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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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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