Category: Blog

“The Most Important Parenting Skill There Is”, Kerry Speaks at Aspen Academy’s PUMP’d Event

At last week’s PUMP’d, Aspen parent Kerry Stutzman talked about “The Most Important Parenting Skill There Is.”
Here are three of her key points:
Kerry Stutzman PUMPd Aspen Academy

  1. The most important parenting skill is to demonstrate EMPATHY before delivering a consequence for bad behavior.

    “Connecting before Correcting” helps kids stay calm and in a thinking state.  It might sound like this:  “Oh sweetie, what a bummer that you didn’t get your toys picked up because now they are in Toy Jail.”

  2. We help our kids if we look at their misbehavior and bad decisions as opportunities to learn rather than something for us to get mad about.

    We might stop and think, “What does my child need to learn and how can I use this as an opportunity to teach?”  For example, leaving toys laying around indicates to us that our kids need more opportunities to practice cleaning up.  Having them do extra cleaning up to earn their things out of “Toy Jail” can be a valuable lesson.  If we stay loving and empathetic as they go through the discomfort of their “lesson,” our children’s hearts and minds can stay open to learn.  Plus, our connection with them can stay strong.

  3. When our kids become teenagers, the only access we have to their inner world is what they share with us.

    If we spend their childhoods demonstrating that every time they make a mistake, we get mad, then they are not likely to share their struggles and mistakes with us when they are teens.  We WANT them to keep sharing with us because the decisions they regularly make as teens can be life-or-death or life-changing decisions.

Please mark your calendar for the next PUMP’d on >Friday, December 5th, 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.</span>  Kristina Scala and Kerry Stutzman will present:  “How to Craft Consequences That Make Sense for Kids.”  Kristina will share her favorite strategies and then everyone will have a chance to create their own consequences that make sense.  Please mark your calendar now to “sharpen the saw” of your Love and Logic skills to build relationships that last a lifetime with your children.

Improve Your Kiddo’s Bad Sportsmanship in 5 Easy Steps

5 easy steps to help your child become a better team player.  Love and Logic Parenting Classes in Denver, COSeven year-old Elliott is becoming a bad sport at baseball. After his games, he complains about how unfair the ref was, how that throw WAS in, how he really did get that kid out. The ride home from games becomes an open arena for airing every grievance he has with his teammates and with himself. This is driving his parents nuts because they want him to be a good sport but aren’t sure what to do.

Here are a few ideas to redirect negativity about the game into something positive:

Ask Why Playing Perfectly is So Important.

When your child is feeling down about his performance in a game, ask him if he thinks he is more lovable when he plays perfectly. Remind him that in your family, imperfect people are the most lovable kind.  Go through and talk about some of the plays from the game: comment on the successful plays and discuss how every athlete in every sport has their shining moments and their disappointing moments.

Have Them Notice and Encourage the Other Players

At the next game, give your child the task of watching other players closely. Every time he notices that a teammate has a bad play, urge him to go give them a couple words of encouragement. What you want to focus on with this is building good sportsmanship rather than trying to squash bad sportsmanship.

Notice and Empathize Unfair Calls

There are always questionable and downright unfair calls in all kids’ sports. Empathize about how frustrating it is when there is an unfair call. Be specific! Name the kid’s feelings of anger, sadness, embarrassment.

Keep Score of the Good

Tell him you are going to watch him and count every time he handles a tough call with good sportsmanship (you can also use the terms “class” or “dignity”). After the game, celebrate all those good moments (ignore the bad) of good sportsmanship he demonstrated. Perhaps the higher the score, the higher the scoops on an ice cream cone? 🙂

Use Selective Vision

Make the focus on building what you want more of. Look for that with a magnifying glass and get blurry vision about the times he not quite so gracious.

 

Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSWa Marriage and
Family Therapist
 and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapyand parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps
parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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What to Do if Your Kid Leaves Dirty Dishes Laying Around

Teen girl washing dishes at kitchen sinkThere are times when a parent has no clue what to do. This especially happens when our innocent babies and precious toddlers become willful and defiant ‘tweens and teens. Kids capable of making choices out of laziness and disregard for their parents.
Poised, charming 23-year old Annie sat on the couch in my counseling office today and told me a brilliant parenting strategy that her dad pulled on her when she was a young teen.

As a middle-schooler, Annie used to leave her dirty dishes setting out on the kitchen counter.  A very typical problem with kids – but an issue that many parents find hard to put an end to. Her single dad got on her case.  He told her not to leave her dirty dishes sitting out in the kitchen.

Well, she thought she would test the limits and show him he couldn’t boss her around!  She stopped leaving her dirty dishes in the kitchen.  Instead, she started leaving them in her bedroom!  Once he discovered her pile of dirty dishes with crusted-on food, he came up with a plan to deal with his defiant daughter. He went out and purchased the largest package of cheap paper plates that he could find.

The Effective “Opportunity to Learn”

Annie wasn’t allowed to use real plates again until she went through the entire stack of paper plates.  For months, every meal she ate at home, she ate on a flimsy paper plate.  Just think of your experience with cheap paper plates: the sauce soaks through, a knife cuts through the bottom, leaving little bits of paper in your food, and you surely can’t carry the thing around the house for fear it will collapse in half.

Annie hated this consequence.

By the end of the 3 months it took to use all of the paper, she was willing to (begrudgingly) scrape her plate and place it into the dishwasher.

The best thing about her dad’s delivery of this “opportunity to learn?”  He never said a single word about it.  Not one.

Ten years later, Annie admitted that it’s still an effort to rinse her plates and put them in the dishwasher in her little apartment, but she does it.  With the consequence gift she got from her loving, patient, creative dad, she learned a lesson to last a lifetime.
Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

Five Ways to Stop Preschool Drop Off Separation Anxiety (Yes, They Really Work!)

CryingThe hardest part of my day used to be prying my preschooler and kindergartners arms off my legs when I had to drop them off at school. My sons’ howls of protest hurt my heart at the same time it made me wonder what I was doing wrong or what was wrong with them. All three of my boys did it at some stage or another. I can reassure you that this does pass…. my oldest son did absolutely no leg-holding or crying when he left for college last week.

After surviving three kids’ separation anxiety, or “drop off dramas” and talking with many parents about what has helped them, here are a few ideas to experiment with. Please let me know how they work!

Drop off drama usually follows hot on the tail of “Getting Ready in the Mornings Drama” which for many families is the worst time of day. Drop off drama is about a young person experiencing a painful transition from their beloved parent to a room full of new kids and adults. This is very stressful for some little people, especially those who prefer to be at home.

1. Fill the Bucket!

If mornings are stressful, drop offs are bound to be stressful as well. I love the idea of taking a few minutes right before drop off… either in the car or while still at home… to “fill the bucket” of your little one. Imagine if you said something like this, “I know that saying goodbye is hard some days, so how about if we take some time to snuggle and get you all filled up with mommy/daddy-time?”

2. Acknowledge the Sadness and Encourage Communication

Acknowledge your child’s sadness. Invite her to “get her sad out” while you are there to hold her. This can be a good time to read one of the children’s books that address the pain of goodbye The Kissing Hand, The Invisible String, Love You Forever, Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You). It can be fascinating to ask your little one to get out all of his/her sadness while you are together. She might cry, he might protest. You can just be there and say things like, “I know, it’s hard to say goodbye, isn’t it?’ “I love it when you can say how you feel.” You can even invite some fit-throwing. It sounds counter-productive but I promise, it has helped many parents tone down drama and end tantrums in some children. Encouraging your child to feel all his feelings and share them ahead of time lets them feel strongly but do so in the safety of your presence and the privacy of home.

3. Teach Self-Soothing

When it’s NOT the critical drop off moment, have a conversation with your child about what he can say to himself that will help drop offs go better. Hint: He won’t have a clue. That’s when you get to teach positive self-talk by saying something like: “Some kids find it helps to say, ‘I can have fun at school even when I miss my daddy.” Or, “It’s ok to feel sad and mad about saying goodbye. I can handle it.” Or “My mommy/daddy’s love is with me wherever I go.”

4. Give Choices from a “Go To School Menu”

Give them three choices for the three days they go to preschool and each week they can pick which day they use each style. Write them on a simple chart.  No repeats are allowed in a week.

The choices are:
1) Scream and cry and hold onto Mommy’s legs all the way into the classroom.
2) Scream and cry in the car and then walk in holding mommy’s hands, give a big hug and say “goodbye.” 
3) Snuggle with a book before getting in the car and play follow the leader into school, blow kisses and smile.

On the days they chose the scream and cry model, really encourage them do it as intensely as they can. If they start to cry on a non-cry day, warmly remind them that they already had their crying day for that week. After all the build-up and permission to do some good fit-throwing, some kids simply no longer feel the need to do “Drop-off-Drama” and the situation can resolve itself fairly quickly.

5. Make a Fun “Going To School” Book Starring Your Little One

Take them to preschool on a day that they don’t actually attend. Take pictures of them every step of the way. Since there is no impending good-bye, there won’t be any drama. Photograph them smiling in their carseats, smiling in front of the school, walking down the hall holding your hand and standing in the classroom waving a pretend goodbye. Then leave the school, go for a treat and talk about how it felt to go to school so happy. Next, print up the pictures and make a super simple little little book with your child’s name in it: For example: “William Goes to School” book.

Each morning after that, ask your child if they want to go to school happy or sad and let them look at the book. This reinforces that they were able to go to school happy and by looking at the pictures, they will remember the experience of going in peacefully. This technique worked so well with one mom that her child never fussed after that.

Important Things to Remember:

Show compassion for your children who fuss at drop off — saying goodbye to their “home-base” is painful for them. It’s a life skill they must learn, but acknowledge that it’s a hard one.

Have no expectation that this should be easy for them or you. If it’s not, it’s not. It can be a great opportunity for you to teach them different ways to master this important skill.

Put some time and effort into switching up the pattern and you could save yourself and your child a lot of drama and heartache in the long run.



Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

Ask Your Misbehaving Son: “What Kind of Man Do You Want to Grow Up to Be?”

Raising Boys, Raising a Teenage Boy, How to deal with a misbehaving teen

While on vacation recently at the beach, a family of five found themselves having a less than ideal time together.

Lying on the beach and doing absolutely NOTHING sounded perfect for the over-worked parents, but the two older boys, James and Liam, wanted ACTION and their little sister Mattie wanted to join in the fun.

The water-fight that started out as fun quickly turned into James and Liam ganging up against Mattie – taunting, teasing, and leaving her feeling hurt and unwanted. She just wanted to play with her brothers! Her protests were met with a “You can’t play with us!” blasted at her by James. Mattie burst into tears.  This got mom’s attention.

The family vacation that was supposed to be fun and relaxing had somehow devolved into an exhibition on the beach of wet, upset kids that really wanted to have fun but couldn’t quite figure out how to make that happen. Mom thought fast.

“James, what kind of guy do you want to grow up to be?”

James: “A nice guy!”
Mom: “That’s wonderful to hear. Now, what do you think a nice guy would do right now?”

James’ face fell. He knew the answer.

Fascinated, Mom watched him go through the mental gymnastics:

“I don’t want to let Mattie play and I don’t feel like it and I’m not going to. So there! But I want to grow up to be a nice guy and a nice guy would let her play. So I guess I have to shift out of my “mean-boy” mode and into my “nice-guy mode…”

Sometimes kids feel ornery or stubborn or righteous and it is our job to ask questions to help them shift into a more civilized state of mind.

One of my favorite series of questions which help accomplish this are:

  • 1. “Who do you respect and admire?”
  • 2. “Would you act this way if he was watching you?”
  • 3. “Would he treat others this way?”
  • Besides stopping kids in their tracks to think about their behavior, these questions open the door for a conversation about integrity which calls for them to treat people well, whether or not anyone else knows about it.

    Siblings provide countless opportunities for teaching children how to treat all of the people around them. The next time your children are bickering/ fighting/ becoming increasingly aggressive towards each other – thank the universe for giving you such a great real-time, perfectly chaotic moment on which to build important life lessons!



    Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
    ©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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    Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

    As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

    A Teenage Storm Today Makes Way for a Sunny Tomorrow

    A Teenage Storm Today Makes Way for a Sunny Tomorrow There are many versions of a “Teenage Storm” – surly, annoyed, resentful, hurtful – perhaps it includes silence or is filled with an angry outburst claiming that you don’t understand. It could be your teen manipulating your emotions in the storm – looking for an opportunity to take advantage of your weakness. Whatever your particular teen brings to the table, I hope you let this parenting story help you remember to consistently stand your ground.

    Just two days ago, 15-year old Parker was in a hurry to get out the door and head to school. When I took an extra minute to grab my coffee, he snapped at me in such a loud, angry voice that was so rude and harsh that it startled me. I kept my composure on the way to school. I needed to think about how I wanted to handle but I knew that we were both too heated to discuss it well in that moment. He got out of the car and slammed the door with a sarcastic remark of, “Good job mom, you finally made it.” Bear in mind that this kid could be riding the bus to school, but it’s a long walk and early morning and I generally like the chance to be with him, so I drive him to school.

    After school, I calmly told him that the way he had treated me felt bad. He got fired up again and accused me of “going psycho over every little thing.” Of course, this hurt my feelings also. I mean, I am a reformed yeller and rarely raise my voice in anger!

    In typical teenage fashion, that same afternoon, Parker wanted me to drive him to get a haircut and to a friend’s house. After putting on some mental armor and reinforcements to endure his inevitable protest, I calmly said to my son, “The way you treated me today doesn’t leave me feeling willing to do you any favors or drive you around.” Then I added a common phrase of mine, “I love you too much to let you learn it’s ok to treat me poorly.”

    He was furious. And really disappointed about having to stay home while his friends got together. Fortunately, he kept it to himself. Still, I felt gross, he was grumpy and let’s just say it didn’t feel like the Cleaver household that evening.

    The next day, everything changed. During breakfast, Parker was kind and helpful. He seemed calm and collected – the night of ruminating on his choices seemed to have had a positive effect. When he again asked me about taking him for a haircut, I had no problem rewarding his request and we had a nice evening.

    Following through with consequences and limits with a strong-willed teen can be daunting. Teens never thank their parents for being firm (can you believe??) and we often feel like we have to run for cover when those particularly surly teens protest our attempts at discipline. But I swear, every time I set a limit and have the nerve to follow through, every time I’m strict with my strong-willed teen, I have to endure the storm, but once it is over, my teen is sweeter and nicer than he was before.



    Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
    ©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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    Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

    As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

    5 Easy Steps to Discourage Lying in Little Kids

    5 Easy Steps to Discourage Lying in Little KidsA dad who was in for parent coaching recently asked me how to deal with his 6 year old son’s chronic lying.
    Here are five strategies he’s going to experiment with and see how they work.
    Please let me know if you’ve had experience with this and what has helped.  Other parents will be grateful!

    Celebrate the Truth

    Watch…. when you anticipate a lie and get the truth, celebrate! Acknowledge that you love to hear the truth and let him know you love and appreciate it. Little kids love positive feedback! (Don’t we all?!)

    Call for a “Do-Over”

    When your child does lie, give her the chance for a “do-over.”  Gently explain, “Lying is not something we do in our family and there is a consequence for it. But if you would like to do it over, you can have a chance.”

    Then…. Make it Playful!

    Comically back up, recreate the scene, and repeat the scenario. Sometimes the sillier you make this, the more likely your son or daughter is to break his/her frame of mind and tell the truth instead. And remember, when they tell the truth… celebrate with tone of voice, touch, eye contact and a smile!

    Observe Situations Around You

    Look at different events around you and name when people are pretending when they are telling the truth. You could reference a television show and tell your child that people are pretending. That’s ok because everyone knows they are just pretending. But when mom or dad ask a question, then the truth must be told.  It’s ok to teach children that there’s a time and place for pretend and there’s a time and place for the truth.

    Use the Wisdom of Dr Suess

    Read the book ‘To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street” and talk about how the kid is fibbing. Explain that if kids want to make up a big story, that’s ok, you love their creativity… they just have to let people know that they are telling a pretend story.

    Compassion is the Key to 5-year Old Bed Wetting

    sleepy boy in blue bedclothesWe all have expectations as parents. One thing we don’t usually expect is for our school age child to still be wetting the bed on a regular basis. So when it happens over and over again, we can forget that they are little people trying hard to learn and we can end up being negative and shaming – which can prolong the bed wetting episodes.

    I recently worked with a dad who was frustrated with his 5-year old’s constant bed-wetting.

    So we tried a new approach.

    “My 5-year old son, Will, still wets the bed at least half of the nights. Each time it happens, he’ll walk into my room in the morning in different pajamas than he wore to bed with his chin tucked and a sad look on his face.  I asked the pediatrician who politely brushed me off, saying that it’s not uncommon and that I shouldn’t worry about it. I try to get Will to use the bathroom every night before bed, I have him help me change the sheets and I don’t get upset about it but I’m just not sure what else I should be doing.”

    This is an issue with two levels of solutions: the physical and the mental.

    The Physical Aspects

    Ensure you are following these steps:

    1. No liquids after dinner.
    A belly full of water can equal a bed full of regret. Cut off all liquids after dinner, and if a bedtime drink is requested – make it small – 1 -2 swallows is plenty.

    2. Use the bathroom right before bed.
    Be certain that he goes to the bathroom before bed (make it into a game if it helps).

    3. Sleepwalk to the bathroom.
    Wake him up right before YOU go to bed.  Keep the lights low, speak quietly, and guide him into the bathroom, even if you have to carry him and help him sit.

    The Mental Aspects

    Kids are emotional little creatures. They pick up on meaning and subtext that we don’t even realize we’re giving off. With that said:
    1. Show no irritation or intensity when he doesn’t make it through; sounds like he’s already bummed about it.

    2. Have him set up an incentive to celebrate when he stays dry through the night. When he does stay dry, be happy with him.

    3. Be kind and matter-of-fact about him helping put the sheets and pajamas in the washer.

    4. Come up with something sweet and reassuring.

    Here’s the part that can make potty-training an exercise in developing important life-long skills: have him come up with something sweet and reassuring to say to himself on the days he’s not successful staying dry.  Ask him what a good coach would say to encourage a player.  Some possibilities:

    • “No worries, better luck next time.”
    • “It’s ok, I don’t have to be perfect.”
    • “My body might not be quite ready but it’ll get there soon.”
    • “Lucky for me, people in our family are lovable even when they wet the bed.”

    5. Envision the Positive
    Each night before he goes to bed, have him say out loud: 1) what his reward will be for staying dry and, 2) what sweet thing he’ll say to himself if he wakes up wet.  Even better?  Have him get in bed and pretend that he is waking up wet.  Have him go through each detail of opening his eyes, checking his pajamas, smiling and saying his kind statement.  Then do the same drill with him pretending that he is waking up dry and enjoying his incentive.

    If you do this, not only will you some day have a son who won’t need Pull-Ups but you’ll also have a son who can be compassionate and gentle with himself and others even when things aren’t perfect!



    Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
    ©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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    Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

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    Newborn Feeding Tips for Sleeping Longer at Night

    Establish Daytime Patterns

    Newborn Feeding Tips for Sleeping Longer at NightDuring the day, you want your baby to eat and eat and eat so that at night time, she will sleep and sleep and sleep. This means frequent feeding times, ranging from every 2 – 3 hours.

    If breastfeeding: feed every two hours during the day.

    If formula feeding: feed every 3 hours during the day.

    If your baby isn’t acting hungry after the allotted time, still offer the breast or bottle. They may take just a bit, bit it will help them learn the pattern of eating more during the day and less at night.

    Fill That Belly

    I do this at 9:30pm – but it’s whenever you want your 4-5 hour block to start.
    Filling the belly at 11pm means your baby could sleep until 3 or 4am.

    SAMPLE SCHEDULE FOR 12-WEEK OLD FEEDING TIMES

    7:00 am

    9:00 am

    11:30 am

    1:30 pm

    3:30 pm

    5:30 pm

    7:30 pm

    9:30 pm – FILL THAT BELLY

    2:30 am

    5:00 am

    7:00 am

    I have found these two key feeding tips – in conjunction with 5 Tips to Get Your Newborn to Sleep Longer at Night – have created a pattern which allows both my daughter and me to get the best possible sleep at night with a newborn!

    Roxann Blue
    ©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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    Roxann is a new mom, graphic designer, and contributing author for Head & Heart Parents. In her spare time she likes to sleep. You can learn more about her at www.roxannblue.com

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    5 Tips to Help Your Newborn Sleep Longer

    5 Tips to Help Your Newborn Sleep Longer
    Being a brand new parent of a brand new baby who had trouble sleeping longer than an hour at a time I utilized every resource I could find to help me. I met with professional sleep consultants, read popular books about parenting newborns, called the fussy baby network, and of course – scoured online forums for anyone suffering from the same lack of sleep with a trick or idea I hadn’t tried yet.

    Here’s what I was dealing with:

    • Baby would only fall asleep in my arms
    • Baby would wake up when I tried to put her down
    • Baby would only stay asleep for an hour at a time
    • When she would wake in the night, she would want to stay awake instead of going back to sleep

    I discovered that a tip from here and an idea from there brought impressive results.

    1. Fill That Belly

    Think of the time when you are most interested in having a good long sleep. Most likely that time involves having a nice, satisfying meal right beforehand. To create a state of contentment, and to keep it that way for a few hours, make sure your little one has a nice full belly before trying to send them off to dreamland.

    2. Pre-Flight Sleep Checklist

    To sleep for a longer stretch of time ensure all of the following are taken care of after a nice, full feed:

    • Burped to prevent mid-sleep gas pains
    • Gas drops if needed
    • A fresh diaper
    • Adequately dressed – being too hot or too cold can cause wake-ups

    3. Set the Sleep Cues Part I:
    Emulate the Comfort of the Womb

    Setting up specific bedtime or naptime cues lets your baby know: “Oh, it’s time for me to have a nice, big sleep.”

    The simple comfort cues that worked the best for me are:

    • A tight swaddle
    • Rocking motion
    • Pacifier

    A lot of newborns feel most contented in a cozy setting that resembles the womb. A tight swaddle and heavy bouncing may seem uncomfortable to adults, but babies are used to being compressed into a little ball and jiggled constantly. Perhaps you remember your baby being the most bouncy when you were trying to sleep at night? Stillness makes babies unsettled!

    4. Set the Sleep Cues Part II:
    Emulate the Sounds of the Womb

    Along with a snug squeeze, the womb was loud – as loud as a vacuum cleaner – with the sounds of mom’s heartbeat, lungs, and belly growls. After your baby is gently jiggling in a snug swaddle give her some familiar, pacifying background noise.

    The sounds that worked for me are:

    • Fan or white noise machine
    • A special sleep-time song

    After putting the noise machine on the loudest setting, I wrapped everything up with a special song just for sleep time. It was usually something I just made up on the fly with a soothing rhythm. Give it a try – it may only take a few times for your baby to recognize their special sleep song with heavy eyes when you start singing.

    5. And Then You Wake Your Baby Up…

    Yes, I know this sounds crazy. When I heard this I thought to myself, “I am trying to get this child to SLEEP! How is waking her a good idea??” However, when you think about it, this is the perfect time to get your baby to learn how to fall asleep on their own– baby is full of milk, swaddled, comforted, and heavy with sleep. The best method (tried and true by me, I swear!) is to gently wake up your baby before putting them down in their sleep area.

    The Reasoning: It’s easy for your baby to fall asleep in your arms – being gently rocked against a warm body – the soothing sound of a heartbeat – what’s not to love? It’s tempting to just let the little nugget remain peacefully asleep on your chest. Just keep in mind if this is the only way you let your baby fall asleep, this could cause a dependency on mom or dad to get them back asleep during wake-ups caused by noises or mild hunger.

    Yes, at first this could take a few tries. I remember having to pick my baby up and soothe her back to a calm state at least five times before she fell asleep on her own. But she learned – and now I can lay her down in her bassinet after two rounds of the special sleep song when her eyes are heavy and starting to close and she falls asleep. On her own. Just like magic.

    6. Bonus Tip: Rock n’ Play Your Way to Victory

    Putting a baby down on a still surface can wake them right up. I struggled with this for weeks – I tried everything and nothing seemed to work. Every sleeping setup I tried was so different from rocking in the warmth of moms arms.

    That is until I was told about the Fisher Price Rock n’ Play by my lactation consultant.

    At first I was skeptical. Another baby contraption I had no interest in buying let alone cluttering up my already small city apartment. It sat in the box for a few days and then after I put it together I was reluctant to try it. But let me tell you – IT CHANGED MY LIFE.

    After my baby was fed, burped, changed, and rocked to sleep in my arms, the easiest transition was laying her down in the Rock n’ Play and gently rocking her back to sleep. So easy, so light – it works like magic.

    Learn How Using the Rock n’ Play Can Help Parents Get More Sleep, Too!

    Roxann Blue
    ©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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    Roxann is a new mom, graphic designer, and contributing author for Head & Heart Parents. In her spare time she likes to sleep. You can learn more about her at www.roxannblue.com

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