Things to help in the process
Hello, friend! Great to have you onboard! Be sure to reference your custom sleep plan for everything your program includes. For ongoing support, we will use a combination of phone calls, emails and Voxer voice messaging. Phone calls will be held at times we schedule together. Email and Voxer are the fastest ways to reach me, and will be checked twice per day – morning and evening. I will respond more often when time permits. Yet… Please note that we observe Sundays as our family day, and that you can typically expect delayed responses from me then until Mondays.
Bookmark this web address to visit whenever needed. You can only access this private area for Chasing Dreams Clients with the link.
Erin Lawyer Chasing Dreams Sleep Consulting
Mantras & Affirmations
Using mantras or affirmations can help calm you, and remind you of the positive outcome you are looking for as you move through the sleep program. You can write these on sticky notes and attach to your child’s door or somewhere else you will see it for frequent reminders. Below are some examples that you can use, or make your own! See my full document for more suggestions.
- We are doing this for (child’s name).
- Without the help, it will be harder for (child’s name) to sleep.
- Our current way of getting her to sleep does not help her.
- This is only temporary; my baby is going to acquire healthy sleep habits that last a lifetime.
- A well-rested baby is a happy, healthy baby!
- I’m giving him the gift of being able to fall asleep on his own.
- Babies need healthy sleep, just as they need healthy food.
Mantras & Positive Affirmations
Darkness is essential for good quality sleep. Darkness will stimulate the release of melatonin at bedtime, which will help your child settle to sleep faster, stay asleep and prevent early morning wake ups. The darkness will also help prolong naps. Your child’s room needs to be as close to 100% dark as possible. If you are standing in the room with the door shut during the daytime, it’s going to feel like the middle of the night. There should not be any lights or light enhancing objects in the room (stars on the ceiling, projectors, etc). Using this darkness scale, we are aiming to get as close to a level 10 as possible.
- Need to make it darker? Check out these blackout shades!
- For children 2 years and older with a true fear of the dark, a dim red, orange or yellow nightlight can be used, and placed ideally behind a piece of furniture. We will discuss if this is a good solution for your family.
Safe Sleep Guidelines
Safe sleep is a necessity. Check out this guideline from the American Association of Pediatricians. Visit the AAP website for more information and the most up-to-date recommendations.
It is normal for quality sleep training to take time. Each of my programs are multiple weeks for a reason. Throughout the process, you are likely to experience one or all of the following challenges. Don’t worry… We’ll be working together closely to address any problem areas your child may have along the way. Stick with our plans and be patient.
Early morning wake ups are generally defined as when the child has less than 11 hours of night sleep. The last couple hours of sleep in the morning are the lightest sleep cycles. Your child is also feeling pretty rested with greatly reduced sleep pressure. Adjusting this body clock component can be one of the most challenging – where change can take up to 6 weeks. Check out my document for lots of instruction!
Early Morning Wake Ups
Here is a general guide, and more specific information on how to handle your child can be found in your sleep plan. Please know, it’s completely normal to experience night wakings at the beginning of our process, and they may last for a short period of time. There are a number of factors that play into night wakings including being overtired or having a sleep debt. Overtiredness creates obstacles for falling asleep and napping too.
Learning how to fall asleep on one’s own is a skill. This skill is going to take time, practice and consistency – just like learning to roll, crawl or ride a bike. A biggie… If you are sitting in the room while your baby falls asleep, she is depending on you as her sleep prop. While independent sleep skills are forming, it is still very normal for your baby to need to call out to you overnight. But the night wakings will improve once you can stay out of the room.
Naps are challenging and require a lot of patience. Nights generally come together within 1 to 2 weeks for infants and 2 to 3 weeks for toddlers. Biologically, night sleep is easier to achieve. Children have sleep pressure, as well as the release of melatonin, that helps aid them to sleep at night. Melatonin is the sleepy hormone that helps us fall asleep and stay asleep. Naps can take upwards of 4 to 6 weeks to completely lengthen. And for some babies… Naps do not lengthen until they are developmentally ready, somewhere between 4 and 6 months of age.
You are not alone – this can be tough! With consistency and patience, your child will soon take good naps. If you need additional guidance on how to use our methods, here is a visual aid to remind you how to work through naps. Remember, this is general information. The specifics in your sleep plan may look different, so always check there as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Remember, no two children are the same, so there will be a variation of what you can expect from your child. Don’t try to compare your child to another! Parents play a huge role in the success of the process. Both your commitment and follow-through are essential for success. I will do everything in my power to help you reach your best outcome, but I cannot force you to execute our plan. Of course, mistakes and misunderstandings happen from time to time, but these are easily corrected along the way as we stay in touch throughout the plan’s implementation. As long as you follow the customized advice that I give you, and you truly want your child to sleep better, I will help you and your child reach the goals we outline in our initial meeting.
Most families I work with see significant improvements in their child’s sleep in about 1 week from implementing sleep changes. Some of the methods and some children may take a bit longer – up to 2 or 3 weeks before significant change is seen. This is especially true with toddlers or older children who are used to making all of the rules, in which case we have to shift the balance of power. If the customized plan is not followed exactly as we have discussed, your child is likely going to have much slower progress, or even in some cases, no progress. It is imperative that we work together as a team, with complete honesty about what is going on so I can help you to the best of my ability. I am relying upon you to report completely and truthfully what’s going on with your child’s sleep, then I can coach you fully on how to proceed.
Lastly… I am here to support and guide you through this entire process, and help you reach your sleep goals. I take my job very seriously and want you to have complete success and be happy with our outcome. I need your commitment and consistency, or we will not make progress in a timely fashion, or at all. I will be here to help troubleshoot any potential problems and work through any issues your munchkin may be having. Sometimes, despite having everything PERFECT, it just may take a child longer to get through a problem area, particularly if they have a large sleep debt. In those cases, we just have to remain true and patient. Try to stay positive, look at how much progress you have already made, and know that you WILL get past this obstacle.
When will my child sleep through the night? (not for newborns)
For a baby that is old enough and weight gain is good, they will generally start sleeping through the night within 1 to 2 weeks. For toddlers and older, it may take 2 to 3 weeks. Remember, every child is different. Some children learn these new skills faster than others. It is crucial that you are 100% consistent with the plan, or the parents may actually delay the child’s progress when they are either inconsistent, or have assisted the child to sleep in some way. If your child has been dealing with early morning wakings, please see below.
When will these early morning wakings end?
Early morning wake ups are one of most challenging components of the body clock to change. It often takes at least 2 to 4 weeks, sometimes upwards of 6 weeks, to see it come around. Just be patient!! See Early Morning Wake Ups document for more information.
What about those short naps?
Naps can be more challenging to change than night time sleep, so you may see slower progress in this area. On average, it can take 1 to 4 weeks before nap time consistency improves. In some cases, it can take up to 6 weeks. Further still, some babies are not developmentally ready for longer naps until they are between 4 and 6 months old. But the good news is that nap length does improve with time! If your baby practices with the independent sleep skills and has a good schedule, one day it will be like a light has been switched – and voila! – their nap lengths will increase.
My baby used to be a champion napper. Why are her naps declining now that she’s sleeping well at night?
It is not uncommon to see a child nap really well, while not sleeping well at night. They are trying to get the sleep their little bodies need. It is also not uncommon to initially see a decline in napping, as their night sleep starts improving. This is a huge shift in their bodies, to be getting good quality, hopefully consolidated, sleep overnight. They are not used to either so much sleep or such good quality sleep, and you will likely initially see that naps become more challenging or shorter. In time, these will improve again. It may be a few days, a week or a few weeks. The naps WILL improve with time. If your baby is close to a nap transition period, we may find that it is time to move forward and drop a nap. We will discuss if this is the right next step for your child. Often, it’s a matter of being patient and allowing your baby’s body and circadian rhythm to adjust to all these changes with his sleep.
Why is my child more fussy or clingy during the day, or during the nap or bedtime routine?
Sometimes during the first week of implementing sleep changes you’ll see an attitude shift where they start to catch on and dislike the routines and might be grumpier during the day. Stay strong! Sometime in the second week (or maybe even the third if they had a large sleep debt) they’ll come around and may even start loving the routine and will become much happier during the day. It’s all a part of the process since it is such a huge and all-encompassing developmental change for them. Just like any other developmental milestone, there can be some mood changes for the baby. It is a good sign that your munchkin is starting to recognize the order of your sleep routines. Sleep cues are starting to be so well established that your child is able to recognize that sleep time is here. It’s pretty common that they don’t want to be apart from their favorite person. On occasion, baby may also be fussy and upset that they aren’t ALREADY asleep, since those sleep cues are clear. This part will get easier!
How long before my child stops crying before he falls asleep?
There are a few reasons why your baby is crying before sleep. It is not uncommon for some children to cry a bit before bed. Many children find the transition from one activity to the next very difficult. He may simply be protesting the change in activities. Ensure you are letting your child know that the first activity is coming to an end, and it is time for bed, particularly if your child is a toddler or older. The crying may also be part of your child’s self-soothing routine, and that will change over time. Some children need to let off some steam before they go to sleep. Over time, the crying should decrease. Ensuring that your timing is good and that your child isn’t going to bed over or under tired is very important as well. This is something we will discuss and keep an eye on as we progress. Together, we will discuss possible solutions to help decrease this crying or protesting, but there is not always a complete solution. It is just a matter of time and consistency. As a mother of a boy who ALWAYS cried before bed just because he could, trust that it will end one day!
A word about new skills and teething…
Developmental milestones have the potential to really interfere with children’s sleep. The good news is, once your child has solid sleep skills and no longer has a sleep debt, any interruption to your child’s sleep should be minimal. When your child has a large sleep debt and poor sleep skills, developmental leaps and even teething can wreak havoc on their sleep. As we know, a child that relies upon a prop to fall asleep will need help to recreate whatever situation got him to sleep in the first place each time he wakes. If his mind is busy focusing on his newest skill, or if his teeth may be bothering him, he will likely take much longer to settle. On the other hand, a baby that has good sleep skills and does not have a sleep debt will be able to connect sleep cycles with minimal interruption to their sleep.
It is very common that as we get about halfway through our program parents will report that the baby is learning a new skill. Why is this? When your child is sleeping, his brain is developing. Now that your munchkin is finally getting some good quality sleep, that equals more brain development. Your child gaining new skills may slow down our sleep progress slightly, but at the end of our time together, you will have all of the tools you need for continuing to build healthy sleep! Just remember, these small hurdles of cutting a tooth or learning a new skill you are now experiencing would likely have been much more difficult prior to our working together. It would have involved much less sleep, more frequent and longer night wakings, and may have been much more difficult prior to learning any healthy sleep skills.
What do I do when my child is learning to roll, sit or stand and gets stuck in a position in his crib?
Learning to roll, sit or stand can be challenging when it comes to sleep, as the child can legitimately get stuck in these new positions in his crib and not be able to get out of them by himself. First, have a lot of practice time during the day! For rolling… Lay him on one side of a baby blanket towards a corner and gently pick up that corner to help him roll from back to belly, belly to back, left to right, right to left. For Sitting and standing… Just keep practicing going from these positions to laying down during the day.
Once your baby is in bed, he will likely get into his newest position that he cannot get out of, and will initially need your assistance. It often takes about a week until he masters the skill. During this time, you will need to keep helping him get out of the rolled over / sitting / standing position. As soon as he can do it on his own, please allow him to. Otherwise, this will continue to be a game.
What do I do if my child falls asleep sitting or standing?
If she falls asleep sitting or standing once she has the ability to lay herself down, let her be. While it may look uncomfortable to us, children are incredibly flexible. If she’s uncomfortable, she will lay herself down. If you start laying her down, this can (and WILL!) quickly become a habit or game, where she is unwilling to lay down on her own, and it will disturb her sleep. This will continue until you stop laying her down.