I wasn’t always a Sleep Specialist, but for much of my life I’ve been a poor sleeper. Sleep is hard work for me, the stress of sleeplessness wears me down emotionally and physically, so I am overjoyed that it’s NOT something my girls will struggle with. Fierce independence and willfulness… yes. Sleep, no.
After teaching Social Studies and Dance/Yoga in the public schools for 10 years I moved to New York City where I began teaching Yoga to kids and adults. Soon, I was drawn to teach prenatal and postnatal yoga and became certified as a Birth Doula. I loved that I could support families in so many areas of their journey: pregnancy, birth, healing your post-baby body, and then teaching children themselves. Mindfulness, relaxation and support was a key part of all these benchmarks.
Then, I became a parent myself. And it was HARD. I found pregnancy limiting, uncomfortable, and anxiety provoking. I had an empowering home-birth and then I spent five months in a state of crisis as I attempted to function on very little sleep with none of the coping skills I had before. I was eager to get back to my work supporting families, but I was too tired to do it. As my child became more independent, her sleep became increasingly dependent, interrupted and off balance. We were ALL exhausted, confused, and desperate. No matter where I looked for advice and information I was ineffective at successfully implementing it. Finally, at 11 months someone pointed me to a sleep consultant who turned our lives around in a matter of days.
As it turns out, my first born is an expert sleeper – she went from sleeping 9 random hours a day to a solid routine of sleeping 16 hours a day. By the third night on our new routine she was sleeping all night long!! Life with kids isn’t always unicorns and rainbows, but the day to day chaos of parenting is much easier to problem solve when the whole family is getting the sleep they need. After a few months I felt like a whole new person, and I was so grateful each morning I woke up well rested. It was really fun to parent my patient and cooperative child who was no longer throwing baby tantrums and hurting other kids in her exhaustion. In fact, life was so dreamy that I began to scheme about two things: having a second child and becoming a sleep consultant myself.
Now, I have a thriving business and two well-rested daughters. It’s really an honor for me to nurture families in this new capacity: to empower them with education, reassurance and support as they walk their own path to healthy sleep.
These Are My Top 5 Sleep Tips:
Step 1: Choose an early bedtime.
The best time to put your baby or toddler to bed is sometime between 6 and 8 o’clock in the evening. This ensures that your child will be able to get a solid 11-13 hours of sleep during the night.
Step 2: Put your child to sleep in the same place every night.
Whether your child has a room of their own or shares a room with parents or siblings, it’s important that you put your son or daughter to sleep in the same place every night (and for naps during the day as much as possible.) Putting your child to bed in a familiar place lets them know they are safe and that they are in a place where sleep is expected of them.
Step 3: Create a predictable bedtime routine.
Consistency and predictability are really important to babies and toddlers. When they know what to expect at bedtime, it makes it much easier for them to make the transition from waking to sleeping – and that’s why creating a bedtime routine is so important!
Step 4: Put your baby to bed AWAKE!
If you’ve been rocking, nursing, or otherwise soothing your baby to sleep, this is going to seem like a tough one… but it’s actually
the most important step! It’s only by letting your baby fall asleep WITHOUT your help at bedtime that he or she can learn the skills necessary to stay asleep through the night.
Step 5: If your baby wakes up during the night, wait a few minutes before intervening.
Everyone – babies and adults alike – will actually wake up several times every night. For most adults, these wakings are so brief that we don’t even remember them the next morning. However, many babies will immediately start to fuss or cry when they wake up. The good news is that many babies can figure out how to get back to sleep within just a few minutes of waking up in the night!
If your child continues to fuss or cry for more than a few minutes, you’ll want to go in and offer some comfort, but it’s important to let your child do the work of falling back to sleep themselves.
Most parents are already incorporating some of these tips, but if an aspect of this list seems hard to implement, or your “great sleeper” is suddenly waking all night long, that is a great time to reach out to a sleep specialist to help diagnose your specific sleep problems and help to solve them quickly before they become unhealthy habits. You may contact me, schedule a call, and learn more about my program for adults who struggle with sleep at www.kpettersonsleep.com
Want to hear about our personal experience hiring Kristine? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll respond within the day! We know first hand in our house how her work is like a magical blessing, and we want to help her share that gift with your family.