Do you remember pre baby after a night out or just late to bed when you’d wake up for work and immediately start planning your next sleep? “When can I nap? Maybe I’ll just go to bed early, the second I get home I am going to bed.”
This concept has taken on a whole new meaning since Parker was born. When you’re waking up every 2 hours to feed at the beginning it seems impossible that you will ever catch up. Personally, I’m not the best sleeper so I didn’t find the night feedings that hard. I am that weirdo that if you were to wake me up in the middle of the night, I’d pop up as if I were awake for hours and be like “yup, whats up?” That being said, there were days where I was literally a zombie and was dying for a time where I could rest my head knowing it would be as long as I wished it to be!
This particularly was heightened at 5-6 weeks. It comes on very quick from when they’re in the sleep anywhere stage (1-5 weeks) to all of a sudden being bloody awake and needing assistance in going to bed (6 weeks and on). I distinctly remember thinking we had the easiest baby and then at 5-6 weeks Parker went nuts every night from 5-8pm. He simply refused to sleep and wanted to be on ze boob every second. We freaked out cause we just simple weren’t prepared.
There was one night I was so tired I put him in bed with us and laid down to feed him and I passed out and hubby stayed awake waiting for P to finish eating. All I remember is waking up a few hours later to a sleeping, cozy baby and lights off, my boob placed back in my shirt – thanks Hubby!
Now that I have ranted! At 5-6 weeks I was on The Late Night Nursing Feed and found the topic about sleep. There was this woman who was chiming in here and there and she seemed super with it. Once I clicked on her profile I quickly saw why. Her whole instagram page is ridden with testimonials of moms saying “Thanks to Cara my 6 week old is sleeping 6 hours” etc. There is NO better advertising! So I immediately contacted her. Then I found out she was in Arizona and here I am in NYC – le shit! Oh no no! She not only helped me from a distance, I felt more supported than if I had hired someone locally because I could set up a phone consult with her when needed. And now Cara has an online class – WINNER!
I will gloat here a little; Thanks to Cara, Parker slept 8 hours straight by 8 weeks and by 12 weeks he was doing 7-7. Today at 26 weeks, Parker sleeps 7:30-7:30 and sometimes (dare I say) I have to wake him up because it’s getting close to 8am! I often wake to bursting breasts and feeling well rested. And yet, every night I pray it continues, it feels like a dream, a gift really! His naps are on point; he does 2-3 naps a day. First one is for 2 hours, sometimes longer and the other two are usually 40 minutes to an hour and a half. Lastly, better yet, with the right sleep cues (see below) he can sleep anywhere from the plane, stroller or in his pack n play in any new environment.
Ok, lets take a step back. I do think we were graced with partially a good, easy going baby -however I put in a LOT work with Cara at 6-8 weeks to get him there. The work was harder than simply waking and feeding him, it took time but he and I both thrived. To top it off, despite him not eating at night since 12 weeks he was still in 95 percentile for weight, he learnt to eat more during the day and taper off at night and today, at 6 months old, he’s 22lbs!
Without further a due, I introduce Cara, the exceptional sleep specialist!
1. Cara, tell us a little about yourself.
Hello, I’m Cara. I’m a Registered Nurse with 18 years experience caring for newborns and new moms. My areas of expertise include: Neonatal ICU, Labor and Delivery, Postpartum, Antepartum, and OB Office Nursing. I am a wife to a pediatrician and a mom to four kiddos who keep my laughing daily. Furthermore, I am a Sleep Consultant. My mission is to encourage, empower, and educate new families…AND to help families get the sleep they all so desperately need.
2. Cara, tell us a little about you got into this whole sleep specialist role?
It was totally by accident. I was working for a local obstetrician. I followed her pregnant patients throughout their entire pregnancy. When I would see these women come into the office 4-8 weeks after they delivered, I saw so many new moms who seemed overwhelmed and absolutely exhausted. I thought, “Hey, I’ve been there! I know I can make a difference in her life.” That was the beginning of my dream for Taking Cara Babies.
3. You’re a RN and your hubby is a pediatrician and yet you both were doing all the things you tell new moms not to do, tell us a little more about that.
When I brought my first baby home from the hospital, I thought, “how hard can this be? I’m a baby nurse. I have a pediatrician at home with me. We take care of babies for a living. ” BUT… here’s what I quickly learned: neither one of us had ever tried to get sleep AND take care of a baby. So fast-forward eight months and I had our baby tucked in between the two of us nursing ALL NIGHT LONG. I wasn’t getting any sleep, my husband wasn’t getting any sleep, and this sweet little baby girl wasn’t either. We were crabby and at the end of our rope. You can watch my story HERE
4. What are some of the misconceptions of sleep training?
a. “If I wait long enough, my baby will eventually sleep through the night.” True, a very high percentage of children are sleeping through the night by age 5. Can you do this for five years? We know that as many as 85% of children who lack the ability to sleep well in infancy will go on to struggle with sleep later in life. Many will be unnecessarily medicated for things like ADD, anxiety, and depression.
b. “I’m supposed to be exhausted. I’m a parent”. We tend to think of sleep like a pedicure, “if I get it great, but if not, oh well”. Sleep is a necessity for our bodies. We know sleep deprivation is a form of torture used in prisoner-of-war camps. Our brains are said to respond like that of a drunk person when we are sleep deprived. We know how lack of sleep affects us, but imagine how it affects our babies. We know babies undergo a huge amount of physical, emotional, and mental development during their first three years of life. Do we really want to jeopardize this development by lack of rest and energy? No way!
c. “Crying-It-Out is the only way and I don’t want to ruin the bond between my baby and I”. First, crying-it-out isn’t the only way. Second, I would not be doing what I do if I believed I was harming infants in any way. The bond I have with each one of my children is my greatest gift in life. What I have found is a rested family lends itself to the most effective bonding possible.
5. How does your service differ from the CIO method?
If I can get parents to watch (online) or attend my newborn class, “Will I Ever Sleep Again?” during their pregnancy or in the first 12 weeks, there is no crying at all! This class doesn’t “sleep-train” newborns, but it does set up healthy sleep habits and many never have to be “sleep trained”. Following the tips I give in this class, many parents have babies sleeping 10-12 hours per night by 10-12 weeks of age. NO CRYING INVOLVED! You can watch the introduction to this class here
If a baby isn’t sleeping through the night by 5 months of age, I can’t really teach one class to conquer all sleep problems. By this age, each baby has his/her own sleep issues and associations. I do, however, write personalized sleep plans for each individual baby. Instead of parents reading hundreds of pages from many books and trying to figure out which 20 pages apply to their baby, I write a “mini book” specifically for that baby. We conquer sleep by address the baby’s individual sleep obstacles. It does, unfortunately, involve some crying; however, I teach parents how and when to intervene so that the baby never feels abandoned or neglected.
6. What are your top 3 rules for anyone to know when thinking about sleep training?
1. Start healthy sleep habits in the first 4-10 weeks of life if at all possible. It is so much easier than waiting until your baby is older. How do you do that? Watch my class online here. No crying involved! No strict schedules! No denying baby of food! Breast feeding friendly! Does it sound too good to be true? Watch what parents had to say about the class here.
2. Don’t let anyone guilt you into undergoing sleep changes for your little one. I wasn’t ready until I was ready and I knew my daughter was ready. Co-Sleeping worked for a bit for us and then it suddenly didn’t. That’s when I knew we needed a change. Others judging me about my baby nursing all night long, did not encourage me to make a change. Trust that small, still voice inside you. You will know when it’s the right time.
3. Consistency is the key to your success. Constantly giving your little-one mixed messages about sleep is so confusing. Give very clear messages and follow through night after night.
7. How quickly can you get babies on the right sleep plan?
For newborns, it’s a process that occurs over 1-3 months to set up healthy sleep habits.
For babies over 5 months of age, I have a 98% success rate for getting babies sleeping 10-12 hours EACH and EVERY night if parents will follow their baby’s sleep plan for 14 nights. Feel free to check out my website: www.TakingCaraBabies.com
Ladies, we couldn’t be LUCKIER to have Cara join us today and for my followers Cara will be giving away her online newborn class “Will I Ever Sleep Again?” for- wait for it - FREE!!!
Here are some of my Must-Haves for a sleeping baby!
1. Homedics PORTABLE sound machine - $20. Operative word here, portable! We bring this when we travel. Also a smaller one here
2. Essential Oil Humidifier - $24. A friend bought us this and its amazing for creating a calming environment, we use it as a humidifier but also as a “cue”
3. Eucalyptus Oil – $10. This we put into the humidifier which has been great for helping P Sleep, especially if he doesn’t feel well or is blocked up, we put a few drops on the mattress.
4. I loved the Ollie Swaddle ($59), it really was the only one P loved and it grows with them as they grow. I’ve also used the Summer Swaddle ($20). When P started hating the Swaddle we put him in the Merlin Suit ($40) and he LOVES it. We are going to start transitioning using the 50/50 Sleep Sack ($34). I have also heard great things about the Zippadee Zip ($36) but it didn’t work for us since P couldn’t grab his paci
5. JellyCat Soother - $20. This has been a lifesaver. He loves to throw it on his face to sleep (scary yes, but then we got over it). We have back ups of the exact one.. just in case. We introduced it by placing it on his cheek as I fed him before bed and now it’s a direct cue for sleep. Literally his eyes close if we put it on him.
6. Wubbanub Paci - $14. I am OBSESSED with these. Why? (a) they can be tucked into a swaddle so they don’t go flying out (b) they are easy to find and grab in a crib and (c) if they cant fully put the paci in themselves yet, they can at least grab and suck on the stuffed animal part!