Sarah, a sleep-deprived Dundee mother of infant twins, was exhausted. Her nine month old babies were waking frequently, causing many sleepless nights.
“I had people telling me not to worry, it was normal and they would grow out of it and eventually sleep. I had others telling me to let them cry and some who said absolutely don’t let them cry. I read six books on getting your baby to sleep and I lost complete confidence in being a mother and helping my babies navigate how to sleep,” Sarah said.
Finally, Sarah found Kimberly Wagner-Dabbour’s website, Beddy Bye Sleep Solutions. Wagner-Dabbour, a certified pediatric sleep consultant, formulated a plan to bring peaceful slumber back to the household.
“She made some simple changes in the twins’ room and modified our bedtime routine and literally, it took my babies just three nights to sleep through the night,” Sarah said. Within two weeks, Wagner-Dabbour had transformed these night-time interrupters into seven p.m. to seven a.m. sleepers.
What does a pediatric sleep consultant do?
“As a pediatric sleep consultant, I provide sleep education and professional support to resolve a variety of children’s sleep struggles,” she explained. “Using sleep science, safe sleep practices and experience, I put together a detailed, custom sleep plan for parents and caregivers to implement, based on the child’s age, temperament, family situation, and sleep needs. All while teaching them how to meet their child’s needs and supporting them through the process for success.”
Wagner-Dabbour works with families one-on-one, and sleep training typically takes two to three weeks. Most families see positive sleep changes within the first three to five days.
The benefits of a sleep routine
Wagner-Dabbour explained that the child who is getting the appropriate amount of sleep for their age, on a regular basis, has a distinct edge over peers who do not. These benefits can include improved memory, behavior, learning, attention span, emotional regulation, quality of life and mental and physical health.
“A predictable bedtime and naptime routine are great for cueing the mind and body of the child, signaling that it is time for sleep, which makes it easier for the child to fall asleep,” she explained.
Daytime naps are also a crucial part of establishing the sleep routine. “Good naps are essential for a more restorative night sleep. Restricting naps and poor naps will lead to overtiredness, which causes the body to release stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine, which disrupts sleep.”
Seasonal sleep changes
Seasonal changes can often lead to changes in sleep patterns as well. It may be easy to reset the clocks to “fall back,” but how does a parent reset a child’s internal clock?
“Daylight Savings Time requires that parents must put their child to sleep an hour earlier or later, in order to maintain our social schedules and work, “ Wagner-Dabbour explained. “Babies and young children can become overtired very quickly, and moving their schedule by one hour all at once most certainly will result in disrupted sleep,” she cautioned.
“I recommend sliding the child’s sleep schedule 15-30 minutes every two to three days before the time change, starting a week or more ahead of the change for a smoother transition. It will take about a week after the changes for the bodies to fully adjust.”
For more information visit Kimberly Wagner-Dabbour’s website beddybyesleep.com.
Practical Tips to Improve a Child’s Sleep Environment
By Kimberly Wagner-Dabbour
Boring is best! No mobiles, bumpers, electronics, blankets, stuffed animals, etc. Added items are overstimulating and potential hazards for younger babies.
Sleep is best in a bassinet, pack ‘n play or crib with a clean fitted sheet, depending on their age and weight.
Optimum temperature: Between 68-72 degrees.
Humidity: Use a cool mist humidifier in an enclosed space to ensure the air is not too dry. Also, be sure to use a humidity gauge, as too much humidity can promote the growth of mold.
Dark! Babies are not innately afraid of the dark. The darker, the better for melatonin production. If you sit in the room for five minutes and can clearly read a book, it is too light.
Use a white noise machine/fan/air purifier (no music), something to help mask the outside sounds. Ensure that it is across the room from the child and under 50 decibels.