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Sometimes You're Just Doing it Wrong

Little girl pours coffeeProbably one of the most common phrases we say, as parents to other parents, in a show of support and approval, is the old, “Nobody knows your child better than you do,” line.

There’s something beautiful about the fact that, no matter how educated, how experienced, or how wise someone else might be, we, as their parents, know what’s best for our own children.

It stands to reason, after all. They’re made up of the same stuff we are. We know when we see them reacting to a mosquito bite, or getting nauseous from a particular smell, just what they’re going through. “I was exactly the same way,” we think to ourselves.

Most of the time, I agree with the concept of parental intuition. The fact that you spend more time with your child, converse with them, share their experiences, study their ailments, their skills and their habits, gives you singular insight that nobody else can overrule.

Sometimes, though, I’m sorry to say, you’re just wrong.

Delusional, misguided, incorrect, call it whatever you want. I’ve been guilty of it too, so don’t think I’m getting all judgy on you. Sometimes we go with our gut, follow our instincts, do what feels right, and we’re flat out incorrect.

Let me give you an example. When Charlie, my oldest, was a baby, I had serious concerns about getting him vaccinated.

“So many needles, so many nasty things being shot into his bloodstream. How much do we really know about the side effects? Could there be any truth to the anti-vaxxers’ claims that this is a dangerous practice?”

A little research, some careful weighing of the sources, and a conversation with my pediatrician, and I was quickly convinced that those fears were unfounded, but instinctively, I still felt a little uneasy when I saw him getting the needles.

On the other hand, when I looked at the pamphlet the doctor gave me that showed the absolutely stunning numbers of kids who were affected by diphtheria, polio, measles, and every other disease and affliction that those vaccinations prevented, I realized that my instinct had almost steered me in a very dangerous direction.

On a slightly less serious note,I had a client a few years ago whose daughter was waking up three or four times a night. When I asked about their routine, she told me, “Well, we put her down about 8:00, and she usually wakes up around 11:00. She usually says she’s thirsty so we’ll give her a can of Sprite and send her back to bed, and then about 2:00 or so….”

“I’m sorry. Did you say “Sprite” just then? As in the soda?”

“Yes. It’s the only thing that calms her down.”

“Sprite? Sprite calms her down?”


“A full can of Sprite?”


Once the words came out of her mouth, I could see that she appreciated the absurdity of it, but after a little, “I’m so embarrassed” body language, she explained to me how it happened. Her little one had come out of bed after a nightmare one night, and asked for a sip of her mom’s soda.

“I figured a little couldn’t hurt, and would put a smile back on her face.”

A week or so later, she came out of her room and said she was thirsty, and asked for a sip of Sprite. One sip that time became a few sips the next time, which grew into a half a can after numerous wake-ups, and the next thing she knew, it was just the go-to action when her little one got out of bed.

That’s definitely an extreme example, but it happens more often than you might think. I had a client early on who used to get up at 3:00 in the morning to give her 18 month old a cup of blueberries. Another woman I worked with got up to give her 2 year old both a bottle of juice and a bottle of milk, (Yep, one of each) a minimum of twice a night. I even had one client who allowed her 20 month old get up at midnight to watch cartoons. I don’t even allow myself to watch TV at midnight, and I’m a grown woman!

These bad habits, or misguided intuitions, whatever you want to call them, happen all the time. They seem unthinkable, but they happen specifically because we’re so close to our kids, and because they happen so gradually. So if your child isn’t sleeping well in spite of all your best efforts, you might benefit from some fresh eyes. That doesn’t necessarily have to mean hiring a sleep consultant, (although I still don’t know anyone who has regretted doing so) but could just be a matter of stepping back a little and taking a look at your routine.

Three things that I know are beneficial to a good night’s sleep…

  1. Consistent bedtimes
  2. Predictable bedtime routines
  3. Independent sleep skills

If you’re looking at any of those and thinking, “Well, here’s why that doesn’t work for my baby,” I’m by no means saying you’re wrong, but you might want to back the camera up and look at the situation from a more analytical perspective. You might find a new approach to an existing situation that you hadn’t thought of before.

If you decide that you would like to hire a sleep consultant, I have personally trained over 120 of them from all over the world who are now working with their own clients. Together they comprise one of the world’s largest and most experienced networks of pediatric sleep consultants, so whatever your issue is, you can bet they’ve got the solution. Visit to find an expert in your area.

Are you passionate about parenting — and serious about the importance of a good night’s sleep? Looking for a career that lets you help other people AND work from home — all while earning an excellent living? Check out and see if becoming a Certified Sleep Sense Consultant is the career for you!

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Dana’s Sleep Blog

Straight talk about sleep, parenting,
babies, toddlers, relationships… and
just about anything else!
My blog is a great place to find opinions, advice, the occasional rant, and some great videos about sleep.

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