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Brittney Stefanic: Helping Your Child Sleep

Brittney Stefanic is a sleep consultant. Her hobby is sleeping, and she makes sure to get enough of it for herself and the families she works with. A good night's sleep is possible, even as a mom! Show Notes: Chanelle: Hello and welcomed to the moms who know podcast, I’m your host Chanelle Neilson and my guest today is Brittney Stefanic. This is going to be good because Brittney is a mother of one little guy, was a high school teach turned sleep consultant. I like my sleep. Having babies, that was the hardest thing- not getting enough sleep How did you do with a newborn and sleepless nights?   Brittney: It’s nothing you can prepare for. We thought we were going to cope and night after night you watch the clock and there’s not enough going on on Facebook to get you through the night. It’s a tricky thing, but the good news is it doesn’t have to be   Chanelle: If you’re sleep deprived, that’s all you want is sleep. Tell us more about you and why you became a sleep consultant   Brittney: After we had our son, I was at his checkup. Our pediatrician asked how his sleep was going. And I broke down and was lucky she didn’t push it off. She encouraged me to go home and read and learn the skills to teach him. Went home and started reading and came across the sleep sense program. T his left like a great fit for us. We implemented it and saw immediate progress and I couldn’t help telling family and friends. I quickly realized that I started talking about sleep a lot and took it as a sign that it might be more than just my favorite hobby.   Chanelle: that’s a great hobby!   Brittney: A few months later the opportunity came up for me to join the sleep sense program.   Chanelle: Tell us about the training     Brittney: I looked into the options and realized that it would be a good fit for me. I flew down to Florida and was trained by Dana Obleman, the author of the program. Spent time learning the ins and outs of pediatric sleep   Chanelle: I know of Dana Obleman because when we had our fifth baby, that’s who I turned to to help with sleep issues. Sleep almost seems so intuitive, why would we need help, but we do! There are so many questions that come up. It’s helpful to have a sleep consultant. When my daughter was a baby we didn’t know about this kind of thing. It’s cool that that’s out there now. Let’s talk about some of the problems with babies.   Brittney: Baby age range is from 3 months to 2 years old. The most common pitfall is overtiredness. They’re keeping the little one up too long, and as a result of that overtiredness, it makes the next sleep that much harder. With overtiredness, the best thing that I can recommend is watch for cues: yawing, rubbing eyes, etc. Encourage a nap before they get too tired.   Chanelle: My baby gets still and stares into space. It’s more subtle and it can be hard to catch. Overtiredness, I can see how that would be such a problem. Tell us about newborns.   Brittney: for most newborns, the biggest issue is daytime/ nighttime confusion.   Chanelle: I had one that was really bad. Our first son thought day was night and night was day and it was torture   Brittney: this confusion looks like longer stretches of sleep throughout the day, and catnaps at night. That is frustrating as a parent. Their circadian rhythm hasn’t gotten adjusted. The easiest way to fix this is to expose them to natural light. Open the blinds, etc. Do the opposite at night, so that we can help baby in learning separation of days and nights.   Chanelle: Do parents resist this idea of getting more light?   Brittney: there’s nothing wrong with staying inside and getting more light. There are ways to get exposed to light without leaving the house. Or even a drive in the car while the sun is shining can be helpful   Chanelle: for parents who are resistant, you can get used to it. I have question. I’ve heard that circadian rhythm gets off because when you’re active during the day,   Brittney: you lull the baby to sleep in the womb, and when you’re sleeping, they are more active, so it is an in utero transition.   Chanelle: talk to me about toddlers   Brittney: for any moms with toddlers at home, you know that come bedtime, they will make any excuse! Some of them are hilarious. Toddlers at bedtime come up with a lot of excuses; that’s a really common issue. Be consistent. Toddlers want to push boundaries, but they really want rules and expectations. That can make bedtime shorter and cut out some of those excuses.   Chanelle: I just want to point out something you said. Toddlers want to push boundaries but what they really want is to find out where those boundaries are. When we give them that stability , they feel more safe and they feel more secure. Even though we can feel mean, it’s important to know that its good for them.   Brittney: I couldn’t agree more.   Chanelle: let’s talk about common parent mistakes. False assumptions about sleep, etc.   Brittney: I’ll start with this one: my baby is just a bad sleeper. I try to educate families, but that kiddo just hasn’t learned the skills yet that they need. Sleep is a skill. It isn’t because they can’t, it’s because they don’t know how   Chanelle: but are there bad sleepers?   Brittney: there are very rarely things that would get in the way of sleep, for example, sleep apnea. In most cases, a skill needs to be learned and habits need to be broken.   Chanelle: that’s good because it gives us hope. That belief that my baby is just a bad sleeper makes us feel like there’s nothing we can do. When you change that it’s a lot more hopeful: there’s sleep in the future. What else do you hear from parents   Brittney: back to mindset. I hear my baby is never going to sleep through the night. I like to encourage families to say “yet.” Using that word really changes the mindset for parents. Because sleep is a skill, and believing that we can teach them that skill, means that we can help them and they will get there.   Chanelle: It gives us hope. What else do you hear from parents?   Brittney: parents will say, children will fall asleep whenever they’re tired. This is rarely try. Think about sleep as you would about nutrition. It’s rare that kids just love vegetables. We encourage it, we give them choices and support. It’s the same with sleep. It’s rare that a child would choose to sleep. They would rather stay up and be with their families. You might be a lucky parent, but more often than not, kids need that structure and support.   Chanelle: the only kids that I’ve really seen fall asleep is when they are way overtired and it’s late and they haven’t had a nap all day. That’s not a healthy pattern when your kid is so tired that they’ve been up for that long. Other than that, you’re getting cues, but they’re not actually falling asleep.   Brittney: exactly, rarely are they choosing to go to bed. They would rather stay up and have fun   Chanelle: that’s why structure is so important and helping them understand the routine. Tell us any last pieces of advice.   Brittney: one of the things that I love most is educating families about importance of sleep. It allows them to grow and develop, immune systems to fight off common illness, focus in school, energy for activities. Sleep is equally as important for parents. We need that time for our own sanity and relationships, and our own health and wellness. Sleep can and should be our reality.   Chanelle: we can all work to make sleep our hobby and reality. Thank you for being here and I wish you all a good nights sleep and thank you for being here on moms who know! Brittney offers free 15 minute consulting calls. Visit her website to schedule a call with her! brittneystefanicsleep.10to8.com

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