ftm series: sleep coaching.

by Janetha on March 6, 2015

in fox,oh baby,product review

when i was pregnant, if you told me the hardest part about raising a baby was getting him to sleep, i wouldn’t have believed you. surely things like properly feeding him and teaching him important life skills would be much more difficult, right?


sleep is, by far, the hardest thing marshall and i are dealing with as new parents. so many people act like it’s no big deal. your baby yawns, you lay him in his crib, and he drifts off to sleep.

hahahaha. that’s funny.

whoever decided “i slept like a baby” was a good phrase clearly hadn’t gone through the trials of getting a baby to sleep.


i know there are lots of babies that are GREAT sleepers. i don’t have one of those. and the more i poke around the internet and talk to other moms, the more i realize that it’s a common issue for several babies. it’s a full time job to get our little man to take a nap and, while he goes down great at bedtime, getting him to stay asleep is another story.

we struggle.

fox has been reliant on several sleep crutches since he was itty bitty. we swaddle him. he loves white noise. his binky is his BFF. he likes to be angled in his rock’n’play and hates his crib. although there are some crutches that we didn’t use—the swing (he hates it), nursing him to nap (he’s on an eat, play, sleep routine), and co-sleeping are a few we just didn’t end up needing or wanting to do.

looking back, we probably shouldn’t have used all these sleep crutches to begin with, but you gotta do what you gotta do when you gotta do it. so we did. maybe on our next baby we will try a different approach. or maybe not. who knows. not me.

i wish i had known more about babies and sleeping and all that jazz before hopping into this parenting gig, but i didn’t. so i have just played it by ear. i have read lots of books along the way and have taken bits and pieces from each, trying to see what will work for us.

so.. anyway.. when fox was a newborn he slept great. duh, that’s basically all newborns do. smell good and sleep. he would sleep anywhere! we preferred him taking naps on our chest because, well, they will only do that for so long.

how i wish fox would nap on my chest now. those naps were the best ever. and i don’t think letting your baby nap on your chest will lead to him ONLY being able to sleep on you/near you… simply because i am living proof that it does not. so mamas, cuddle up with your newborn and take that nap.

we chose to have fox sleep in the rock’n’play/bassinet in our room from day 1. it was better for us to have him in our room, since we had to stick our hand in front of his face approximately 17 times an hour during the night to make sure he was still breathing. ;)

at about 6 weeks, fox decided to start sleeping through the night. and by that i mean he went to sleep at 9pm and woke up at 5am.. that’s a pretty solid chunk for a little baby! i had to go back to work at 6 weeks, so i was loving this new habit of his. it was great.

eventually we moved him into his own room, and even into his crib! he was still swaddled at night and slept great in his crib.

around 12 weeks, his sleep habits began to go downhill. it’s all kind of a blur.. but in a nutshell, he started waking up multiple times a night and getting him to take a nap was always a battle. rocking, shushing, soothing, trying over and over to get him to just GTFTS.

we resorted back to the rock’n’play, and things got slightly better for about a week, but they were still rough.

all of this this got worse as time went on, and i figured it was that 4 month sleep regression i had heard so much about. we powered through it, knowing it would pass.

until it didn’t.

he is actually still in the rock’n’play and will soon outgrow it when he is able to get up and move around better.

last night, we tried the crib again.. and he was up every 20 minutes.

we are screwed.

fox is six months. we are still having a hard time with sleep. he wakes up crying a lot in the night. sometimes he just screams his little head off. or, i guess his big head.. since it’s in the 90th percentile. ;)

he wakes up anywhere from 2 to 6 times a night, and even after being nursed or bottle fed, he won’t go right back down like he used to. naps are an even bigger struggle. he is used to taking a morning nap, an early afternoon nap, and a later afternoon cat nap. but lately he has been skipping one or two naps, which leads to a cranky baby, which leads to horrible night sleep. it a vicious cycle, i tell ya!

we have tried several ways to get him to sleep. i read a lot of books. there are a lot of methods out there. we tried cry it out. it didn’t work for him. he didn’t cry it out.. he just cried. harder and harder and harder. it’s not for us. we tried the longer and longer method. it didn’t work for fox. anything we tried failed miserably.

since things don’t seem to be getting better, and since i am super nervous about having to leave him with a sitter soon with such bad nap issues, i have decided to hire a sleep coach!


tracy spackman of quiet nights sleep coaching services is a renowned certified gentle sleep coach. she has been coaching for over three years and has helped over FIVE HUNDRED families get better sleep. she creates sleep coaching plans for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. she recommends not to start a coaching plan until your baby is six months, but will start as early as 18 weeks if you are desperate.

did you notice the word “gentle” in there? that is what made this plan so appealing to us. we know that fox is high alert, very high maintenance, hates to be left alone, and does not easily calm down nor easily fall asleep. we needed a gentle approach to help our little guy. sleep coaching is different than sleep training. you coach your baby gently to learn to sleep through the night.

tracy’s plans are developmentally appropriate for the younger baby. she has in-depth knowledge of the delicate nature of infants and how to consider all elements of their well-being.

the most appealing thing to me is that the plan we were given is SPECIFIC to fox. it’s no secret that no two babies are the same. it’s so hard to expect the advice from sleep books to work because those are so general and there really is not a “one plan fits all” for babies. it’s such an individual, case-by-case thing and a personalized plan is exactly what fox requires to get better sleep.

tracy offers a free 15 minute consultation to anyone interested in her services. i strongly urge you to give her a call at 602-524-7610 if you are trying to figure out how to get your baby to sleep!


in that short, free 15 minute call, she can give you several ideas and recommendations on how to get quiet nights. here are some key points you may not have already known:

important information regarding babies & sleep

  • babies need to be watched closely and you have to HELP them sleep. unfortunately they don’t come with those skills built in. ;) sleep cues are important to learn and recognize, and tracy will help you figure out how to do this.
  • most babies need to have 12 hours of sleep and 12 hours of daytime (with the amount of day sleep noted in the next bullet) so that means if they wake up at 6:30 am, their bedtime should be around 6:30pm.
  • babies need to have three sleep cycles (a sleep cycle is 45 minutes) plus one cat nap (anything less than 45 minutes) each day.
  • typical wake time for a six month old is around two hours. anything more than this will lead to baby being overtired, which isn’t fun for anyone.
  • it is crucial to watch for early sleep cues and put your baby down before it gets to the late cues (yawning, rubbing eyes).. if you wait too long, babies get a cortisol rush (a burst of energy) and putting them to sleep during that is damn near impossible! if it gets that far, it’s best to wait for the rush to pass. tracy can explain to you how to get through the cortisol rush and achieve peaceful sleep.
  • you want to make sure your baby has a consistent environment with no distractions. when they wake at night, they should wake to the same exact environment they fell asleep to. ie: lights off, white noise.
  • sleep crutches are fine to use during naps, but it is best to remove those crutches for night time sleep so your baby can learn to self-soothe and sleep without them.
  • sleep begets sleep—the better daytime sleep your baby gets, the better night time sleep will be.

when you hire tracy, you fill out an extensive history for your child. seriously, nothing gets left out of this history. she likes to know EXACTLY what your child is like. once the history has been filled out, tracy spends 60-90 minutes on the phone detailing the best plan and schedule, tailored specifically to your family and baby’s needs.

we just got our tailored plan and i cannot wait to get started! i will check back in once we have gone through the plan and i will let you all know how fox is sleeping when all is said and done.

in the meantime, i suggest you guys join her facebook group, sleep sisters-get quiet nights. it is such a valuable resource! it is a huge community of mothers with sleep issues, asking questions and supporting each other. click below to join.


tracy also has an AWESOME blog where she tackles several of the hot items regarding babies and sleep. she answers key questions in very well written, informative blog posts. some really great ones to check out — breaking the swaddle, alternatives to cry it out, night weaning, and improving naps.

speaking of questions, tracy has been kind enough to allow me to open this blog post up for any questions you may have regarding your baby and sleep. i know i have several mommas reading my blog, and you must have questions.. so, please, fire away!

no question from me.. i just want to know what questions YOU have for tracy!

xo. janetha g.

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Amy O. March 6, 2015 at 4:14 pm

I need a sleep coach for my baby! He is 3 months old so not quite yet but right now we are getting little to no sleep every. single. night.

I have some questions….

1. How long should our bedtime routine be? And what should it consist of? Right now we do bath time every other night, and story time every night, and then feeding right before bed.

2. Will giving my baby rice cereal before bed help them sleep longer? I have read that but also read not to start that until 4 months.

3. I am like you and use all the crutches. Swaddle, pacifier, white noise, feed to sleep, rock to sleep, pick up all night long to calm. Do we need to eliminate ALL of these to get him to sleep through the night and if so what order do we do it?


Sara March 6, 2015 at 4:26 pm

My baby is 3.5 months old, and has never been a good sleeper. Naps are out of my control as he is at daycare, but typically will nap 2-3 times a day for about an hour. We put him down at 6:30 PM as he has to wake at 6:30 AM. We have a consistent bedtime routine of bath, lotion, and nurse. He will promptly fall asleep after this and sleep until anywhere from 10 PM – 2 AM. However, he ALWAYS wakes at some point during this time; I feed him and he will usually go back down. He then sleeps very restlessly until around 3 or 4 AM, when he is wide awake again, usually screaming and crying until we walk around and settle him down. I try not to feed him at this time. Once he finally goes to sleep again, he will normally sleep very restlessly again until he gets up for the day at 6:30. My question is how do I get him to fall into and stay in a deeper sleep? Or is it normal for a baby to be moving around a lot and appear to not be sleeping very deeply during the night? Also, how can i get him out of the habit of waking around the same times each night? Thank you so much!

Stephanie March 6, 2015 at 4:52 pm

Hello! Goodness baby sleep is tough:) our 16 month old does ok for everything except that she says awake for 2-3 hours in the middle of the night. She will babble some and then get angry until we give her a bottle. Then she will be ok for a while then she wants another bottle before going to sleep. We have no idea how to stop this habit that started a few months ago. Any ideas why she would be up for hours in the middle of the night? She’s only taking one nap a day now and there’s sufficient time between her last nap and bed time around 7.

Marie Gutshall March 6, 2015 at 5:05 pm

Naps are our issue! We’ve come a long way, but I’d be interested in any advice.

Little one is 11 months old. From 3-8 months of age, I was lucky to get him to nap for more than 30-40 minutes. I did a lot of reading, and finally was able to get him on a decent schedule where he takes 1.25 hr naps in the morning and afternoon. He’s been sleeping thorough the night since 5 months.

I was a nanny for years, and must of the kids I cared for slept 1-1.5 hrs in the morning and 2-3 hrs in the afternoon. I guess what I’m wondering is if I should accept the 1-1.25hr naps im getting, or if there’s a way to promote longer naps?

Sarah March 6, 2015 at 5:12 pm

So my questions is about a toddler sleep…
I have 20 month old twins.. they started sleeping through the night at 8 months (no pacifiers, white noise in their room, lay them down awake in the crib after pjs/storytime). Stopped white noise around 13 months.. no problem. About 2 months ago they stopped sleeping through the night… possible due to a combination of cough/sickness and 1 week trip to the West Coast with them in which their sleeping was totally wrecked havoc with. So now we have been back home for 5 weeks.. no more illness and they seem to take turns waking up in the night. One night one sleeps through, and the other wakes up. The next night, they switch! So I know both of them are capable. When they wake up, we just go in, pull up their blanket and presto.. back to sleep for another 4 hours (usually only 2 wake ups a night). A few weeks ago we tried cry it out(basically checking on them every 10 minutes but not moving the blanket) and didn’t seem to work.. my one twin cried for 1 1/2 hours until we couldnt take it anymore and went in, moved her blanket and she was right asleep. Of course, I realize we basically taught her if she cried long enough we would come in.. When they were 8 months old that sort of 10 minute check worked in 3 nights.. the longest crying being about 40 minutes the first night.
So.. my husband and I have basically been taking turns with running in through the night.. any ideas? Wait till they grow out of it? One of them is VERY attached to the blanket during the day (carries it everywhere) so I think taking it away totally will create even more distress).


Linz @ Itz Linz March 6, 2015 at 5:58 pm

you know I love you, fox, and Tracy!! Haha why is sleep so difficult?? William still wakes up a million times a night. I have to commit to actually follow Tracy’s plan – I learned so much from her and then chickened out :-/

Jackie March 6, 2015 at 6:15 pm

My 4 month old always wakes up when we put her down in her crib at night. We have a routine of bath, massage, feed. She falls asleep when nursing and then I put her down and she always wakes up. I try to stick to the rule of not keeping her awake for more than 2 hours. What am I doing wrong???

Trisha March 6, 2015 at 6:23 pm

Establishing a sleep routine is legitimately my biggest concern going into this mom of twins business. I was worried enough about getting sleep with one baby, but if I can’t get our babies on the same (or at least similar) sleep schedule, I think I may just lose my mind. Bookmarking this and keeping Tracy in mind for later this year!

Katherine March 6, 2015 at 7:37 pm

My son is 5 months old. He slept through the night (usually) until he was 3.5 months. (7:30-7:30). He now wakes up twice a night. I never know if I shoupd nurse him or not? If I do he will go right back to sleep. But I was told not to bc I don’t want to make a habit of it. If I play the paci game he sometimes will go back to sleep for an hour or two and continue waking until nursed. Tried cry it out and that doesn’t work. Should I nurse when he wakes? How can I get my awesome sleeper back?!?! And my sanity. He takes 2 1-2 hour naps along with a short cat nap before bed. He also had a tooth break through this week….


Carolynne March 6, 2015 at 9:38 pm

Wow, thank you so much for allowing us to ask questions! I too am struggling with my 4 month old and sleeping. She wakes up anywhere from 2-5 times a night. I am lucky if I get one long stretch of 4 hours. It’s exhausting. I go to bed with baby at 8pm because I’m desperate for sleep.

Anyway, I nurse to sleep and I’m wondering how to get out of this habit? She already uses a soother during the day, so I really don’t think it reminds her of sleep. I’d love to be able to get her down to sleep and actually be able to have some “me time” after. I just can’t do that now because I don’t want to miss out on what little sleep I do get.

Thanks again.

Katie March 6, 2015 at 10:58 pm

First of all I feel your pain my baby is almost 6 months and while we have a pretty good routine, for every great night, there is a terrible one. And I totally feel you on the doing what you need to do at the time.

Which brings me to my question. My son goes through stages where he will wake up crying (we did cry it out it worked initially but not anymore) and he will only sleep if we are holding him. This is uncomfortable for me and not to mention prob not the safest. Any advice on how to get him to shake the wanting to be held?

Megan March 7, 2015 at 3:10 am

My heart goes out to all of you! Man I wish I had clued myself up on the whole sleep thing before I had my little boy. It sure would’ve made reading all those books a heck of a lot easier, as opposed to reading them glassy eyes during feeds and whenever I was meant to be resting. You know, it’s so interesting that every book and blog I have read, no matter the method, basically all say the same thing with regards to your bullet points (if that makes any sense?!)

Good on you for hiring a sleep coach. In Australia we have sleep schools, both at private and public hospitals. basically you and your baby stay for around five nights. The nurses do the first couple of nights (the hardest!), then teach you plus they run heaps of seminars etc. From what I have heard, most of them are very much about what you are comfortable with. I was about to get referred by my child health nurse but after seeing a fantastic paed and getting my boy’s tummy problems sorted, plus doing my own sleep training (cobbled together from books, in particular Save our Sleep and Baby Whispering, advice from the child health nurse and blogs, particularly one called Not Another Mum Blog) he is a gazillion times better.

My main issue is catnapping! The nurse thinks it could be because of the dummy so I took it away yesterday. Went fine yesterday but today was a lot harder. It’s made me realise how much I rely on it to settle that’s for sure!

Megan March 7, 2015 at 3:14 am

PS I forgot to say that I think you are amazing. I’ve had many a day where I have been too scared to drive because I’ve been so exhausted, I cant imagine trying to work on those days. I hope you are very proud of yourself mama xo

Lisa B March 7, 2015 at 4:55 am

Hi…my son is just under 3 wks old and whenever I try to swaddle him, he can’t stand it. He loves kicking his legs around so he goes to sleep in a sleep sack…do you think this ok? Could I not be swaddling correctly? Thanks for any advice.

Lauren March 7, 2015 at 5:46 am

Janetha – I am SOO happy you posted about this. We are going through the exact same thing with G right now, in fact, G and Fox remind me so much alike. I think they would be such good friends if we lived near each other. :( Anyways, I feel ya girl, I really really do! I just told John last night that I am going to give Tracy a call so thank you so much for sharing your experience!

So my question is this: Grayson wakes up several times throughout the night (about every 2 hours). He only wants to nurse for a few minutes and then goes right back down. We’ve tried EVERYTHING else and like you Janetha, CIO just doesn’t work for him. I almost think it’s better for me to just nurse him for a few minutes and then he will go back to sleep immediately rather than being up with him for an hour trying to soothe him from outside the crib. I was told that always picking him up to nurse him back to sleep is not a great idea and that he should learn to self-sooth and we should try soothing tactics while he is still in his crib. So my question is, should I stop nursing him so frequently throughout the night? I don’t think he is necessarily very hungry, I think he just needs the comfort to go back to sleep. Thanks so much!

Laura March 7, 2015 at 7:01 am

Sleep issues are so hard! We are lucky that for the most part, our 8 month old has always been a pretty decent night sleeper (naps are another story, ha!). My question is about super early wake ups. My son has been waking up between 4:45-5:30 almost every day and will not go back to sleep. Sometimes he has a poopy diaper which obviously I have to deal with, but then he is up. He used to go back to sleep if I fed him half a bottle, but that is not working any more. I do try my best to leave him in his crib until 6:30, but sometimes I get him out a little sooner if he is really crying. I know he is overtired because of this, but I don’t know how to get him to sleep later. He takes 2 naps a day, and we’ve tried earlier and later bedtimes, and nothing seems to do the trick.

Purelytwins March 7, 2015 at 10:12 pm

So sorry to hear all your sleep issues. I didn’t think getting babies to sleep would be the harder than breastfeeding. Well, maybe they are equal. Depends on the day haha
I am lucky that Madison does well at nighttime sleeping but doesn’t do naps that well. Some days she does but majority of the time she is a little difficult. I have read so many sleeping books and blogs, it’s crazy. I was driving myself crazy. I did some things people mentioned, some helped, but I am not perfect at everything.

Melissa C March 8, 2015 at 7:13 am

My baby boy is 13 weeks old but born prematurely so 8 weeks adjusted. He sleeps about 5.5 to 6.5 hours overnight. Our issue is with his naps in the later afternoon and evening. He is on a 3 hour schedule during the day. His waketimes vary each day depending on what time he wakes to feed. In the evening it is so hard to get him to sleep. We do a bedtime routine, bottle, change diaper/PJs, swaddle, book, bed. But I end up spending alot of time rocking him to try to get him to sleep and once he gets to sleep he wakes frequently so one of us is in his room trying to soothe him to sleep. I’ve read to not let babies sleep after 430p. I’ve also read to be consistent with wake times ie waking him up the same time every day, even if he was awake 2 hours prior to eat. What are your thoughts?

bonnie March 8, 2015 at 7:49 pm

I have an 18 week old. I love nursing him to sleep at night, but he has to be able to fall asleep during the day with dad, grandma, or nanny. So, my question is, is it ok for us to have different routines for day and night sleep? (This had been working ok, but since he turned 16 weeks old everything with sleep has been a lot more difficult, especially with a lot more night waking). Thanks for letting us ask questions! Love your blog, Janetha.

JenG March 9, 2015 at 6:44 am

I’m 30 weeks pregnant with our first child and wondering what you best advice is for new parents?

Lisa March 9, 2015 at 9:08 am

My “baby” will be 2 next month, but when she an infant I did the eat, play, sleep thing thinking that it made the most sense and was a good idea for her and after the whole 4 month sleep regression circus she still would wake up at night, not nap well, etc.. so we gave up on that and let her stay awake more during the day and made sure she was really stimulated with toys and other activities to really wear her out and since 4-5 months she’s been sleeping 12 hours straight 99% of the time. I am no longer a believer of “good sleep equals good sleep” I think it equals too much sleep and can you sleep when you’ve slept too much? I can’t. We also respect her bedtime, always. Even now that she’s older can handle being up later, 7pm is winding down/bedtime.

Jessie March 9, 2015 at 8:07 pm

We sleep trained Lyric at 6 months. After that she was night weaned and slept 12 hrs a night. (Except when teething.) Lydia was a little harder. She woke 1x a night to nurse until 12 months but now at 15 months she sleeps 7p-7a consistently. She’s a much better napper than Lyric was but I think that’s more from being a 2nd child and me not having time to help her fall asleep. She had to figure it out herself early on.

I hope you guys find a good system! Sleep is just the best! And a happy, well rested baby is even better. :)

Kathryn March 11, 2015 at 8:21 pm

Good luck! I totally get the checking if baby is breathing multiple times a night!

Annette@FitnessPerks March 12, 2015 at 1:45 pm

My heart goes out to you–sleep stuff & nap stuff is SO hard. And because every baby is different, it’s tough to know right off the bat if your baby will be a better sleeper or not.

I think we got a pretty good sleeper, but it doesn’t mean we didn’t have our trials! The 4-month sleep regression was THE WORST as was the entire week when she was 7 months old when we were on a house boat (#zombiemode), and the 2 weeks during Christmas this last year (uhhhhh) but we did do a few things I’d learned from a great book & they seemed to help her a ton. (the book is “healthy sleep habits healthy child” and i really liked it)

She started sleeping 12-13 hours around 9.5 months without us ‘making’ her do that, but we had done stuff up until then (we wouldn’t pick her up, we’d soothe her instead by patting her back, singing, etc.) that would help her learn to put herself back to sleep. Around 5 months for naps I never rocked her to sleep–she would go down awake & put herself to sleep. So the teaching part is THE HARDEST. But it is so worth it, I promise. I hope the coaching/plans work out for you guys & you find something that works! Hang in there mama, it does get easier!! <3 xo

Tin Sauerbier March 12, 2015 at 10:02 pm

Fox man and my 6 1/2 month old Finn are pretty alike. He’s been giving me a hard time lately. He wakes up every 2-3 hours just to be reassured Mom is around.
I tried to let him cry a little, pick him up and rock him until he is drowsy and put him back and if he cries I would do it over. But he still keeps waking.

His normal routine would be sleeping from 7pm and waking at 11pm or 12am for a dream feed and again at 4 or 5am for another feed. (which was fine).

Have not tried CIO and don’t really want to!
He also cat naps like crazy! I always have to help him sleep longer. Some days he will sleep with no problem for 1+ hours in his crib. Mostly though he gets up after 30 or 40 minutes on the dot.

Would appreciate some advice!
Good luck Janetha also! Love your blogs always. Thank you for this.

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