This is part of our series, "Meet the Experts". In this series of posts, we interview a wide variety of men and women involved in every aspect of the field of maternal health. Today, we welcome Candy Beers-Kim, a Pediatric Sleep Consultant.
Sleep issues are a big deal in our house. Our first child has had a difficult time sleeping since day 1. Maybe you can relate. I could give you the background, but the general idea is that he is 22 months old, and I have haven’t slept through one straight night since he was born. Some of you are in shock right now.
Sleep can fall under one of the controversial categories in the realm of parenting. My husband and I agreed early on that we wanted to respect our children’s needs in the way that felt most natural to us. We opted to never choose to allow our children to Cry It Out alone when dealing with sleep. I feel that a child will learn to sleep through the night when they are developmentally ready. Not everyone agrees with me, and that is perfectly fine. This is how we have chosen to parent our children. I truly believe there are a million ways to raise a child. What works for one family may not work for another, and what works for one child may not work for another.
Way back when he was around 3 or 4 months old, I read The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. It is a fabulous book on sleep that didn’t really work for us. One thing she wrote in the book is, “You can either have tears or take time.” We have chosen the time route. Well, I’m here to tell you that the time route can take its toll on a mama. But nevertheless, we have stayed the course.
Some things we have worked through are bedsharing versus cosleeping; tandem nursing; night nursing; differing schedules; nursing to sleep; night terrors and nightmares; schedules versus routines versus child cues; and crazy nap habits. Maybe some of you have had to work through one or all of these topics. Maybe some of you can’t relate at all. Maybe some of you are so sleep deprived that you can’t even read the words on this page. I wish I could write that I have all of the answers, but I don’t.
What I do have is a few great resources to give you.
The first one is a book, Sleepless in America: Is Your Child Misbehaving or Missing Sleep by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. I have found this book to be fantastic. While other sleep books have been very helpful, most only cover the topic of the newborn or infant period. Kurcinka covers so much more. I highly recommend this book for any parent dealing with sleep issues, behavioral issues, grade issues or just issues in general.
Another good book is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Weissbluth. Now while I don’t ascribe to his every theory, he has a wide array of advice for many different parenting styles.
And when all else fails, come up with a good list of things to do when you are up all of those extra hours. A good friend of mine wrote a great post about it here. I have done quite a few interesting things in the middle of the night while waiting for certain little people to go back to sleep. Unfortunately, I am so sleep deprived that I can’t really remember what most of them are.
What are some things that keep you going through the constant haze of sleepless nights?