Chasing the Zzzs
Sleep deprived “Mombies” call on local experts
One of Oliver, Madeline, and Tucker Lamoin’s first photo opps. The triplets recently turned two and a half years old and have a big sister, Penelope who just adores them.
Photo by Ute-Christin Photography
Sleep deprivation is one of the many joys of motherhood. Middle-of-the-night feedings and naps in the car have become rights of passage for new parents, with most of the responsibility traditionally falling on mom.
While it’s expected that newborns wake often, many parents don’t realize they will ultimately have to engage in some form of sleep and nap training. However, the rules of when and how to successfully sleep train are different depending on your source. Conflicting advice from grandparents, the pediatrician, and Dr. Google can be overwhelming, and changing your game plan too many times can foster negative sleep habits.
“Sleep is the foundation of health,” explains Ingrid Prueher, a sought-after expert pediatric and adult sleep consultant, also known as the Baby Sleep Whisperer. “Both parents and their children need a consistent number of hours each night to support detoxification, a healthy lymphatic system and to generate new cells.”
Based in Fairfield with her husband and two boys, Prueher has consulted with families worldwide, appears regularly on national TV, and believes there is no such thing as a cookie-cutter approach to sleep. According to Prueher, children thrive on predictable day and nighttime schedules. Everyone in the family, including caregivers, must be on the same page to ensure success.
Recently Prueher helped Fairfield mom Paige Getz to form healthy sleep habits for her one-year-old son Everett. She and her husband were eager to eliminate the dreaded night feeding before her maternity leave ended. Getz is a light sleeper and has a hard time falling back asleep. She would need a full night sleep to perform at her job, both as a mom and in the office. “She helped us set up a nap regimen for Everett, which was essential to solidify before returning to work,” says Getz. The two women worked with together for about a month. Through texts and phone calls, they discussed the log Getz kept of when her son ate, slept, and woke. After that time, Everett was on a set schedule, and the couple could enjoy uninterrupted time together at night.
Another local resource is Baby Sleep Science, whose team is comprised of Fairfield mom Meg Casano, BSN MA, and California-based Dr. Erin Flynn Evans, who worked in the division of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital for a decade. Like Prueher, the Baby Sleep Science team works with families around the world via conference call and video chat.
“Sleep is controlled largely by the circadian rhythm, our body’s biological clock,” explains Casano. “As long as you are consistent each night—and your child is able to get enough sleep at night—there is no right or wrong bed time. However, it’s important to have reasonable expectations of your child. If you put a baby to bed at 6 pm, don’t be surprised if he or she wakes by 5 am.”
Casano urges parents not to worry if their children are not sleeping through the night at three months. Rule of thumb, she says, is to consider seeking out a sleep consultant if your baby is exhibiting sleep problems (not just waking to eat) after age six months. Naps, Casano explains, are a bit different. There is really no magic window—they can be more flexible based on the baby’s bed and wake time, as well as age and stage of development. Naps are driven by sleep pressure, not by the circadian rhythm. When asked about when to drop the beloved nap, she explains that research shows naps are beneficial up to age five, but most parents drop it long before then because it shortens the night.
It’s one thing to manage the sleep cycle of one infant, but what if you are blessed with three (and also have a toddler)? That’s what happened to local supermom Courtney Hickey Lamoin, who welcomed triplets two years ago. Luckily, her family had the support of a night nurse when the triplets first came home from the hospital, but she credits her survival skills to advice from fellow triplet moms via Facebook.
“The most important lesson I learned was to live by the schedule,” said Lamoin. “When you have higher order multiples, you don’t really have a choice. You have to stick to the schedule, otherwise life is unimaginable.”
All the sleep experts agree—it is never too late to retrain a sleeping schedule, but forming good habits early on is essential to sleeping well as an older child and even as an adult.
Forming Good Sleep Habits
Success comes with routine. Children thrive when they know what to expect. Make a plan as a family and stick to it as much as possible.
Create a Positive Sleep
Environment Dim the lights, consider a noise machine or even essential oils to create positive sleep associations.
Do Your Homework Many sleep consultants offer expert advice at no charge on their Web sites or blogs. Network with other moms on local Facebook Groups (i.e. Moms Of Fairfield, Triplet Moms, Mothers of Multiples Club Lower Fairfield County).
All Families Are Different
Don’t base your success, or perceived lack there of, on how your friend’s child is sleeping. Every child is different and develops at a different pace.
Take Care Of Yourself
Don’t try to be a superhero. Ask for help and rest when you can.