Baby sleep…the crazy puzzle that every new parent is forced to figure out. You learn what sleep deprivation can do to a human and wonder how we can harness that power to interrogate terrorists. It is rough and all kidding aside, it is a major source of my postpartum anxiety. Once I get sleep, I am 200% better. So around week 10 with Ollie, I was taking him to daycare to get a much needed break. I was looking at my company’s work life seminars and saw a lunch and learn with a baby sleep coach and postpartum doula. IT WAS A SIGN FROM THE HEAVENS!
I marched in there ready to learn and, if anything, not feel like I was the only one with a baby not sleeping. Enter Pam Diamond of First Daze and Nightzzz, LLC. She went through common sleep myths and the basics around baby sleep. Sleep cycles, bedtime routines, napping schedules. She then took questions and I just kept nodding my head. I knew I was doing the right things, he just needed to get his little mind sorted out. It was a relief.
Pam’s business sounds like a new mom dream come true. Besides being a sleep coach (she will come to your home for a consultation and even stay the night to help with problems!), she is also a postpartum doula. So the parents that have no local family and are running on fumes? She’s there for you. The new parents to multiples and not enough hands? PAM TO THE RESCUE! Even better, she has gift cards! So looking for the special gift for a new mom and dad? PAM PAM PAM!
And while the seminar was great, I found myself running to my computer to email her and ask her for an interview for this blog. I see so many moms on my social media struggling with sleep. Infants to preschoolers. I knew she would be a welcomed guest! So here we go:
It started when my son was born 19 years ago in Florida. I had no family support and was having feeding issues AND I had some baby blues going on. I ended up hiring a postpartum doula and she was like an angel who touched down into my life. She told me to get in my comfy jammies and get in bed. She showed me how to nurse lying down, how to comfort my baby, she fed me, she did my laundry. She was WONDERFUL. I literally filed her information away and when my second child was in preschool I got trained and certified as a postpartum doula and started my business. I stay in touch with my doula to this day. Turns out, I was her first client, ha!
I bet you see some crazy stuff dealing with people in one of their most vulnerable times. What was the biggest client challenge you have had?
Oh I see EVERYTHING. But by far one of the most challenging (as well as rewarding and biggest learning opportunities) was my client whose perinatal mood disorders escalated over a weekend until Monday morning when she called me at 7:30 a.m. and said, “I need you to come take my baby. I can’t do this.” She ended up hospitalized, and I was scrambling to find someone to take care of the baby around the clock so her husband could get her taken care of. I thought, oh gosh, what is my husband going to say if I come home with a newborn. The story has a happy ending, but it launched me into the world of perinatal mood disorders. I am now armed with lots of training to help identify PMD and am connected to a wealth of local resources for families.
It seems like everyone has SOMEONE in their life giving them “advice” that isn’t really helpful. What is the biggest sleep myth you deal with most often?
That feeding the baby cereal or switching to formula will help them sleep. The science shows this is just not true. Sleep is a function of the brain, not the stomach. Food doesn’t promote sleep in babies older than 6 weeks. And formula fed babies have as much or more sleep disturbances as breastfed babies. The science also shows the very important reasons why parents should wait to introduce solids. For more information on how NOT to get a baby to sleep, check out this blog post.
I know you mentioned in the seminar about trying to limit them before they try to climb out of their crib. I have a lot of toddler mom readers and they want to know how do you do that and when do you recommend transitioning to a toddler bed?
For starters, make sure you appropriately lower the mattress and remove anything in the crib that can be used as a launching pad. I wrote a blog post on when to transition to a bid kid bed. As you’ll read, I’m all for skipping the purchase of a toddler sized bed, especially if you need the crib for a baby on the way.
How do you keep them in their bed? Tips? Tricks? Candy?
First and foremost, don’t move your child to a big kid bed too early. If they don’t have the cognitive ability to understand “stay in your bed” then you are basically banging your head against a wall. If, let’s say, the are old enough to understand “stay in bed,” then it’s time to get good routines in place, including appropriate bedtimes, and parents MUST be consistent and stay consistent. Children are SMART and they see when parents don’t mean what they say.
Naps. How do you recommend getting a toddler back to napping after learning there is life outside of nap time?
Children thrive on routines and having firm boundaries. Toddlers feel less anxious when they know what’s coming next and that the adults around them are in charge – even though it may look like they want to call the shots. So parents need to be über consistent about nap routines and on the same page. Timing of naps is important, too. A toddler who is ramped up on a “second wind” from being overtired is less likely to fall asleep then one who lies down for a nap during the optimal sleep window!
It seems like when preparing for a baby, everyone puts so much planning into the birth and then it is over and you are left with this person you have no idea what to do with them. If you could give expecting parents one piece of advice about sleep, what would it be?
Oh how I wish more people understood and took to heart your first sentence. I see the results of this ALL THE TIME.
Hmmmmm…the ONE piece of advice? I would say, don’t compare yourself and your baby to anybody else. What your best friend’s baby is doing doesn’t say anything about you or your baby. There is such a huge spectrum of normal, and what’s right for one family may not be for another. Listen to your heart, watch YOUR baby. That’s where you’ll find the answers to what is best for YOUR family. And what you do in the early weeks is most likely not what you’ll be doing in the early years so live in the MOMENT, not in fear of what the future brings. You miss so much when you’re worrying about whether what you’re doing now is going to be a problem later on. I assure you, you won’t be nursing your child to sleep when she goes off to high school!!
I was also asked about the upcoming time change (THIS WEEKEND…KILL ME NOW) but before I could ask Pam, she already gave her advice over at Triangle Mom2Mom. Check it out!
Thank you Pam for a wonderful interview. If you want to hear more from Pam, please check out her blog, Facebook page (she posts great updates to other posts about sleep, breastfeeding, childcare and more!) and, of course, her services at First Daze and Nightzzz!
Disclaimer: I received no payment or gifts for this post. I truly just wanted to share her business because I think it sounds wonderful. She will be in my contacts for the future for sure!
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