Transcript: Easing the Stress: How to Get a Toddler to Sleep Better

This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called Easing the Stress: How to Get a Toddler to Sleep Better and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.

Being sleep deprived isn’t fun, is it! Let’s face it, if your little is not sleeping then neither are you.

This will take a huge toll on you and your family, particularly when it is an ongoing issue. This week’s guest, Kim Davis, knows all about being sleep deprived after being unable to get her son to sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time for naps or sleep overnight.

And Kim went through this for more than two and a half years and finally reached the point where she needed answers and to find a better way. This led Kim into her career as a pediatric sleep consultant.

Kim shares loads of tips and insights in this episode and I learnt lots from her. You’ll hear Kim and I talk about topics including the following:-

  • Why you need to be consistent and respond the same way every time to avoid confusing your little one.
  • How to avoid overstimulation when it is approaching their bedtime so they know it’s their calming time.
  • Why an early bedtime is beneficial and doesn’t mean your little one will wake up earlier!

Helen Thompson: Hi, Kim and welcome to First Time Mum’s Chat, I’m delighted to have you here. I’ve spoken to sleeping consultants before, but what I love about what you do is you also specialize in the older children, which I think is nice because when babies are one and a half to two, that’s also when they have sleep problems. So I will pass it over to you to tell me about what you do.

Kim Davis: Awesome, great, thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to talk about the older kids this time. Cause most of the time we do focus on the younger ones and especially those first few months when sleep is a real struggle.

So I’m super excited to chat to you a little bit more about what we can do to help the older ones sleep a little bit better. So again, my name is Kim Davis and I am the founder of Babes & Beyond pediatric sleep and I’m based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, so I’m quite far away from you. My passion is sleep and I’ve been a pediatric sleep consultant for over eight years now and it is the most amazing opportunity I’ve ever had in my life to help so many families sleep better and to get their lives so much better with everyone’s sleeping in the house.

So, I personally struggled for over two and a half years not being able to get my son to sleep more than 20 minutes at a time for naps and he never slept overnight. So it was two and a half years of sleep deprivation in my house. So this led me to my path. Oh yeah. This led me to my path to become a certified sleep consultant with the Family Sleep Institute. And from there, I actually became a Wonder Weeks Academy graduate and the Happiest Baby on the Block instructor and also a CAPPA Certified Childbirth Educator.

So I have a lot of things going on, in the last little while, but for the past five years, I’ve been the director of mentorship for the Family Sleep Institute and I’m also one of their assistant instructors. So my plate is full, but I am so passionate about sleep. I talk about sleep all the time. So like I said, I’m super excited to join you today, so we can talk a little bit more about the older kids and how we can help them.

Helen Thompson: Well, I’m pleased that you’re passionate about sleep. And I hope now that you’ve learned how to get your family settled a bit more, you’re getting a bit more sleep. Cause it’s also about the adults as well as the kid.

Kim Davis: Oh, for sure, for sure. That’s right.

Helen Thompson: So, what are some tips that you can give to a mom whose say got a kid who’s one and a half and they’re not sleeping and they’ve been struggling for the last one and a half years. What would you say to a mom who was struggling with that?

Kim Davis: Right, one year is a long time to be struggling with sleep. So what we really want to focus on, and a lot of the times what happens at this age is parents drop naps too quickly. And so one of the biggest reasons why toddlers are not sleeping is because they’re overtired. Actually in general, when children are not sleeping, the number one reason is because they’re overtired, whether they’re not getting restorative naps or their bedtime is too late. Those are the main things that I would look at first to see if naps are happening at the right time. If they’re restorative.

So three things that that parents can look for to make sure that their child is getting really great restorative naps, is if the naps are lasting at least one hour. They’re not waking up in between and they wake happy. If all three of those boxes are checked, you can say to yourself, okay, that was a really good nap. Let’s move on for the rest of the day. If it’s not, that’s when it becomes challenging. And a lot of the times what happens when little ones get up to about a year, year and a half, there may still be some sleep associations that are going on.

And so that’s why they’re not able to connect into their next sleep cycle. So for example, one sleep cycle for them during the day would be about 45 minutes around there. And if they wake up at that 45 minutes, usually they’re going to be crying. And usually it’s because that there’s a sleep association going on, which could be either rock to sleep, fed to sleep, bounce to sleep, just falling asleep with somebody else.

They don’t have the independent sleeping skill to transfer into the next sleep cycle independently. And so that’s where a lot of the issues start to come up. And if they haven’t learned it up to a year or a year and a half, that’s a long time to be dealing with a sleep association. They have no idea, right?

They’re comfy, they’re loving it, being rocked to sleep, whatever but when they can’t connect those simple sleep cycles during the day to get a restorative nap or especially in the middle of the night, that’s when it becomes a challenge for parents because, if they’re waking up five or six times a night, every time that they wait for a sleep cycle, mom or dad has to go in, do the exact same thing they did to help their child fall asleep.

And that becomes exhausting. Right? And I was there. I was doing that for two and a half years. My little guy, he was a chunky monkey. He was huge. And here I am, I’m not very tall. I’m like five, three. And here I am trying to bounce this over 20 pound little guy to sleep every single nap and every single nighttime.

And when he woke up during the night, I was so exhausted. I was so exhausted. And I said, no, we can’t do this anymore. We have to try and get everybody sleeping better. And so we really had to find something that worked for our family. And that’s what I really want to stress with parents too, is that you really have to find out what works for your family.

Yes. You can get all the advice from your friends, your family, your coworkers, everybody. But it’s not necessarily going to work for your family and you really want to be mindful that you choose an approach that you’re going to be very comfortable with. Right? There’s so many different approaches that parents can take when it comes to sleep coaching and developing those independent sleeping skills. But you really want to be mindful that it’s an approach that you can do during the day and also at 3:00 AM, because our patient level at 3:00 AM and 12 noon is quite different. Right. So, if you’re thinking about going in and doing a little bit of time checks, like going in every few minutes, reassuring them that everything is okay. You want to be mindful that you’re going to be able to do that at 3:00 AM as well. So, that’s what you really have to be careful of because you want to stay consistent and every approach will work.

Right? Whatever approach that you take will work. There’s so many of them. But you have to stay consistent because if you’re not, you’re going to be sharing really confusing messages with your little one, and that’s not going to work. We want to share a really consistent message that mom and dad are going to respond the same way. And we are going to respond the same way every single time that you wake to help you develop those independent sleeping skills. And there’s very, very gentle ways and gradual ways that you can do that. And a lot of the times parents are like, God, well, I want it just over with, I want the quick fix.

It’s not a quick fix. If you’ve been dealing with sleep associations for two years, it’s not a quick fix because, just like you and I, it takes about what three weeks they say, 21 days to break a habit and then to actually learn a new habit. Right. You have to figure that these little guys, they don’t know, they don’t know any better right. And so they’re just like, mom, dad, you’ve changed everything, now what! There’s going to be a lot of tears, a lot of tears. And I find the older that the children are, the more tears that you have because now you’re dealing with a little personality. They can jump, scream, do all those wonderful things that toddlers do, but it’s a little bit harder to share that message that things are changing and those tears are their reaction. They don’t like that change. And understandably right. If they’ve been rocked or fed to sleep, it’s a beautiful thing. It really is it’s comfy, it’s great but you have to also take into account that mum and dad needs sleep too, because they need the best of their parents and they can’t be at their best if they’re so sleep deprived.

And I was one of those parents where I was not at my best. It was a very, very dark place for me. And I didn’t think I was going to come out of it on the good side, to be honest. It was two and a half years of not having sleep. It is. And so, my passion comes from that and I want to be able to help parents not go through what I went through. I don’t want any other parent to, to deal with two and a half years of sleep associations and being so sleep deprived. There’s so many tools and things that I can share with parents that not necessarily, you have to go through like two weeks of formal sleep consultation.

Sometimes it takes a little bit of a tweak of a schedule. Or, help them, get away from a sleep association, an earlier bedtime, even having a room conducive to sleep, having dark curtains in there, a sound machine, depending on the age of the child, if there’s a lot of background noise that you want to get rid of. Those simple things can make a world of difference sometimes. And I’ve had many families, that my suggestion of even an earlier bedtime has gotten rid of all of the night wakings and early wakings. And it was just moving that bed time earlier. That’s all it was! Because they were so over tired going to bed. And like I said before, that is the number one reason why we see night wakings and early morning rising with toddlers is because they’re just, they’re overtired going to bed. That’s what it is.

Helen Thompson: And what about overstimulation? I know from the baby side that if you overstimulate your child they won’t sleep because they’re overexcited. And would it be advisable not to let them watch TV, maybe half an hour before bed, because the visual of the TV can actually overstimulate them. And that probably doesn’t help either. Or give them a routine that’s quiet. Half an hour before bed, like reading, or from my childcare experience, I’d say putting some nice, quiet music on or putting on particular music so that they know that that’s my calming time.

I don’t know if that’s what you’d suggest.

Kim Davis: You said it perfectly. Having that nice, relaxing, quiet time. That routine, lasting no longer than about 30 minutes. We suggest 30 minutes because anything after that, it just becomes things that you’re doing and it’s not really queuing their bodies and their minds that it’s time to sleep. So have your routine really nice, concise, quiet, relaxing, and you brought up an amazing point in regards to the television. So one thing that we strongly recommend is actually turning the screens off, whether it be a tablet, anything like that for those older kids, because they love them. Right. They love looking at their tablets and playing games and stuff, even at a young age. But turning those off at least one hour before your bedtime routine, because research is showing that that blue light that we have from the tablets or the TV, it actually inhibits the production of melatonin, which is our sleepy hormone.

Right. And we want that to be happening. We want their minds to be cute that, oh, wait, it’s dark now. And that’s the only way that it starts producing in our bodies is from the darkness. So we really want things to be calm. We don’t want these bright lights, the TV going, everything flickering because it’s going to take them a while and some little ones, if they have TV before bed, it can, get them excited and keep them that way for almost two hours.

So even a short amount of screen time can just make bedtime battles like you wouldn’t believe. And we certainly don’t want that. Right. And with toddlers, they can be challenging, those bed time battles. I remember it well. So it’s not a good thing. So you were absolutely correct in having that really wonderful, relaxing, bedtime routine for them so it just calms everybody down. The house just quiets down. And it’s just a really nice relaxing, bedtime routine that can allow them to unwind and to settle into bed. So, yeah, you’re absolutely right in regards to that, for that routine.

Helen Thompson: And what if kids are screaming and they’re struggling and they won’t lie on the bed. You’re trying to just calm them down and say, look, I just want you to lie down. You don’t have to go to sleep yet, but just lie down and I’ll give you a little pat. They push your hand away. They’re saying I don’t want to be patted because they’re so tired. I’ve tried so many things like putting quiet music on, I’ve tried walking out of the room and leaving the door ajar and watching them, and then they get out of bed and they come and say, I know you’re there.

So what would you say to a kid like that? You don’t want to scream at them, you don’t want to get them upset, but sometimes it’s not that easy.

Kim Davis: No, it’s not. It’s definitely not that easy to keep the cool, calm, collectedness that you want. Right? Because when there’s hours and honestly, some little kids can go for hours for bedtime battles, what you want to look for is the cause. So the cause of that hyperness or whatever it is, is overtired. They’re overtired and you missed their window for bed. So that’s what you want to treat first. So make a mental note like, okay. Bedtime was like 8:30 PM or something like that. We really want to pull that bedtime back because they got their second wind and now it really is like skating, uphill if you’re with a toddler and they got their second wind because there’s nothing physically that we can do to get rid of that cortisol level that is just shot through their body. It really has to wear off. And so you have to ride it out, which is not pleasant. It’s not pleasant, but that’s one thing that you do want to make a mental note of for the next night is let’s get bedtime a lot earlier. And one thing that I suggest for parents is if they’re really struggling to find that appropriate bedtime is to watch their behavior around dinner time. So if they’re getting hyper, they’re not listening, they’re not eating properly. They’re just wired, running around, zoning out, all those behaviors.

That’s an indication that they got their second wind. And so now they’re hyper and now we got to wait this out. So again, make that mental note. Okay, maybe dinner has to come 20 minutes earlier because sometimes even shifting things 20 minutes, can make a world of difference as well. So just making that mental note, okay, we really got to get dinner on the table a little bit earlier. We got to do that wind down routine. And, you know, try and figure out that 8:30 PM was too late. Let’s try, you know, eight o’clock or, you know, 7:45 PM, depending how old they are and if they’re still napping. Because that makes a world of difference too. If they’re still napping, sometimes that bedtime can be pushed a little bit later. Most of the time no. Usually for a toddler, you’re going to see around 7:00 – 7:30 ish. That’s usually a good time for them. Anything later than that and you’re probably risking that second wind coming along. So, depending on your bedtime routine, adjust that accordingly, but those bedtime battles can be exhausting to say the least.

Helen Thompson: I remember when I was a kid. We used to have a bedtime routine where me being in the middle went to bed at say 6:00, my older sister was 6:30 and then my youngest sister was probably 5:30, so there was half an hour gap between when we all went to sleep. And when we got to a certain age, when we had a birthday, then my parents said, right, well, you can stay up an extra half an hour. So that’s what we did, but it was always very early. It was around about the 6:30 mark and I don’t know whether this is modern life or whether it’s me, but kids go to bed later these days. They’re not encouraged to go to bed early.

Kim Davis: And you make a great point because we have shifted everything later in society now and that’s not what children need. They need that earlier bedtime, but parents are so afraid and I will admit, I was really afraid of this as well. The parents are so afraid of having an early bedtime because they think that if I put my child to bed early, they’re going to wake up early, which in actual fact it doesn’t happen because we’re not taking anything away from that morning sleep. All we’re doing with an early bedtime is adding on an extra sleep cycle at the beginning of the night, before midnight to allow them more restorative sleep.

That’s where the most restorative sleep happens is between, say 6:30 and midnight. That’s where we want to see their most restorative sleep happening. If you’re cutting into that restorative sleep, you’re going to fall into this vicious cycle of getting over-tired and you’re going to find night wakings, and you’re going to find early morning.

It’s not because they went to bed early it’s because they went to bed too late. So yes, I agree with you, early bedtime absolutely. We want to do that early bedtime for them, particularly if there is a sleep deprivation going on, right. That’s the fastest way to get rid of any kind of sleep deprivation is an early bedtime.

We don’t want you stuck at a very early bedtime, but sometimes it needs to be as early as six o’clock, even for a three-year-old because they’re overtired and they’re in this vicious cycle and they can’t get out of it. And it’s really hard to get out of it if you keep doing the same thing, keep having bedtime the same thing. Even if naps are not great, you need to adjust that bedtime earlier temporarily right? We don’t want you always be stuck in like a really early bedtime but if you want to get out of that cycle, absolutely. Early bedtime for the win, always.

And once they are sleeping better, absolutely you can start pushing that bedtime a little bit later, but we always want to be mindful of that. Bedtime is going to be flexible.

We’re not robots, right. So we don’t sleep the exact same minutes every single day. For them they don’t nap, the same amount of minutes of our day. So bedtime is really based on the quality of naps, if they’re still napping and how they are around that dinner time, because we don’t want to push them too long. But, going back to what you said, absolutely. We want to have a general timing, like in between 6:00 – 6:30, depending on how their mood is and to have to have a constant bedtime for them. But again, just, taking into account of what naps were like, if they’re still napping and how they are at dinnertime to kind of gauge where that great bedtime should be. And if they fall asleep nicely, within 10, 15 minutes just babbling away, you know that you hit that beautiful little sleep window. If they fall asleep within seconds, minutes of hitting that pillow they’ve crashed.

And we don’t want that because crashing means that they were overtired and now you can count on having some night wakings and having early morning wakings and night wakings with toddlers and especially if they’re not in a crib can be exhausting as well, because they keep getting out of their bed. If they’re in a big boy bed or a big girl bed now. That, is in itself a whole different ball game, trying to get a toddler back into bed after they’ve gotten out in the middle of the night. There’s many different approaches that you can take. One approach that works really well, if parents are consistent.

We term it silent return and when I say silent, it’s absolute silent return, where we ask the parents to, if they come out into the room, we ask them to silently return them back. And this may take 50, 60 times when it first happens, but we really want to be mindful that there’s no engagement with parents because whether it be positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, whatever’s going on there, they want that to happen. They want to engage with their parents in the middle of the night. And so they don’t care if mommy or daddy is upset, they don’t care if mommy, daddy is squeezing them, hugging them, doing whatever. All they know is that mom and dad has given me attention. And I’m going to keep getting up to get that attention.

So that’s why it becomes really challenging with toddlers. And a lot of the time parents will make that decision to move their little one out of a crib too soon. I’ve seen it happen so many times. An 18 month old comes out of their crib. They don’t have the cognitive ability to understand the concept and the responsibility of having a big person bed. They don’t understand, there’s no boundaries for them. Right. They can just get up and they don’t know what’s going to happen. They just get up because they can. We found that around three years old, that’s usually when they can comprehend like some bedtime rules, their responsibility of having that big person bed, because they understand that that bed is for sleeping and we need to stay in our bed all night until mommy and daddy says it’s morning, it’s time to get up. Until around three, it’s so challenging. And I’ve worked with many families over the years where they did make that transition too soon and they just don’t feel that they want to put them back in a crib and it takes a long time. It takes a long time for them to really understand, like you can’t get out of bed at night and start wandering around the house, right. So, having a gate up at the door, not as punishment, that’s never the way that we introduce a gate. It’s more so of a reminder for their little bodies, that this is their place to sleep and that this is the boundaries, right? It’s never introduced that you have to stay in, in your room and there’s a data because we don’t want you to go out, absolutely not.

We just simply say, you know what, if you get up in the middle of the night and you still see the gate there, that’s a reminder that you need to jump back into bed and wait till the morning when mommy and daddy comes to get you. That’s all it is because sometimes when we put those boundaries up and we don’t explain the reasons why, children get really upset and we always want to give them the understanding that it’s not a punishment by any means. We’re not closing things off, it’s just to keep you safe, that’s all it is because you certainly don’t want them wandering in the house, three o’clock in the morning and sometimes if they’re stairs, it’s a huge safety concern. Right. And so we really want to be mindful that they still have those boundaries and most kids love their crib but they do try and get out. Absolutely. But it’s not that they don’t like it. It’s just hey, I’m going to see if I can actually climb over this thing.

And they just want to see, I’m going to try. And so let’s do this. It has nothing to do with, they don’t like their crib anymore. It’s just, I see this as something really fun and I’m going to keep doing it. So that’s where sometimes that transition can come in a little bit too soon. And then parents, most of the time they regret that decision, by moving them way too soon.

Helen Thompson: What about letting them have things to play with in the room? Say they’re getting up, they’re sleeping, but they’re getting up at six and it’s just a little bit too early for you as a parent, giving them something that they can play with in the bedroom like, not TV, not iPhone, something quiet or books. Is that a good option?

Kim Davis: Yeah, absolutely depending on the age. If they were really young, I would probably limit the things that they can engage with at that time, just because they are not able to understand exactly what time of day it is. So if they wake up in the middle of the night, then they’d be like, oh, well there was toys here and let’s, you know, let’s start doing this. So if they’re still in a crib having a little stuffy or a lovie with them, absolutely. So they can hug that and go back to sleep.

And we always want to be mindful too, that when they are getting older and if they are, in that big person bed that we always want to share with them, it’s not what they can’t do, it’s what they can do. So if they’re waking up, you want to say, you know what, if you wake up and it’s still dark in your room and mommy and daddy are still sleeping, this is what you can do.

You can hug your stuffy and roll over. You can hum a little song to yourself, you can pull your blankets up, rustle your body a little bit. Something that they can do and not always saying, well, you can’t get up out of bed because they’re like, well, that’s not very fun, but if you give them something that they can do and take ownership of their own sleep, that makes a huge difference when they get older, a huge difference, because we want to empower them, we want to allow them to take ownership of their sleep, because then they’re going to be really proud of themselves. And another thing that you can do with them and to help them take ownership of their sleep is to have bedtime routine charts right in their bedroom. Have those little charts that they can check off each night. I was actually just speaking with one of the families that I work with and I was telling them a story about, as we were developing a bedtime routine chart for her family. And I said, one little guy, and he’s an adorable little guy. He was so proud of his bedtime routine chart, he took it everywhere.

Took it to grandma’s house, showed her exactly what to do, cause he was staying over for the weekend. He brought his little chart and he showed her how he was going to check it all off all night and yeah, so he was so proud that he had his bedtime chart and he was able to do this all on his own. So he knew exactly.

He was three and a half. So he was checking off his little bedtime routine for grandma and she was so proud of him and my heart was just exploding. I was so proud of him. Right. Cause he took ownership of his own sleep. He was telling grandma that he needed to do this in order to have a great bedtime routine. And it’s so important because bedtime routines are great for little ones, but they’re also great for parents because they keep us on track. Right? Because bedtime can go for hours if we let it. Another book, a sip of water, whatever it is, they’re very clever.

And so they’re going to ask you, they’re going to test their boundaries every single time, every day and that’s their job. And they do it perfectly. But having that bedtime routine or a bedtime chart right in the room can keep mom and dad on track. Check it off with either a dry erase marker or a Velcro, stickers.

And it keeps everybody on track because they’ll say, well, I need to have a glass of water. Okay, buddy well, we already checked that off, so we have that for tonight. That’s tomorrow night, so you can keep going through it. Right. So it’s a really good reminder for parents and for the little one that we need to stay on track because I love those charts.

Helen Thompson: It’s good for the little one, as you say, because you’re communicating with them. A lot of the time parents don’t communicate with their children. They just say right, it’s time to go to bed and I can understand if you’re overtired yourself. But if you have that chart, as you say, I think that’s a good one. You have that chart you say, right, it’s music time now. We’re going to start quitening down and you can go and choose your CD or whatever you want to listen to. And then once that’s finished, you say right now it’s drink time or it’s potty time or it’s cleaning teeth time or whatever it is.

Kim Davis: That’s right. It keeps everybody on track. And we have that on the charts that I share with families is we have the words, but we also have pictures of exactly what the activity is. So if it’s reading a book or it’s cuddle time, or, lights out, whatever it is, they check everything off and they’re like, okay, we’re done.

Helen Thompson: I love that idea and how does that work with you?

Kim Davis: It works really well. Yeah. It works really well and parents love it because like I said, it keeps everybody on track and they have a plan, right. And that’s what we want, we want everybody to have a plan. So if this happens, this is what we do. If this happens, this is what we do. And to give parents the plan. And so they can fulfill all of the things that they need to do. It really takes that anxiety. And I’ll be honest. I used to dread naps and I used to dread bedtime because I would spend so long trying to get my little guy to nap for 20 minutes.

And then I’d spend so long at bedtime trying to get him to sleep. And then he’d wake up six, seven times a night. And it was just so exhausting and I just dreaded any kind of sleep with him, but, I have to point this out too that not all siblings are like that. So my daughter was older. She’s two and a half years older. She was an amazing little sleeper. I could literally set my watch by her because I knew that she was just going to sleep this long. I knew when she was going to wake up for a feeding and everything was great.

So before I became a sleep consultant, I had no idea. I could not understand what parents were talking about when they said that they were sleep deprived. I had no empathy for them at all. I was like, I don’t know what that is. But two and a half years later, my son came along and then reality hit and I was full in sleep deprived pretty much, right from day one for two and a half years. So then I understood what parents were going through and it is tough. Those little things that normally wouldn’t bother you, bother you a lot. And I was making so many excuses for myself and for my son, we traveled with my husband for his job.

We were in a different country, different house. I was like, oh, it’s the move? Oh, it’s this or that? When I look back, that wasn’t it, it wasn’t that at all. It was because I didn’t know what I was doing for one, because I didn’t understand how he could be so different from my daughter. And it was just, he was over tired and I didn’t know how to get out of that cycle.

I had no idea until I started researching myself and I’m like, I can’t do this anymore. We just can’t go on like this. That’s when I really poured my heart and soul into finding something that worked for my family. And I thought if I can do this for my family, I really want to help other families out there to get sleep back on track or to just get some sleep to begin with because a lot of parents think it’ll just pass.

Oh, it’s just a phase. It’s usually not. Yeah, it’s not. In very rare occasions, I would say it will correct itself but 95% of the time I would say that it’s not going to, and it’s just going to get worse. Right? So they’re not going to outgrow something if they’re not taught how to transition independently. It takes practice and some little ones need more coaching than others. And that’s totally okay.

Every child is different. So we want to be mindful that exactly in my family, that even though his sister was a great sleeper, he wasn’t. He wasn’t a great sleeper at all, but I’m very thankful for what I went through with my son, because now I know what families are going through and I can have that empathy, not sympathy. I can have the empathy because I know exactly what they feel like exactly what they’re talking about, because I’ve been there. I lived it and it really is a challenging place to be for parents when you’re just not sleeping. Nothing works. It’s so important. It’s a biological need.

And I think in this society too, I think we tend to think that we don’t need as much sleep as we really do. And we take pride in saying, oh, well, I can function on five hours of sleep. Well, maybe temporarily you can, but that is definitely going to catch up with you. And, you know, people think that we don’t need as much sleep as we really do, and we need a lot of sleep.

It helps build our immune system. It just helps with stress. It helps with everything. And if you don’t get sleep, you’re going to get sick, right. And so it’s really important that we’re really mindful of providing that opportunity for our children to learn how to be independent sleepers and to transition into those sleep cycles all by themselves.

Helen Thompson: Cause when you’re asleep, you’re actually healing your body. If you’re, yeah. That’s your body’s time to heal, time to relax and regenerate. So your business supports the whole family and not just the baby or the toddler which is great.

Kim Davis: That’s right. It affects everybody. Yes. Your child’s not sleeping, but you’re not sleeping as well. We want everybody in the family to be sleeping and the change in the family dynamics when everybody is sleeping is incredible. It’s absolutely incredible. I’ve had many families come to me on the verge of divorce because nobody’s sleeping and everybody’s fighting all the time and they just don’t know how to communicate anymore because they’re so tired.

And to have them afterwards say to me, Kim, we’re not getting a divorce anymore. Like that’s quite mind blowing. Right. And, and I just like, wow, I’m just not helping their little ones sleep, but I’ve also helped their marriage. And that’s a big thing. I’m so blessed to be able to help so many families in the last eight and a half years that I’ve been doing this.

It truly is a remarkable profession. Yeah, it truly is and, you know, one thing and maybe you’ve spoken to other sleep consultants in regards to this, but a lot of the times too, we’re kind of newish on the scene. When my son was little, I think there was maybe one or two that I had ever heard of. Sleep consulting was not a thing.

Now it’s becoming a thing, but unfortunately a lot of times we get this negative connotation around us, where all we want to do is to just let people or families, I should say, cry it out. That’s not what we’re about at all, right? That’s not what we do. What we do is support families, develop a plan together to help support them through the changes that they need to make in order for everyone to sleep. There are many, many different approaches out there. I could talk for hours about the different approaches. Every family is different and you really want to focus on what is best for that family.

Some families do choose to have a no parental involvement when they’re teaching their child, those independent sleeping skills, and that’s fabulous if that works for your family. But if it doesn’t, there’s other ways that we can help everybody get that sleep that they need. So, and that’s where, the sleep consultants come in because we know how to pick different things from different approaches and really put it together specifically for that family, because there’s no family, that’s exactly the same.

There’s no child. That is exactly the same. So it’s not a cookie cutter, at least for myself, anyways. It’s never been a cookie cutter plan. In eight and a half years, I’ve never written the same sleep plan for a family, because they’re so different, right? There’s different nap timings, there’s the different temperament with the child, the different age, the different way families react to crying.

And that’s what you really have to be mindful too, because if you’re working with a family and the mom is suffering from postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety, there’s a lot of triggers for her and so crying is usually one of the biggest ones and there’s no way that they want to have a lot of crying.

So again, we find an approach that’s very comfortable for mom and for dad to help her support her, if he’s not able to do a lot of those other things. And to find something that works for that family, because like we said, many times during this conversation, we have to be mindful of everybody in the family to find that right approach for them and what works for their family, not just their neighbor or their cousin or something. Right. It’s, it’s very different. And moms, parents everywhere get unsolicited advice all of the time. Right. And I got it with my family. Right. As soon as you start talking about my child’s not sleeping, you’re going to get advice whether you want it or not. And that’s when it’s hard because I tried things that my friends, my family said, did not work for me. It did not work for me at all.

So I had to really sit down when my son was almost two and a half and really figure out what worked for me and for myself, it was a very gradual approach. And that’s what I could handle at the time. And that’s what my son could handle at that time. So, it did take a little bit longer, but I always tell families too, when I’m helping them out, that it’s not a race.

It is not a race to how fast you can get your child’s sleeping or sleeping through the night because you want to build a great sleep foundation and you really don’t want to rush through that because you don’t want a quick fix. Quick fixes don’t last and we certainly don’t want that. We want to be able to have years and years of great sleep happening and so if it takes longer than two weeks, so be it, it takes longer than two weeks. There’s no rush.

Helen Thompson: And you don’t want them to have a bad association with sleep because sleep is meant to be relaxing, sleep is meant to be fun. It’s meant to be a time to heal and you don’t want to get them really panicky about sleeping if you’re really pushing them and getting them really panicky saying right we’ve got to get this done in two weeks. It’s not giving them that relaxing point of view of sleep.

Kim Davis: Right, exactly and we want everybody to feel comfortable with the process because there’s a lot of emotions involved. So we always have to be mindful of that and I give this analogy, it’s like peeling an onion. There’s so many layers that you will have to go through with every family that you work with. And you want to be careful and you want to be addressing all of those layers because you don’t want to skip things and then come back and say, oh, well, that’s not working out.

It’s because you missed a step. You missed one of those layers that you have to unravel. And sometimes when you start peeling away, those layers, you really find that underlying cause of the sleep issue. And sometimes when parents think, oh, this is a sleep issue, it’s really not the sleep issue at all.

Once we start peeling away, all of those layers. So it, it’s very interesting to see how everything comes about, especially with toddlers, right? There’s a lot of layers there there’s a lot of years, a lot of months you know, whether they were co-sleeping or sleep with an association of being fed to sleep. If there’s years of that going on, it’s going to take longer than two weeks, most likely.

And that’s okay. We don’t want to rush it through. We want to see it through and to have them build that great sleep foundation. Most of the time you see amazing results within the first week with schedule changes and all those sorts of things but if there’s sleep associations there, it can take a little bit longer to get rid of them for good. But that’s ok, when they’re gone, they’re gone. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, right?

Helen Thompson: Thank you, you’ve given us a lot of good tips there and I know that my audience would love to find out more about how they can get in touch with you.

Kim Davis: Sure, absolutely. I’d love to share my information. So I have a website and it’s I’m also on Facebook with the same name and I also have an Instagram account, which is sleep underscore babes and beyond, and that’s where they can find me.

So if they want to follow along, I’m always sharing tips and things like that on the social media pages that I have and blog articles on my website. I offer a free consultation as well. So if people just, need to kind of figure out things, like I said earlier, sometimes it’s just a little tweak in that schedule.

You don’t need a full two week consultation with me. It could just be my recommendation of you need an earlier bedtime and things get fixed up and I would love to provide that for parents. There’s no need to go through all of that if I can just simply say, change your bedtime. Right. I would love to, I’d love to do that.

So they can sign up through my website and schedule a discovery call and we can certainly help them out as best as we can. But thank you so much for allowing me to chat with your followers and your audience today, I really enjoyed our conversation. So thank you so much.

Helen Thompson: Yeah, likewise Kim, I did too. I’ve actually learnt a few tips from you from the childcare stuff as well. It’s good to have tips of what people can do to help the kids to sleep. So thank you so much.