Sleep Training 101: Finding a qualified sleep consultant

Lets take it back to September 2015…

I was a new mom, with 6 month old twin girls. Having twins in itself will normally present some newborn sleep challenges … one waking the other being the most common. But I found myself exhausted and frustrated with TWO newborns that just. wouldn’t. sleep.

We had seen a specialist pediatrician to rule out the common causes: silent re-flux, prolonged colic (yes, that’s a thing), throat and ear infections, or any other medical condition that could be hampering their sleep.

We had established a solid bed time routine, we ensured they were not overstimulated, overtired, overfed or hungry at the time of going to bed.

We ensured the room  temperature was optimal and we made sure the crib was comfortable and safe. So why were our girls not sleeping?!

After one particularly harrowing night of being up literally every 30 minutes between the two of them, I got on the phone to a sleep consultant who had been recommended by a friend.

I have no idea what I was expecting from that call…but I’m SO GLAD I called!

Our sleep consultant made an Skype appointment with myself and my husband (we were both in this together!). Be wary of those that work with one parent individually, as sleep training really needs a collaborative effort from all those involved with the child’s sleeping schedule to ensure consistency.

Before that appointment, I needed to fill out a detailed questionnaire with information regarding each of the girls. A separate one for each twin as the approach would be tailored for them specifically.  The questionnaire covered everything from day and night routines, eating habits, family dynamics,  medical background, growth and development milestones,  environmental factors, and sensory environment. The questionnaire also covered the child’s specific personality traits and temperament. There was some miscellaneous information I had to provide regarding favorite toys and foods, and our methods of play etc…

I also had to include some information on what sleep training methods (if any) I had tried before, and what I expected from our forthcoming consultation. (“To sleep, duh” – was apparently not an appropriate answer)

The questionnaire was very, very detailed to the point of exhaustive! But I truly do believe that a great sleep consultant will ensure she gathers the utmost information she can about your particular child to ensure that the approach she uses is tailored to your child. Sleep training is definitely not a one-size-fits-all technique.

One particularly important piece of information I also had to provide prior to our actual consultation was the level of Cry It Out (CIO) I would be comfortable with. On a sliding scale, I chose ‘minimum crying without intervention” (the lowest level of CIO acceptance).

I think what scares many moms away from sleep training is the fear of CIO. And rightly so. It is gut-wrenching to imagine leaving your child to scream in distress for extended periods of time without intervening. I truly believe that a qualified sleep consultant will recognize a parent’s aversion to extended CIO and will be willing and able to work within your comfort levels to achieve a successful result in your quest to get your child to sleep better.

With all the information we provided in the questionnaires, our sleep consultant came up with a detailed and specific plan for each twin which we then discussed in our Skype call consultation. We used a holistic approach, taking into account all factors contributing to poor sleep and looking to alleviate them without too much disruption of her current routine.

She established a sensory profile for each of our children as well as an in-depth sleep prognosis. She gave us a plan which we were to implement that same night, and the take home message of the entire meetings was: CONSISTENCY.

She stressed how important consistency was in getting a child to sleep well, and how any lack of consistently on our part would cause setbacks for our goal of getting the twins to sleep well.

One of the very best advantages to having a sleep consultant working with us directly, was the benefit of having someone available on the phone when things got tough. She may not have been available 24/7, but there wasn’t a single text or Whatsapp message that went more than a few hours without being answered. And perhaps most crucially, on those first few nights, when I felt like giving up…she was on the phone with me, talking me through the plan and helping me brave it out.

I’m happy to say that we learnt SO much about healthy infant and toddler sleep from our consultant. We know now just how important a sound night’s sleep is for their development and growth, and I know the basic concepts of ensuring a good night’s sleep. I understand the do’s and dont’s of getting a feisty toddler to bed each night and that consistency is key.

I know that many families are struggling with sleepless nights, but are totally against the idea of sleep training due to the misconception that sleep training automatically means extended CIO.

However, a good sleep consultant will and should be able to work within the framework of what you find comfortable in regards to CIO. After all, there isn’t anyone who knows your child better than you, so you’d be in the best position to determine this.

A good sleep consultant will ensure she has all the relevant background information prior to formulating a sleep plan for your child.

A good sleep consultant will develop a sleep plan that is tailor made specifically to your little one, taking into account the child’s routine, personality and family dynamics, among other things.

A good sleep consultant will ensure that anyone and everyone who is involved with the child’s sleep routine, participates in the sleep training consult…to ensure consistency for the child.

A good sleep consultant will provide step by step support through the implementation of the sleep training plan.

Going the sleep training route was the best decision we made for our family. Giving our children the gift of sleep, has done wonders for the entire family’s well being.

The basic principles we learnt during the training process will stay with us for life and help us through all the little sleep regressions we encounter along the way.

Advertisements

Easy Peasy Dinner Cups

The Twincesses aren’t the easiest when it comes to mealtimes. They could have a favorite this week which they hate the next. And very frequently, one of them will like something while the other loathes it.

So as you can imagine dinner times are normally fraught with stress. I try to come up with imaginative ideas that encompass relatively healthy ingredients. Not as easy as it sounds when you work full time and have twins who could happily eat dry pasta all day, everyday.

I remember my mom used to make us scrambled egg cups when we were little. I loved it!!! So I tried a variation of it one day, and it was a hit!

So I’d like to share with you the quick and easy recipe for dinner cups with my secret ingredient!

What’s great about this dish (apart from the fact that its easy and quick to make), is that you can use any combination of ingredients you have in the fridge. Great to use up leftovers and super easy to hide veggies inside.

To make these easy dinner cups you’ll need:

– sliced bread (1 slice for each ‘cup’)

– eggs (roughly 1 egg for every 2 cups)

– any other ingredients your child fancies

(I normally use bacon or ham, cheese and sweet corn). Tuna, peppers, chopped tomatoes, chicken cubes or feta also work well.

Method:

-Preheat oven to 180 degrees and grease a muffin pan for the required number of cups.

– Cut off the crusts on a slice of bread and use a rolling pin to flatten it.

– Fold the flattened bread into the muffin pan so that it forms a sort of ‘bowl’ for your fillings.

– Beat the eggs and add the desired precooked ingredients.

– Spoon egg mixture into cups and bake for approx 10 Minutes until eggs are cooked through.

I always add a few spoons of Woolies butternut mash. I have written a separate post about the sheer versatility of the Woolies mashed veggie range… it’s just brilliant to add a healthy dose of the good stuff to your kids meals with them being none the wiser! I add a few spoons to pasta, pies, stews, eggs… just about anything really.

img_7957.jpg

The Twincesses love their dinner cups, and I try to mix it up with different fillings every now and then to ensure they don’t get bored.

Hopefully if you try it, it will be just as big a hit in your household!

A memorable train trip on The Holiday Express

These past holidays we took the Twincesses on their very first train ride.

The Holiday Express is in the business of creating memorable train trips for families to some awesome sites in KZN.

They operate all year round, and offer trips to Shongweni (with a visit to the famed Shongweni Farmers Market included), and Scottburgh.

Special festive train rides also included trips to Sugar Rush Park on the north coast and a trip to Pietermaritzburg.

Trips for special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are also in the pipeline and I’m sure spaces will fill up quickly.

Our trip began with a 7am registration at the comfort of the Premier Lounge in Durban Station. There was safe, secure parking located right at the entrance to the Lounge for a mere R10 per day.

The Twincess were thoroughly excited about their first train ride, so everything felt like a big adventure.

Angela and her team greet you warmly at the registration desk and we were soon led by the enthusiastic team to the train platform. The train was comfortable with leather seats and we secured a family table which allowed us to fully relax. We packed some snacks and breakfast items for the girls although light refreshments and drinks are available to purchase on the train.

The train took off promptly at 8am much to the delight of the girls… and we had so much fun on board!

I packed some colour-in books and puzzles for the journey to keep the girls from getting bored… although they didn’t seem to tire of looking out the huge windows at the scenery whizzing past

The highlight for me was definitely the Shongweni market! It was full of amazing crafts and delicious food stalls! I could have happily spent all day walking amongst the diverse displays, and letting the Twincesses play with the giant soap bubbles.

We left the market for the short bus ride back to the train and the girls promptly fell asleep in their seats, exhausted from excitement and play.

We reached Durban around 1pm, giving us plenty of time to enjoy a relaxing afternoon at home.

All in all: I would highly recommend the Holiday Express train trips for families, young and old! It’s something different, it’s safe, clean and thoroughly enjoyable.

Tickets are R200 for children and R250 for adults. But we purchased a family combo ticket at R800 for 2 adults and 2 children.

Find info and upcoming dates here: http://www.theholidayexpress.co.za

Jeronimo Kinetic Space Sand Kit

Rainy days are here again… and whilst our drought-stricken country welcomes the showers, moms all over are looking for ways to keep their little ones entertained indoors. (Especially as the school’s are closed).

One of the Twincesses favorite pastimes is playing in their sandpit outside. However the rain prevents them from enjoying this activity.

That’s where the Jeronimo Kinetic Space Sand kit comes in!

The kit consists of:

– 2kg Kinetic sand (color of choice)

– 12 sand mounds

– 1 Spade

– Inflatable tray

– Handy storage container

Kinetic sand is cleverly marketed as “98% sand and 2% magic”

The magic is provided by the addition of 2 percent polydimethylsiloxan that causes kinetic sand to mimic the properties of wet sand without the accompanying mess.

In fact, while it sticks so well to itself it doesn’t stick to most surfaces, which means a super easy clean up process and no messy hands!

Its safe, stain-free and never dries out. It’s perfect for sensory development play.

The Jeronimo Kinetic Space Sand Kit provides the Twincesses with hours of safe, stimulating indoor play.

The kit can be purchased from Takealot or other major online retailers.

25 Daily Thoughts a Mom of a Toddler might have.

  1. So much to do, so little time
  1. Why won’t she eat her cereal? She loved it yesterday! Why? Why? WHY?
  1. Her laugh makes my heart sing.
  1. Why is she being a little monster today?
  1. My kid is SO smart. Smarter than most kids I know.
  1. Got her to nap for more than 45 minutes! Score! I’m really good at mommying!
  1. Why can’t she just play quietly by herself for a few minutes? I just need 5 minutes. Is that so much to ask for?
  1. Orange juice counts as a serving of fruit. Right?
  1. Her smile could stop traffic.
  1. Being a mom is SO hard. I can’t do this. I just can’t.
  1. My coffee is cold. Again.

Toddler Mom thoughts12. She won’t eat her lunch, but wants more Flings. Typical.

13. I love her SO MUCH.

14. Why won’t she stop crying?

15. She’s getting so big. It’s going too fast. 16. How can a tiny human create so much laundry!?

17. I need to get her to eat more veggies.

18. And I thought the new-born stage was hard!

19. When last did I eat something?

20. I can’t wait until she’s older and I’ll be her best friend.

21. If I have to sing the Barney tune one more time, I might die.

22. Who knew that strawberries and chicken could be eaten together?

23. I hope I get more than 4 hours of sleep tonight.

24. Is it too early for wine?

25. How did I get this lucky?