or orange. But, if you do – this could be affecting your sleep as well. These colours are associated with anger, and panic. Not exactly how you want to be feeling when you enter your sleep space. Cooler calmer colours on the walls. Think light greys and pastels, really do help transform your space into one of calm solitude and rest.

  • Clear Out the Clutter

Your room furniture should definitely take “feng shui” into consideration. Creating a good flow in the bedroom is really important. And if your bedroom is cluttered, you are going to find yourself distracted before drifting off to sleep. Thinking about piles that need to be moved, or laundry that needs to be folded, will distract the mind and cause a bit of unnecessary stress right before sleep. Definitely take some time and clear the clutter out of your bedroom. Your body and mind will thank you. Channel your inner “Marie Kondo” who is all the rage right now! ha.

  • Remove Some of the Noise

Did you know that your brain actually processes noises in your sleep? This is the exact reason your baby crying in the night jolts you out of bed like nobodies business. Try to reduce the noises in your bedroom.

Personally, we sleep with a white noise machine. I know people think these are just for kiddos. But, if you live in a busy metropolitan area or tight community like we do.. A good white noise machine that produces relaxing sounds can help create great ambiance and encourage you to fall asleep faster. Another suggestion is just to use ear plugs. I have not found too many that are optimal in comfort for me.. But everyone’s ears are different!

Don’t worry that you won’t hear the baby. Trust me – you will. And if you’re really nervous just make sure that the ear plugs you are using have a noise reduction rating of 32 decibels or less.

  • Invest in the Bed

You know you spend ⅓ of your life in that thing right? Make sure you’ve got a comfortable cozy mattress, and great bedding too. Sliding into nice clean sheets is an amazing feeling! Find sheets that are natural, breathable, and of a decent thread count. Your pillow will make a difference too! We so rarely try out our bed or bedding for longer than 30 seconds before purchasing. (Mattress stores are kind of an embarrassing place to hang out for prolonged periods of time). But, make choosing your bed and bedding a high priority. You really do spend a great amount of time here.

Of course I could go on and on and on. But, I hope this helps you look for a few simple and easy changes you might be able to make to begin getting a better night’s sleep in the very near future.

XO

Lara

Thank you to the amazing Stacie-Lynn Photography for the use of this beautiful photo seen here of this adorable family. She really is the best!

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Helping Sick Kiddos Sleep

Tis the season for bugs and germs… and I am truly touching wood knowing that my children have been back to school and childcare for over a month now, and they have yet to be sick. Fingers crossed!

Sunny days, cooler temperatures, leaves falling off trees, and the return of our “wet” coast rain. The fall season can be an amazing one, but it quite often signals the beginning of cold and flu season. Getting your kiddos to sleep on a regular day can be challenging for some, but throw in some aches and pains, fevers, coughing, sneezing, and a runny nose, and you’ve got a whole other ball game going on. To make matters worse, I’d bet money that if they’re not sleeping, you’re not sleeping either (usually the two go hand-in-hand! ha!).

Even though the sleep routine that you have spent countless hours building has probably been thrown out the window, the good news is that this cold/flu/bug will pass, and your child’s good sleep habits will return. Think of this as just a little hiccup or bump in the road. And, as with all other bumps in the world of sleep, there are many tips and tricks (homeopathic and medicinal) that you can use to help you and your little one through.  

  • A Warm Bath Before Bedtime: A warm bath will not only help maintain an element of your child’s bedtime routine, but the warmth and steam should also help loosen any congestion.

  • Applying ‘Vicks’ to Their Feet and Back: Put a little on their back, or rub some on the bottoms of their feet then cover with socks; it is supposed to help ease any coughing troubles.

  • Use a Humidifier: Another great trick to help with nasal congestion – the moist air they create can help breakup mucus and sooth the airways.

  • Cuddle Time: Sometimes the best cure is a good snuggle with mom or dad. Camp out on the floor of their room so you are near buy or set up a play pen near your own bed.

  • Massage: A good massage can help smooth any aches they may have.

  • Bedtime Stories and Lullabies: Another element of your bedtime routine that’s easy to maintain. A good cuddle with a song or story can do wonders.

  • Homeopathic or Over-the-Counter Medicines: Advil and Tylenol are tried and true when it comes to fevers and aches (make sure you use the age appropriate formula and dosage), but nowadays there are also homeopathic versions you can pick up at your local pharmacy to help with a variety of symptoms (check in with the pharmacist to see if this might be a good fit).

  • Essential Oils: Like medicines, essential oils are available to assist with a variety of woes including cold and flu symptoms and sleep. Lavender is often thought to encourage sleep and eucalyptus to ease congestions. Make sure you buy from reputable source and follow usage directions appropriately.

  • Elevate the Head of the Bed: This age old trick may also help with nasal congestion. Check with your doctor first though! For safety reasons, it is not recommended for young children to sleep with pillows. A good trick though: Insert a thin pillow or blanket UNDER the mattress for a slight elevation.

  • Fluids and Rest: Like adults, keeping hydrated and resting lots will help their little body get better.

For high fevers or any more serious/prolonged symptoms, a trip to your family doctor is always a good idea on the off chance that some antibiotics may be needed. And as with all other sleep struggles, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help; it’s important that you keep rested and stay healthy – there’s no sick days for Moms and Dads!

XO

Lara

And as always, a huge thank you to www.stacielynnphotography.ca for allowing me to share the photos you see here.

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Consulting on middle ground…

If you’re feeling lost when it comes to your next move in the sleep department. Just know, you are not alone. Well.. clearly you’re not alone. Everywhere you look you’ve got advice on how or what to do to change your baby’s sleep patterns.

It is no secret. I help families get their babies to sleep MORE for a living. Yes, this means more than might be “biologically normal”. Yes, this might mean more than perhaps a baby should sleep.. depending on who you talk to. But the truth of the matter is..

Someone has got to do it.

And yes. That someone, is me.

When I see baby sleep advice on the internet – I cringe. Probably not for the reasons you might think, but because of how polarizing people can be on this topic.

You’re damned if you sleep train, and you’re damned if you don’t.

This is the message I see repeating time and time again.

The competitions as well. OH EM GEE. Just stop!

We’ve got the sleep trainers.. Or sleep shapers.. Or sleep learners.. Or sleep nudgers.. Whatever you want to call them!

“Well I never had to do ANY kind of sleep training and my baby slept perfectly from 10 weeks on. We just never fed to sleep.”

“We started with strict scheduling from birth and it worked PERFECTLY for us, and we had 3 sleeping babies by 12 weeks because of it.”

“I let him cry. It was awful. He vomited. We all cried. But it worked, and it was the BEST thing we ever did for us and our son!”

And then the other side…

“We would NEVER ever sleep train our baby. Our hearts could never take it! We don’t want him to feel abandoned.”

“It would break me into a million pieces to hear him cry for even 5 seconds. We breastfeed and co-sleep all night long. It’s what works for us.”

About 9 months ago I made a firm decision that I would no longer support families using any form of “cry-it-out” sleep training.

Since many people define “cry-it-out” differently, I will offer you my cole’s notes definition.

To me this method is defined as – any period of leaving your baby alone to cry. I’ve got my reasons why I practice in this way, and if you’re curious.. You can read more about how I came to this decision here.

But since I officially came out about my stance, people have been REALLY curious about what I do. Like. Really curious.

A “sleep trainer” who doesn’t do CIO? Is she the answer to our prayers?! (haha.. I put that in there for me. But yes, I might just be).

But seriously, every day I get questions about what I do and how EXACTLY I do it.

Because you know what, what I do.. Is really freaking hard to do! And it DOES not exist in a book. It really does not. I can tell you. I’ve read 29 different sleep books and have yet to see my methodologies anywhere (yes – enter writing a book into 2018’s to-do list).

And I understand the curiosity.

When I was a sleep deprived mom, I think I was THE hungriest mom for sleep information. Seriously. I digested every single thing I could get my hands-on, by anyone who seemed to know what they were talking about on this subject.

^^ and that, my friends.. Is how I learned to do what I am doing now. By reading ALL OF IT. And then actually being so lucky as to have people actually trust me to try it with their babies (thank you guys!!).  

Today a mom in a facebook group asked me a question after I made this statement…

There are ways we can help our babies learn to sleep in different ways, while still being physically and emotionally available to them.

And her question to follow was this…

“But how can you be emotionally and physically supportive without having the baby cry?”

Fair question – right?

And here is where I realized we as a society have a problem.

I feel sometimes like I am the ONLY person who is trying to merge the gap between the sleep trainers, and those who support natural, biological, parenting choices.

It is a big hole to fill some days. And no, I’m not prepared to give the secrets that I have spent the last 3 years learning, away for free.

But the question above.. I would like to answer.

How can we be emotionally and physically supportive of our babies while they are learning to sleep in a different way?

That is how I would reframe the question.

Tears are not necessarily the enemy, my friends. Baby’s cry. They do.

But I would argue that tears in the arms of a loving and supportive caregiver can be healing.

Think about when you have a GOOD cry. Like a disgusting, ugly, snot flying out of your nose, cry. And your partner puts their arms around you and says, “I don’t know exactly why you are feeling the way you are feeling right now, but I want to be here to support you.”

^^ that my friends, is being physically and emotionally supportive. That is healing. 

As a society we see good babies as the ones who are not crying. We see good parents as the ones who can stop their babies from crying the fastest.

But I would love if we could shift our thinking to this….

GOOD babies are ALL of the babies. Because. #babiesareawesome

GOOD parents are the ones who are TRYING to support their babies in whatever way they feel THEY should at that particular moment based on their intuition and instinct.

And really, it is OKAY for people to want to change a pattern of behaviour that is not serving them, and is not allowing them to be the parent they hoped they would be.

If what you are doing now in the sleep department is not physically and emotionally sustainable for YOU, then we have some work we could do together.

Because ultimately, you do have to put the oxygen mask on yourself FIRST, if you are going to wake up and love on that GOOD baby as much as you want to love on them.

When we support our friends we could be saying, “Is there something about what you are doing now that is just not sustainable for you? Something that HAS to change?”

What if we focused on THAT little piece of information, rather than the cry-it-out, don’t cry-it-out, debate.. And saw what we came up with as a result.

You might just find an “in the middle” starting off point for you and your baby. 

And if you’d prefer to save yourself the trial and error of what Suzie, and Sally did first, then please holler at me. I’d like to help make the line from sleepless nights, to more-sleep nights, a lot clearer for you. 

XO

Lara

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Just a thank you.. I think.

This year was a game changer for me.

It would appear that each of my children has been a catalyst in my understanding of baby sleep. Moving and shifting everything I thought I knew about it.

This year with Theo was no exception.

I truly hoped that this baby would be my, “sleeper”. It turns out – I don’t make those kind.. And reading 29 different infant sleep books is in NO WAY a guarantee that you will produce a sleeping baby! So no, I’m not going for the 3rd in hopes of seeing what it is like to have a magic unicorn who sleeps 12 hours by 12 weeks. I’ve seen them in my practice. They exist. Ha. They just don’t exist in the Rabb household.

I think it was a good exercise for me to relive the same level of sleep deprivation I suffered with my first. To be honest, I think I slept less with Theo than I did with Halle, but I worried about it less! And that helped A LOT! I had lots of people rooting for me.. And I believed his sleep was absolutely normal – just infant like – and not as a result of me being a f*ck up of a mom. That was a nice place to be.

There were nights where I felt like I was playing whack-a-mole. Walking the halls, diving into my bed, just to be woken the moment my head hit the pillow to attend to one of the two. With my husband travelling the world doing exploration geology, I truly felt there were nights I maybe slept 2 minutes, only to wake up and repeat it all the next day.

Nighttime parenting is never easy. Of course I would rather be in my bed, asleep. I love sleep. I value sleep. I feel like I cannot function without it. Probably what led me to this little “side gig” in the first place.

There were times where I was tempted to turn off the monitor and just let my baby cry. Times where I thought – “you’re just crying in my arms again.. What is the point?!” But somehow, I persevered.

Well – there was that one night I forgot to turn the monitor on. It also happened to be the first time he slept 7 hours.. I think?! Oops!

But really, I pushed on. I knew that when the time was right for him (and me), we would work together and he would become a beautiful sleeper.

But really, true sleep deprivation is no joke.

Okay, I don’t know what the point of this blog post is. I am down a rabbit hole I think. Will I be able to get myself out?

What was starting off as a “thank you” of sorts, is now taking a turn in typical Lara fashion.

But really. Thank you to every family who followed along with me this year. Who watched me navigate sleep deprivation for the second time. Who watched me wake with my son, attend to my daughter, and cheered me on through the highs and lows of raw motherhood.

Thank you for reading my blogs, sharing them, watching my stupid stories on instagram, and liking my posts.

This was a year where I felt a true connection with the community I am serving, and that I started to just be regular, old, me.. In all aspects of the sleep work I do, and in my personal life as well.

Maybe I’m just getting older.

Maybe I’m just more comfortable as a mom.

Maybe I’m just getting more comfortable with the uncomfortableness that is baby sleep, when you’re not trying to control every aspect of it.

Maybe it is having a strong village, even if they mostly exist on the internet.

But I loved 2017. I am proud of everything Heavy Eyes Happy Hearts has become this year, and I have YOU to thank for being alongside me.

So thank you for being with me, trusting me, and watching me sort this all out.

This little business is starting to feel bigger than me. And that is a pretty exciting place to be.

XO

Lara

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The Normal Reasons Your Baby Sleeps Like Sh*t

I had a bit of an epiphany last night..

I know you are probably going to say. Wow, Lara. How did it take you so long to come up with this one?

But what I realized for the first time last night, as clear as crystal… is the simple fact that..

if babies slept well, I would not have a job..

I mean – I could have a job. Yes, for sure. I have two degrees, a couple of diplomas, and know how to teach a room full of rowdy teenagers. But, my business would not exist. Simple as that. The baby sleep industry is HUGE and growing by the day, and recently I have been thinking a lot about why this is.

My entire business is built around the fact that people’s babies do not sleep.

My business survives because of people’s sleep deprivation.

People recommend my business because there is a belief that babies can sleep well with the right foundational elements, and quality support. And, for the most part, this is very true.

But the fact of the matter is, babies are born, and many of them straight up don’t sleep. If they were born designed to sleep, the baby sleep industry would NOT exist!

The sleepless nights are a problem for us as their adult caregivers because we know how to sleep. Our sleep cycles are fully matured and what I call “adult like”. They are long. We know how to put ourselves back to sleep after we wake in the night. We feel safe and secure in our beds. We trust in the process of sleep, and go to it happily almost every night of the week. And after 30+ years of uninterrupted sleep, it is pretty difficult to go to the place of having our nighttime sleep disrupted 5+ times every night of the week. It sucks! And it is HARD.

In an industry that is always trying to make it appear that your child can be “fixed” that your child should be “trained” and that you are doing them a disservice by not getting them a one hour nap in their crib each day… I just want to say, f*ck it! Ha!

As a mom, I have been on the receiving end of this fear mongering. I have felt the guilt associated with having a sleepless baby. I have felt the pressure to DO something about this! And, as a result, I have made a few parenting decisions I still regret to this day.

In my business, I want to support families in this time of great need. A sleepless baby is no fun, but if you are responding to your sleepless baby with love, care, compassion and empathy – then you are doing nothing wrong! Did you know that only 16% of 6 month olds sleep thru the night every night reliably? Did you know that everyone argues over what sleeping thru the night is actually defined as at every developmental age and stage?! Did you know that there are no conclusive sleep training studies that exist without some kind of flaw?!

Every day I make it my goal to help families get their babies and themselves more sleep in a way that is a little gentler, a little more empathetic, and a little more compassionate, than the routes they feel are available elsewhere.

Now, I know some people won’t understand this. Won’t understand me. My rants. And the truth is, I am not for everyone. I can help your baby learn to sleep. Yes. But I want to go about it in a way that is biological, more normal, and strengthens the bond between caregiver and child. I want to do it without judgment, guilt, or fear mongering.

So today, let’s just talk about the normal biological reasons why your baby sleeps like Sh*t, and not try to “fix” anyone.

  • As newborns our babies are biologically built to wake frequently in the night. They sleep extremely light for their survival. This is nature’s way of protecting our infants. They sleep light so that they can come out of sleep easily. This is one of the reasons they stay alive! Yay!
  • Newborn infants need nighttime feeds for growth and development. Their tummies are small, and yes, they will wake frequently to be fed.
  • Frequent nighttime feeding increases a mother’s milk supply, and improves the mom and baby breastfeeding relationship. A nursing baby knows middle of the night milk is best! It is rich, creamy, extra fatty, and contains sleep inducing hormones which do help baby and mom go back to sleep!
  • Until 4 months of age a baby is still developing their own circadian rhythm. They are still learning to decipher day from night. They are not yet producing melatonin in their own bodies, and thus sleep remains incredibly inconsistent and unpredictable.
  • Beyond 4 months of age our babies brains continue to grow and develop at a rapid rate! They are firing more synapses in their brains, than exist webpages on the internet! And yes, all of that growth and development is going to be a little disruptive to an infant’s sleep. Have you ever learned something new that was so incredibly mind-blowing that you could not sleep?! Yeah. Our babies do that too. All the freaking time.. because their brains grow so rapidly in their first 5 years of life.
  • Then your baby learns how to sleep a little better than they did before, and BOOM they are sick with their first cold. Yes. A sick baby is going to wake-up and need a little extra help from mom and dad to get back to sleep. Don’t you want to CRY when YOU can’t breathe out your left nostril?! No.. just me? Yeah.. I didn’t think so.
  • Then come the molars. And if you want to argue with me for one minute that teething does not affect an infant’s sleep.. Fine. Okay. But open wide, sister! Let’s see how it feels when you have a sharp dagger pressing down into your gums. Tell me if you could sleep like that?!
  • Then come the changes in sleep routine, and sleep needs. As your baby grows older, they tend to need less sleep. You are transitioning from 3 naps to 2, then 2 naps to 1, etc etc. Bedtime moves and shifts, wake-up times move and shift, and yes, before you know it that baby is waking again in the nighttime needing a little extra support until they get the handle of this new routine and rhythm.
  • Genetics play a factor people! Some people are good sleepers, and come by this naturally. Some babies are too! When a child experiences night terrors, it is more likely than not that their parents did as well, as this has been proven to be hereditary. Some babies sleep well from birth. You people are best to keep your mouths shut! Haha. Because most babies DO NOT. And you may be met with the wrath of a sleepless baby on baby #2, or baby #3.
  • And then we have the toddler years where your child is learning to decipher real from make believe. Has no clue what is going on, and believes that the ghosts in his dream are in fact real. That is some scary sh*t people!

Okay by now you get it. I could go on and on and on. Teething, illness, developmental leaps, changes in routine, travel, the introduction of new siblings, big life changes and events. Sleep does not exist in a vacuum! Our little human beings are just as susceptible to all of life’s changes, just as we are.

And despite all of the above, majority of the time, yes I can help. And yes, I can get your baby sleeping well. But the timing has to be right. Developmentally baby has to be ready. Parents have to be ready for a change to take place. And we have to go about it in a way that feels comfortable to you, and builds baby’s trust in going to sleep.

So today instead of offering you a quick fix, I am offering you a little empathy. As a mother I too have been in the trenches. Hang in there. Hand off your baby. Get a little time in nature, grab a coffee, or book a mama night off at your favourite local hotel if you can… this too shall pass, and you are doing GREAT sister!

XO

Lara

Thank you to Stacie-Lynn Photography for the beautiful images featured here.