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The Baby Sleep Dictionary A to Z

If you are thinking about hiring a sleep coach of any kind… you have probably spent some time perusing websites. In the Vancouver area, you have a lot of different options for sleep consultants, and I know at first glance.. We may all seem the same.

Recently, I joined a family in their home at bedtime. Prior to working with me, they worked with another consultant. It turned out that it was not a great fit on both sides, but what I learned when I was with them was that it was the keywords used on this person’s website that swayed them. Holistic, gentle, guided, etc etc.. But, the approach they received was quite different than what they expected.

Lucky for me, they watched a ton of my videos, read all of my blogs, and decided they would take a chance on me! And so far, I think… so good. 😉

What I thought might have helped these new parents, was having the words that commonly appear on infant sleep coaches sites, defined. So.. voila! A new BLOG is born.

Attachment friendly – the sleep coach is claiming to have an understanding of attachment theory, infant mental health, and emotional wellness. This consultant should be familiar with the stages of healthy attachment, attachment theory, theorists, and developmental psychology. They will likely be familiar with attachment parenting as well, and what is important to attachment parents.

Behavioural Modifications – essentially anything that is done to change a child’s natural sleep behaviours. This may include sleep training, or sleep learning, or sleep shaping. But may also not involve all 3. You’ll read more about these methodologies below.

Breastfeeding friendly – this consultant will respect your wishes to continue breastfeeding during the day, as well as, at night. They will ask you about your breastfeeding experience and wishes for extended breastfeeding or feeding to natural term. You may be lucky enough to find a consultant who is also IBCLC certified, or next best, a lactation educator.

Certified Sleep Consultant – this person has completed some kind of sleep certification process. These vary widely in nature. A franchise may “certify” all of their consultants so that they appear to be more professional. All the consultants whom have the same certification as myself, have come at sleep consulting with a variety of different backgrounds and experiences. Just because someone is “certified” in the same certification as another consultant, does not mean they practice sleep coaching in the same way. 

Controlled Crying – leaving a baby alone to cry, in intervals of 5, 10 or 15 mins, most commonly. Touch, eye contact, and connection are extremely limited on checks. May also be referred to as the “Ferber” method, or “The Sleep Wave”.

Cry-it-out – crying until sleep ensues, alone, or with checks at timed intervals.

Developmentally Appropriate – will choose methodologies that are “age appropriate”. Different consultants have different views on what is developmentally appropriate. Some believe feeding at night can end at 4 months of age, others believe that all infants can sleep thru the night by 6 months, and will encourage your baby to do the same. What is deemed “developmentally appropriate” may differ from the family’s wishes, but also may be supportive of a family’s wishes.

Extinction – crying alone, until sleep ensues, no exceptions. Often this requires closing the door at 7 pm and not entering a child’s room again for 12 hours.

Ferber – Used as an adjective to describe controlled crying approaches. This behavioural modification process was popularized by Dr. Richard Ferber. The method is most similar to controlled crying as defined above. Baby cries with check ins from their caregiver, at timed intervals, which lengthen.

Gentle – a buzzword at best. What you see as gentle, may be very different from your consultant’s viewpoint.

Gradual Retreat – This is the act of sitting beside your baby while they learn to fall asleep independently. They will cry. You comfort them with key phrases, and some occasional touch. Baby is not left alone to cry, but may also not be responded to physically or emotionally depending on where you are in your plan, and who created it for you! The place you sit moves further and further from your child’s crib with every few passing nights.

Holistic – This is the belief sleep does not exist in and of itself, and that lack of sleep is a family issue, rather than a child issue. A holistic infant sleep coach will look at all aspects of nutrition, timing, family relationship, etc., in determining best solutions to help your family sleep more.

Infant Sleep Educator – A person who works solely as an ISE will not do any behavioural modification. Rather than seeing your child’s sleep as a “problem” to solve, they will look for solutions to help you as a family function better. They will help you find the goal that exists behind the goal.

Parenting to sleep – helping your baby ALL the way to sleep in some way, shape or form. Rocking to sleep, holding to sleep, dancing them down, cuddling, or patting. 

Respectful – This consultant is claiming to respect you, your child, and your wishes for your relationship with your child.

Responsive – This consultant is expecting you to respond to your child at night. To respond to their physical needs, and their emotional needs, no matter the hour of the day. You will get to go into your child if you feel it is necessary.

Self Soothing – A popular claim that is made is that babies must learn to “self soothe” in order to sleep through the night. Depending on your definition of the term, this may or may not be possible. I think of self soothing as defined as; being able to calm the self, or regulate emotion – two things infants are not capable of doing. See this blog, here. 

Sleep Learning – fancy word for sleep training 😉

Sleep Shaping – May also be another fancy word for sleep training, but also may be the idea of modifying your child’s sleep, nudging them along, rather than making abrupt changes. This is most commonly what I do. I will nudge a child towards more sleep, when they appear ready to make some changes, and parents feel calm, and collected about what they are doing.

Sleeping thru the night – the idea that your child will sleep all night, with little to no interference needed by you. Sleeping thru the night may be defined by some consultants as 5 hours of consecutive sleep, while others may claim to help you achieve 11 – 12 hours of consolidated nighttime sleep. 

Sleep Training – Most commonly this is referred to as modifying the way your child sleeps using behavioural changes. The most common sleep training techniques are controlled crying, or gradual retreat.

Sleep Wave – This is another sleep training technique that has gained more popularity in the last year. This is similar to controlled crying, or the Ferber approach, except the timed intervals never exceed 5 mins.

SLS (Sleep Lady Shuffle) – a term coined by Kim West, the certified “gentle sleep coach” herself. The technique in her book is a gradual retreat form of behaviour modification. Moving further and further away from your child, as they are able to fall asleep more independently essentially.

Timed checks – Once again, another way to say controlled crying, ferber, sleep wave, etc.. etc.. 😉

… and I am sure there are more! If you want to comment with one you have heard, and I can update the post.. I would be happy to. But these are the ones that I see most commonly. 
 

And as always, thank you to @stacielynnphotography for supplying me with oodles of cute baby photos to support my blogs. <3 

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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