Please watch my video below to learn about my personal and professional background in child and baby sleep.
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Hi! I’m Dana Obleman, creator of The Sleep Sense Program. If you’d rather read than watch, I’ve transcribed the text of this video below.
This week, I’m answering a question that I get all the time from my clients and customers…
“How did you get started in this business in the first place?”
Well, when we were pregnant with our first son, my husband and I did a lot of reading about pregnancy and what to expect while we were expecting but we did not really have much knowledge about what we were actually going to do with this person once he arrived.
When he was born, we fell into many of the same traps if you will as people who come to see me or people who buy the program, you know, I nurse him/her to sleep all the time. I did not even think that it was possible for him to fall asleep any other way. As soon as he fussed, on the breast he went. We got into this habit of feeding him every hour and a half, he would fall asleep at the breast but then not sleep long enough, and it was just this vicious cycle.
It ended up making me insecure about my abilities to breastfeed. I just did not think I had enough milk and he always seemed hungry. We never even considered fatigue as an option. We just constantly went, “Oh, you must be hungry, you must be hungry.” That was our first mistake; I was constantly overfeeding.
Then we thought, “Well, let’s try the soother. Maybe the soother is a better option instead of nursing him all night.” We would try to soothe, giving him a pacifier and that worked in the sense that he would fall asleep with the soother instead of nursing. However, we were still up the same number of times during the night, many times just to give him back his soother or sometimes for feeding and we were doing a bit of rocking as well.
So all the mistakes that people come to me with I say, “I know, I’ve been there, I did it too because I didn’t know any better.” I just wanted him to sleep and I did not really care what we had to do to get it, I just needed sleep. This went on for five or six months.
I remember the night when I said to my husband, “I can’t do this anymore. I cannot get up five times a night. I’m exhausted, I’m emotional, I’m struggling with a bit of postpartum,” and it was just taking it out of us. My husband was equally distressed. He did not know how to help and he had to work all day. We were both feeling like we were incapable and parenting seemed so hard. It was not coming easy like it seemed to for so many other people.
That night I decided, “I think there’s something we need to do in order for him to sleep well. I think what we’re doing is not helping, whoever we’re praying to is not hearing so we need to actually take some steps and some sort of direction instead of just spinning our wheels every night trying different things and nothing really working consistently.”
That is when we got on board and started to figure out what we needed to do to encourage him to be a good sleeper. That is when I discovered that the things we were doing, although wonderful in their own sense were contributing to the problem because they were becoming his props.
Repeatedly, you will hear me talk about props. Props are whatever you think you need in order to get to sleep; even as adults, we have props. Many people tell me they need the fan on or music playing or socks on or whatever it might be. All the little things we collected along the way tell us, “Okay, it is okay to go to sleep now.”
For our son it was mainly the soother. As soon as he got that soother in his mouth, off he would go. However, the soother would not stay in his mouth; he would spit it out when he got to a certain level in his sleep cycle. He woke up with no soother so in we went back and forth over and over.
We really had to teach him how to fall asleep without the soother and that was difficult because I felt bad that this was something I had done to him. I have convinced him that he needed the soother in order to sleep and now I had to take it away. We struggled with that and all the feelings that come with what we had done wrong in his life.
That was the best decision we ever made. It is not an easy road when you are on it but looking back now, it is only a blink of an eye. The baby we are talking about is my oldest son who is now seven and he is the greatest sleeper that I know to this day. Sleep has never been an issue. He likes to go to bed, he does not want to stay up and talk, he wants to go to sleep. When it is time to sleep, he wants to sleep and I think we gave him a great gift.
We gave the same gift to our second son and our third child, our daughter Georgia as well. Because I had those tools and knew so much more than the first time, we got off to a great start with those two. We knew that they needed to go back to bed every hour and we knew we wanted to encourage them to develop their own skills. Therefore, we did not have to go through those first five months of pulling our hair out and wondering what we were doing wrong because we knew what to do.
With knowledge came power. They are now seven, five and three and they are very good sleepers and they have no anxiety around sleep. They know exactly what the purpose is and they happily go to bed. The gift is that sleep for all of us should come naturally and easily. It is too bad that most of us adults carry around so much anxiety around our sleep that many turn to medications to deal with all kind of insomnia issues.
I think as children, there is a period in our life where sleep is perfect. It is perfect, it is glorious, we go to sleep, we sleep hard and we sleep well. I think we should create an environment where our children are happy to go to bed, there is no anxiety, and they sleep perfectly all night and wake up refreshed and ready to conquer the day. If you have seen children who sleep well, you know that they conquer the day. That is exactly what they do, they go, go, go and they have the energy.
I just wanted to share with you some of the things that I have gone through as a parent. It might seem like I have all the answers but for the first six or seven months as a new parent I did not have any answers. In fact, I felt like a bit of a parenting failure because I did not feel like I knew what I was doing at all.
If you are having those feelings, just know that you are not alone and that we have all been there in one way or another. There is a way to make this better, there is a way to encourage a great night’s sleep for everyone and it really does make a huge difference in your quality of life.
Thanks for reading and sleep well!
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