<![CDATA[MOMMY SOS - Podcast]]>Mon, 10 Dec 2018 00:21:39 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Episode 5 - Pro tips for maintaining healthy sleep habits with your baby throughout the holiday season]]>Sun, 09 Dec 2018 13:00:00 GMThttp://mommy-sos.com/podcast/episode-5-pro-tips-for-maintaining-healthy-sleep-habits-with-your-baby-throughout-the-holiday-season
The winter holiday season is nearly upon us!  It’s my most favorite time of year - the traditions, parties, family gatherings….the food.  Seriously, it’s just the best. But, even for the merriest and most festive of us, it can also be an exhausting and overwhelming time of year.  
Perhaps no one feels this more than our babies (no matter their age).  The traveling, visitors and all around joy can actually wreak quite a bit of havoc on their routines and sleep.  If you’re like me then you definitely don’t want to miss all of the fun, but if you also don’t want to end up with the Grinch at your holiday gathering, then you’ll want to check out these 5 Pro Tips.
Be realistic
If you’ve got an easy going baby who can typically go with the flow, then you may be able to get away with missing naps and later bedtimes.  They may temporarily have a bad night of sleep, but babies with more laid back temperaments typically will bounce back after a night or two. However, if your baby is more sensitive, has high sleep needs like my son or is a “by the clock” baby like my daughter was, then you’ll want to be really strategic in your plans in order to prevent overtiredness, early mornings and increased night wakings.  

If this sounds more like your family, then being realistic can be really helpful - try not to plan too much in one day, don’t say yes to every invitation, and know your kiddos and their limitations.  If your baby can miss her afternoon nap, then make plans for an earlier bedtime to happen. Or, if you know your kiddo gets overstimulated easily, then make sure you take breaks, take him for small walks away from the crowd and spend a bit longer on the bedtime routine that evening so that he has extra time to really wind down and relax his body again.

Be consistent, when you can
Yes, it can be pretty tough to remain consistent with your baby’s schedule throughout the holiday season - especially if you’re traveling or have visitors in your home.  But there are definitely ways you can maintain consistency that can help you preserve your baby’s sleep. For instance, try to maintain their bedtime routines - keeping to the same steps and sequence as every other night (even if it needs to be a bit shorter to get them in bed on time). Additionally, for babies who do need more consistency or are more sensitive to schedule changes and overtiredness, it can be really helpful if you try to plan around their nap times.  For instance, if you know your baby NEEDS to take her 1pm nap but you have to get to Grandma’s house in time for Thanksgiving dinner, then you can go early and plan for her to nap there, stay at home for the nap but have her take a shorter one, or plan the car ride there so that you can time the nap while she’s in the car.

Create Familiarity
When traveling, it can be really helpful to recreate the home environment as much as possible.    Sleeping in an unfamiliar place can cause disruptions and night wakings in even the best sleeper.  But you can combat this by trying to re-create as much of their typical sleep environment as possible.  For instance, if your baby typically sleeps in a crib, then make sure you bring a travel crib or call ahead to the hotel to reserve one. It can also be really helpful to have your baby take a few naps in the travel crib while you’re still at home, just so that they have even more of an opportunity to get comfortable in it.  If your baby or toddler typically bed shares with you, then it may be easier to have them transition into a new space. But make sure that you take precautions to ensure that it’s a safe environment just like the one at home - remove the extra bedding and move the bed against the wall. No matter what their typically sleeping arrangements, make sure that you bring their crib sheet or favorite blankets and pillow - along with their regular loveys/stuffed animals, pacifiers, white noise, travel black out blinds and night light.   

Leave room for downtime
The holidays are often so full of chances to become overstimulated and overtired.  Aside from an off schedule or missed nap, the flashing lights, big crowds, new toys and extra sugary treats can make for one cranky kiddo.  Another way to combat this is to leave room in your schedule quiet time. Whether that’s snuggling on the couch together, going for a family walk outside or reserving quiet time for the older kiddos - everyone needs a chance to recharge their batteries.

Get back to normal as soon as possible
No matter how much merriment you and your family indulge in over the holiday season, it’s important to get back on track as soon after the fun as possible.  For babies, getting them back on track with their schedule can help alleviate overtiredness and early waking. If they become really overtired, then having an earlier bedtime for a few days can also be really helpful.  For toddlers and school age kiddos, try to get them back to their school week bedtime at least a few days before it’s time to return to school. And finally, if you’ve been traveling time zones over the holidays, know that the typical rule of thumb is to give 1 day of transition time for every 1 hour of time difference.

No matter what, the holidays should be a time to enjoy family. I hope that these tips help you and your family combat the typical sleep troubles and create magical family memories instead!

Disclaimer: Although Jennifer Howard is a licensed therapist, this podcast - or any information listed on this site - is not a substitute for therapy.  If you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum or perinatal mental health disorders, please seek assistance from your local emergency room or schedule an appointment with a therapist licensed in your state.  Postpartum Support International also has a wealth of information and local support for new parents.  You can call their Helpline (1-800-944-4773) or text (503-894-9453) anytime for support. 

<![CDATA[Episode 2 - Top 10 Reasons why Improving your Baby's sleep should be a priority]]>Thu, 06 Dec 2018 13:00:00 GMThttp://mommy-sos.com/podcast/babysleeppriority
Because sleep affects the entire family, and when you’re weighing the pros and cons of taking steps to improve your baby’s sleep, it’s super important that you have all of the information - all of the science backed research that can help alleviate your concerns and may give you the permission you may need to take that next step.  Just like I did.  These are my top 10 reasons why you should make improving your baby’s sleep a priority.
  1. First, several studies have shown that sleep is crucial for your baby’s brains to mature - and for the nightly consolidation of their memories. In fact, the more efficient their nighttime sleep the higher babies have actually scored on cognition related tests.  During sleep, their brains are busy processing everything they've learned that day - and it's done so much better when that sleep isn't broken and disjointed.
  2. Second, In addition to consolidating memories and processing what they’ve learned each day, babies that sleep more at night have also been found to have an “easier” temperament.  In the studies, this often was reflected in the babies with healthy sleep patterns and less night wakings as being noted by their parents as more adaptable and less distractible throughout the day.  
  3. Another study found that fatigued infants (which they defined as those who had missed their naps) were more easily frustrated and more distressed by a brief separation from their mothers.  This study suggested that separation anxiety was seemingly felt more strongly by babies who were fatigued or that the fatigued infants were less able to regulate their emotions when separated from their mothers.  If you take a step back, this really is so easy to understand.  How frustrated and impatient are you when you’re fatigued? I know I am. So, of course our babies - who have so much less practice with emotional regulation - would feel similar when they aren’t sleeping well.  
  4. Alternatively, in studies where sleep coaching interventions were studied, parents noted that their babies were more secure, predictable, less irritable, and less fussy post coaching.
  5. And finally, another reason why sleep is so important for babies is that studies have shown it has a drastic effect on their academic abilities - even as a young baby.  A study known as the Millennium cohort study, followed 11,000 children, and found that children with irregular bedtimes from birth to age 3 were negatively affected in skills pertaining to reading, math and spatial awareness.  As researchers continued to follow these children, they continued lagging behind by age 7, with girls being more affected than boys. With 11k participants, this was a major study and it demonstrated that healthy sleep plays a truly critical role in brain development in the first 3 years of life.

Now, as I’m sure you have felt personally, babies are not the only ones affected by sleep deprivation.  So, I want to shift gears a bit here and discuss how sleep deprivation effects parents as well.

6. First, multiple studies in labs have shown that sleep deprivation is surprisingly similar to being legally drunk.  This means that a sleep deprived parent can unknowingly put themselves or their baby in physical danger - increasing the likelihood that they’ll be in a car accident or make other tragic mistakes throughout their day.  I am sure you’ve heard of stories of this in the news. But I also know this was certainly the case for me with my daughter. As I mentioned before, she was the kind of baby that would only sleep in my arms, and so as a first time mom and just all around desperate parent, I co-slept with her in ways I would never recommend.  I would wake up in the middle of the night and have no idea where she was. I would fall asleep at the most random places because I was just that tired. It was unsafe and scary and we’re just so very lucky that nothing happened. By the time I had my son, I was much more educated in baby sleep and could empower myself with knowledge on the safer ways to co-sleep….even in desperation, because sleep also didn’t come naturally for him.

7. And to this note, rested parents are healthier parents overall.  Sleep deprivation is linked to ALL sorts of health issues for parents.  It starts off as irritability, fatigue and trouble concentrating but often leads to increased appetite, disorientation, apathy and even social withdrawal from friends and family.  So, at a time when new parents may need their social circle the most, they often lose contact or are unable to keep in touch as much as they wish they could.
8. And when a person is deprived of sleep, the immune system becomes unable to perform it’s typical functions.  The negative effects become much more intense when the person is already sick, injured, or (healing...for instance, from childbirth).  But, because the body isn’t functioning as it should, whatever harm or damage that has been done to the body - or whatever germs the person is exposed to - will only get worse.  

And finally, we want to discuss relationships - and how they are affected by sleep deprivation.  Research has shown again and again that sleep deprivation can have a negative effect on work performance, relationships and marriage health.  In marriage, it leads to communication breakdowns, feelings of disconnect...and even divorce. But I will touch on that a bit more later.

9. Because perhaps the most notable effect sleep deprivation has for parents is that of a mother’s ability to bond with her baby...and this alone can be devastating to a mother’s mental health.   In fact, multiple studies have shown a connection between infant sleep problems and maternal depression. In fact, sleep deprivation actually has been proven to increase the risk of postpartum depression. And, one study showed that depression symptoms actually worsen in PPD patients when their quality of sleep declines.  But, perhaps even more important - it's shown to IMPROVE as their sleep improves.  

Having experienced postpartum depression myself, and then later working with mothers who were struggling with it, I know how challenging this can be for the whole family.  It changes your entire perception of motherhood and shifts your thinking in indescribable ways. And this is one of THE biggest reasons why I am so passionate about helping remove some of the stigmas or negative perceptions of sleep coaching and about giving you the permission to make the changes need and to make sleep a priority for your whole family.  I know that some of the naysayers will argue that sleep coaching can hurt your baby’s attachment, but based on the research I’ve shared, I would argue that in many cases, sleep coaching can actually HELP you and your baby to bond better by alleviating some of the typical stressors related to sleep deprivation and postpartum depression - and allowing for you to be more present - and to really enjoy being with your baby.

10. Finally, have you ever heard that the first year after a baby’s birth is the hardest year of marriage for couples? There is a reason why. Research shows that sleep deprivation leads to increased levels of perceived stress - leading to more conflict and bigger outbursts between you and your partner.  And, in addition to increased stress levels, it also negatively impacts your sense of humor.  It makes you both more likely to show negative emotions to your partner instead of positive ones and leads to both of you being less successful at conflict resolution - at a time when your identities and priorities are shifting - and when many couples need conflict resolution skills the most.  

Meanwhile, just as healthy sleep habits help your baby to develop and handle daily stressors, it also helps increase your ability to have patience and to tackle day to day challenges in a more effective and healthy way. Leading to higher levels of satisfaction for everyone in the family.  
So, that brings us to the end of the list and those are my “top 10” reasons why I believe improving your baby’s sleep should be a priority.  

Now, I know this is a lot to take in. We’ve talked about several ways your baby, you as a mom and your relationship with your partner are all affected by unhealthy sleep habits and sleep deprivation - from physical health, growth and development to attachment and just general overall well-being.  And, I’ve shared all of this research with you because I believe that the studies have shown over and over again that getting enough restful sleep is crucial to the mental and physical health of both parents AND baby and THIS is why it's so important to start off your baby's life with healthy sleep habits - even if that means they need a little help getting there.  

And I know I’ve painted a pretty negative picture about sleep deprivation, but what I hope I’ve shared with you today is that making that choice to make your sleep (and your baby’s sleep) a priority is - in fact - NOT selfish.  Sleep deprivation affects the entire family….meaning that improving your baby’s sleep can positively affect every single person in the family... for years to come. In the next show, I’m going to talk about 5 easy ways you can begin to improve your baby’s sleep right away - without sleep coaching.  So stay tuned, it’s all going to be much more positive very very soon!


Armstrong K. L., Van Haeringen A.R., Dadds M. R. & Cash, R. (1998). Sleep deprivation or postnatal depression. Journal of Paediatric Child Health, 34(3): 260-2.

Evans, M.K., Watts, N., Gratton R. (2015). Erratum. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing. E28-E28.

Gordon, A. M. & Chen, S. (2014). The role of sleep in interpersonal conflict: Do sleepless nights mean worse fights? Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5, 168-175.

Harrison, Y., & Horne, J. A. (2000). The impact of sleep deprivation on decision making: A review. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 6, 236-249.

Pilcher, J. J., & Huffcutt, A. J. (1996). Effects of sleep deprivation on performance: a meta-analysis. Sleep: Journal of Sleep Research & Sleep Medicine, 19, 318-326.

Troxel, W. M., Robles, T. F., Hall, M., & Buysse, D. J. (2007). Marital quality and the marital bed: Examining the covariation between relationship quality and sleep. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 11, 389-404.

Williamson, A. M. & Feyer, A. M. Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication. Occup. Environ. Med. 57, 649–655 (2000).

Medina, A. M., Lederhos, C. L. & Lillis, T. A. Sleep disruption and decline in marital satisfaction across the transition to parenthood. Fam. Syst. Health 27, 153–160 (2009).

Meltzer, L. J. & Mindell, J. A. Relationship between child sleep disturbances and maternal sleep, mood, and parenting stress: a pilot study. J. Fam. Psychol. 43 21, 67–73 (2007).

Tikotzky, L. & Sadeh, A. Maternal Sleep-Related Cognitions and Infant Sleep: A Longitudinal Study From Pregnancy Through the 1st Year. Child Dev. 80, 860–874 (2009).

Tikotzky, L. & Shaashua, L. Infant sleep and early parental sleep-related cognitions predict sleep in pre-school children. Sleep Med. 13, 185–192 (2012).

Disclaimer: Although Jennifer Howard is a licensed therapist, this podcast - or any information listed on this site - is not a substitute for therapy.  If you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum or perinatal mental health disorders, please seek assistance from your local emergency room or schedule an appointment with a therapist licensed in your state.  Postpartum Support International also has a wealth of information and local support for new parents.  You can call their Helpline (1-800-944-4773) or text (503-894-9453) anytime for support. 

<![CDATA[Episode 3 - Do these 5 things before you even consider sleep coaching your baby]]>Thu, 06 Dec 2018 13:00:00 GMThttp://mommy-sos.com/podcast/dothesefivethings
There are SO many popular sleep-coaching methods to choose from. And, if you seek advice on your Facebook moms group, from your local friends or from sleep coaching books and blogs, you are likely to get very different – and very strongly held – points of view about which one is best. But, when you’re sleep deprived and foggy brained, it can all feel way too overwhelming…making it hard to choose an option or to even get started.

But, there is hope! Depending on your baby’s temperament and adaptability, you may not even need to sleep coach in order to improve their sleep habits.  If you heard the previous episode, then you know all the ways sleep deprivation can negatively impact your family and you may even be ready to take steps toward sleep coaching.  But even if you’re not ready yet, or just unsure which one method is right for your family (note: it’s likely a mixture of several methods and I can help you figure it out!), taking these 5 easy steps will help to set your whole family up for success and put you on the path to better sleep:
First, Keep a sleep and feeding log
When I’m approached by a friend with a quick sleep question or working with a client, taking a close look at their baby’s schedule is the VERY first step I take.  A schedule can truly make or break a baby’s ability to sleep well and a sleep and feeding log can give you all the information you need to know if things need to be tweaked.  Using a sleep log also gives you individualized information since tracking your baby’s natural patterns - before you make any other changes - will help you get a better idea of their personal sleep needs and help you spot any potential red flags in their schedule.  For instance, are they waking too early and then crashing at 7am for their first nap? Or napping too much during the day and not able to stay asleep after bedtime? Not eating often enough in the evening and waking just a few hours into the night? 

Once you have tracked 3-4 days with your baby then you can compare the log to the recommended sample schedules in my free “Sample Baby Schedules” E-book to get a better idea of how your baby’s current schedule fits in with what is expected or typical at their age and begin to make any potential adjustments.  I’ll link to the e-book in the show notes for you and definitely recommend you go ahead and grab it. It’s totally free and just by reading over the guidelines and recommended schedules, you can ensure that your baby is on an age appropriate and consistent schedule.  Truly, it is often the very first step toward better sleep! 

Next, Create a consistent and relaxing bedtime routine
All babies (and older children) benefit from having a soothing bedtime ritual with their favorite people (you!).  The actual steps can vary, based on what works best for your family, but it should be calming in nature. For instance, I work with a lot of working moms who have very little time between when they come home and their baby’s bedtime.  If this is you, then the routine may be as simple as: feeding, swaddle, and rocking/snuggles. If you have more time - and your baby isn’t totally riled up by bath time, then you may want to incorporate that into your routine as well. Your toddler’s routine is likely to be a bit longer, but they also typically go to bed a bit later.  Something as routine as having a bedtime snack, using the potty, brushing teeth, reading a couple of books and snuggling would be perfect. No matter what routine you settle on though, it’s actually the predictable sequence of events that babies and toddlers come to count on as a signal that it’s time for sleep.

Next, evaluate your baby’s environment 
Creating a soothing sleep environment can also make a huge difference in how well (or how poorly) your baby sleeps.  Does your baby wake often, too early or have short naps? There are many common reasons for these trouble spots and making simple adjustments to your baby’s sleeping environment can actually alleviate many of them. For instance, if your baby is sensitive to noise, then they are much more likely to wake if you or your partner wake early for work, if you’re sharing a room or if you just have a rowdy toddler in the house.  

White noise is my magic cure for all of this - and I literally could not be a bigger fan. I’m sure that any family I’ve worked with or friend of mine would co-sign on this. My entire family - both kids and parents - use white noise every single night. We travel with it (on our phones) and all sleep so much better with it. If you don’t have a white noise machine in your baby’s room, get one today or download an app to your phone to give it a free try!  Also, I’ve heard it all when it comes to objections about white noise, but I encourage you to give it a try.  Be sure to check out my article for common white noise mistakes - and how to avoid them! It is my most popular blog article to date.   

Additionally, If your baby’s room gets too much light in the morning or from street lights at night, then they’re also much more likely to wake. Adding black out blinds or curtains can help keep your baby in a deeper state of sleep and prevent waking from those common distractions.  My daughter was extremely sensitive to light and would wake as soon as the sun came up until she was about 6 years old. So we’ve kept black out curtains and blinds in her room until just recently. 

Next, Identify your baby’s sleep props
So this is also a crucial piece of the puzzle - and one we’ll talk about in detail in the coming weeks.  But, when it comes to improving your baby’s sleep you have to first identify what their sleep props are. For instance, do you feed your baby to sleep and then have to feed them back to sleep each time they wake?  Do you need to replace the pacifier? Snuggle or rock? While these things are totally ok (and encouraged) with your newborn baby, anything your older baby or toddler “needs” to fall to sleep can become a sleep prop.  Trust me, your toddler does not need to eat at night and your baby can sleep without needing to be rocked! 

Now, it’s important to point out that if you feed your baby to sleep or rock them each night and they don’t wake OR their wakings aren’t bothering you, then do YOU.  I am not here to tell you how to parent your baby - that is for sure. But if you’re exhausted and you know you need a change, then this is a major step in getting the sleep you need and feeling normal again.  Even so, you don’t necessarily need to do formal sleep coaching to begin to fade away your baby’s sleep props. Simply by identifying what the potential props allows you to view them in a different way and to slowly offer them less and less.

Finally, Check in with your pediatrician
Typically sleep troubles are behavioral in nature, but sometimes babies wake frequently because of a medical reason.  For instance, reflux, food allergies, sleep apnea, teething pain and ear infections, and growth spurts can all lead to more frequent waking.  If your baby was sleeping fine but starts to wake more frequently, then they may just be going through a developmental leap or growth spurt (these typically last no more than a week or so).  BUT seeking the guidance of your pediatrician is the best way to rule any of these out – and to get the OK for sleep coaching, if you decide that’s the step you want to move in moving forward.

Ok, so there you have it - the 5 steps you can take right now to improve your baby’s sleep.  And if you want to take an even closer look at these or you’re ready to take the plunge into getting better sleep for your family, then I definitely want you to join my FREE 5 day “Save our Sleep” Challenge.  In it, we dig really deep into each of these and explore together how to improve your baby’s sleep. As part of the private Facebook Group, you’ll also gain a community of other mothers in the challenge and get direct access to me to ask your own personal questions along the way!  It’s all FREE, so what do you have to lose? Click the link below and reserve your spot! 
I'm so ready for sleep!

Disclaimer: Although Jennifer Howard is a licensed therapist, this podcast - or any information listed on this site - is not a substitute for therapy.  If you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum or perinatal mental health disorders, please seek assistance from your local emergency room or schedule an appointment with a therapist licensed in your state.  Postpartum Support International also has a wealth of information and local support for new parents.  You can call their Helpline (1-800-944-4773) or text (503-894-9453) anytime for support. 

<![CDATA[Welcome to the mommy sos Podcast]]>Fri, 30 Nov 2018 17:28:45 GMThttp://mommy-sos.com/podcast/welcome-to-the-mommy-sos-podcast
The Mommy SOS Podcast is a FREE Resource! 

Listen and SUBSCRIBE to the podcast on any of the platforms that you listen from. You will automatically receive each new episode as soon as it airs! Each week, you'll get baby sleep expertise, actionable tips and tricks and community - delivered straight to your ears. :)