<![CDATA[MOMMY SOS - Podcast]]>Tue, 19 Feb 2019 21:08:46 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[top tips for making the toddler bed transition a success]]>Sun, 17 Feb 2019 12:00:00 GMThttp://mommy-sos.com/podcast/top-tips-for-making-the-toddler-bed-transition-a-success
Ah, the toddler bed. Kids love the new-found freedom, but it often leads to a whole new set of sleep issues - even for children who were previously “good” sleepers.  Join me as we discuss the ins and outs of this process.  I'll walk you through the questions to ask yourself and the steps to take with your toddler in order to protect their sleep. By exploring the most common trouble spots families often face up front, you'll be able to ensure that the transition from crib to toddler bed is a success for your family.
<![CDATA[10 Tips for Thriving as an introvert or highly sensitive mama]]>Sun, 10 Feb 2019 12:00:00 GMThttp://mommy-sos.com/podcast/10-tips-for-thriving-as-an-introvert-or-highly-sensitive-mama
Parenting as an introvert or highly sensitive person (HSP) can feel quite overwhelming at times. As an introvert and HSP myself, I was completely unprepared for the challenges my innate personality would lend to parenting.  Being with my babies all day was exhausting - and not at all what I thought it would be.  But over the years, I have really honed in on some strategies that help immensely.  Whether you're an introvert, highly sensitive person or just an overwhelmed and sleep deprived mama, join me today as we explore my top tips for helping you thrive throughout early motherhood.  
<![CDATA[Understanding your baby's short naps - and how to lengthen them]]>Sun, 03 Feb 2019 12:00:00 GMThttp://mommy-sos.com/podcast/understanding-your-babys-short-naps-and-how-to-lengthen-them
Short naps can be one of the most frustrating baby sleep troubles there are - and I know this personally as well since I’ve been a work at home mom (trying to work during nap time) since my babies were very little.  On this episode, we're taking a look at the most common causes for short naps - and what you can do to help them lengthen.

Links mentioned: 
Sample Sleep Schedules E-Book

Free 5 Day Sleep Challenge
<![CDATA[Unlocking the secrets to your baby's early morning waking]]>Sun, 27 Jan 2019 14:00:00 GMThttp://mommy-sos.com/podcast/unlocking-the-secrets-to-your-babys-early-morning-waking
Today we’re talking about the dreaded early morning waking. There are so many factors in an early morning waking - leading it to be one of the most challenging baby sleep issues to solve.  I'm going to cover all of the subtle and not so subtle reasons why your baby may be waking early - and help you on the path toward later mornings (and more rest!) With a little detective work and some dedication, you can can truly change your baby’s circadian rhythms and sleep patterns.  Let's dig in!

Links referenced:

Paper Black Out Blinds
<![CDATA[Yes, you can still snuggle your baby! Combatting common false beliefs about baby sleep coaching]]>Sun, 20 Jan 2019 14:00:00 GMThttp://mommy-sos.com/podcast/yes-you-can-still-snuggle-your-baby-combatting-common-false-beliefs-about-baby-sleep-coaching

​Today we’re tackling common false beliefs about sleep coaching.  This feel really important to me because I think these beliefs are often both false - and potentially harmful.  Especially to the mamas who are struggling - whether that be with anxiety, depression or just complete overwhelm and exhaustion - and who could really benefit from doing a bit of work to help their baby sleep better but may be scared or feeling ashamed because of what they’ve been told, heard or read. 

Join me as we discuss whether breastfeeding and sleep coaching are contraindicated, if you have to completely stop snuggling your baby and whether it's all in your control at all!

<![CDATA[Motherhood, baby Sleep and Entrepreneurship - An interview with marissa lawton]]>Sun, 13 Jan 2019 13:00:00 GMThttp://mommy-sos.com/podcast/motherhood-baby-sleep-and-entrepreneurship-an-interview-with-marissa-lawton
On today's episode, I'm speaking with Marissa Lawton - an entrepreneur and mother whose passion is helping other entrepreneurs to build their business with authenticy.  Marissa keeps a strict working schedule of three hours a day because she believes it is just as important to build her business as it is to build blocks with her littles.  Join us as we discuss juggling motherhood and entrepreneurship, working through the mom guilt and trying to embrace healthy sleep habits for the whole family throughout - including a short Q&A about toddler sleep habits!  

Learn more about Marissa and her programs here - http://marissalawton.com/

<![CDATA[Most common White noise mistakes parents make - and how to avoid them]]>Sun, 06 Jan 2019 13:00:00 GMThttp://mommy-sos.com/podcast/most-common-white-noise-mistakes-parents-make-and-how-to-avoid-them
Hey guys, today we are talking about white noise.  This is actually the topic of one of my most popular blog posts and it’s surprisingly controversial, so I really wanted to dig deep and help you understand the science of white noise and how to use it as a truly positive force for your family’s sleep.

If you’ve listened to previous episodes, then you know that I am mom to two kiddos who were truly troubled sleepers.  Once I understood baby sleep, I was able to help them. But I’ve also had the honor of helping thousands of families improve their baby’s sleep over the last several years and there is one thing I have seen make THE biggest difference in a baby's sleep that takes so very little effort on your part.  And if you ask anyone who has worked with me, they’ll tell you exactly what that is - white noise!
I truly believe that white noise is the miracle worker of sleep.  Now, of course you're going to need to put other things in motion - like removing sleep props and altering a schedule - but using white noise is your most hands off piece of the puzzle and it can give you BIG gains in the sleep department.  Everyone in my house – including the parents – still uses a white noise machine each and every night (despite my children now being 7 and 4). And we all sleep better because of it!

I hear from exhausted parents often how much of a change it has made for their families as well.  But, I also hear from parents who are afraid to use white noise. There is a lot of misinformation out there about it and, because of that, they’re scared to use it.  Sometimes even if they do try it, they tell me they just aren't seeing the results they want with white noise, that they aren't sure of how loud it should be or even what kind of white noise is best.  It's confusing - especially when you're sleep deprived and just desperate for a good night's sleep. But it does not have to be overwhelming.

I need you to trust me here. :) White noise really can make the biggest difference in your baby's sleep - I've seen it happen over and over again!  But, in order for the white noise to be really effective, it needs to be done correctly.

So, today I'm going to walk you through exactly how to use white noise to help your baby or toddler sleep better, but first I want to tackle the misleading articles out there head on.  There is one study in particular that I’ve seen circling the internet and mommy blogs that suggests that using white noise can harm your baby’s hearing and stunt their growth.

This study, published in the Pediatrics Journal, tested noise machines from 30-200 centimeters away and found that all but one of the white noise machines they tested exceeded 50 decibels (the recommended amount by the AAP).  However, the researchers and the AAP did NOT take the conclusions of the study and recommend against the use of white noise completely. Instead, they recommended keeping the decibels to below 50 and keeping the white noise machine across the room.  For reference, in the study and at the lowest level, the noise machine was 1 foot away from a baby’s ear, which is obviously not what you’re going to do anyway.

So, with all of that in mind, I want to make a blanket statement again that I LOVE white noise machines and think that they definitely have a place in every baby and toddler’s room - as long as they are used appropriately.

Now, let’s talk about the most common mistakes parents make when it comes to white noise– and how you can avoid making them.
  1. Assuming baby won’t benefit from white noise
Even if you got lucky with an “easy” newborn baby or if it didn't work for your older kids, using white noise with your baby is a MUST in my book. In one study, 2 groups of newborn babies were tested in response to white noise.   Sixteen (80%) fell asleep within five minutes in response to white noise compared with only five (25%) who fell asleep spontaneously in the control group. https://adc.bmj.com/content/archdischild/65/1/135.full.pdf
But, even babies who are great sleepers as newborns have been known to have their sleep completely fall apart around the 3-4 month mark.  First, there is the dreaded 4 month regression (where baby’s sleep patterns change forever and they often start to wake at the end of sleep cycles).  This is also the time when babies become more alert and aware, begin to wean from the swaddle or pacifier and when the calming reflexes of the 4th trimester disappear.  The loss of these sleep props - and the ongoing changes to a baby's brain - can send them into a tailspin of bad sleep. However, using white noise throughout this time can really help provide consistency to your baby’s bedtime and nap time routine.  It's role is crucial in helping cue your baby that it’s now time to calm down and sleep - even with their developmental leaps and changes. And it's for this reason, because developmental leaps and shifts happen frequently throughout the first year, that I recommend using white noise at least until your baby’s first birthday (and longer, if you choose!).

2. Using the wrong white noise
Surprisingly, not all white noises are made equally. There are actually two distinct kinds of white noise – high pitch and low pitch – and they can be used for two very different reasons with your baby. High pitch white noise is more harsh – think sirens, alarms, beeps.   They’re actually great for getting a baby/child’s attention but terrible for sleep (obviously!). Low-pitched white noise is repetitive, calm and rather trance-like…and perfect for lulling us to sleep.
Reading this, you may think that it seems obvious that you would use a low pitched white noise for sleep, but often even that is not quite enough to make the biggest difference.  For instance, many families will try to recreate the womb by using the heartbeat sound but that is actually not what researchers think a baby hears in the womb. Instead, it’s more like a constant deep whooshing noise (for reference, it's the level you would hear if you put your head under the water in a tub with the faucet running).  So, a continuous noise that sounds more like the deep continuous noise of the womb (like rain or a hairdryer) is actually much more effective at replicating the womb than ocean waves or nature sounds (or other sounds that mimic patterns like a heartbeat). And even then, you may still need to play around a bit in order to determine WHICH continuous noise YOUR baby prefers (rain, hairdryer, vacuum, etc).

3. Using the wrong volume level
For sleep, the recommendation is to keep the decibel level below 50 - and I would recommend keeping the white noise machine at least 6-7 feet away from your baby throughout the night.  But, as I’ve said, there are several other ways to use white noise with your baby. For instance, in order to be effective in soothing crying, white noise needs to mimic the sound level of your baby’s wails.  As we all know – that can be quite loud! A baby’s cries have actually shown to be above 100dB (for reference, a loud hair dryer is around 90dB). Thankfully for us parents, we will instinctively “shhh” a crying baby to match their level of crying and soothe them.
In fact, the most effective way to use white noise is to boost the volume levels based on your baby’s crying.  For instance, if your baby is upset or fussy because of teething, illness or sleep coaching, then you'll want to start at a higher volume at first. Then, once your baby is asleep, you can lower the volume to about 50dB (typically a 4 or 5 on a scale of 10) for the remainder of the night, which again is the level guidelines in place in the NICU.  

4. Not using white noise often enough
Some parents are comfortable using the white noise overnight but don’t realize all of the other magical qualities it possesses.  I actually love to use it to soothe crying as well. For a colicky baby, using white noise in the background during crying periods - like the dreaded witching hour - can actually help soothe and stop the crying (especially when coupled with swaddling, swinging and sucking).  This is also true for babies who can’t stand long car rides and cry the entire time (I used to play white noise in the car to get my babies to sleep on long car rides - and it still works for my 4 year old!). And finally, for curious babies who can’t get through a feeding without becoming distracted, white noise is the perfect calming device.  In each of these scenarios, white noise can help to soothe and calm your baby.

Ok, so there you have it.  If you use the right decibel level for the situation and use it in the right scenarios, there are just SO many ways that white noise can complement your calming techniques and lead to better sleep for your baby - and you!  And now that you have the knowledge to do just that, I hope you feel more empowered to go give it a try...starting tonight! :)  

Links to my favorite white noise machines:

*As part of Amazon associates, I *may* receive a small commission if your purchase from this link.*

For reference: 

<![CDATA[How to know if your baby is ready for sleep coaching]]>Sun, 23 Dec 2018 14:00:00 GMThttp://mommy-sos.com/podcast/how-to-know-if-your-baby-is-ready-for-sleep-coaching
Hey guys, welcome back! A member of the Mommy SOS Sisterhood prompted today’s episode when she was trying to figure out how she would know if her baby was ready for sleep coaching.  I thought this was such a great topic to discuss because it’s a question I hear often. And for good reason, figuring out if your baby is ready for sleep coaching and determining when the best time to tackle it is a multi-step process.  Join me as we talk about all of the things you want to consider when trying to choose the best time for your baby or toddler.
<![CDATA[Episode 4 - Conflict Resolution 101 - How to Fight Fair for New Parents]]>Sun, 16 Dec 2018 13:00:00 GMThttp://mommy-sos.com/podcast/episode-4-conflict-resolution-101-how-to-fight-fair-for-new-parents
In this episode, we're discussing about conflict resolution.  It’s well known that marriage is full of ups and downs, but the intensity of the downs after a new baby arrives often comes as a surprise to new parents.  I know it did for me! 
Our experience is not a novel one though.  Over the years, I’ve polled my friends and family, completed trainings on relationships and communication, reviewed the academic research and worked with many families to help them with exactly this issue. In fact, it’s pretty widely accepted that the first few years of parenthood are some of the most challenging of years for marriage -with marital satisfaction dropping to an all time low in the year after the first child is born.  It makes sense - everyone - no matter the particulars of the situation -is exhausted, stressed, and pulled way too thin.  

During this time, it is common – and completely natural - for couples to fight more frequently.  As I mentioned in episode 2, the sleep deprivation that often comes with a new baby tends to lead to more conflict and less ability to resolve that conflict in a healthy way.  And, starting a family or adding a new baby comes with new identities, new family roles, and shifting relationship responsibilities. Each of these needs to be processed and adapted to - ideally together. Add in the sleep deprivation, healing from childbirth, and lack of sex...and it can all feel overwhelming, desperate and so frustrating....almost as though you and your marriage are falling apart at the seams. 

But all is not lost. When approached in a healthy - and head on way, the ensuing conflict and disagreements can actually work in your favor.  Of course, all couples fight. But happy couples have a way of embracing their conflict and everyday disagreements instead of pushing them aside.  They often use fights as an opportunity to work together, to find a solution and to move forward - while also maintaining respect for each other. They are a team.  An approach and pattern that leads to a major strengthening in their marriage over time. 

This type of approach to disagreements is not out of your reach either - no matter how much it may feel that way.  It’s actually a quite simple formula and a few easy steps can alter your marriage and the ability to resolve conflict peacefully with your partner - forever. I’m going to walk you through the ultimate game plan to tackle the disagreements  - and to maximize your marriage’s potential:

Set a time and place for discussion
Ok, so first - when something comes up you want to set a time and a place for discussion with your partner. . With a baby or small children around, it can be hard to find time to talk things over, but whisper yelling over a sleeping baby after a long day isn’t going to benefit any of you.  Trust me, I’ve tried. When a conflict arises or you start to notice yourself feeling a certain way, hit pause and schedule a time and place when you can both be fully present. When the time arrives, and if you’re not completely on edge, pour a glass of wine or hot tea and take a moment to reconnect before beginning the conversation. 

Define the problem
Once you’ve found the time to sit down and talk, then you’ll want to clearly identify and define the problem. What is going on?  Be as specific and concrete as possible. Take a moment for both of you to share your opinion about whatever it is. For instance, let’s say you are exhausted and feel like you’re taking the brunt of the overnight work with your new baby. Express this frustration by using concrete examples.  Did you ask for help one night and it wasn’t given? Or, do you feel as though you can’t ask for help? Explore your thoughts in detail. Then, give your partner your full attention and listen as he or she talks through their side of the story. 

Next, Discuss how each of you contribute to the issue
Work together to determine how each of you may be contributing to the issue. Let’s take the example from before and assume that you’re frustrated with handling all of the night wakings on your own. Your role could be that you haven’t made your needs clear or aren’t asking for help. Or, it could be that you’ve been reluctant to let others care for the baby or to introduce a bottle, so you're left having to be the one who feeds the baby.  Brainstorm each of your roles and how you have contributed to the issue together. Keep it current. Throughout this step it’s important to stay in the moment, focus on just the one particular issue you’re discussing and do your best to not get defensive. It’s way too easy to do, but it will get you nowhere! Remember that each partner has a role in every conflict. It’s important to reflect honestly about what yours is in order to find a solution that works best for you and your family. 

Identify 5 possible solutions
Identify 5 possible solutions.  Ok, so once it’s all out on the table then next you’re going to Brainstorm together and identify several possible solutions that you can discuss further.  It’s important not to give this too much thought just yet. You want to think of all possible solutions - even seemingly crazy ideas that may not work at all.  Try not to judge your partners ideas either. You want it all out there. So again, following the example from before, if you are exhausted and frustrated that you’re handling all of the night wakings on your own and you’re nursing, then you could start to introduce your baby to a bottle so your partner could take over one of the feedings.  Or, you could take turns with your partner so that you each get a full night of sleep a few times a week. It’s important to be open and non-judgmental during this phase. Identify as many solutions as possible so that you can discuss each one together. 

Discuss each solution idea
Ok, so now that you’ve developed multiple possible solutions, it’s time to review each one together. Go down the list and take turns expressing your opinion about each and every solution. Listen to your partner and encourage them to really listen to you.  Sometimes the idea you thought was crazy is actually worth a shot. Again, it’s super important to try to be as objective as possible but you also want to discuss how each one may or may not be effective in helping alleviate the identified problem. 

Choose your solution together
Finally, it’s time to choose your solution together.  Once you’ve taken the time to thoroughly discuss each possibility, it may be obvious which one will work best for you as a family.  If not, start by eliminating ones that you both agree will not work and then continue to discuss the remaining options until you’ve compromised and agreed on one solution to try.  If you are stuck, remember that it doesn’t have to be the only solution - and that there will be time to re-evaluate later. 

Which brings me to - Set time and date for re-evaluation
Everything in marriage and parenthood is fluid.  Acknowledging this upfront makes it easier to continue the conversation and prevent additional issues from arising down the line.  Just like with children, what works today may not work tomorrow. So make sure that you set a time and place in the future to meet again and re-evaluate if the solution you have chosen is still working for your family.  Many couples I’ve worked with will agree to bi-weekly or monthly “family meetings” in order to keep the lines of communication open.

Using these simple steps will help set your marriage up to tackle anything - big or small - that comes your way.  Make sure you print out your own PDF version of the guide (linked below) so you can share easily with your partner and always have it ready when you need it.  
Download PDF

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 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.