5 Common Baby Sleep Myths

5 Common Baby Sleep Myths

We asked a local sleep expert for some tips and info about getting babies to sleep at night!

Katie Kuncho owns Katie Ks Sleep Consulting, and lives here in Jacksonville with her husband Rodney and son, Owen.

I have experienced first hand how tricky sleep can be for a new baby.  While experiencing sleep troubles with my son, I went on a mission to find out how to help him. What I found is that there are ways to help your child learn independent sleep skills without feeling mom guilt.  Once I understood what was happening, I felt guilty for not helping him sooner!  Watching Owen’s transition and how it has changed our lives is what has led me on the journey of helping other families get the quality sleep that they deserve. I am passionate about helping families because I know how important sleep is to both baby and parents health.  It’s a necessity. Not a luxury. 

There’s no such thing as a casual mom. This gig is full-time, no matter if you’re a stay-at-home-mom, a working mom, or somewhere in between. Your kids are on your mind 24/7, no matter what else might be going on, so we tend to do a lot of research, and with access to unlimited data via the internet, Barnes & Noble, or your mother-in-law, (the latter having the most to say, by a mile) it’s inevitable that we get some conflicting information. Sometimes it’s even hard to sort out the opinions verses the facts. So today, I want to focus on my area of expertise, that being sleep, and try to dispel some of the more popular myths I’ve seen in parenting forums, heard from Mom groups I’ve talked with, or even heard from a well- intentioned family member or friend. 

1. Sleeping too much during the day will keep baby up at night. 
 Not likely, except in extreme cases. Unless your little one is sleeping practically all day and up all night, you probably don’t need to concern yourself with the length of their naps. Newborns especially need a ton of sleep. In fact, up until about 6 months, I don’t recommend that your little one be awake for more than about 2 – 2 1/2 hours at a time. For newborns, that number is more like 45 minutes to an hour. 

What keeps babies awake at night, more than anything else, is overtiredness. You might think that an exhausted baby is more likely to sack out for a full night than one who slept all day, but it’s actually just the opposite. The reason we refer to it as being “overtired” is because baby has missed the “tired” phase and their bodies start to kick back into gear, which keeps them from falling and staying asleep. A baby who has gotten a decent amount of sleep during the day is far less likely to miss the sleep window.

There are substantial variations depending on baby’s age and the length of their naps, but up to that 6 month mark, it’s really not uncommon for baby to be sleeping around 5 hours a day outside of nighttime sleep, so if your little one is still within those guidelines, let them snooze.  Bottom line is sleep begets sleep, the better baby naps during the day, the better they will sleep at night.

2. Sleeping is a natural development and can’t be taught. Sleeping is natural, absolutely. Everybody wakes up and falls back to sleep multiple times a night, regardless of their age. So no, you can’t teach a child to be sleepy. What can be taught, however, is the ability to fall back to sleep independently.

The typical “bad sleeper” of a baby isn’t less in need of sleep, or more prone to waking up. They’ve just learned to depend on outside assistance to get back to sleep when they wake up. Once your little one has figured out how to get to sleep without assistance from outside sources, they start stringing those sleep cycles together absolutely effortlessly, and that’s the secret to “sleeping through the night” as most parents understand it.

3. Babies will naturally dictate their own sleep schedule. The idea that infant physiology is so flawlessly, naturally programmed to regulate a baby’s schedule is, to be blunt, laughable. Nothing against Mother Nature, but she doesn’t provide us with a ready-to-run baby. Our babies need extensive care and help in their development, and their sleep cycles are unbelievably erratic if left unregulated. If they miss their natural sleep cycle by as little as a half hour, their cortisol production can increase which causes a surge in energy, and things quickly spiral out of control.

So as much as I wish babies could just fall asleep when they’re tired, it simply doesn’t work that way. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t respond to their cues, but you shouldn’t rely exclusively on them either.

4. Sleep training is stressful for the baby and can affect the parent-child attachment. Nope. And this isn’t just me talking here. This is the American Academy of Pediatrics. If there’s a more reliable source of baby health information, they’re astoundingly bad at marketing themselves. And according to a 2016 study* conducted by eight of their top researchers, behavioral intervention, (A.K.A Sleep training) “provide(s) significant sleep benefits above control, yet convey(s) no adverse stress responses or long-term effects on parent-child attachment or child emotions and behavior.” Not a whole lot of gray area there.

5. Babies are not “designed” to sleep through the night. Trusting your child’s physiology to dictate their sleep schedule, their eating habits, their behavior, or just about any other aspect of their upbringing is a recipe for disaster.

Is your toddler designed to eat three pounds of gummi bears? Surely not. Will they if you don’t intervene? Without a doubt. Is your baby designed to avoid predators? If so, nobody told my little one, who would have happily hugged a hungry Siberian tiger if it approached him. (He might still, I don’t know. It’s never come up.) Our little ones need our expertise and authority to guide them through their early years, and probably will for decades after that. This is especially true when it comes to their sleep.

Some babies are naturally gifted sleepers, for sure, but don’t rely on the advice of those who tell you that babies should dictate their schedules. You’re in charge because you know best, even if it may not feel like it sometimes.

There are obviously plenty more myths and misconceptions surrounding babies and their sleep habits, but these are some of the most important to get the facts on. Remember, there are endless posts on social media and websites that portray themselves as factual, but there’s nothing stopping them from making that claim, regardless of their accuracy or basis in actual scientific evidence.

Google scholar is a great place to find peer-reviewed scientific study on all things baby-related, and trusted sources like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institutes of Health, Britain’s National Health Service, Canada’s Hospital for Sick Children, the World Health Organization, and other national children’s health organizations are excellent sources of information you can feel confident about using to answer questions about your baby’s health.

And if you want more information about the benefits of sleep, I’m willing to chat!

Contact Katie:

info@katieksleepconsulting.com

904-595-7333

https://www.katieksleepconsulting.com

*https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2016/05/21/peds.2015-1486

Photographs by Christy Whitehead Photography, newborn photography studio in Jacksonville, Florida.

3+ Tips to Improve your Workspace and Posture While Working at Home

Tips to improve your workspace and posture at home, by Dr Cristina Padilla, Chiropractor, Owner at Thrive Family Chiropractic, a house call chiropractic practice serving the NE Florida region.

Are you one of the thousands of employees or business owners who has been forced to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic? Chances are, you never thought this would be a long-term practice you needed to adapt and prepare for, right? I certainly wasn’t.

Most of us don’t have a dedicated office in our homes, because we never had to work from home for longer than a few hours here and there or maybe just to meet a deadline or project occasionally. Personally, I have been spending a lot of extra hours on Zoom calls and meetings as well as helping patients virtually. And my back and neck are feeling it. The irony of being  a Chiropractor …? I can’t adjust myself!

The most common complaints I have been getting from practice members these last few weeks have been: increase in headaches, neck and low back pain and stiffness. Why? They are working out of their couch, bed, dining room table, kitchen counter. They don’t have their nice and comfortable desk chairs and their workstations at home are less than ideal. Not only is this physically a problem, but ask your significant other to take a photo of what you look like while “in the zone”, working from home? Chances are you are hunched forward, your chair doesn’t have any back support and you are looking down way more than you should.

Not only is posture affected by these “new workspaces” but these changes in ergonomics can also lead to increase in headaches, trouble focusing and decrease in physical activity, all damaging to your body and health.

So here are a few tips to help improve your workstation and relieve some of the tension in your spine. As always, a visit to the Chiropractor (virtual if you would like) is highly encouraged to provide you with a long term plan to improve posture and overall health.

  1. Couches are for slouchers. Yes. I know. But someone had to tell you! Couches are made for comfort, not with good posture in mind. Most of them are soft and deep and they do nothing good for your spine when you are on episode 4 of Tiger King or at the Monday morning team meeting (wearing sweatpants …isn’t it wonderful!?)


In the absence of a desk chair, the ideal would be an inflatable exercise ball (this is the one I got, with a base and even workout bands! *non paid advertising* https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CTLNYVV/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 )

Another option is a sturdy chair, like a dining room chair, that has padding for you to sit on. For this, you may want to use a decorative pillow to support your low back or order a lumbar support pillow online. These are pretty inexpensive.

The bed and couch are the worst options because not only do they not provide good support, you have no way of keeping your workstation at eye level (more on this below) unless you have a portable desk that props up to keep your screen and devices at eye level as well as your keyboard and/or mouse as close to your body as possible.

  • Movement is life. Movement is important to increase bloodflow to your arms, legs and to get your heart rate up throughout the day. While there are a number of gyms and personal trainers providing free or inexpensive online workouts (North Jax Crossfit is my go to!), a lot of people may not be as inclined to exercise at home, because they don’t have equipment, they get lazy, they don’t have a partner to workout with … you name it, I’ve done it.

Two things that have worked well for me:

First, set up a simple workout station in an area that I tend to walk by a lot. I recently decided to put a yoga mat in my bedroom and I have been following a challenge in April of doing 50 burpees a day (I’m gonna be super honest…it’s not happening every day. But it’s happening a lot more than before – and it only really takes a few minutes! If you try it, post on social media and tag me @jaxmobilechiropractor )

Secondly, set up a timer for 5 minutes an hour of stretching and movement. Whether it is walking a few laps around the house, doing a few Sun Salutations (great stretch and easy to do!) or to do a few squats and jumping jacks – there is a lot of research supporting these can help boost your energy and give you focus! 

  • Water challenge. While you are up, go get a water refill. I try to use the largest glass or tumbler I have and every time I complete a task, a video call or the end of the hour, I make a point to finish my water and pour some more. Remember, you should be drinking half your body weight in ounces of water a day – more if you are an avid coffee drinker like me. For every cup of coffee, add one cup of water! Make your water fun – berries, lime, lemons, oranges, cucumbers are refreshing ways to make water fun!!! I am currently obsessed with Arbonne’s Hydration tea (chamomile and other herbs, no caffeine!). Email me if you would like some samples!

I hope these tips are easy for you to implement to your daily routine. I have created a short exercise and stretching program specific to reverse the long hours of sitting at a desk, along with an article from Physitrack that exapands on how to evaluate if your workspace is ideal for you and your posture.

If you would like a digital copy of these or to schedule a complimentary ergonomic evaluation, please email thrivefamilychiro@yahoo.com or contact me via Facebook or Instagram at @jaxmobilechiropractor . Let’s Thrive!

Jax Thrive Mobile Chiropractor Corporate photography

Three fun, easy, and educational rhythm activities to do with your kids during a quarantine

Three fun, easy, and educational rhythm activities to do with your kids during quarantine

By Alisha Ramcharitar, Owner/Founder, Just Add Rhythm LLC

Developing any kind of schedule during this quarantine can be tough.  Parents have to multi-task like never before – handle the household, home school, work remotely, and somehow safely get groceries.

How can you keep the kids entertained during those long stretches at home?

Here, we give you three simple ideas for your kids to access the fun and benefits of rhythm from home – no instruments required.

BYO Drum

Recently, I hosted a Quarantine Songs Jam Session for families on Facebook Live.  Beforehand, I invited all participants to find items around their house they could use as instruments – Tupperware containers, pencils/pens, pots/pans, salt and pepper shakers…you get the idea.  Invite your kids to get creative, and don’t be afraid to join them! Schedule a family fun evening where everyone BYO’s their most creative idea to the jam session.  Play along to our Facebook Live session:

Quarantine songs jam!

Posted by Just Add Rhythm LLC on Thursday, April 2, 2020

Or you can find your own quarantine playlist.

Secret Song

Next, let’s try a game.  This is a crowd pleaser during our in-person sessions for all ages, and it’s super simple.  One person plays a short excerpt of a song on their “drum,” and everyone else has to guess what it is.  The obvious challenge is that because you’re only hearing the rhythm and not the melody, it’s harder to guess the song correctly. 

Of course, we encourage everyone to pick songs that most people will be familiar with (like nursery rhyme songs, Christmas or holiday songs, patriotic songs, etc.).  The example I usually give when I demonstrate is the Happy Birthday song (aren’t we all sick of singing that while we wash our hands).

Check out this Spotify playlist of songs almost everyone knows the words to (just be sure to check which few songs are explicit if you choose to play the recording) for some pop-inspired ideas.

Part of the fun is trying to figure out how to actually play the song on your instrument.  Once someone guesses it, you can all try to play it together – and have a laugh if you mess up!

Rhythmic Breathing

Finally, being stuck at home and dealing with this quarantine can be stressful.  Your kids might feel anxiety or worry about the health and safety of themselves, their family, their friends.  They might be wondering when it will end, and when they can go back to school, back to their usual activities.  Or, they (and you!) might just need a mental break.

We can help them manage some of that stress or anxiety with a rhythmic breathing exercise called the Stopwatch Technique.  Percussionist Jim Donovan (formerly of the band Rusted Root) leads transformational rhythm programs to empower people to use sound to improve their health.  He developed this simple technique that aligns slow, deep breathing with light rhythmic tapping on your lap.  Follow along with Jim’s video here:

We’re all in this together

Did you find these activities fun and helpful?  Drop a line on Facebook to let us know how the kids enjoyed them, and be sure to follow us.

You can also find us here:

Instagram

YouTube

We’re all in this together.  Please reach out to us if we can offer you any additional resources, exercises, or techniques to try!  Rhythm is fun, and it’s also been proven to help improve our mental, physical, and emotional health.  Let’s get drumming!

Contact us (https://justaddrhythmnow.com/contact-us/)

Alisha Ramcharitar, M.A. is a global bridge between West African culture and corporate and community wellness.  The Founder of Just Add Rhythm, she leads interactive, innovative programs in the Jacksonville area and throughout Florida.  Alisha is a REMO endorsed and HealthRHYTHMS® trained facilitator. She and her husband are the proud parents of an energetic baby boy and an even more rambunctious Goldendoodle.  She’d like to think she’s as good a ukulele player as Zooey Deschanel.