Back to Work Transition

So.. you’re a mom of a new baby. Maybe this is your first child, maybe this is your third.. the back to work transition is always daunting but never a fully “easy” one as you are left with so many choices!

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Should you wean and begin formula feeding? Should you choose a daycare center or a nanny? Should you go back part-time or full-time? Are you on the hunt for a new career altogether?!

While some mothers NEED to work, other mothers WANT to work, and some mothers don’t have to work at all – there are SO many combinations and it’s important for you to do what’s best for you and your family. Keep in mind these needs will fluctuate over the weeks, months, and years and that is OKAY.

One of the biggest concerns when returning to work is the inevitable mom guilt that comes with the inability of being present with your child to comfort them, help them, teach them, and of course watch them grow. It’s hard being away from your kids, BUT it’s also nice to feel productive in something outside of being a mom – because we were all our own individuals before we became moms!

Before I became a mom, I imagined I would go right back to working full-time. I likely assumed this because that was all I knew growing up. My mom was always working, and kind of still is — we’re a workaholic family, that’s for sure. My parents were divorced from a young age, so naturally my mom had to make ends meet somehow to raise 3 kids (who were very active in extra-curriculars…).

Once I became a mom, after about 4 months, I started really “falling into motherhood” and embracing the biological development of children, the more natural, instinctual part of parenting.. I fell in love with the attachment parenting style before I even knew there was a name for it! While I know this is not always the case for folks, I was able to go back to work 30 hours a week, instead of 40, and then later drop to a “per diem” status where I only worked a few days a month outside of the home.

Again, please try not to compare yourself to other families – every family, mother, and child has their own set of unique needs. I do want to give you a few basic tips to help with this transition:

PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE. Going back to work means less time to get things done at home, like cooking meals, cleaning, etc on top of of course, less time with your child and family. When preparing for this transition, it is so important to not only physically prepare (bottles, thawing out breastmilk, pump parts), but also mentally prepare for this transition. You may not be that giving-it-her-all employee anymore (for now). You might just be the mediocre employee who is getting through the day in order to get back home and feed her baby… It might sound drastic, but it also very much could be you. Just remember, it’s all temporary – this is a phase!

Breast Milk or Formula? If you are breastfeeding and decide to wean, make sure you are talking to your pediatrician about what type of formula your child may thrive on and how many ounces you will need per day.

Or maybe you only want to do formula during the day and continue breastfeeding at night? Remember, your supply will drop if you decide not to pump at work. Reaching out to an IBCLC can help if you decide to combination feed.

If you are continuing to breastfeed, make sure you know how to set up your pump, use it, where to store it at work, and where you can clean and store your supplies! Will there be a refrigerator close by to keep your breastmilk in or should you have a cooler? Will you have time to clean your pump parts between sessions or will you use the “fridge hack?” Don’t forget to make sure you have the proper flange size and get new pump parts as needed!

Daycare or Nanny? When choosing any provider, you want to make sure they are aligning with your needs and wants to the best of your ability. Remember, childcare is generally more expensive in general for children under the age of 3 (because they become more independent at this age), so, while finances are of course a big factor, like diapers, this is only temporary! If you can swing the better daycare or the in-home nanny temporarily, do it!

Things you want to discuss with your care provider:
– Your type of parenting style. Make sure this aligns with the care provider so they understand how you respond to your child and that you’re not okay with letting them cry alone. If they’re not willing to work with you on this, I personally would suggest finding a new care provider.

Sleep associations. Ask what can be used to help your child to sleep. Can they go on a stroller walk or use a baby carrier if they aren’t able to rock them to sleep? Many people refer to these as “sleep crutches” because that’s what the internet tells us! But truly, these are just things that help someone get to sleep- just like you may need a warm cup of tea, a certain pair of socks (or no socks!), and a weighted blanket before you can fall asleep! Feel free to make your care provider aware of their own sleep associations too, for comparison 😉

How many naps will be offered and around what times? This can be really key in helping you understand your bedtime and nighttime routines. If it seems to be less naps than normal, it may be best to assume you will try to get a cat nap on the way home in the car, or a quick walk around the neighborhood just to relieve some of that sleep pressure. This can help if bedtime seems to be too early and you are having split nights

Following wake windows vs sleepy cues: This is so tough for any care provider with multiple children in one room, especially if they’re all needing to get to sleep at once. Some naps are just inevitably going to be delayed or missed, unfortunately. BUT – if the care provider can get into a rhythm and understand all of the different wake windows and sleepy cues by getting attuned to your child, it will hopefully become much easier to figure out which babies need to sleep around what times. If the care provider is only willing to do one nap a day, this is something you will have to roll with and adjust to at home if you are unable to change care providers.

Safe sleep spaces. Please make sure they are using a safe sleep space! Provide them with information if needed, whether that be from the AAP or the Safe Sleep 7 (or both!).

Things you can do to help with this transition:
1) For the first few weeks, I recommend not planning any big extracurricular activities while you all adjust to this new routine! If needed, use the weekend to catch up on sleep (for everyone). Sneak in an extra nap for your little one if they seem extra tired! Lay low for a little – you’re already under enough stress!
2) Change your personal patterns at home? NOPE. Your baby will learn the difference between you, their care provider, their different sleep spaces. You can keep contact napping at home, nursing to sleep at home, doing whatever you want at home! Don’t feel pressured to change what works for you, you don’t need to do that! Of course, if you want to- you certainly can as well!
3) Pack whatever will help your baby adjust – do they use white noise at home? Find a travel one and pack it. Do they have a favorite toy? Pack it. Do they have a sleep sack? Pack it! Want them to have a picture of you? Pack it!

Again, remember, your care provider will have their own sleep associations, their own rhythm, their own routine with your child! It’s important to help them understand and facilitate an appropriate routine that is guided by you (meaning, you know they love motion so a certain type of motion may help..etc). That being said, because they are different, YOU do not need to change your patterns for at home. If you’re nursing to sleep and love it, keep doing it! The care provider is not you just as your partner is not you – you will all have different patterns!

I go into more detail with all of the above as well as transitioning to pumping at work in my mini course for Working Moms! You can find it below!

And if you’re reading this post, consider yourself lucky and use the code “BACK2WORK” to get 50% off my Working Mom course + 1 personalized question in an email for your situation- ideal for breastfeeding moms transitioning back to work! Or check out my other course and consult offerings (recently added a 30 minute consult for only $20!)

As always, reach out via email (thesleepdpt@gmail.com) or via Instagram if you have any questions!

GOOD LUCK!

How to get shit done while contact napping

I know you’ve heard it.. you get “you time” and time to get things done while the baby sleeps. This is why you’re supposed to be able to put them down, right? Drowsy but awake, of course that works for every baby… HA!

One of my favorite pieces of advice is, “don’t do anything while the baby is asleep that you could do while awake.” It’s true. Your baby doesn’t need to be asleep in order for you to take a shower, or cook, or clean. You may need your baby to be asleep to appropriately respond to a work email though…

So how do you get these things done AND soak up the cuddles of a baby (or toddler) that won’t let you put them down to sleep? First off, let’s take a big ole breath knowing that your child is NORMAL for wanting to be held.

Second, I want to let you know that these tips are for contact naps with ONE child. But don’t worry- I’ll have one up soon about contact naps with two children!!

Third, I’m providing a few sample schedules here but, as always, I recommend following more of a routine than a set schedule! Follow your baby’s cues and follow your instincts! See the original posts from Instagram below!

Let’s get to the routines…

Since newborn life is a bit hectic, I’m just going to give a few tips for those contact naps.

– Don’t do anything while baby is asleep that you can do while they’re awake! This is such great advice. You don’t need to shower or eat only when your child is sleeping, you can do that while they’re awake too. Will it be a quick few bites and/or a quick shower sometimes? Yes. But sometimes you’ll get longer! Bring baby into the bathroom and let him chill and play on the floor! This can also help you to develop a little bit of a routine for independent play, allowing your child to be curious about their surroundings and how to interact with various toys/things in different environments.

– Get things done immediately after they wake up and nurse/feed. This is when they will likely be happiest and most content, aka most willing to be on the floor for a few minutes without you!

– Figure out what you CAN get done while contact napping. In these early days, I always encourage rest and sleep if possible, but if not, what can you get done? Make a grocery list? Order food? Type up an email? Listen to a course? Make sure you have whatever you need BEFORE you sit down! And don’t forget to pee before then too 😉

3-5ish months: approximately 4 naps a day, some days more, some days less- depending on your baby! I’m just going to do 1.5 and 2 hour wake windows for purpose of ease. Adjust to your baby! And please, please, PLEASE feed on demand (not based on this schedule!!).

6:30: Wake, Feed
6:45: Get yourself ready for the day while baby plays on the ground next to you!
7:00: Breakfast/Coffee + 5 minutes of whatever you can get done — Usually the dishwasher takes only a few minutes to load/unload. Most likely after this (or even during), baby will start getting fussy and want you to hold them. Make sure you change positions a little while they’re on the ground. Having a blanket and play area set up in every room will help!
8:00: Nap (maybe feed here if nursing to sleep-totally okay!)
9:00: Wake, Feed
9:15: Spend 5-10 minutes getting something done – can you finish those dishes? Can you throw in or switch over some laundry (I always recommend doing laundry first thing in the day if you can since it takes just a few minutes and can run in the background). Do anything that is not in reach when you have baby, prep for the next nap! If baby wearing – set up snacks and your computer if needed nearby. If contact napping on a couch or bed, bring snacks, a book, etc. to your area!
10:30: Nap (+feed?) – During the nap, answer emails/texts on your phone, drink some water or eat a snack. Read a book, watch some Netflix (with headphones).
11:30: Wake, feed
11:45: Take 5-10 minutes again getting things done while baby plays independently. Then play with baby!
1:00: Nap (+feed?) — if you want to get outside for a walk, do it! Grab your baby carrier or stroller (if little one is okay sleeping in those) and grab the nap there! Get yourself some exercise, fresh air, and vitamin D! Want to stay inside and baby wear but still want some exercise? Many bodyweight exercises can be easily done while you have the baby in a supportive carrier.
2:00: Wake, Feed
2:15: Again, take 5-10 minutes to prep something. Need to throw in dinner? I always recommend baking and cooking multiple things at once, and as early in the day as possible! That way you have the whole day to clean up vs 10 mins before bed. Yes, I know it won’t be “fresh” for dinner, but you can have those fancy meals on another day when you have more help!
3:45: Nap, (+feed?). If you’re going to use the bathroom when baby wearing, be sure to do it after about 5-10 minutes of baby being asleep – and – don’t wear leggings, they’re too hard to pull down!
5:00: Wake, Feed
5:15: Get things done again for a few minutes! Make sure one of those things is eating dinner 🙂
6:00: Begin bedtime routine.
7:00: Bedtime + feed! Nurse to sleep if you want! When you want to change sleep associations, you can 😉

I’m posting some old posts below to give you an example of a day with 3 and 2 naps as well! As always, adjust these routines to YOUR baby and YOU. Rigid schedules are no fun for anyone but you CAN get things done even while contact napping with your baby. I just typed this blog while contact napping with mine 😉

Good luck, friends! This time will pass and I promise you will miss those snuggles 🙂

My Tandem Nursing Journey

Some of you may or may not know that I am currently “tandem nursing” my 2 year old and my newborn! It was something I absolutely never considered I would be doing but, truthfully, I think it has helped my daughter with the transition to adding a sibling to the family!

There’s not a ton of research on the topic, only one real book that I know of Adventures in Tandem Nursing Book that was very comprehensive. Additionally, I turned to social media (of course) for some extra knowledge and support going into this. I loved the La Leche League tandem nursing Facebook group!

Would weaning my oldest have been easier? Maybe. I didn’t feel emotionally ready to wean her yet since I really wanted to make it to age 2 (but if she self-weaned, I understood). That being said, I also didn’t offer consistently. By about 17-18 months of age, she was mostly only nursing during the day and to sleep. She cut out falling asleep while nursing around 19-20 months (which actually made getting her to sleep a little more difficult in my opinion!).

At the beginning of finding out I was pregnant, my nipples were a little sore. This may have partially been due to my daughter trying REAL hard to get anything out (lol) but I also read it could be due to low magnesium. I did try to take this Magnesium Supplement for awhile and it might have helped, but ultimately, I stopped drinking it due to nausea.

I think around 4-5 months of pregnancy, my supply mostly dried up – as evidenced by Kinley only nursing once a day for sometimes less than a minute. There were even a few days where she wouldn’t nurse at all! It made me a little sad thinking she may self-wean, but once 32 weeks rolled around, my colostrum came in and she started nursing more again (about 3x/day).

Throughout pregnancy, I didn’t have any aversions – which I know can be common for so many! My daughter also kind of naturally night-weaned herself (I’m assuming because of the supply drop). I have also heard of many folks whose child keeps the same 6-8x/day nursing, which didn’t happen with me either.

Now that we’ve introduced our newest little human to our family, Kinley still nurses 1-3x/day with me setting some limits around this. I always make sure the newborn has fed first before her, and she is actually very patient with this! Towards the end of my pregnancy, she had started bringing her stuffed animals with her to also “get the boob” as we call it. She naturally would let them go first and then we would both yell in excitement when it was her “turn.” I usually de-latch her after a minute or so, because truthfully, she would likely keep nursing all day if she could, now that my milk is back.

So far, I have not latched both of them at the same time – and I’m not sure that I will. Only time will tell! I do think it has been helpful in transitioning to having a sibling – it gives her something consistent and something that we get to do together each day.

Overall, I’m really happy I made the choice to continue breastfeeding my oldest with my youngest! It has been a positive experience (so far) for all of us! If you have any questions about it – feel free to email me at thesleepdpt@gmail.com or reach out on Instagram!

If you have any other questions or concerns that I may be able to help with when it comes to transitioning from 1 to 2 kids – let’s set up a discovery call and figure out if a consult would be right for you! If you are looking for a time that isn’t listed – please email me so I can help 🙂

Don’t forget to share if you found this helpful 🙂

Until next time,

Jen

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Kinley’s birth story

Because some of you asked… I copied and pasted Kinley’s birth story from my two IG posts I wrote it in. Did I have an emergency c-section? No. Was I fine after? Mostly, yes- I ended with a grade 2 tear which is of course common for first time moms. But- I had horrible anxiety for months and really didn’t feel like myself again until the first year was over.. a dramatic difference to what I’m feeling now. I’m talking like- I heard my cat jump down from the bed in the middle of the night and I thought Kinley fell out of the bassinet and sprinted up immediately.. lots of worry constantly, and inability to tolerate her crying for longer than a few seconds without feeling crazy, an inability to leave her for long without feeling separation anxiety, etc. For me, it was traumatic, and I know it was for my husband as well as he watched me with an inability to help. Anywho.. I hope people know that you CAN have different births and it’s okay to feel a certain way about each birth. I’m the first to admit going through pregnancy and this type of labor was definitely part of the reason I contemplated wanting another child. I didn’t want to risk it again.. but of course I did (and we’re all good now)- but it’s still scary and I still can vividly replay both births in my head like I’m sure most women can! Okay, enough rambling… 🙂

Part of the birth story: the scary part
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“28 seconds! 42 seconds! 55 seconds!” Was all I heard as I fought through my last few pushes gripping tightly to Scott’s hand while gasping for air with my fancy non-rebreather mask on. .
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Shoulder dystocia occurs in around 1% of births. Some risks include a larger baby and a smaller stature person (ding ding) in addition to age>35, beyond 42 weeks gestation, gestational diabetes, and obesity in the mother. The baby’s head is delivered but one shoulder gets stuck behind in the pelvis potentially causing neuro complications, fractures, or even death. Even though I was completely with it (obviously very fatigued), it’s all still a blur and it happened so quickly. It was an insane few seconds (?) of what felt like CPR to my uterus and people jumping on top of me grabbing my legs while I screamed in even more pain. I’m beyond thankful for the quick working staff in the room that helped to safely deliver Kinley after being stuck for 55 seconds. Like I said, it’s a blur already and not something I want to relive ever again.
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Kinley was head down but decided to face my left hip instead of facing my back or front-likely part of the reason she got caught, in addition to being a larger baby for my tiny pelvis (she also had a cone head which is pretty much gone now😂). I also think maybe with me pushing on my back (because I was so exhausted after laboring through without pain meds for 17 hours.. with Pitocin 😞), it didn’t allow for my pelvis to open as well. Luckily, Kinley has shown to be healthy and strong on both sides of her body, and even luckier for her, she has a physical therapist for a mom to continually assess her developmentally 🤪😎
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I was terrified of the medical care I may or may not receive during delivery, given my pretty horrible prenatal care, but once again I am so appreciative of the staff that we had – the nurses were amazing and the OB that delivered her was so great too. I could go on and on, but really I’m just incredibly thankful that our stubborn little warrior (Kinley means warrior) arrived safely ❤️ We love her so much.
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Birth story continued ✨ Due to a rare genetic disorder that I have which places me at a higher risk for preeclampsia, the docs didn’t want me to be pregnant past 40 weeks. I elected to be induced on the last day they’d let me (39w6d) in hopes she’d come naturally. Obviously, I didn’t want to be induced and I just had a feeling that this was going to be a big baby and she’d come early. Clearly no matter what I tried, she wanted to stay put!
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I had my membranes swept at 8am by my midwife in a last minute effort to get the party started, but it only helped me dilate a little more before we were admitted to the hospital. I got cytotec and the foley balloon (gonna rank the foley balloon as one of my least favorites 😆) to get everything started. Then they started the lovely Pitocin once I hit 6 cm (my natural contractions had slowed down because I honestly mostly slept during all of early labor). I wasn’t sure if I should sleep or get up and move around to progress things but honestly I’m so thankful I slept when I did!
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Trust me, once active labor progressed, there were many times I thought to myself that I wouldn’t make it and that I’d ask for pain meds soon. I found it really helpful to say affirmations to myself and just realize the contractions were just telling me how strong my own uterus really was. I focused a ton on breathing and changing positions when I could. My nurse through the night was incredible – she encouraged me throughout and didn’t once ask if I wanted pain meds (we discussed this before and she was so onboard with my whole birth plan which was great since I’d read about some nurses harassing patients re pain meds, etc). Of course Scott was amazing too, but there’s something different and encouraging about being around someone who has been through this process a ton of times. She kept reminding me that as the contractions strengthened, each one was making a difference. For the last few hours of her shift, she didn’t leave my bedside because she knew the baby would be coming soon. ☺️ see prev post
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Overall, even though I didn’t want to be induced, it was clearly what was meant to happen and I’m happy I could still stick with my plan🤗


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Birth Story – Baby Keaton

✨Birth story✨

I started having contractions around 12 at 41 weeks. They gradually progressed to every 5 minutes by 4 pm. I was also scheduled for an induction the same day (which I really didn’t want to do). I called and asked if I could come in after I labored at home for a little and they agreed. We arrived at the hospital around 730, where we were greeted by 2 nurses- one of which was the night nurse when I gave birth to my daughter back in San Diego (she was amazing!)- that military life 😆.

They checked my cervix around 815 and it was 4 cm, 70% effaced! Because I arrived and immediately discussed my birth plan of not receiving an epidural and ideally not pushing on my back (I swear this contributed to my daughter getting stuck).. they switched me to the midwife instead of having the OB deliver. When she walked in, my husband said, “I’m getting good energy from her.” 😆 which is not something he normally says, haha. But it was true- I felt comfortable, too. She had previously worked in birthing centers and just was exactly the kind of person I wanted to help deliver my son. 😊

While I probably could have asked to not have any, they ended up hooking me up to a “whiff” of pitocin around 930-10. By this time, contractions had already picked up and I truthfully didn’t notice a difference with the added 2 units. I kept making sure they weren’t bumping it without me noticing and requested they not go above 4 (I remember it being up to 7 with Kinley and I also remember being in such a trance).

I started having a lot of pressure in the pelvic region. Again, I wanted my water to break on it’s own, but it was apparently very stubborn (and squishy?). I was 8cm and just about 100% effaced when they checked and asked if they should break the bag.. I waited a few more contractions before agreeing. When the midwife broke it, there was some meconium in the fluid, so of course pediatrics had to come in.

The midwife didn’t leave, and for good reason. I think within maybe 10 more contractions (maybe less), Keaton was here! I pushed on my side this time (though the midwife said- “whatever feels best, I’m flexible!”)- Through about 5 contractions of focusing on breathing, pushing with my uterus, relaxing my pelvic floor, and.. let’s be honest-screaming 😆 while gripping Scott for dear life, little Keaton appeared!

While he didn’t have the cone shaped head that Kinley had, thanks to the shorter ring of fire experience, he was taken, suctioned, and had chest PT all before I could hold him. I was definitely a little sad not getting to have skin to skin and breastfeed initially, but instead doing it 3 hours later in the NICU observation area..but I’m thankful for the quick medical care to make sure he was okay! He then joined us in our room about an hour after we got there.

Overall, though I am sad we didn’t have that initial golden hour together, I felt way less traumatized by this birth. I haven’t felt the crippling anxiety I felt after giving birth to my daughter- it truly is a world of difference. I’m not sure fully what to attribute that to, but I’m not complaining! I have such a different outlook this time around, and I can’t wait to watch my kids grow up together!

Did you have a traumatic birth? Something different than what you expected or desired? Did it follow your birth plan? Tell me here or tag me on Instagram as you tell your story.. I would love to hear!!

Travel, Routines, and Your Child

Planning your next adventure can be SO much fun and EEK! a bit stressful, especially if it’s your first trip with a new child! Vacations might look a little different than what you’re used to, but you can still enjoy your time away from home!

As someone who has now traveled via Campervan with a 9 month old, AirBnB with and without a full kitchen, and recently to across the country with a then-very-active-18 month old, staying in a different place almost every night – I think I can speak a little bit to how to make this trip as easy as possible for everyone.

Tip #1) Plan for your baby to sleep in the car. Try to time it so you drive for a nap. This will make it the most peaceful if you have a child who doesn’t sit long in the car (it me).

Tip #2) Have an idea of stops you might need to take. Print out an old-fashioned map and mark a few spots that you could stop to play, stretch your legs, eat, etc. The goal of the stop is ideally to get some wiggles out- not to sit somewhere the whole time (a restaurant). The best spots are parks! Hang out in the grass, soak up a new sensory experience, eat a meal with a new view (in a safe travel high chair!). You might need to spend a few hours here so make sure you’re prepared! Once your child seems tired enough, hop back in the car and get on your way!

Tip #3) Pack a cooler and pre-made food so when you arrive at your destination, you have a meal prepared and don’t have to stress about another thing as you adjust to your new home away from home. Or of course if you want to order out – that works too!

Tip #4) Pack early!! Try packing at least 24 hours in advance and ALWAYS bring more diapers than you think you will need. I have a free checklist to help you get started with your packing and make it even less stressful for you!

Tip #5) Don’t plan TOO much. It can be so tempting to want to do all the things you did before parenthood, but running around all day during your trip can make everyone feel frazzled AND can impact nighttime sleep. Ideally pick one main thing to do each day and try to work around naps (whether that means in the car, baby carrier, or waiting until they finish waking up at your temporary residence). Having a rest day in between can also help keep everyone consistent with their routines.

Tip #6) Practice with the baby carrier beforehand. You don’t want to spend 20 minutes trying to figure out what hook goes where- test it out before you pack it!

Tip #7) Relax – if you miss a nap or have an off day, it is what it is. Just do your best to get back on track tomorrow!

Tip #8) Bring things from home to help acclimate your baby to their new temporary sleep environment. Using the pack ‘n play? You can try practicing for a few nights before to help ease the transition. Planning on bedsharing? Make sure your surface is firm and Safe Sleep 7 approved. Winging it? Make sure you at least KNOW the safe sleep 7 if your child doesn’t want to sleep in the pack n play – don’t worry, you can adjust back to the crib when you’re home. 🙂 Make sure to bring any white noise if you use it, a sleep sack (again, if you use it) – whatever you can to make sleep as similar to home!

Did I miss anything?? Let me know if you have any other travel tips by commenting below, sending a DM, or sending me an email! Good luck traveling and don’t forget to snag my free Travel With A Baby Checklist and take a peep at my list of a few travel items you might need for your journey!

Good luck! You got this!!

– Jen

Note: There may be a small commission associated with links you click! This is at no cost to you.

Free Handouts for Pregnancy and Postpartum

These FREE handouts are provided to help ensure you receive the best care while pregnant and postpartum. Print them out and take them to your physician OR get ideas to help you ask for the appropriate help for you.

More handouts coming soon!

Is It Time To Night Wean?

Many parents stress about night weaning as they realize it may be the only way they can “officially” sleep through the night. Unfortunately, I see many families rush into this too soon, not understanding that there are many other foundational day to day things that can be addressed before night weaning begins.

I personally don’t recommend any night weaning until 9-10 months old, though you will see this varies depending on what you read. Truthfully, I don’t feel fully comfortable helping with night weaning until the child is 1 year old, knowing that in the first year of life, breastmilk or formula is the number one source of nutrition. Generally, by about 9-10 months old, the child will also be on 3 meals a day so we can feel more confident in he/she not needing as many night feeds; HOWEVER, this is extremely variable per child and is by no means a one size fits all approach.

Some Red Flags to consider before thinking about night weaning:

1) Is my baby waking hourly for multiple weeks? If so, this is likely another medical issue that is causing the frequent wakes. Yes, this can happen during times of development or teething, but if it remains consistent, it’s time to get a thorough evaluation. Tethered ties, low ferritin levels, dietary issues, and more could be causing these wakes. It is not a good time to night wean.

2) Is my baby going through a developmental milestone or teething? If so, he/she may likely need more comfort at this time and it is normal for he/she to wake up more frequently. This is not a good time to night wean.

3) Has there been a big change in the family dynamics? Did someone go back to work? Have we been on-the-go a lot? If so, your child may simply be experiencing stress that the family is also experiencing. If mom has just returned to work and you’ve noticed more frequent wakes, it is also very likely your child simply misses you. Babies and toddlers have a hard time with separation. Being separate from you all day and night is extremely difficult. This is not a good time to night wean. I do have a mini course specifically for working moms (ideally breastfeeding/pumping who are returning to work) that may help you with the transition.

4) Are there more than 3 wakes consistently? If so, this may likely be something that needs to be addressed in the daily schedule/routine or play. This is not a good time to night wean. If you are having trouble specifically with naps and you feel they may be disrupting nighttime sleep, I have a mini course for that. Otherwise, I also have a comprehensive sleep and postpartum course in addition to consults to help you figure out what could be going on and how it can be addressed.

5) You resent breastfeeding and just want it to end? If so, night weaning is not the place to start. If you are having issues with breastfeeding, latch, or just feel completely exhausted – let’s try to fill your cup first and address any issues (maybe seek out an IBCLC or even a mental health therapist if you need to). Let’s make sure you are making the decision to night wean from a place of clarity and not a place of desperation. All of this fully said with love because I KNOW how hard it is. Please reach out if you need help.

So Jen… Is it ever time to night wean? YES! Of course. Do you ever have to “officially” night wean? NO! Of course not. If it’s working for you and your family, it’s not a problem!

You might be ready to consider night weaning if…

  1. You have built in other sleep associations. No sleep associations are bad, you just need to find the ones that work for you as a family. If you don’t want to nurse back to sleep, how about snuggling instead? Or singing? Or rocking? Find something that works for you! I never want you to leave your child alone. I ALWAYS want you to be there with him/her LOVING them through this tough time.
  2. You feel comfortable supporting emotion during the day. Toddler throwing a tantrum? How do you react? Do you let him/her express himself and let them know it’s okay to feel frustrated/angry/etc or do you hush him/her to be quiet? This was a tough concept to grasp for me for awhile – feel free to reach out if you don’t fully understand it!!
  3. You consistently are getting 1-3 wakes every night. Is your child simply looking for a quick boob sesh before heading back to sleep? It’s probably an okay time to night wean!

Night weaning can be a very emotional time – both because of big emotions from your child but also emotions from you. Breastfeeding is full of ups and downs and it is absolutely a difficult decision to wean for many. Just remember, if you don’t want to do it, you NEVER have to. If you are interested and aren’t sure where to start – reach out! I also have a list of children’s books that others have used to help with night weaning toddlers. This could be a good place to start for you.

Feel like you’re ready to night wean and need help? Reach out! Realized you’re not ready and you need help adjusting your days? Reach out! I am here to help whenever or however you may need 🙂 I even have a Night Weaning Basics Community Chat available for replay for $5 HERE. It’s a great place to start and I am willing to answer questions that may come up after purchase 😉

All other consults and courses are listed in my Sleep and Parenting Help tab!

Email: thesleepdpt@gmail.com

Wishing you all the best,
Jen

Note: There may be a small commission associated with links you click! This is at no cost to you.

Normal Infant Sleep

Dear mama,

I know you’re tired. I know you’re worried about your baby developing properly. I know you would do anything and everything you could to make sure your child succeeds.

You’ve read all about drowsy but awake, all about linking sleep cycles, and all about sleeping through the night. You’ve read that you need a dark room and a sound machine and that will help baby sleep. You’ve read about all the different feeding schedules and that you shouldn’t feed your child to sleep.

You’ve read that your marriage will suffer if your baby doesn’t sleep in their own room alone. You’ve heard other moms using formula to help their babies sleep longer stretches. You see all the different toys and devices used to help babies sleep. You’ve read about swaddles and sleep suits wondering which one is the best.

You’re confused. What is right? What is wrong? Am I doing the best for my child? Will I ever sleep again? Will they ever sleep through the night if I don’t do these things and spend ALL.THIS.MONEY. ?

Over the generations, parenting has changed tremendously. We’ve gone from villages to care for a baby for the first few years to 6 weeks of maternity leave and getting rushed back to work. We’ve gone from formula being the number one accepted feeding method to a push back of breastfeeding throughout the world. Times have changed, babies have not.

In utero, babies are sleeping. They’re linking sleep cycles, they’re getting nutrients, they’re developing properly. So what happens when they are born? Well, yikes, what a harsh, cold, bright, loud world. Where is that comfortable womb? Where is that warmth? Where is MY MOM?

Your baby just spent 9 months inside of you, so yes, they are going to want YOU still to help them transition to this brand new world. They will want to nap on you, they will want you to carry them frequently, they will wake up searching for you. This is completely normal.

All humans wake at night during sleep. We briefly rouse between sleep cycles and then fall back asleep. The only difference between adults and babies is that they need some parental support to get back to sleep. After all, they had you 24/7 when they were in the womb, it’s hard to expect a baby to go from 24/7 to only needing you here and there in a few days, or even a few months (yes you read that right).

Deep dependence fosters independence- there are actually studies regarding this. Parenting with an attachment perspective helps keep your child close so that when they are developmentally ready to be independent, they can separate more easily, knowing you will be there if they need you.

Each child develops differently, whether we’re talking about crawling, talking, or sleeping. We cannot push our 3 week old to begin walking and assume they will because they are not yet developmentally ready for that. The same goes for sleep.

So how do we help? We model how to calm down. We help support our baby in the way they need it in order for them to calmly fall asleep. Does that mean rocking? Maybe. Walking? Maybe. Feeding? Maybe. Your baby needs you and will have his/her own unique needs that you will find.

Our culture has become so obsessed with pushing babies to become independent so soon, making moms fear that their baby will “need them” too much or too often. This is normal, our societal expectations are not.

So forget the fancy machines, the crazy swaddles and sleep suits, the expensive white noise machine. Watch your baby, observe what he/she needs, and respond appropriately.

Listen to your gut, follow your instincts. When your baby is ready, they won’t need you anymore. And trust me, you’re going to miss it.

Sincerely,

A mom of a 15 month old who has never been a great sleeper. A tired mom who has suddenly seen her child sleep longer stretches. A mom who misses the cuddles already.

Have questions about your infant’s sleep? Questions about breastfeeding? Check out my Sleep and Parenting Help tab or feel free to check out my Instagram account @thesleepdpt. I offer free 15 minute discovery calls as well if you’re searching for further sleep help (no sleep training and completely focused on developing a secure attachment).