SLUMBERPOD – my honest review

SLUMBERPOD – my honest review

**This is NOT a sponsored post**

I’ve been ranting and raving over this new baby item called the Slumberpod. It’s this small, portable, blacked out pod that fits perfectly over a playpen. I had set it up twice in my house before actually using it, just to test out the level of darkness inside, and also to see if it fit over a Joovy playpen (which is a larger playpen for bigger children).

ANYWAY, I have compiled a list of pros and cons, and then a final “would I buy this again?”

PROS:

  • This pod is COMPLETELY dark. The level of darkness inside this pod is a 10/10. I literally just snuck my face in there to peek on my sweet, sleeping boy, and I couldn’t see a thing. I then proceeded to try and take a picture of him, but I didn’t know where his head was…so safe to say, it is dark enough to be asleep even if you’re in a brightly-lit room.
  • Light-weight & portable. This Slumberpod is basically a small, floor-less “tent.” That being said, the fabric of the actual pod is very different than that of an actual tent. Considering the fabric feels like thick jersey knit cotton, it is very light. The bag the Slumberpod comes in can actually fit into a carry-on or definitely a luggage if you were to fly with it. It folds up to be small and compact, which I LOVE and need more of in my life. Baby stuff is always so massive.
  • Quick set-up/take-down. Setting up the pod is relatively quick. It is easier if you have 2 people, but I’ve set it up alone every time and that works too. When you have a busy baby, “quick” anything is a yes in my books. I don’t have more than 5 minutes to set something up before D is elbow deep in toilet water, or at the bottom of a Kleenex box with tissue paper scattered over the carpet.
  • Breathable Fabric. I have never been more concerned about someone’s well-being until my son was born. Is he too hot? Too cold? When did he last eat? Did he poop today? Is he dehydrated? Is he sweaty? Like literally everything I think about. SO, I felt very happy knowing how breathable this pod really is. Drake was not at all sweaty when I got him up in the morning, and he is generally a warm sleeper.
  • Room-Sharing WIN. This is for the mamas who love to room-share, but are worried about baby waking in the night and making eye contact. This Slumberpod IS FOR YOU. I don’t room share unless on holiday, but this pod has made a world of difference in the 2 short nights I have used it so far. I am now looking forward to our longer vacation this summer, when normally I dread sleeping in the same room as Drake.

CONS:

  • Hard putting baby in. I am a taller (5’8) girl, so I found bending over and putting Drake down in his playpen through the window opening was quite difficult. It would have been easy if I slipped him in while he was standing, but that’s not what we normally do. He’s always awake when I put him to bed, but generally I lay him down. This was hard because the zipper doesn’t come up super high, so my face was going into the fabric when I bent over to place him in the crib.
  • Tent Poles. This isn’t a deal breaker, but when I had assembled the poles and started to set everything up, I realized HOW LONG they were lol. I was hitting the walls and the roof because of the length. That being said, I do like that this has height rather than being flush with the top of the crib. There is room for baby to stand.

Finally, after having used the Slumberpod for 2 nights in a hotel room, I would HIGHLY recommend you get one.

Honestly, I used to love travelling as a childless young adult (selfish, I know), but once we had a baby, I realized how hard travelling really was and it made me dread vacation. Drake has been sleep trained for a long time now, but I always felt like travelling messed him up. I can truthfully say that this has been our most successful travel experience yet. He is used to sleeping in a dark space at home, and this provided him with exactly that. Let alone having it be so compact and portable, it’s definitely a win in my books.

Although this pod is expensive…$198 CAD or $150 USD, it’s definitely something worth investing in. If taken care of properly, it will last many babies and many trips.

I had contacted the owners of Slumberpod saying how I loved their product, and they set me up with a “discount” code for any of my friends/clients who wanted to buy one.

You can visit their website and enter in the code: midnightmama at checkout to get a rebate off your order.

Anyway, if you do end up buying one, let me know how it works out for you & if you love it just as much as I did!!

Bailey

Why Does My Baby Wake At 3AM?

Why Does My Baby Wake At 3AM?

Why does my baby wake at 3am?

That right there might be the single most common question new parents ask.

Is it a developmental milestone? A regression? Are they getting too much sleep during the day, or not enough? Maybe they’re just hungry. Maybe they’re too hot, or too cold.

Well, the truth is that it could be any of those things, and it could be a combination of several of them.

What that means, and what you’re probably already aware of, is that baby’s sleep is tremendously complicated.

Their bodies and brains are rapidly going through significant changes, and by the time they’ve got one issue under control, a new one pops up to take its place.

There are factors you can control, obviously. If baby’s too hot, you can turn up the AC or put a fan in the room. If they’re teething, a little Children’s Tylenol can often solve the problem, at least temporarily.

But those are the simple fixes. The reason most people have such a challenging time with their babies’ sleep is because of problems that aren’t so simple, and don’t have obvious solutions.

Imagine this scenario: An 18 month old child gets plenty of fresh air and sunlight during the day, goes down easily for long, restful naps, but when bedtime rolls around, suddenly they’re full of energy and want to play. When they’re told it’s time for bed, they get upset and bedtime becomes a battle. Once they do finally get to sleep, they wake up several times at night and never sleep past 5:30 in the morning.

So what’s going on? Is baby getting too much sleep during the day?

That would be the reasonable assumption, for sure. After all, if us grown-ups were to take a 3 hour nap in the afternoon, there’s a good chance we’d have a hard time falling and staying asleep that night.

But the opposite is almost always the case. What baby’s demonstrating in this scenario is actually a need for more sleep, not less.

In order to understand this counterintuitive reasoning, first a little background on how this whole system of sleep works.

About three hours prior to when we’re naturally prone to waking up, our bodies start secreting a hormone called cortisol, and if you’ve done some reading on your baby’s sleep prior to this, the sight of that word probably causes you to flinch a little.

Cortisol is a stimulating hormone, and is also produced in times of stress in order to elevate the heart rate and stimulate the nervous system (in case, y’know, bears) but in the morning, it’s just trying to get us started. Think of it as mother nature’s caffeine.

And if cortisol is our morning cup of coffee, melatonin is our evening glass of wine. Once the sun starts to go down, our bodies recognize the onset of night and begin to produce this lovely sleep- inducing hormone, which helps us get to sleep and stay asleep until morning, when the whole process starts over again. Melatonin production is increased and starts earlier in the evening when we awaken to some nice, bright sunlight.

But as beautifully crafted as this system is, it’s not perfect and it’s easily confused. So in the situation we examined above, here’s what’s happening…

Baby’s taking great naps during the day, which is obviously wonderful, and she’s getting lots of time outdoors, so her body’s ready to crank out some melatonin when nighttime rolls around. So what’s with that burst of energy right before bedtime?

So when baby’s body has begun producing melatonin, there’s a narrow window of time when the body expects baby to be going to sleep. After all, she’s a baby. What’s she got to stay awake for? She doesn’t watch The Bachelor and she hasn’t discovered the Internet yet.

The brain instinctively decides that something isn’t right; that for whatever reason, baby can’t sleep, (probably because, y’know, bears.) And if baby’s got a bear to run from, adding a shot of cortisol should help increase her chances for survival.

So that’s exactly what it does.

Baby’s system starts secreting cortisol and, before you know it, she’s a little bit cranked. This often shows up in the form of playfulness and an abundance of energy. In short, baby missed the window and now she’s going to have a hard time getting to sleep, but her behavior indicates anything but sleepiness.

So what does all of this have to do with the dreaded 3 A.M. wake ups?

Here’s what happens… Assuming your baby’s circadian rhythm is scheduling a 6 A.M. wake up, then her body starts to secrete cortisol three hours prior to that. and at this point, the melatonin production has ceased for the night. So baby hits the end of a sleep cycle around 3:00. She gets to that “slightly awake” state, and now there’s a little bit of stimulant and no natural sedative. This, combined with a lack of independent sleep skills, means that baby’s probably going to wake up fully, and have a really hard time gettting back to sleep.

So now for the big question you’ve probably been hoping I might have an answer for. How do I fix it?

While there’s no quick fix for adjusting baby’s hormone production schedule, you can definitely help her out by getting her outdoors during the day as much as possible. As I mentioned before, natural light during the day is the big cheerleader for melatonin production at night.

It also helps to ensure that baby’s room is as dark as you can get it at night, and start turning down the lights in the house at least an hour before you put her to bed. Simulating the sunset will help to cue that melatonin production so that it’s in full swing when she goes into her crib.

Avoid any TV, iPhone, tablet, or screen time of any kind for that same hour before bedtime. (Preferably even longer) as these devices emit a geyser of blue light, which will stimulate cortisol production right at the time when you’re trying to avoid it.

But above all, the number one way to help your baby sleep through the night is to get her on a predictable, consistent sleep schedule and teach her the skills she needs to fall asleep independently.

Because the truth is that you’re never going to prevent nighttime wake ups. We all wake up in the night, regardless of our age. As adults, we just have the ability to calmly assess the situation when we wake up in the dark, realize where we are, see that it’s still nighttime, and go right back to sleep. Most of the time we don’t even remember it the next morning.

So although we can’t prevent baby from waking up at night, we can safely and effectively help her learn to recognize that she’s safe, in familiar territory, still tired, and capable of getting back to sleep on her own.

And although I know I made light of it earlier, you should always check and make sure that baby’s room is absolutely, positively, 100% free of bears. Waking up to a snarling grizzly will set your baby’s sleep habits back immeasurably 😉

As always, please reach out to me if you need further assistance with getting your baby to sleep through the night.

Bailey

The Dreaded 4 Month Sleep Regression

The Dreaded 4 Month Sleep Regression

The Four Month Sleep Regression

As a professional sleep consultant, I hear the term “regression” used in regards to just about every imaginable circumstance. Essentially, if baby doesn’t sleep well for a couple of nights, parents start dropping the ‘R’ word. Some people subscribe to the idea that there’s an eight month regression, a 9 month regression, a 1 year regression, as well as teething regressions, growth spurt regressions, and so on. Others see these as simple hiccups caused by extenuating circumstances.

But the four-month regression, everybody agrees on, and for good reason. It’s the real deal, and it’s permanent.

So in order to understand what’s happening to your baby during this stage, first you need to know a few things about sleep in general. So here’s the science-y part, told in plain English.

Many of us just think of sleep as an on-or-off situation. You’re either asleep or you’re not. But sleep actually has a number of different stages, and they make up the “sleep cycle,” which we go through several times a night.

Stage 1 is that initial stage we’re all familiar with where you can just feel yourself drifting off, but don’t really feel like you’ve fallen asleep. Anyone who has ever seen their partner nodding off in front of the TV, told them to go to bed, and gotten the canned response of, “I wasn’t sleeping!” knows exactly what this looks like.

Stage 2, which is considered the first “true sleep” stage. This is where people tend to realize, once woken up, that they actually were sleeping. For anyone taking a “power nap,” this is as deep as you want to go, or else you’re going to wake up groggy.

Stage 3 is deep and regenerative. Also known as “slow wave” sleep, this is where the body starts repairing and rejuvenating the immune system, muscles tissue, energy stores, and sparks growth and development.

Stage 4 is REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This is where the brain starts to kick in and consolidates information and memories from the day before. It’s also the stage where we do most of our dreaming.

Once we’ve gone through all of the stages, we either wake up or come close to waking up, and then start over again until the alarm goes off.

So what does this have to do with the dreaded regression we were talking about originally?

Well, newborn babies only have 2 stages of sleep; stage 3 and REM, and they spend about half their sleep in each stage. But at around the third or fourth month, there is a reorganization of sleep, as they embrace the 4-stage method of sleep that they’ll continue to follow for the rest of their lives.

When this change takes place, baby moves from 50% REM sleep to 25% in order to make room for those first two stages. So although REM sleep is light, it’s not as light as these 2 new stages that they’re getting used to, and with more time spent in lighter sleep, there’s more of a chance that baby’s going to wake up.

That’s not to say that we want to prevent or avoid baby waking up. Waking up is absolutely natural, and we continue to wake up three, four, five times a night into adulthood and even more in old age.

As adults, however, we’re able to identify certain comforting truths that baby might not be privy to. When we wake in the night, we’re able to recognize that, “Hey, I’m here in my bed, it’s still nighttime, my alarm isn’t going to go off for another three hours, and I’m reasonably certain that there are no monsters lurking under my bed. I can go back to sleep”

And we do. Usually so quickly that, the next morning, we don’t even remember the brief encounter with consciousness.

A four month old baby, of course, lacks these critical thinking skills. To a four month old baby who fell asleep at her mother’s breast, the reasoning could go much more to the tune of, “OK, last thing I remember, there was a familiar, beloved face, I was having dinner, and someone was singing me a soothing song about the Teddy Bears’ Picnic. Now I’m alone in this dark room, there’s no food, and there’s probably at least three, possibly four, scary monsters in the immediate vicinity.”

That’s probably an exaggeration, but who knows what goes on in the mind of a four month-old baby?

Anyways, now that baby’s suddenly realized that Momma’s not around, and they’re not entirely sure where they’ve gone, the natural response is to do a little freaking out. That stimulates the fight-or-flight response and, next thing you know, baby’s not going back to sleep without a significant amount of reassurance that everything is OK.

The other major contributor to this 4 month fiasco, I find, is that up until this point, parents have either been putting their baby to sleep with a pacifier, or by rocking them, or by breastfeeding them, or some similar technique where baby is helped along on the road to falling asleep.

Now that baby’s spending more time in light sleep, and therefore has a higher probability of waking up, this suddenly becomes a much bigger issue. These sleep props or sleep associations can be very sneaky indeed, because although they may be helpful in getting your little one to that initial nodding off stage, the lack of them when they wake up means that baby’s not able to get back to sleep again without some outside help. Cue the fight-or-flight, the crying, and the adrenaline. When this starts happening every half an hour, parents can find themselves in a nightmarish situation.

So, the good news for anyone experiencing the dreaded Four Month Sleep Regression is that it’s not, in fact, a regression at all. A regression is defined as “reversion to an earlier mental or behavioral level,” and that’s actually the opposite of what your baby is experiencing. This would be much more aptly titled the “Four Month Sleep Progression

So, onto the big question. What can you do to help your little one adjust?

First off, get all of that light out of baby’s room. I’m not kidding around here. You might think that baby’s room is dark enough, or that baby might not like the dark, and that it’s comforting to have a little bit of light coming through the windows or seeping in from the hallway.

Nope.

Baby’s room should be dark. I mean coal mine on a moonless night kind of dark. Tape garbage bags over the windows if you have to, or cover them with tinfoil. (Just be prepared to explain it to the police when the neighbors accuse you of running a grow-op.)

Newborns and infants are not afraid of the dark. They are, however, responsive to light. Light tells their brains that it’s time for activity and alertness, and the brain secretes hormones accordingly, so we want to keep that nursery absolutely pitch black during naps and bedtime.

The other nemesis of daytime sleep, (and nighttime for that matter, although not nearly as often) is noise. Whether its UPS ringing the doorbell, the dog warning you that the squirrels are back and for sure going to attack the house this time, or something falling on the floor three rooms away. With baby spending more time in lighter sleep, noises will startle them easily and wake them up, so a white noise machine is a great addition to your nursery.

“Wait, isn’t that a prop,” you’re asking. Well, in a way, it is, but it doesn’t require any winding, resetting, reinserting, or parental presence. It’s just there and it can be on as long as baby’s sleeping, so it’s not a prop we need to avoid.

Bedtime routines are also an essential component to getting your baby sleeping well. Try to keep the routine to about 4 or 5 steps, and don’t end it with a feed. Otherwise, you risk baby nodding off at the breast or the bottle, and that will create the dreaded “association” that we talked about earlier.

So try to keep the feed near the beginning of the routine and plan the songs, stories, and getting into PJs towards the end.  The whole process should be about 20 – 30 minutes long, and baby should go into their crib while they’re still awake.

If you’re noticing baby getting fussy before bedtime, you’ve probably waited too long. Four month old babies should really only be going about two hours between snoozes, and bedtime should be between 7 and 8 at night.

Now, there are going to be regressions, actual regressions, later on in your little one’s youth. Traveling, illness,  cutting teeth, all of these things can cause your little one to have a few bad nights in a row. But when it comes to the four month “progression,” I’m happy to report that this is a one-time thing. Once you’re through this, your baby will have officially moved into the sleep cycle that they’ll essentially be following for the rest of their life. Four glorious stages repeated multiple times a night.

And by taking this opportunity to teach them the skills they need to string those sleep cycles together, independently, prop-free, without any need for nursing, rocking, or pacifiers, you’ll have given them a gift that they’ll enjoy for the rest of their young lives.

Of course, some kids are going to take to this process like a fish to water, and some are going to be a little more resistant. If yours falls into the former category, count yourself as lucky, take delight in your success, and go ahead and gloat about it on Facebook.

For those of you in the latter camp, I’m happy to help in any way I can. Just visit my website or give me a call and we can work on a more personalized program for your little one. The most common thing I hear after working with clients is, “I can’t believe I waited so long to get some help!” So if you’re considering hiring a consultant, now is absolutely the time. I offer a free 15 minute evaluation so I can get to know the specifics about your little one’s situation, so book a call now and we can move forward as soon as you’re ready to get your little one sleeping through the night!

Bailey

5 Common Myths About Baby’s Sleep

5 Common Myths About Baby’s Sleep

I can clearly remember, like most mothers I’m sure, the very moment I gave birth to my son. I was absolutely buried in feelings of joy, love, gratitude, and comfort.

And then, about 30 seconds later, I was equally buried in advice, suggestions, and information.

This was all thrown at me with the best intentions, but it was overwhelming nonetheless. I can’t imagine the number of times I heard the words, “You should,” “You’ll want to,” and “You’ve got to.” If there’s no such number as a “kajillion,” it should be created specifically in order to measure the number of suggestions a new mother receives in her first year of motherhood.

Of course, those feelings of love and gratitude persist to this day, and so do the recommendations.

There’s no such thing as a casual mom. This gig is full-time, no matter if you’re a stay-at-home-mom, a working mom, or somewhere in between. Your kids are on your mind 24/7, no matter what else might be going on, so we tend to do a lot of research, and with access to unlimited data via the internet, Barnes & Noble, or your mother-in-law, it’s inevitable that we get some conflicting information. Although when it comes to kids, I think the discussion even eclipses politics for the sheer divisiveness and claiming opinion as fact.

So today, I want to focus on my area of expertise, that being sleep, and try to dispel some of the more popular myths I’ve seen in parenting forums, heard from Mom groups I’ve talked with, or had angrily shouted in all caps on my Facebook page.

1.    Sleeping too much during the day will keep baby up at night.

Not likely, except in extreme cases. Unless your little one is sleeping practically all day and up all night, you probably don’t need to concern yourself with the length of their naps. Newborns especially need a ton of sleep. In fact, up until about 6 months, I don’t recommend that your little one be awake for more than about 2 – 2 1/2 hours at a time. For newborns, that number is more like 45 minutes to an hour.

What keeps babies awake at night, more than anything else, is overtiredness. You might think that an exhausted baby is more likely to sack out for a full night than one who slept all day, but it’s actually just the opposite. The reason we refer to it as being “overtired” is because baby has missed the “tired” phase and their bodies start to kick back into gear, which keeps them from falling and staying asleep. A baby who has gotten a decent amount of sleep during the day is far less likely to miss the sleep window.

There are substantial variations depending on baby’s age and the length of their naps, but up to that 6 month mark, it’s really not uncommon for baby to be sleeping around 5 hours a day outside of nighttime sleep, so if your little one is still within those guidelines, let them snooze.

2.    Sleeping is a natural development and can’t be taught.

Sleeping is natural, absolutely. Everybody wakes up and falls back to sleep multiple times a night, regardless of their age. So no, you can’t teach a child to be sleepy. What can be taught, however, is the ability to fall back to sleep independently.

The typical “bad sleeper” of a baby isn’t less in need of sleep, or more prone to waking up. They’ve just learned to depend on outside assistance to get back to sleep when they wake up. Once your little one has figured out how to get to sleep without assistance from outside sources, they start stringing those sleep cycles together absolutely effortlessly, and that’s the secret to “sleeping through the night” as most parents understand it.

3.    Babies will naturally dictate their own sleep schedule

The idea that infant physiology is so flawlessly, naturally programmed to regulate a baby’s schedule is, to be blunt, laughable. Nothing against Mother Nature, but she doesn’t provide us with a ready-to-run baby like she does with say, the blue wildebeest. (Seriously? Walking six minutes after birth? Outrunning predators within a day? Our babies are cuter, but clearly not as prepared for battle straight out of the womb.)

Our babies need extensive care and help in their development, and their sleep cycles are unbelievably erratic if left unregulated. If they miss their natural sleep cycle by as little as a half hour, their cortisol production can increase which causes a surge in energy, and things quickly spiral out of control. So as much as I wish babies could just fall asleep when they’re tired, it simply doesn’t work that way. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t respond to their cues, but you shouldn’t rely exclusively on them either.

4. Sleep training is stressful for the baby and can affect the parent-child attachment.

Nope. And this isn’t just me talking here. This is the American Academy of Pediatrics. If there’s a more reliable source of baby health information, they’re astoundingly bad at marketing themselves. And according to a 2016 study conducted by eight of their top researchers, behavioral intervention, (A.K.A Sleep training) “provide(s) significant sleep benefits above control, yet convey(s) no adverse stress responses or long-term effects on parent-child attachment or child emotions and behavior.” Not a whole lot of gray area there.

5. Babies are not “designed” to sleep through the night.

Putting aside our religious beliefs for a moment, I think we can all agree that, even if babies were “designed” somehow, whoever did the designing left plenty of room for some upgrades. Trusting your child’s physiology to dictate their sleep schedule, their eating habits, their behaviour, or just about any other aspect of their upbringing is a recipe for disaster.

Is your toddler designed to eat three pounds of gummy bears? Surely not. Will they if you don’t intervene? Without a doubt. Is your baby designed to avoid predators? If so, nobody told my little ones, who would have happily hugged a hungry Siberian tiger if it approached them. (They might still, I don’t know. It’s never come up.)

Our little ones need our expertise and authority to guide them through their early years, and probably will for decades after that. This is especially true when it comes to their sleep. Some babies are naturally gifted sleepers, for sure, but don’t rely on the advice of those who tell you that babies should dictate their schedules. You’re in charge because you know best, even if it may not feel like it sometimes

There are obviously plenty more myths and misconceptions surrounding babies and their sleep habits, but these are some of the most important to get the facts on.

Remember, there are endless posts on social media and websites that portray themselves as factual, but there’s nothing stopping them from making that claim, regardless of their accuracy.

Find peer-reviewed scientific study on all things baby-related, and trusted sources like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institutes of Health, Britain’s National Health Service, Canada’s Hospital for Sick Children, the World Health Organization, and other national children’s health organizations are excellent sources of information you can feel confident about using to answer questions about your baby’s health.

And if you want more information about the benefits of sleep, I’m willing to talk about it to the point of obnoxiousness.

Hope you feel a sigh of relief!

Bailey