#177 | Going Clean & Green for a Non-Toxic Lifestyle with Carly Hartwig

September 7, 2022

There are over 85,000 chemicals approved for use in personal care products and fewer than 200 of those have been tested for safety. Carly Hartwig is a home-birth mother of one,  Instagram influencer @cleanlivingwithcarly, and soon-to-be certified endocrine wellness and fertility counselor. Her passion for clean living grew out of her own hormonal havoc when she was told in her twenties she had the hormonal landscape of a post-menopausal woman. She soon realized the products she was using daily in her skincare, make-up and household routines were compromising her health and hormones. After eliminating the most common culprits of toxic living such as heavy metals, Pthalates, and Bisphenols, her health was beautifully restored. Today, she is here to educate us on the lack of FDA-regulation when it comes to the personal-care and household-product industries in the Unites States. She also shares some of the primary sources of endocrine disruptors, teaches how to swap the toxic for clean-and-green products, and explains why this is critical for all mothers who are pregnant or trying to conceive. This episode will have you going "Marie Kondo" on everything in your bathroom, pantry, laundry room, and cleaning products, so get ready for clean living with Carly!


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Please remember we don’t provide medical advice, and to speak with your licensed medical provider related to all your healthcare matters. Thanks so much for joining in the conversation, and see you next week!

View Episode Transcript

I'm Cynthia Overgard, owner of HypnoBirthing of Connecticut, childbirth advocate and postpartum support specialist. And I'm Trisha Ludwig, certified nurse midwife and international board certified lactation consultant. And this is the Down To Birth Podcast. Childbirth is something we're made to do. But how do we have our safest and most satisfying experience in today's medical culture? Let's dispel the myths and get down to birth.

Well, thank you so much for having me. I'm so happy to be here. I am Ellie Linden Mayer, a certified childbirth educator, birth doula lactation counselor, and pediatric sleep consultant. I am the founder and owner of joyful birthing and beyond here on the north shore of Boston. And of course, I'm also a mother, I have three children. I have a 10 year old, an eight year old and a nine month old baby. So very much in in the throes of of parenting and sleep, as well.

So how's it going? How's your sleep?

Oh, oh, gosh, it's a process. But we're, we're getting there. We're getting there. Yeah, waking up once once a night right now, which is which I take as a win. I'll take it. Absolutely. That sounds like a good place to be. Sleep is obviously a very, very popular topic and very important topics. So we are excited to ask you a lot of questions about infant sleep. But before we do that, do you want to just give us some background on your sleep philosophy as it relates to babies?

Yeah, sure, I would love to so the sleep may have heard of the sleep adage sleep against sleep. This is absolutely true. You know, I've heard many stories of mothers, grandparents encouraging, you know, new parents to keep their babies awake in the afternoons and that they sleep at night. And that just makes me cringe because we know that when a baby is awake for too long and is not hitting those sleep needs throughout the day, that that can actually backfire and lead to a baby getting into an overtired state, where their body then releases cortisol and adrenaline to stay away. And that then makes falling asleep and actually even staying asleep more challenging. So from day one, one thing to do is just to focus on making sure that the baby is sleeping, basically, of course around the clock but is basically never awake for much longer than 45 to 60 minutes and most babies are going to wake up to feed and spend most of their awake energy feeding and then go right back to sleep. Some babies are going to need more sleep and some are going to do fine on less sleep there is gonna be all always some variability from baby to baby. You know, I think especially new parents are are always comparing what their baby is doing to the baby next door. And I I caution against that because I think that can breed a lot of anxiety and angst. I always say if a baby's still awake at the 60 minute mark, then I encourage parents to really start to work to get baby to sleep and they can do that by swaddling the baby bouncing the baby rocking the baby shushing right and when we support a baby in those ways, then then the baby's gonna drift right off. Most newborns are going to need support, both falling and staying asleep. They don't just intrinsically know how to sleep all by themselves. Some do better than others with that.

Well in those early weeks, especially they are going to want to be in close contact with a human another human body pretty new. Yeah, mother, and having your baby's sleep on your body is a great way to get a newborn to get enough sleep time and feed time and not miss being used for breastfeeding as well.

Absolutely. And that is where they feel safe and secure. And so in the early weeks, we do not worry about creating bad habits, babies don't have the cognitive ability to develop bad habits. So it really is just about doing whatever is necessary to maximize that sleep and, and having baby sleep, skin to skin. With a mother, we know there are so many benefits to that from a feeding perspective, bonding, attachment regulation. So having a good feeding, and then letting the baby drift off to sleep for a nice long nap. You know, this is this is wonderful, and I am speaking about daytime where the parent is alert in a way I do not recommend sleeping skin to skin you know in an upright position at night. That's that's dangerous and carries some risks.

So this is a very triggering topic for a lot of parents, a lot of moms because we're so connected, we're so bonded, we're so sensitive to the baby and when they hear anything around sleep training, because the word training is so I don't know, inherently offensive in some way, because they think it's going to necessarily mean ignore your baby's needs. But in this conversation we're going to show that's not what this is about. It's more about establishing healthy sleep habits. So we posted this episode topic on Instagram. And as usual, we're flooded with really excellent questions, we wouldn't have been able to probably come up ourselves if we sat down and thought about them all. So we're gonna go through these questions. But my first question, Ellie is, when is it too soon to try to establish sleep habits, it takes a while for babies to get on a diurnal circadian rhythm. So what's too soon.

So for me developing sleep habits, healthy sleep habits means making sure that a baby is meeting their sleep needs. So paying attention to a baby's awake windows, we were just discussing, making sure baby's not awake for much longer than an hour at a time. And then also, because a baby's circadian rhythm, you know, does not develop until closer to four months, the baby has no differentiation between day and night, the way that we do they, whether it's 2pm, or 2am, doesn't matter to them. They don't they don't have that system developed yet. They are working off of a homeostatic system, which is basically their sleep is determined by duration of wakeful periods, right. And this, again, is why those awake windows are so important. And so one healthy habit that we can help to develop early on is having our babies with us during the daylight hours, meaning they're napping in the living room, with the sun coming in through the windows and life going on around them. This helps cue them that it's daytime, exposing them to daylight fresh air as well helps cue their system. And then at nighttime keeping things very, very dark, and very, very quiet. And so I always advise parents during a nighttime feeding, not to turn all of the lights on not to turn the television on, not to be chatting with their partner or even with the baby to be really keeping that a dark, quiet, boring time to help you the baby that it's night. And that that helps develop a little bit of that that differentiation between day and night while that circadian system, you know, is developing and refining and again, we don't see that solidify until closer to to four months. So these are all great ways to just help make sure that that foundation is solid before we're ready to quote unquote, Sleep Train. To me, that would not be any earlier than than 12 weeks, and that really would be the earliest so matching it up with a baby's development, their readiness. That's when we see the best results.

I was also just gonna comment on how it relates to breastfeeding and in my experience implementing any type of strict scheduling of sleep or sleep training in those first 12 weeks can be very detrimental to breastfeeding. Exclusive exclusive breastfeeding is the goal they just generally don't go together very well.

I completely agree and that really isn't appropriate until closer to six months of age Amina. So for a ver A long time, it's following awake windows, knowing that a baby's cues are going to trump even any awake window. And that there are times when a baby may want to cluster feed for three hours. And during that time, they may drift off and have little short naps, and then wake up and want to feed right again. And we must honor that if we want that breastfeeding relationship to be successful.

So would you say, to kind of summarize that, that babies really should, babies and parents should not be focused on any type of clock based schedule before six months. So it's not about getting your baby to go to bed at 8pm and sleeping till six or you know, napping it to forget the clock and focus just on length of sleep, and then wake windows.

That is my approach. And again, this is the individualized approach. My little baby Lucy right now is nine months. And we're still not on a rigid clock base schedule, because sometimes her morning nap is only an hour. And if that's the case, she's gonna be ready for her second nap earlier in the afternoon. Whereas if her first nap is two hours, then she's gonna be able to sustain a longer awake period. So it really almost always should be a little variable. And the variability decreases as the baby gets older. Right? But, but that that is what I find to work best, professionally and personally as a mom.

So the first few questions I want to start with are what a couple of women submitted. And let's just begin here. It says, Does your baby need a sleep schedule? Won't they learn it naturally?

Many, many babies need help falling asleep and staying asleep. And and some babies won't even show those classic sleepy cues, like yawning and rubbing their eyes. And so really, we it's up to us to kind of watch the clock and determine, Okay, it's time it's time for that sleep. If a baby, it's really easy to miss a sleep cue. And if we do, if that's what we're going off of, and a baby then exceeds that awake window window, they then enter into this period of over tiredness, which I was talking about earlier. And that can be mistaken for Oh, my baby's so happy and awake. They actually get kind of wired in seem maybe even energetic, whereas really, they're just overstimulated and stressed.

Yeah, I mean, I guess it's true that, yes, of course, they'll learn how to sleep on their own. The question is, What habits will they have because if you're not disciplined in sleep habits in the home, you can and will likely have a five year old, a seven year old, certainly a teenager who's at risk of just staying up really, really late and just waiting until they pass out at night. Rather than giving them all the sleep they need with a habit when they're five or seven. Like this is your bath time now it's reading time now we dimmed light, we turn out the light, you go to bed and they peacefully close their eyes and drift off to sleep. Is that the difference? Like yes, they're humans and asleep either way. But we're looking to actually establish optimal healthy habits. I think that's what this is about more than anything.

Absolutely. And again, their circadian system will be developed around four months, the range is sort of between three and six months is when we see that natural biological clock sort of kick into gear early on. Again, they don't have that we really need to help ensure that they're meeting those daily needs for optimal development.

So when we talk about healthy habits, you mentioned, holding, rocking, bouncing, babywearing swaddling, even shushing breastfeeding. So in the early weeks, newborn babies are breastfeeding to sleep that is expected. Natural normal, good for milk production. Yeah. So there's a point there is an age where you're, you may want to work at getting your baby to fall asleep without breastfeeding. So the next question, first of all, would be when, when in your mind is is that age, and I'm sure is a little bit dependent on the baby and their development. But the second part of that question is from one of our listeners, and she says, What is the best way to get a baby back to sleep without using breastfeeding?

Yeah, yeah. They sort of go together those questions. So 100% in the early weeks, baby is naturally going to be falling asleep at the breast. Like I said, that awake period is so short, and they're going to be using the majority of their wakeful energy to feed and it is we know breasts Eating has a sedative effect on a baby and it's cuddly and warm is a delightful place for a baby to fall asleep. Again, we're not worried about developing any bad habits early on. Once we pass that critical period of the first two to three weeks, then during the day, if the baby feeds and then has some extra awake time, this is a great time to if baby sort of drowsy is off a little bit at the breast, wake baby up, change their diaper, do a little tummy time, a little iContact time and then work to get baby to sleep by rocking or bouncing shushing skin to skin, these other multi sensory cues during the night path of least resistance is what I always say. So during the night, totally fine. Let baby fall asleep at the breaths put baby back down. We don't need to worry about that at night. But as early as three or four weeks, it's if we can introduce other ways of having baby to fall asleep. It'll just be easier down the line. This is not a hard fast rule, though.

Yeah, I would also just add as long as breastfeeding is well established and supply and demand are in sync and baby's gaining weight well, or not showing feeding cues during that time of trying to put them to sleep a different way.

100% Yes, it's a matter of priorities. And feeding is is the is the higher priority. But it's it sounded to me that I would think just from hearing what you've said so far, because I was that mom who breastfed my son to sleep and I did it way too long. And it did become problematic for us. But I if I could hear this episode from the beginning, I would be making a mental note that by four months, maybe try to extricate myself from doing it at that point, because I took that I think way too long. Is four months too late. If someone is hoping to avoid any problems down the road with sleep, is it too late to still be letting the baby nurse to sleep? Would you say that's too long? No, of course, given that breastfeeding is definitely established. But by four months, the presumption is it would be no, I don't think that's too long, what I would caution against is just having if the baby's reliant on nursing to sleep for every single time they need to go to sleep at four months, we're going to have a little more work to do.

That's what I did. I didn't, I should have mentioned that every single nap. It was every single sleep every day and night. And it's really, really, I really made things difficult for myself. But it works. But it works in sometimes it's just about doing what works and what feels easiest. And there's nothing wrong with that, yes, there'll be a bit of more work to do down the line. But a baby's capable of developing those skills at any time.

I didn't like it's not that I liked doing it, I truly believed there, I didn't have hope that any other way would work. And that's why we're having this conversation with you today. Because we want people to have hope. I used to have a friend who used to just put her baby down in the crib and close the door and walk away. And I was just my mind was just blown the baby, just rest and get himself to sleep. And I was convinced that like, my child doesn't do that. But really, they learned from the habits we established. And that's something I really didn't understand the first time around. That's right. I mean, my My take is always to give the baby the opportunity to sleep with fewer with less assistance from the parent. And oftentimes, were very surprised, oh my gosh, the baby actually doesn't need X, Y and Z in order to be able to sleep we find ourselves in this place where Oh, my baby will only sleep if I'm nursing them to sleep when actually if we bring them into a drowsy place, their sleep environment is optimized. We're hitting those times of the day when a baby is primed to sleep following awake windows right when everything is sort of lined up. Sometimes if we do just put a baby down. Yeah, they'll happily drift out drift drift to sleep without any support from us. So it's about giving that opportunity.

And sometimes the support is like you lie there you sit next to them with your hand on their back and just the hand on the back is enough. And eventually you can move yourself further away right and sit somewhere in the room when they see you and then they doze off. And eventually you can walk away is that how that process can go they can look so different. But yes, that's one way that it can that it can work what I usually recommend when people are ready to work on fostering more independence, the sleep in this for me is usually between six and eight weeks is is when we can start trying to put baby down with less than less assistance and I usually try the first nap of the day ringing baby into a good optimal sleep environment at that time, it is in a dark, quiet room. So previous we want babies sleeping out in the ambient environment with daylight at six to eight weeks, this is a good time to move a baby into a quiet dark sleeping space. And to go through develop a little pre sleep routine for them of 10 minutes. This could be changing, putting them into their swaddle, if you're swaddling, reading them a board book or to singing them a song rocking and then placing them down when they're in a drowsy but ultimately awake state and giving them the opportunity to do it. Some babies are going to happily drift right off to sleep alone. Others are gonna fuss a bit and may need a little more support. And if baby fusses, then what I encourage the parent to do is offer a little assistant crib side. And that could be just like you were saying, Cynthia some hands on support, some padding, some shushing. There's even a technique it's called the side to settle technique where you can roll the baby onto their side and pet their little bomb. And shush them, that padding of the bomb is really soothing. And then baby often will drift off just like that. And then we roll them back to their back and then you walk away. And yes, we're assisting them, but they're doing it more and more on their own. And over time we can reduce the amount of support we're offering and some babies are, are then going to happily take take more and more naps in their crib independently. Others are going to need more support and that's okay. It's about giving them the opportunity to do it.

So So here's an important one. Does crying it out cause psychological damage to a child? I really want to avoid this. And the only way my baby sleeps is if I leave her to cry alone. I don't like it. But I don't know what else to do.

No lie. No, this is I mean, this is such a hot topic in this sleep world right now. There are a lot of studies that show that there is no short term or long term harm done to babies who are sleep trained looking at babies who were sleep trained and comparing them to babies who were not. Researchers have found no difference in attachment, bonding, conflict behavior. So there's there's really no research that that provides a compelling argument to show that there is harm I will say, you know with the rise of the Attachment Parenting movement, social media, that that some some people People have drawn parallels between the cried out approach and the babies who were in Romania, orphanages back in the 1980s, who were completely abandoned and neglected, left alone in cribs with very limited contact with other adults deprived and so many levels and abused in many, many ways. Those babies eventually learned that no one would respond to their cry and so those those orphanages were eerily silent in in that because those babies learned my crying gets me nothing. And so opponents of the cried out method have drawn parallels between letting a baby cry it out and the severe consequences that resulted from neglect in those orphanages. You know, that's a very far reaching conclusion stream. Yes, thank you. You know, when when a baby is cared for cared and loved and tended to and has healthy attachment with loving, with a loving caregiver, there's no reason to believe that minimal crying that's involved with sleep training is going to lead to lasting harm. You know, with that said, some parents simply don't feel comfortable letting their baby cry, which I completely understand, there's no parent that I know of, who enjoys the sound of their baby crying, it's it's a, it's a hard thing for all parents. But if that's the case, there are other things to do to help teach a baby to sleep.

In my experience, the one my first was the one baby that I had to do some amount of sleep. I don't even want to say training. But sleep was an effort, an effort with my first the other two just fell asleep on their own was never an issue. But I use the method of leaving her to go to sleep on her own, and she would cry. But when she would cry would come back in and be with her until the very moment that she stopped crying. As soon as the crying was over, then you would leave again. And sometimes I would have to go in and out of the room 10 times 12 times. But the moment they cried, you responded, and then the moment they were calm, you left. And that seemed to me like a nice balance between you have to figure out how to do this on your own. But when you call for me, I will be there.

I love that. Yeah, I mean, I think there's many versions of cried out to me cry it out actually means like, you put the baby down for bed and you close the door and you don't come back until the morning. That's what cried out actually means. But in my I would never recommend that that's not a method that I support. Yeah, it's effective. Babies learn really, really quickly. But it feels it feels quite dramatic.

That sounds harmful. You can also sleep train while feeding throughout the night. I'm still feeding my baby throughout the night. And you know, we sleep trained her months ago. So they're not mutually exclusive. And the amount of crying is entirely up to the parent that they feel comfortable with. And how does that how does it work?

If it's not a matter of just putting them in there and walking away and shutting the door, which I know many pediatricians recommend, which is always a red flag. But how do you recommend it? What's the gentlest way of doing this more extreme measure? If parents feel they've tried other things? What how do you what's a gentler way of doing that? Right? I mean, a few minutes at a time, like leaving the room for a minute what how it has worked.

I mean, that's typically what I recommend i i like to do a phased approach where I focus on having the baby develop the ability to sleep independently at bedtime, that's when the sleep pressures greatest meaning there's the biggest drive to sleep. And so we tend to see the most success at bedtime. And so my recommendation is usually just to start with bedtime. And to then have the parent be doing those checks based on a cadence that they feel comfortable with. We know that if a parent is checking every two to three minutes, the bounce is going to be too stimulating for a baby and the baby's not going to have the space in order to learn the skill of self settling. So there do need to be increasing intervals of time. And again that this is where the individual support really really comes in for me I did with my baby was intervals of 10 minutes because I know as a sleep specialist, that a baby needs that space. They need the opportunity to learn the skill and that my going in it I ran the risk of interrupting that process. So even as hard as it was, I did 10 minute checks until she was asleep. And then I tended to her throughout the night as I would any other night and been once and same thing for naps. And then once I saw her develop the skill at bedtime, then I moved on to target her falling asleep independently after she woke up to feed. And then once that came together, then I moved on to tackle naps. So that that's my phased approach that I like to use with my clients, especially the ones who are weary about the crying.

So should babies be swaddled to sleep? Hmm.

Should is a tricky part of that question. This is so individual. Of course, we know that babies sleep better when they're swaddled. And that's because babies don't have coordination of all the movements of their body. They still have the startle reflex, that neuro reflex which we know will wake up a baby, especially if they're they're placed on their back to sleep. And so swaddling a baby will maximize a baby's sleep periods and, and everybody's sleep typically. However, there are some risks that come with with swaddling. Swaddling can cover feeding cues. So typically, I don't recommend swaddling in the first 24 to 48 hours, really only if a baby is going to be sleeping independently in their bassinet, then it's appropriate to be swaddled. If the baby is going to be sleeping skin, well, obviously they can't sleep skin to skin if they're swaddled so but if they're going to be held, I don't recommend swaddling a baby, we we run the risk of overheating as well with swaddling. So making sure the baby is wearing, you know, fewer layers, we don't want to bundle a baby up and then swaddle them. That's also an important factor and, and to use it, you know, with with with limited use, because there's also the risk of hip dysplasia when we when we wrap up a baby super, super tight, but it does maximize the sleep for most babies.

Yeah, it definitely does help babies sleep longer definitely overrides those those newborn reflexes, I tend to think of swaddling a little bit more like pacifier use. And of course, I'm always coming from an exclusively breastfeeding perspective, because this is, this is what I do. And I know we have a lot of listeners who want to exclusively breastfeed. And so I would say that swaddling is a little bit more like the pacifier like you might use it for very short term, temporary moments to kind of calm your baby down. But always think about feeding first. And sometimes swaddling is used as a way to calm a hungry baby down when actually what they should be doing is feeding. And I would be really cautious about using using swaddling for sleep in those first two to three weeks until breastfeeding is really well established and milk supply and demand are in sync. And we know that baby's gaining and growing well, and we're not missing any feeding opportunities. Not that you can't swaddle your baby at three days old to you know, your judicious use of it in the early weeks.

I mean, I think yes, I do agree. I think that you know, at nighttime, when we know a baby has been fed. And as you know, if a baby is just coming off of a two hour cluster feeding and then is fussy and is not settling and everybody's awake and pulling their hair out. You know, I think that that would be an appropriate time to swaddle, I always I agree with you Trisha, to me, always making sure that those feeding needs are met above and beyond any sleeping needs, right? That is the priority when we know those feeding needs are being met, to then as a tool to use if necessary, you know, it can be very important. I think it's, you know, for those families that are bed sharing, we know babies are not supposed to be swaddled because again because of the risk of overheating, and a lot of parents who are exclusively breastfeeding find themselves bed sharing because that that's what works best for them. And then they're that sort of bypasses the need for swaddling anyway, it's really when we're putting baby on their own independent sleeping surface to expect a baby to sleep well on swaddled, you know is is unrealistic typically, and I once a baby is beyond three months that that the benefits of swaddling you know, really greatly decrease. So it's really only this this initial period where it can be a helpful tool.

Okay, so the next few questions have to do with when can baby when should a baby start sleeping in their own crib? When Should it baby have their own room? What's your opinion on? On all these things? Ellie, is there an ideal time that a baby should start to sleep further and further away from the parents? Are there any risks to not doing it that way? What's What do you say to that?

Yeah, you know, the recommendation we hear from pediatricians is that babies should be sharing the same room for at least the first six months, ideally for the first 12 months. And this is, you know, in an effort to reduce the risk of SIDS. And to ensure you know, healthy, healthy feeding habits throughout the night. My recommendation is to definitely room share, at least for the first four months. I think any earlier than that we do run into some murky waters in terms of especially the feeding and missing those cues. After four months, I really take a you know, if the family feels ready for that transition, that's something I'm absolutely happy to support, especially if there's the babies right next door, the parents can hear the baby from the bed if not making sure there's there's a baby monitor so that you're very in tune with the baby. That feels like a safe option to me. But it's always you know, when it comes to sleep, it's always about looking at the recommendations looking at the risks and the benefits and, and making that choice, you know, for themselves. But I will say that many parents especially mothers, they their sleep is very interrupted. If they're sharing a room with a baby in this I'm speaking if a baby is in a bassinet I think bed sharing is its own scenario. But every little whimper some mothers are just high up and alert and and and they're, they're not sleeping because babies are very noisy sleepers. And in order sometimes to preserve the mother's sleep that transition is is necessary and justified.

This one comes up a lot, especially as babies get a little bit older. But do you have any tips on how to manage a baby sleep schedule while traveling?

Yeah, I mean, while traveling, if we can maintain a similar schedule as home, I think that's great, but there also needs to be room for flexibility. I think it's just striking that right balance, right? Every single map does not have to be in the crib at a certain time. If if you're traveling and that means there's you know, a day trip when you're out and about, it's fine for baby to be napping in the car seat or in the stroller or to wear the baby and, and just make sure that that you're following those awake windows and babies getting some sleep when baby needs to nap. And then maybe those nights, you know, if we're not quite meeting those daily sleep needs, then maybe that means there's a little bit of an earlier bedtime to make up for some of that, that lost sleep. But if possible, I always recommend that the first nap of the day is in a dark quiet room in a crib. And this I'm really speaking like this is three months and on. Newborns are very transportable from a sling and sleep. Exactly, exactly.

Yes. Is there any rule of thumb for how many naps a young toddler should have in this age range? And then in that age range when did they go from three down To down to one. And then how does a parent know when to put them down for each nap? Like if you said it had to do with Windows? So can you just talk a little bit about naps?

Right, right. Yeah, I mean really around like four to six months is when we've seen many babies go from having four naps to three naps usually. And again, this is because the the number of naps will naturally decrease as a baby's awake periods get longer the older they get, the more easy it is for them to sustain longer awake periods. So that means fewer naps. By the time they're six to nine months. Most babies are on a pretty predictable three nap schedule nine to 12. Usually we're seeing two naps. And then that holds true until about 18 months is when most babies will go down to just having one nap a day. Some are gonna hold on to too, though. I mean, again, it's like it's this there's not a one size fits all. It's it really just depends on the baby.

Yeah, we can't turn this art into a science. But one woman wrote in and said, Is it okay that my one year old takes only one nap a day? I'm going to guess the answer is that if the baby goes to bed early enough in the evening, the answer is yes. What do you what is the case?

Yes, I mean, I think that's a factor. It's I would just say if the baby is able to sustain those longer awake periods between the morning and the nap, and then the nap and bedtime, meaning the baby's not getting overstimulated and fussy. And that that nap is sufficient. So I would really expect that one nap to be at least two hours, maybe even three, then yeah, that baby's probably is ready for one nap. Most children, though, are going to be on a to nap schedule until closer to 15 months. That's usually the earliest we see that transition. But again, this is these are all just you know, frame of references, some some are going to do fine on one nap earlier in and some some two year olds may still take two naps. And that's their behavior is a gauge you're saying oh yeah, yes, it is really then right? It's can they sustain being awake for so long without sleep and most 12 month olds cannot sustain an awake period much longer than four hours.

And some babies can go to bed between five and 7pm. So yeah, can't it's hard to even have the conversation because some are going to bed at 8pm or later. That is an enormous factor. Oh,
oh, and how long they're sleeping at night, some babies will sleep 13 hours at night. If that's the case, you know, they're getting that sleep need between the 13 hours and then the nap others if they only sleep 10 hours at night, they're going to need more sleep during the day.

So when should parents be worried? What what what are red flags you would want to put out there? If there are any? You know, I would be worried when we look at a 24 hour period and we're seeing a child come in several hours under the average recommended sleep markers for that age group. And so that that's the red flag to me is is that overall sleep in a 24 hour period? If we're way under it.

What about the baby who only cat naps, they never have an sleep cycle longer than 15 to 30 minutes.

This is the most common reason family has reached out to me that little short Napper. And that's typically due to a baby not having developed independent sleep skills because they don't know how to connect from one sleep cycle to the next. A sleep cycle for a baby on average is between 20 and 30 minutes. And so if they are relying on the parent 100% to fall asleep, then when they wake up, they're going to rely 100% on the parent to get back to sleep. That's classic. We see this all the time.

That is why my son was a catnapper. I didn't realize I didn't know that. And all these years. He's 17 and I'm just learning this it's because I always breastfed him to sleep. He just kept waking up after the first sleep cycle.

Right and it will he was I mean the bot No. Yeah, I did not know those were related. Because I would just think well, you're awake mouth until the next nap know the conditions under which a baby falls asleep. Ideally need to be the sleep same when they wake up for that sleep cycle. And we're I'm talking the middle of the night sleep now. If we expect them to do it on their own, right? It's just like us if we were to fall asleep in our bed, and then three hours later wake up on the bathroom floor, right who's going to just turn over happily and go back to sleep on the bathroom floor right is you're going to seek the conditions of your cozy bed. So it's, it's the same with a baby if they fall asleep with the nipple in their mouth. They're gonna wake up three hours later alone in their crib and wonder where where they are. They're just oriented. And so that's, you know, that's, that's so often the cause of those frequent night wakings and those short naps.

So what is it you want parents to know?

Yeah, what I want parents to know is that there is not a one size fits all approach when it comes to sleep. And there's so much information out there today, on the internet, there's so many big social media figures, preaching about different sleep recommendations, and some of it I think is very, very helpful and relevant, but every baby is different and unique. So what may work well, for one child simply may not work well for another and I worry that that leads to a lot of it can lead to a lot of guilt. And so what I would say is that it's really about finding what works for your baby, making sure the baby is meeting their daily sleep needs, and then on a pace that feels right for you to work on developing some more independence when it comes to sleep. And if that's working on those skills that eight weeks or eight months, that's fine. Only you can decide what you feel comfortable with. You are the expert on your baby.

Thank you for joining us at the Down To Birth Show. You can reach us @downtobirthshow on Instagram or email us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com. All of Cynthia’s classes and Trisha’s breastfeeding services are offered live online, serving women and couples everywhere. Please remember this information is made available to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is in no way a substitute for medical advice. For our full disclaimer visit downtobirthshow.com/disclaimer. Thanks for tuning in, and as always, hear everyone and listen to yourself.

I took her class 11 years ago when I was pregnant with my first child and that just sparked my whole passion and oh my goodness, Cynthia I mean it just to talk about an education and really a re-education, relearning about what birth truly is. Just so many misconceptions in our culture, so much fear. So much drama, and your class really gave me a whole new way of thinking about birth. And and my husband Justin, you know as well we were just couldn't couldn't get enough.

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About Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia is a published writer, advocate, childbirth educator and postpartum support specialist in prenatal/postpartum healthcare and has served thousands of clients since 2007. 

About Trisha Ludwig

Trisha is a Yale-educated Certified Nurse Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Counselor. She has worked in women's health for more than 15 years.

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