Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Profile on an Expert Mom

Several months ago I featured my friend and sleep coach, Michelle Todd of Whisper Sweet Baby Sleep Consulting.  She has since relocated from Edmonton to Calgary and has been seeing great success in her sleep consulting business.  I know that you will enjoy learning more about her and all that she has to know about getting the littles to sleep.

Layla(3), Michelle, Paxton(5) and Brody

What did you do before Whisper Sweet and how did you get into sleep consulting?
Before Whisper Sweet I was an Application Specialist for Cardinal Health (not very exciting, I know).  I got into child sleep consulting after discovering first hand how life changing it is to go from being exhausted all the time to finally getting a full night's sleep. My own experience had let me to do a lot of research and I had a huge desire to share what I'd learned.  I found a great Sleep Consultant training program, and the rest is history!

What are your favourite sleep and parenting books? 
Good Night, Sleep tight by Kim West, The Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg,  Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth and favorite parenting book would be "Kids Are Worth It" by Barbara Coloroso.

More on the personal side, what is a family activity you enjoy? 
Day hikes in the mountains. 
Do your kids sleep? 
I got into this profession because of my first born - he gave us a run for our money! With my second I armed myself with a lot of research, to avoid making the same mistakes I made the first time. I wanted to do it "right" -  from the beginning. It was amazing. She was sleeping 12 hours a night before 3 months of age. They are both good sleepers now.

How do you sleep? 
I sleep well when I follow the rules of adult sleep hygiene (stick to the same bedtime/wake-up time, no t.v. before bed, etc.) I'm happy to offer advice to adults as well.

What is the common problem with children and sleep?
There are so many factors that affect sleep. A big one is children getting overtired. I advise parents to watch their children very closely for any signs of tiredness, whether that's yawning, rubbing their eyes, getting a 'glazed look', or many other indicators. If they can get their children down at night (and for naps!) before they get overtired the process will be much smoother. 
Once children are overtired they get a second wind and have a hard time falling asleep. Most children do well with a bedtime between 6:30 and 7:30 (sometimes later if the child is still having a good nap in the day). Parents should note that the bedroom should be very dark - especially this time of year when the sun is up for longer. Blackout blinds (or anything that effectively covers the windows) are a necessity. A dim night light is ok, only if the child seems to need it.
I might also add that 'tired signs' for babies are often confused with hunger, as babies will start to root and may suck ferociously on a soother when tired. That is one reason I always recommend feeding a baby right after their nap, so that tired and hungry cues don't get confused .

Another problem for parents of toddlers and older children is dealing with bedtime stalling and tantrums. It is helpful for parents to give lots of advanced warning before bedtime, and then to have a very consistent routine before bed. Do the same relaxing things every night to help prepare children for sleep. And have the routine always end in their room. Some examples of this are a bath, reading books, and talking about their day. Get that last drink of water and bathroom visit out of the way *before* they're in bed, to avoid the excuses. And stick to your routine - caving in to requests for extra stories, etc. encourages them to keep stalling any way they can.

What is the most common mistake parents make with their babies?
The easiest mistake to make with babies, and I did this too with my first, is to rock or feed them to sleep. It may seem help in the short term, and parents of really fussy babies may understandably feel they have no choice,  but it leads to lots of night waking and short naps. This is because sleep comes in cycles - which is true for children and adults. We wake several times a night without even noticing because we know how to fall back to sleep on our own. When children are fed or rocked to sleep, they wake in the night and don't know how to fall back to sleep. So they cry for mom and dad several times a night, and may only nap for 20 to 45 minutes during the day. For babies to learn independent sleep skills they must be put down drowsy, but awake. Of course it's not always that simple, but watching very closely for those tired signs will go along way to help.

If you would like to speak to Michelle further regarding sleep, you can find her website at . Or email her at 

Lastly, if you would like us to post a segment on adult sleep, please comment. We would love to have Michelle back again.  

Sweet Dreams!