A very common infestation of tiny insects on the scalp and along the hair shafts, that spread head to head by contact. Head lice are extremely common among children in pre-school and elementary ages, and it is very likely that kids get reinfected unless all the parents in a group treat their children at the same time, even if some of them do not have head lice. A child may have only one or two lice, but if they are not treated, this number multiplies very quickly.
Head lice feed by sucking very small amounts of blood from the scalp, which causes intense itching. Head lice can’t fly or jump, but they move from head to head by crawling. Head lice are undiscerning creatures that will infest anyone’s hair, regardless of how clean it is.
What are the symptoms of Head lice?
The first sign of head lice is usually the itching, and you will see your child scratching their head repeatedly. If you examine your child’s hair closely, you might be able to see the lice. Once lice are fully grown they’re about 3mm long, but they camouflage very well. Some people call head lice ‘nits’, but this is the name for the empty egg shells left by hatched lice. They are creamy grey colored and very well cemented to the hair shaft, which makes them hard to remove. They are mostly seen near the scalp due to the warmth from the head that encourages them to hatch. Eggs can be removed by using your nails to pull them down the hair shaft.
What are the treatments and remedies of Head lice?
Treatment is either by wet combing – using a special nit comb and plenty of conditioner on wet hair until all signs of nits and lice have gone- or by using a proprietary over-the-counter lotion or shampoo. Some are chemical, others natural. You shouldn’t use any chemical treatment on children under two years old. You may find the best solution for your child through trial and error, or ask your pharmacist what is best to use as some head-lice have developed resistance to some of the treatments in some areas. Prescription treatments, including oral medication, are available if the lice are very resistant to other treatments.
How To Prevent Head Lice: Top Products to Help
I know there are a ton of head-lice treatments and prevention products out there. Here are three that moms in my area are using and recommending:
I recently purchased this at the recommendation of a mom friend who uses it regularly on her three kids. You spray it in your kid’s hair in place of your regular detangler and it helps keep lice away. It’s a little soapy when you initially apply it, but a quick comb-through and it’s gone. The herbal scent is pleasant and there aren’t any weird or scary ingredients, so it’s safe to use every day. An easy first defense for preventing head lice!
A friend whose daughter has had several bouts of head lice told me about this electric comb that kills nits and lice on contact. You comb through your child’s hair and when the comb encounters a louse or a nit, it zaps it with a tiny electrical charge. There are several different brands of these combs on the market, at varying price points. I haven’t purchased one yet but I’m definitely considering it.
This one was recommended to me by another mom friend who has three kids. She uses it on her kids whenever they get a notice about a lice outbreak at their schools, and so far, so good (they’ve never had head lice). Apparently the little buggers aren’t fond of strong herbal smells and oils like tea tree, menthol and eucalyptus, lavender and rosemary. This is not a tear free formula, so it will be tricky to use on my kids. California Baby offers a tea tree and lavender shampoo for kids that I’m eyeing for them instead. Another option is to add some pure tea tree oil to your family’s shampoos.
I tell my children not to swap hats and hair bands, coats and clothes, but they’re kids, and they forget. So I have to take matters into my own hands and begin preventing head lice now. Otherwise, I might be using my hands to painstakingly comb through their hair (and mine) to find and remove lice. I’m itching just thinking about it.
This article is not meant to substitute medical advice provided by a practicing medical professional – if you have any concerns, contact your physician immediately.
Grocery stores now have entire aisles packed with everything from organic pasta to all-natural soap. Sold at higher prices than conventional products, organic items aren’t produced with synthetic pesticides or chemical fertilizers. They’re also not processed with food additives or irradiation (radiation exposure).
But are the higher prices for these theoretically safer products really worth it? A study by researchers at Stanford University reveals organic products aren’t necessarily more nutritional, nor are they less susceptible to contamination. From their report:
The review yielded scant evidence that conventional foods posed greater health risks than organic products. While researchers found that organic produce had a 30 percent lower risk of pesticide contamination than conventional fruits and vegetables, organic foods are not necessarily 100 percent free of pesticides. What’s more, as the researchers noted, the pesticide levels of all foods generally fell within the allowable safety limits.
Foods you shouldn’t buy organic
The thick skins on many fruits and vegetables protect them from pesticides. While pesticides may linger on banana peels, for example, we obviously don’t eat the peels. Many products also lack pesticides because they don’t attract as many insects and harmful organisms. Here’s 10 where organic is expensive overkill.
- Sweet Corn
Foods you should buy organic
Despite the Stanford study’s statement that there’s no indication pesticides on conventionally-grown foods are harmful, many people are still willing to pay extra to avoid pesticides on their food. So where will you get the biggest bang for your organic food buck? Mentioned on the Environmental Working Group’s 2015 “Dirty Dozen” list, these foods are among the worst offenders.
- Sweet bell peppers
- Cherry tomatoes
- Snap Peas (Imported)
They also mention one additional item, hot peppers.
The best way to save on organic food
In addition to the tools you’d use to save on anything – comparison shopping, buying in bulk, using coupons, etc. – the best way to save on organically grown food is to buy it locally. Local farmers markets and family farms are a great way to get fresh organic food for less and support your local community. See sites like Local Harvest for ideas in your area.
Mindfulness apps are trending in a big way. Here are five we’re happy we downloaded.
There’s no shortage of mindfulness and meditation apps these days, promising to help you combat anxiety, sleep better, hone your focus, and more. We scoured the app stores to find the most popular, educational, and easy-to-use mindfulness apps that are available for free.
1) Insight Timer
Available for iOS and Android
Insight Timer is one of the most popular free meditation apps out there, and it’s easy to see why. The app features more than 4,000 guided meditations from over 1,000 teachers—on topics like self-compassion, nature, and stress—plus talks and podcasts. If you prefer a quieter meditation, you can always set a timer and meditate to intermittent bells or calming ambient noise.
Right from the beginning, the app feels like a community; the home screen announces, “3,045 meditating right now / Home to 1,754,800 meditators.” After you finish a meditation, you’ll learn exactly how many people were meditating “with you” during that time; by setting your location, you can even see meditators nearby and what they’re listening to.
Insight Timer doesn’t recommend step-by-step sequences of meditations to follow; it’s more like a buffet.
Despite its extensive collection, Insight Timer doesn’t show you a list of teachers—which would be helpful, especially since they feature experts like Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, and Sharon Salzberg. And Insight Timer doesn’t recommend step-by-step sequences of meditations to follow; it’s more like a buffet. But these drawbacks hardly matter in the face of all the tempting choices.
Available for iOS and Android
Aura is a meditation app with a simple premise: Every day, you get a new, personalized, three-minute meditation. The same meditation never repeats; according to cofounder Daniel Lee, Aura’s teachers are constantly recording new tracks.
To personalize the experience, Aura initially asks about your age and how stressed, optimistic, and interested in mindfulness you are. The daily meditation that appears also depends on your mood: If you’re feeling great, Aura might suggest “Your Brilliant Heart;” select stressed, and you might get “You Have the Power.” If you like the day’s meditation, you can save it to your library for later listening.
Aura claims to target stress, anxiety, and depression. If a short meditation isn’t enough, you can also listen to relaxing sounds or try their Mindful Breather feature, where you synchronize your breath to an animated circle that gently expands and contracts—surprisingly effective. The home screen encourages you to jot down something you’re grateful for, another tool for well-being.
Aura is straightforward and sparse, but that’s part of the beauty. Particularly if you’re just getting started, or you don’t have lots of time to meditate, the simplicity of one meditation a day could be just what you need.
Available for iOS and Android
Sleek and image-heavy, Omvana is a beautiful meditation app created by personal growth company Mindvalley. Its library contains thousands of meditations, and about 75 of those are free, from “Laser Focus” to “Cat’s Purr.”
According to cofounder Vishen Lakhiani, about 50,000 people around the world meditate to their popular “6 Phase Meditation” every morning, which is recommended for intermediate practitioners. (Beginners are encouraged to start with an eight-minute “Day 1” session.) The “6 Phase Meditation” guides you through different practices over the course of 20 minutes, including forgiveness, gratitude, and connection.
When you first download Omvana, your library includes about 10 meditations; to add more, it’s necessary to navigate over to the store, and then click on Top Tracks > Free or Categories > All free. Once you find a meditation you like, clicking the “Free” button will add the track to your library.
Like Insight Timer, Omvana is more of a grab bag than a guided learning experience. And much of its library is off-limits to the free user. But if you’re looking for a solid morning meditation, or you’re overwhelmed by all the choice on Insight Timer, you might enjoy Omvana.
4) Stop, Breathe & Think
Available for iOS and Android
If other meditation apps expect you to dive right in, Stop, Breathe & Think wants to help you get acquainted with mindfulness first. A section called Learn to Meditate explains what mindfulness is, why it’s beneficial, and what to expect when you press play on your first track. It even covers some of the neuroscience of mindfulness and the physiology of stress, in case you’re still skeptical.
If other meditation apps expect you to dive right in, Stop, Breathe & Think wants to help you get acquainted with mindfulness first.
Then, it’s time to get started. Stop, Breathe & Think features nearly 30 free sessions, many of which come in different lengths (and different voices—from placid Jamie to friendly Grecco). Most of them are short, up to 11 minutes, and you can choose to work around themes like Breathe, Connect with Your Body, or Be Kind. Or, simply set a meditation timer and find calm amid the silence or relaxing forest sounds.
A progress page keeps track of how many days you’ve meditated in a row and your emotions, which you can record before and after each meditation. Plus, you can earn cute stickers: As a newbie, I’ve collected “Good Start” and “Tick Tock of Presence.” Stop, Breathe & Think is ideal for people who need some more structure and motivation to jumpstart their meditation habit.
Available for iOS and Android
The moment you open the Calm app, you might feel a sense of…calm. Relaxing sounds of falling rain play automatically in the background, but you could also opt to be greeted by a crackling fireplace, crickets, or something called “celestial white noise.”
The relaxation continues with Calm’s free meditations, a smaller selection than several of the apps above—16 in total, some of which come in different lengths, from 3-30 minutes. You can start off with 7 Days of Calm, or try their sessions on Loving-Kindness, Forgiveness, or the Body Scan. Plus, like many other apps, you can set a timer for silent meditation or meditate to intermittent bells. For nighttime relaxation, Calm features four free “sleep stories”: bedtime stories for adults on everything from science fiction to scenic landscapes to help you transition into slumber.
Unfortunately, some of the most interesting-sounding sessions, like Commuting and Emergency Calm, are locked unless you subscribe. (Calm’s subscription costs $4.99 per month when you buy a year—one of the cheapest out there if you decide to make the investment.)
Photo by Chevanon Photography from Pexels
Baby’s first steps mark an exciting time of transition to toddlerhood and a whole new world to explore! It also means your baby is ready for some proper footwear. We spoke to pediatric podiatrist Dr. Louis DeCaro, president of the American College of Foot & Ankle Pediatrics and a father of two toddlers, about what a mama needs to know when it comes to first shoes.
1. They’re for Protection
Unusually poor coordination, poor balance, and bad posture are some signs that a little one might have a developmental issue. Other signs are premature fatigue—if your child requests to be carried frequently—and exceptional clumsiness. If your child exhibits any of these behaviors, take him in for a screening. Pain is usually not the overriding symptom in pediatric podiatry cases.
2. Think Flexible
Above all, toddler’s first pair of shoes should be flexible, says Dr. DeCaro. It’s important to avoid shoes that are too stiff because they could impede foot development. Parents should also seek out shoes that are lightweight and made from breathable and natural materials.
3. You Don’t Have to Spend a Lot
It’s not necessary to buy very expensive shoes for toddlers, according to Dr. DeCaro. And while a recommendation from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) indicates that the shoes are of good quality and developmentally appropriate, parents shouldn’t feel it’s essential to seek out shoes bearing their Seal of Acceptance.
4. It’s Best to Get Professionally Fitted
In an ideal world, parents would have their child’s foot measured with every pair of new shoes. Children have flat feet until their arches develop at about age four, and that can affect the way shoes fit, says Dr. DeCaro. Try to have your child’s foot measured and shoes fitted by a professional whenever possible.
5. At Home, Use the Pinky
If you’re unable to get your child’s shoes professionally fitted, you can check for fit by using your pinky finger—not your thumb—to gauge how much space your child has in the toe box of the shoes, Dr. DeCaro suggested. The shoes are well-fitting in that area when there is a pinky’s width of room between the tips of the child’s toes and the toe of the shoe. After the first few times of wearing, check your child’s feet for red marks or indents; if there are any that don’t go away after 10 minutes, the shoes aren’t a good fit and are probably uncomfortable.
6. Transition Shoes When They’re Running
Keep little ones in very flexible shoes until they start running a lot or playing sports—usually around age four or five. That’s about the time a child’s arch begins forming.
7. Kids Grow Fast!
On average, children’s feet can grow three-quarters to a full size larger every three to four months, according to Dr. DeCaro. He recommends checking the fit of your child’s shoes quarterly, or when their shoes are worn out, whichever comes first.
8. Screen Early if There’s a History
Genetics are the best predictor of future foot problems, Dr. DeCaro points out, so it’s important to get your child screened early if there is any history of major foot problems in your family. Parents with flat feet or other issues should take their child to a pediatric podiatrist as soon as their little one is walking.
9. Watch for Signs of Trouble
You’ve been dealing with Braxton-Hicks or “practice” contractions for a while now, but one day things are going to ramp up. That first real contraction is typically unmistakable. Try to relax and go with the flow—no amount of planning is going to make this adventure go exactly the way you expect. The good news? Baby is almost here!
10. Secondhand Are OK
Although many experts discourage them, Dr. DeCaro doesn’t have any issues with used and hand-me-down shoes. Secondhand shoes that are in good shape and fit well are fine for toddlers to wear, he says.
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Not all calories are created equal.
Different foods go through different metabolic pathways in the body.
They can have vastly different effects on hunger, hormones and how many calories we burn.
Here are the 20 most weight loss friendly foods on earth, that are supported by science.
Once feared for being high in cholesterol, whole eggs have been making a comeback.
New studies show that they don’t adversely affect blood cholesterol and don’t cause heart attacks.
What’s more… they are among the best foods you can eat if you need to lose weight.
They’re high in protein, healthy fats, and can make you feel full with a very low amount of calories.
One study of 30 overweight women showed that eating eggs for breakfast, instead of bagels, increased satiety and made them eat less for the next 36 hours.
Another 8 week study found that eggs for breakfast increased weight loss on a calorie restricted diet compared to bagels.
Eggs are also incredibly nutrient dense and can help you get all the nutrients you need on a calorie restricted diet. Almost all the nutrients are found in the yolks
Leafy greens include kale, spinach, collards, swiss chards and a few others.
They have several properties that make them perfect for a weight loss diet.
They are low in both calories and carbohydrates, but loaded with fiber.
Eating leafy greens is a great way to increase the volume of your meals, without increasing the calories. Numerous studies show that meals and diets with a low energy density make people eat fewer calories overall.
Leafy greens are also incredibly nutritious and very high in all sorts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This includes calcium, which has been shown to aid fat burning in some studies.
Oily fish like salmon is incredibly healthy.
It is also very satisfying, keeping you full for many hours with relatively few calories.
Salmon is loaded with high quality protein, healthy fats and also contains all sorts of important nutrients.Fish, and seafood in general, supplies a significant amount of iodine.
This nutrient is necessary for proper function of the thyroid, which is important to keep the metabolism running optimally.
Studies show that a huge number of people in the world aren’t getting all the iodine they need.
Salmon is also loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce inflammation, which is known to play a major role in obesity and metabolic disease.
Mackerel, trout, sardines, herring and other types of oily fish are also excellent.
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts.
Like other vegetables, they are high in fiber and tend to be incredibly fulfilling.
What’s more… these types of veggies also tend to contain decent amounts of protein.
They’re not as high in protein as animal foods or legumes, but they’re high compared to most vegetables.
A combination of protein, fiber and low energy density makes cruciferous vegetables the perfect foods to include in your meals if you need to lose weight.
They are also highly nutritious, and contain cancer fighting substances.
Lean Beef and Chicken Breast
Meat has been unfairly demonized.
It has been blamed for all sorts of health problems, despite no good evidence to back it up.
Although processed meat is unhealthy, studies show that unprocessed red meat does NOT raise the risk of heart disease or diabetes.
According to two big review studies, red meat has only a very weak correlation with cancer in men, and no correlation at all in women.
The truth is… meat is a weight loss-friendly food, because it’s high in protein.
Protein is the most fulfilling nutrient, by far, and eating a high protein diet can make you burn up to 80 to 100 more calories per day.
Studies have shown that increasing your protein intake to 25-30% of calories can cut cravings by 60%, reduce desire for late-night snacking by half, and cause weight loss of almost a pound per week… just by adding protein to the diet.
If you’re on a low-carb diet, then feel free to eat fatty meats. But if you’re on a moderate- to high carbohydrate diet, then choosing lean meats may be more appropriate.
White potatoes seem to have fallen out of favor for some reason.
However… they have several properties that make them a perfect food, both for weight loss and optimal health.
They contain an incredibly diverse range of nutrients, a little bit of almost everything we need.
There have even been accounts of people living on nothing but potatoes alone for extended periods of time.
They are particularly high in potassium, a nutrient that most people don’t get enough of and plays an important role in blood pressure control.
On a scale called the Satiety Index, that measures how fulfilling different foods are, white, boiled potatoes scored the highest of all the foods tested.
What this means is that by eating white, boiled potatoes, you will naturally feel full and eat less of other foods instead.
If you boil the potatoes, then allow them to cool for a while, then they will form large amounts of resistant starch, a fiber-like substance that has been shown to have all sorts of health benefits… including weight loss.
Sweet potatoes, turnips and other root vegetables are also excellent.
Tuna is another low-calorie, high protein food.
It is lean fish… so there isn’t much fat in it.
Tuna is popular among bodybuilders and fitness models who are on a cut, because it’s a great way to keep protein high, with total calories and fat low.
If you’re trying to emphasize protein intake, then make sure to choose tuna canned in water, but not oil.
Beans and Legumes
Some beans and legumes can be beneficial for weight loss.
This includes lentils, black beans, kidney beans and some others.
These foods tend to be high in protein and fiber, which are two nutrients that have been shown to lead to satiety.
They also tend to contain some resistant starch.
The main problem is that a lot of people have problem tolerating legumes. For this reason, it is important to prepare them properly.
As mentioned above, meals and diets with a low energy density tend to make people eat fewer calories.
Most foods with a low energy density are those that contain lots of water, such as vegetables and fruits.
But you can also just add water to your food… by making a soup.
Some studies have shown that eating the exact same food, except made in a soup instead of as solid food, makes people feel more satiated and eat significantly fewer calories.
Dairy products tend to be high in protein.
One of the best ones is cottage cheese… calorie for calorie, it is mostly just protein with very little carbohydrate and fat.
Eating plenty of cottage cheese is a great way to boost your protein intake. It is also very satiating, making you feel full with a relatively low amount of calories.
Dairy products are also high in calcium, which has been shown to aid in the fat burning process.
Avocados are a unique type of fruit.
Whereas most fruit is high in carbs, avocados are loaded with healthy fats.They are particularly high in monounsaturated oleic acid, the same type of fat found in olive oil.
Despite being mostly fat, they also contain a lot of water, so they aren’t as energy dense as you may think.
Avocados are perfect as additions to salad, because studies show that the fats in them can increase the nutrient uptake from the vegetables 2.6 to 15-fold.
They also contain many important nutrients, including fiber and potassium.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is incredibly popular in the natural health community.
It is popular for use in condiments, like dressings or vinaigrettes. Some people even dilute it in water and drink it.
Several studies in humans suggest that vinegar can be useful for weight loss.
Taking vinegar at the same time as a high-carb meal can increase feelings of fullness and make people eat 200-275 fewer calories for the rest of the day.
One study in obese individuals also showed that 15 or 30 mL of vinegar per day for 12 weeks caused weight loss of 2.6-3.7 pounds, or 1.2-1.7 kilograms.
Vinegar has also been shown to reduce blood sugar spikes after meals, which may lead to all sorts of beneficial effects on health in the long term.
Despite being high in fat, nuts are not inherently fattening.
They’re an excellent snack, containing balanced amounts of protein, fiber and healthy fats.
Studies have shown that eating nuts can improve metabolic health and even cause weight loss.
Population studies have also shown that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier, and leaner, than the people who don’t.
Just make sure not to go overboard, as they are still pretty high in calories. If you tend to binge and eat massive amounts of nuts, then it may be best to avoid them.
Some Whole Grains
Despite grains having gotten a bad rap in recent years, there are some types that are definitely healthy.
This includes some whole grains that are loaded with fiber and contain a decent amount of protein as well.
Notable examples include oats, brown rice and quinoa.
Oats are loaded with beta-glucans, soluble fibers that have been shown to increase satiety and improve metabolic health.
Rice, both brown and white, can also contain significant amounts of resistant starch, especially if cooked and then allowed to cool afterwards.
Keep in mind that refined grains are a disaster, and sometimes foods that have “whole grains” on the label are highly processed junk foods that are both harmful and fattening.
If you’re on a very low-carb diet then you’ll want to avoid grains, because they are high in carbohydrates. But there’s nothing wrong with eating some of the healthier grains if you can tolerate them and are not on a low-carb diet.
Eating chili peppers may be useful on a weight loss diet.
They contain a substance called capsaicin, which has been shown to help reduce appetite and increase fat burning in some studies.
This substance is even sold in supplement form and is a common ingredient in many commercial weight loss supplements.
One study showed that eating 1 gram of red chili pepper reduced appetite and increased fat burning in people who didn’t regularly eat peppers.
However, there was no effect in people who were accustomed to eating spicy food, indicating that some sort of tolerance can build up.
Most health experts agree that fruit is healthy.
Numerous population studies have shown that people who eat the most fruit (and vegetables) tend to be healthier than people who don’t.
Of course… correlation does not equal causation, so those studies don’t prove anything, but fruit do have properties that make them weight loss-friendly.
Even though they contain sugar, they have a low energy density and take a while to chew. Plus, the fiber helps prevent the sugar from being released too quickly into the bloodstream.
The only people who may want to avoid or minimize fruit are those who are on a very low-carb, ketogenic diet, or have some sort of intolerance to fructose.
For the rest of us, fruits can be an effective (and delicious) addition to a weight loss diet.
One fruit that deserves to be highlighted is grapefruit, because its effects on weight control have been studied directly.
In a study of 91 obese individuals, eating half a fresh grapefruit before meals caused weight loss of 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg) over a period of 12 weeks.
The grapefruit group also had reductions in insulin resistance, a metabolic abnormality that is implicated in various chronic diseases.
So… eating half a grapefruit about a half hour before some of your daily meals may help you feel more satiated and eat fewer overall calories.
Chia seeds are among the most nutritious foods on the planet.
They do contain 12 grams of carbohydrate per ounce, which is pretty high, but 11 of those grams are fiber.
This makes chia seeds a low-carb friendly food, and one of the best sources of fiber in the world.
Because of all the fiber, chia seeds can absorb up to 11-12 times their weight in water, turning gel-like and expanding in your stomach.
Although some studies have shown that chia seeds can help reduce appetite, they have not found a statistically significant effect on weight loss.
However, given their nutrient composition, it makes sense that chia seeds could be a useful part of a weight loss diet.
Not all fats are created equal.
Coconut oil is high in fatty acids of a medium length, called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs).
These fatty acids have been shown to boost satiety compared to other fats, as well as increase the amount of calories burned.
There are also two studies, one in women and the other in men, showing that coconut oil led to reduced amounts of belly fat.
Of course… coconut oil still contains calories, so adding it on top of what you’re already eating is a bad idea.
So this is not about adding coconut oil to your diet, it is about replacing some of your other cooking fats with coconut oil.
Extra virgin olive oil is also worth mentioning here, because it is probably the healthiest fat on the planet.
Another excellent dairy food is yogurt.
Yogurt contains probiotic bacteria that can improve the function of your gut.
Having a healthy gut may potentially help protect against inflammation and leptin resistance, which is the main hormonal driver of obesity.
Just make sure to choose full-fat yogurt… studies show that full-fat dairy, but not low-fat, is associated with a reduced risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes over tim.
Low-fat yogurt is usually loaded with sugar, so it is best to avoid that stuff like the plague.
If we had a genie’s lamp, “better sleep for everyone in the family” would definitely be at the top of our wish list.
But until that magical day arrives, we did the next best thing. We spoke to a real-life newborn sleep whisperer – Ingrid Prueher, a pediatric sleep consultant, lactation counselor and founder of BabySleepWhisperer.com. She’s a former Wall Street analyst who became a sleep aficionado after the birth of her second son. He kept waking up every few hours at night, so Prueher used her love of data and research to get him in a good bedtime routine. Now she’s on a mission to help families around the country get in tip-top sleep shape too.
Prueher uses a “five-layer cake” approach. That means laying a solid sleep foundation and then applying a training method, aka the icing. With a little groundwork, good sleep can become a reality.
“My youngest client has been a day old and my oldest client has been 71 years old,” Prueher says. “It’s never too late to get healthy sleep habits in your life and make sleep a priority.”
Here are some of her tips for cracking the code to a better night’s sleep for your newborn.
1. Go back to square one.
Baby’s cranky during the day, waking up multiple times during the night and can’t fall asleep without you. To get sleep back on track, Prueher says to start from scratch. Concentrate on sleep for a good two weeks like when baby first came home from the hospital. Use that time to get nap and feeding times running smoothly, perfect the nursery and eliminate negative sleep associations, like being rocked or fed in order to fall asleep.
“In their first three months of life, you want to help them transition from the womb into our world. After that point, if your child has never slept well, start with some basics,” Prueher says. “Treat it like you’re back to newborn days where you stayed home and focused on all of these things.”
That doesn’t mean never leaving the house or taking an extended staycation. But you might have to press pause on play dates and limit baby’s jam-packed schedule until they’re sleeping through the night. Because baby’s first and second naps are so mentally and physically restorative, Prueher suggests saving errands until second nap is over.
“Change your mindset and make sleep a priority, so you can find what the natural rhythm of the child is,” she says.
2. Know thy baby.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that Prueher is a huge fan of analytics! She recommends taking note of everything surrounding sleep, from diet to mood, then looking for trends in the data. Knowledge is power when it comes to figuring out your baby’s best sleep. Be on the lookout for clues. For example, if baby’s really happy, then starts staring off into space, it may be a way of saying, “Hey guys, I wanna go to bed!” Watch for signs of sleepiness like heavy eyes, redness in the face and even hyperactivity.
“Things like tugging on their ear, yawning a lot and starting to get cranky means the child is starting to get in an overtired state,” Prueher says. “But parents aren’t necessarily going to know that right away, so I want them to start logging it because then they start learning.”
3. Designate a sleep zone.
Life is unpredictable, but baby’s sleep shouldn’t be. Until your child’s in a good place sleep-wise, limit zzz’s to one area of the house, like the nursery. No napping wherever baby’s heart pleases. No dozing off in Mom’s arms or the stroller.
“Just for reset purposes, I don’t recommend having the child sleep everywhere,” Prueher says. “Give them a place to rest. A true place to rest. They will become more flexible later on once you teach them to actually sleep.”
4. Make sleep a team sport.
Setting up a routine and establishing positive visual and verbal sleep cues (pulling down the shades, reading a book, coming up with a catchphrase like “It’s time to go to bed!”) are great. But none of it will matter if Mom follows one routine at night, the nanny follows a different one during the day and Grandma does her own thing on the weekends. Get everyone in on the sleep plan – yes, even Grandma! – so that baby’s not caught off guard.
“Anyone who takes care of the child at the parents’ home should be on the same page. You don’t want to do different things because you’re only confusing the child,” Prueher says. “It’s not about everything being exactly the same every single day all day long, but there’s got to be some predictability.”
5. Don’t underestimate the power of milk.
Milk matters. It really, really matters, even when baby starts eating solids around four to six months. They’ll need less milk as they get older. But if baby’s still waking up in the middle of the night to feed, it could mean they’re not getting enough milk during the day.
“A lot of what I see, especially after the doctor has given the okay for the child to start having solids, is that parents just jump into the solids way too fast,” Prueher says. “The child will get to the point where they just eat solids all day long, but then look for milk all night long.”
They might be looking for more than just milk, though. Multiple nighttime wakeups may also indicate a negative sleep association.
“If a child has 10 ounces typically and when they wake up at night they only have two or five ounces, you know they’re not waking up to feed, they’re waking up out of habit,” Prueher says. “And that’s because a sleep association is there – ‘feed to sleep.’”
Prueher advises taking note of how many ounces baby normally consumes or how long they breastfeed, then comparing that to their feeding rituals at night. That’ll help determine if the behavior is driven by a need for milk or a need for you.
6. Practice what you preach.
Infants are like small, very cute detectives. They can tell when parents are wishy-washy about sleep or don’t mean business. “Think about the people you trust in your life,” says Prueher. “They mean what they say and they follow through.”
As babies get older, they could even be affected by your own not-so-great sleep habits. If you don’t take sleep seriously, why should they? “Children learn visually, they will pick up on it,” Prueher says.
7. You do you.
Every baby is different with varying sleep needs, cues and habits. Prueher’s first son was a “stellar sleeper.” Her second son? Not so much. That’s why it’s important to figure out what’s best for baby and you. Even if that means ignoring tips from your well-meaning next-door neighbor.
“When you get advice, you have to take it with a grain of salt,” Prueher says. “It’s all about finding what works for your child.”
If you still need tips for getting your baby to sleep, the Nanit baby monitor offers customized sleep tips based on your child’s sleep patterns. It’s like having a sleep expert in your home.