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Baby Sleep Science is Open for Business! February 5, 2014

Posted by sleepdoctorevans in baby, child, sleep, sleep education.
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We now have a website where you can schedule a sleep consultation and browse our categorized archive of questions and answers. Check it out and please share with anyone who might be interested:


We have a Facebook Page for Questions! January 18, 2014

Posted by sleepdoctorevans in Uncategorized.
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We have a Facebook Page for Questions!

Hi all,

I don’t want to inundate you with updates that don’t matter, but I did want to share that we decided to put together a Facebook page for Baby Sleep Science (click the title above to go to it). I’ve never been a big social media person, but I really see the value in having a place where parents can ask questions and get answers. I also love the idea that we can all learn from each other. Sometimes I find just reading that other parents have similar issues makes me feel better. If you or anyone you know might find this helpful, please pass the link along.

I also wanted to note that we are and always will be philosophically neutral.  In practical terms this means that we don’t think that there is one strategy that will work for everyone. It makes me so angry when I read about parents judging and criticizing other parents’ sleep choices. There is no right way. If you want to figure out how to improve your child’s sleep in a crib, we can and will help. If you want to figure out how to improve your child’s sleep while maintaining co-sleeping, we can and will help. If you want to figure out something in-between we can help with that too!  I always think of the gym says it is a “judgement free zone.” Think of us as the sleep judgement free zone.

I’ll probably post one more update next week when we have our official website ready to go.

Take care,


Waking a Toddler from a Nap without Waking the Beast February 3, 2013

Posted by sleepdoctorevans in baby, child, parenting, sleep, sleep education, sleep environment, toddler, Uncategorized.
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My child, unhappy to be awoken from a nap!

My child, unhappy to be awoken from a nap!

I’ve always thought that it was a cruel trick of mother nature to give toddlers the innate ability to take long naps that wreck bedtime, while it would be every parent’s dream to have an infant who would sleep for two hour stretches!  Babies tend to have lighter sleep during naps. They wake pretty easily (which is the cause of completely different problems!) and are generally pretty happy upon waking. Toddlers have longer consolidated naps and go into deep sleep. It is disorienting and confusing to wake up from deep sleep — even for adults. I am frequently on call and have been paged while in deep sleep and had conversations that I don’t remember at all! For toddlers this disorientation is often manifested as anger and irritability. I fondly describe this type of waking as “waking the beast,” because when your child wakes in this state, your evening can more miserable than if you’d skipped the nap all together.

So, why wake your child at all?  Unfortunately children need a nap until at least age three, but toddlers have a high tolerance to sleep loss and often go down for naps a little later than would be ideal. Due to the addition of deep sleep to the nap, toddlers tend to stay asleep for long periods of time. When you couple a late nap with a long duration, you set yourself up for a bedtime battle or a toddler who isn’t sleepy until 11:00 PM. This means that you might need to wake your toddler in order to prevent bedtime insanity.

As the mother of a particularly incorrigible “beast,” I think I’ve perfected this skill.  Here’s my method:

1. Try to keep naptime as stable as possible. Your child might take a while to fall asleep, but putting your child down in the late afternoon is just asking for trouble.

2. Figure out the time when your child needs to be awake in order to protect bedtime. For most toddlers this will be a minimum of three hours from waking from the nap until bedtime, but more wakefulness will be needed for some children.

3. Layer your wake up in order to increase the possibility that you’ll wake your child during a lighter stage of sleep. Deep sleep is part of the nap, but your child will move through lighter stages of sleep. Remember, toddlers are terrible at fast transitions, so if you walk in and flip on the light, again, you’re asking for trouble.

  • 20 minutes prior to the wake time cut-off, open your child’s door
  • 15 minutes prior to the wake time cut-off, make a little noise outside your child’s room
  • 10 minutes prior to the wake time cut-off, enter your child’s room, turn off your sound machine and do something like put away laundry or sit nearby and sing a quiet song
  • 5 minutes prior to the wake time cut-off, open the curtains
  • At the wake time cut-off, put your hand gently on your child’s back
  • Once your child is awake, spend about 10 minutes of quiet cuddle time in dim light to help your child gradually adjust to being awake

Month Nine to Ten: Separation anxiety January 22, 2012

Posted by sleepdoctorevans in baby, child, sibling, sleep, sleep deprivation, sleep education, sleep training, travel.
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What is normal for this month? During month nine to ten, your baby should continue to have a nightly sleep duration ranging from 9.5-12 hours (average is still around 11 hours). Daytime sleep is typically comprised of two naps although a very small subset of babies will be ready to transition to a single nap at this time. The typical nap scenario is a morning nap happening 2-3 hours after waking and lasting about 1.5 hours and an afternoon nap of about 1.5 hours starting about 3 hours from the end of the first nap. Deep sleep continues to dominate the beginning of the night and a baby with a sleep association will continue to wake at 60-90 minute sleep cycles after deep sleep subsides.

During this time separation anxiety appears in many babies. The daytime symptoms of separation anxiety are usually obvious; your child may have difficulty going to other people, may cry at daycare drop off or may cry when you leave the room. Separation anxiety often leads to a regression in sleep. At bedtime, it may be more difficult to put your child down, because s/he may be more aware that you are actively leaving the room and this may cause a stress response. Your baby may also wake several times during the night to “check” to see where you are. This is especially true if you share a room with your child or if you sit with your child until s/he falls asleep. During naps, your baby may start waking at the end of the first sleep cycle again (at the 30 or 45 minute mark) and that will lead to insufficient sleep during the day.

If you’ve previously done sleep training with your child, the best way to avoid a major regression is to go back to the technique that you originally used for sleep training. Your baby should remember what your actions mean and respond accordingly. If you are contemplating starting sleep training for the first time at this age you may want to consider trying a technique where you stay in the room with your child to ease any stress your child might have (see techniques in the 5-6 month blog). It is still reasonable to expect a baby to respond to a technique that involves leaving the room, but for many babies it will actually be easier to sleep train while in the room.

Goals for this month: Maintain sleeping through the night. Get on a more predictable nap schedule. Survive visits from family and travel 😉

Important information: Bedtime is still stable and he has a regular bedtime routine. We still use cloth diapers by day and disposable diapers by night. Our nanny has left and my husband’s parents will stay with us for most of this month to watch the kids. Teague continues to be sick at least once a month, he still has constipation and is generally a fussy baby. I still do frequent night shifts and travel about two days a week. I am still breastfeeding on demand and Teague is not great with his solids during the day. We’ve been doing the bedtime routine with Graham and Teague for several months now. We’re going to Maine and New Hampshire at the end of the month. This trip will be discussed in a separate entry.

Notable days and nights:

On day 273 We got stuck in terrible, terrible traffic on the way home from a birthday party. I couldn’t get home for his nap. He cried in the car and crashed at home. DD and Pa arrived for a visit from Florida.

On night 275 he may be teething, but he was very upset. I think he was upset, because grandma DD went to him instead of mommy or daddy. We’re entering the age where separation anxiety can start, so he may have been confused by not seeing us. Then he was extremely fussy from 5:30 until 8:30.

I want to take this grandparent visit as an opportunity to get this baby’s schedule aligned a little better. DD and Pa are watching him full time for a few weeks, so I want him to have a regular bed and wake time as well as more regular nap times. They are going to put him down for naps at 9:30 and 2:00 and down for the night at 8:00. We’ll start keeping him in bed until 7:00 AM.

On day 276-286 DD and Pa take over – bliss!  I have absolutely no problem letting DD and Pa take over all routines while they are visiting. This allows me to catch up on sleep and work and it also allows me to actually see my husband occasionally!  As you can see from the plot a schedule makes a huge difference. DD and Pa are pretty good at putting him down at his proper naptimes each night and they are also keeping him in the dark in the morning, so we are in great shape. I wish I had so much control in the real world, but this should get us going on a good solid baseline. Sadly, I cannot produce enough milk to keep up with his calorie needs, so DD introduces formula to supplement along with his solids. I still nurse him as much as I can, but he seems to LOVE formula.  I feel a little rejected, but I’ll keep nursing as long as he is willing. My goal is to make it until at least a year.

On day 287 he had to go down late after Graham’s soccer, but he slept in until 8:00 for some reason, so he’s actually doing ok.

On day 290 DD and Pa go home.

On day 293 he fell asleep in the car on the way to Maine. We are going away for the weekend for a mini-vacation. We brought a Phil and Ted’s travel tent and his own sheets. We also brought our white noise machine and a roll of tin foil to block out the light in any windows that might not have black out curtains. Unfortunately much to my dismay, the place we have rented for the first night has a big skylight that is impossible to reach. I know this will be trouble and I’m right! He’s up at 5:10 with the summer sun ugh!

On day 294 and day 295 we are in a different location and I cover the windows in tin foil. This causes a great difference in his ability to sleep and his wake time which is back to our normal 6:30-7:00 AM. For details on this trip see the next entry.

Summary of this month: This month has been going pretty well. I can’t complain, because I didn’t have to do a lot of the work in getting him on a schedule. He does have some separation anxiety, but he adjusted nicely to DD and Pa. I try to dedicate cuddle time to him every day to help ease his separation anxiety. His schedule is not rigid, but it’s very regular. I hope I can keep it going next month.