Emotion and Sleep Solutions

Flexibility, adaptability & resiliency must evolve from emotional safety in order for independent sleep to happen. 

Sleep is a biological process, not a behavioral one. Behavioral sleep issues arise around sleep, when a baby or child's emotional needs remain unmet. Yes, babies & toddlers need a lot of emotional support, balancing the needs, while encouraging safety & security around sleep is the solution. Conscious parenting helps parents understand how their own emotional past plays a role in their child's developing emotions. We cannot train a child to sleep any more then we can train them to breathe. Like all milestones, sleep evolves over time and each stage must be mastered before moving onto the next. 

Sleep becomes complicated when the factors that influence sleep are not addressed. When those milestones are not met or other factors come into play, such as reflux, feeding issues, birth trauma, sensitivities, colic, allergies, regulation imbalance, mom's emotional health, stress, anxiety, travel, illness or temperament, sleep becomes a problem. Finding solutions begins with identifying the areas of concern, working from the inside out, balancing the needs, adjusting feeds, adding sunlight, emotional connectedness, play, physical touch, stimulation, activity and emotional availability, before making changes to sleep.

Day-by-day these changes fill the night-time needs, reducing night wakings, providing emotional security, supporting down-regulating, empowering babies & toddlers, and then asking them to shift comfort zones at night. Holistic sleep work requires careful planning and an understanding of your baby's needs from their point of view. Before any behavioral strategy can be considered, it's important to identify the root of the problem and understand why your baby is resisting independent sleep. Babies dominant survival instinct is close proximity to mom. Working through this takes time.

Some babies have negative associations to bedtime, immature development of the nervous system, or early experiences that negatively affect sleep. Some may have switched to reverse cycling with feeds or are awake for long periods at night, identifying the cause is always the first step. Knowing what parenting style resonates most with you, is imperative to the process. My philosophy follows conscious parenting, with components of peaceful, gentle, respectful and leadership parenting styles. 

As a parenting instructor and sleep coach I combine hands-on solutions with deeper awareness. By supporting mom's emotion, becoming aware of the synchronized emotional reaction and building connected relationships we can often solve sleep issues without any behavioral changes at all. Today’s generation recognizes the importance of healthy sleep for early brain development, emotional intelligence, attachment and trust. By proactively seeking professional advice for emotional development, early parent-child relationships, parenting challenges, nutrition and sleep support, you are giving your baby the very best! Children benefit emotionally, cognitively, and developmentally, when we are in balance with ourselves and emotional connections are the primary focus. The first three years are critical to a child's development, the ability to regulate emotions down the road begins with a deeper understanding and awareness. We know that overall happiness and academic performance is directly related to emotional intelligence. Emotional isolation is never an option!

Advanced Sleep Solutions, NOT Sleep Training

"One person can make a change, all it takes is just ONE!"

Sleep training by definition is the process of training young children to fall asleep on their own, typically by means of techniques in which the child is left to cry without being comforted, either for gradually increasing periods of time or until they fall asleep.

The truth is that sleep training works for many families, and can make a huge difference in the quality of life for a family. Quality sleep saves jobs and marriages, in today's crazy world. We all know the dangers of sleep deprivation and the benefits of healthy sleep, but we also know that leaving a baby to cry isn't easy, and for many parents, it simply isn't an option! 

Sleep training has the stamp of approval from the AAP and reportedly causes no harm to the baby or child that we are aware of. Sleep training, however, often needs to be repeated at each stage of development, with travel, illness or regressions along the way. The process looks different for every family, it requires careful consideration of temperament and needs, as well as an assessment of the child's response and emotional reaction. When applied incorrectly, it can result in long term emotional problems. For many parents, leaving your baby or toddler to cry just doesn't "feel" right and can cause extreme stress for mothers, including physical symptoms such as hives. Surprisingly, this seems to be the only time when a parent is encouraged to go against their intuition, maternal instincts and "mother natures perfect design."

Despite the support of doctors and pediatricians in North America, many countries do not support sleep training. One can get lost in the sea of information available on the topic, numerous experts have a wide range of opinions and conflicting research studies can be found on opposing sides of the fence, but nothing concrete has been presented to suggest we should avoid this practice. Parents remain confused and conflicted when it comes to making these choices. As such, the need for more advanced, emotionally supportive sleep solutions has become the focus.

Trusting mother's instinct, learning how to attune to your baby, practicing connection through mindfulness, reading baby's cues, blending social emotional learning and using holistic practices to get to the root of the problem is the key. The idea is based on the concept that babies are born with the ability to fall asleep but that barriers come up emotionally that prevent the "surrender to sleep." As human beings we are incredibly intelligent and highly emotional, it appears we are the only species who experience such challenges with sleep. Our ability to co-regulate with others, as well as the impact of the environment and our increased sensitivity to change, is superior to other animals. It is through this lens that we begin to work towards a solution. In our busy culture, there is often a disconnect from our true selves, from our inner awareness, with the inability to pause and reflect in the moment, which can cause resistance to sleep. 

Expectations for young babies in western culture is also very high. Knowing what is biologically and developmentally possible for our children, is a big part of the process. Parents want more education in an ever changing world, with access to the latest up-to-date research, and an understanding of the impact of their parenting choices on emotional wellness. We are shifting away from sleep methodologies that were researched and practiced in the 1980's, to a new generation of parents, seeking sleep solutions through emotional wellness, conscious parenting, and holistic integration. Sleep is the end result of a well-balanced baby or child when foundations for sleep are in place, areas of emotional conflict are resolved, and the physical aspects of sleep science are in line, you will discover a baby who is willing to enter such a vulnerable state. Finding sleep solutions in a modern world goes beyond behavioral approaches.

Baby-Led Sleep Solutions!

What are Baby-Led Sleep Solutions?

Shawnee Baker of Advanced Nurturing, Awakened Sleep Coach & Lauren Heffernan of Isla-Grace, have joined to create Baby-Led Sleep. 

With an emphasis on mother's instinct, connection and emotional concepts, our holistic sleep approach nurtures the parent-child relationship. 

" Conscious Parenting is a game changer because it doesn't try to change the child, just ourselves as parents. It holds that once the parent creates the right conditions, the child will naturally change and evolve toward higher consciousness. " Dr. Shefali Tsabary

" Conscious Parenting is a game changer because it doesn't try to change the child, just ourselves as parents. It holds that once the parent creates the right conditions, the child will naturally change and evolve toward higher consciousness. " Dr. Shefali Tsabary


I began the journey of sleep consulting as a parent educator, lactation consultant, pediatric and NICU RN. I wanted to apply the methods used for developmental care concepts in the NICU, and emotional wellness through conscious parenting to the principles of sleep work. Through my own experience, years of education, extensive parenting, and sleep courses, I began to see what was missing for so many parents. There was a conflict between nurturing parenting practices and achieving healthy sleep. Main stream sleep solutions were all about "training" your baby and using cry-based methodologies to achieve results. With the focus on controlling behavior through disconnection, rather than being attuned to your child and supporting them emotionally. This was not in line with my parenting philosophy and the need for alternative sleep solutions was born. 

It was around this time that I met Dr. Shefali, who not only validated my beliefs and supported my theory but had more knowledge and wisdom than I could imagine. Her deeper understanding of psychology and inner awareness of the true self, was exactly what was needed for the connection between mother and child. Blending concepts from conscious parenting into sleep strategies became the main principles for "The Awakened Sleep Coach" and the launch of "Baby-Led Sleep". Recognizing that brain development in the first three years happens at an alarming rate, that our emotional blueprint is formed during these years and that traits from infancy become a part of one's personality, the need for educating new parents was clear and become my mission.  I was not comfortable following the recommendations of sleep pioneers from twenty years ago, but rather wanted to be a leader in the industry for this new parenting paradigm. Becoming aware of the need for emotionally supportive parenting, trusting our maternal intuition and balancing the new research on healthy sleep habits isn't easy, but is parenting ever easy? It was clear that parents and babies needed to sleep, but sleep training was not following the path of connected, attuned parenting. Discovering that Lauren and I shared similar views on our approach to parenting and sleep solutions, a partnership was created. Baby'Led Sleep has become the new approach to nighttime parenting. By following baby's lead, listening when they tell you they are tired, responding to them when they tell you they need help, guiding them when they ask for safety, recognizing when you have become a barrier to sleep. By attuning and understanding your baby, you can make changes that are necessary and support your baby through those sleep challenges.  

Baby-led sleep is a process of understanding your own emotions, your own role in your child's ability to sleep, your reactions and interactions, becoming a conscious parent right from the start! Your child's developmental stages, the science of sleep, the foundations for healthy sleep, transitioning through co-regulation to emotional wellness, what that really means and how to do it through connection, the scaffolding method of social emotional learning, the path to emotional intelligence, building stronger relationships, how play facilitates sleep, responding to different temperaments, balancing nutrition, knowing when sleep is food related, the "gut" brain, environment, rhythms, patterns, predicatbility, and following your child's cues along the way. Once all of these principles are in place and connected parenting is practiced during the day, babies and toddlers begin to feel emotional safety. It is only once emotional safety is achieved and the nervous system is in a down-regulating mode, can we start the process of changing sleep associations and teaching self-settling. The brain cannot learn when it is under extreme stress. The goal of baby-led sleep is to follow a baby's lead, respond appropriately, provide containment when your baby asks for it, create safe limits for your child and help them learn when they are receptive and connected to you.

Emotional wellness is our main focus and is not taught in our culture. We believe in respecting each other as spiritual beings and allowing each other the freedom to express emotions and release tension. Studies indicate that emotion release is beneficial by removing toxins from the body and flushing chemicals from the brain. Human beings are designed to release emotion and crying serves a purpose. Knowing we are both highly intelligent and highly emotional, in comparison to all other animals it is important that we connect through tears and share emotion with others. We need to accept and not control our child's limbic system, to know what it is to be human and to feel all of our emotions in a safe secure environment, supported by a loving, connected parent. Baby-led sleep always begins with the parent and teaches moms how to understand her own emotions first. We often don't know what we cannot see, motherhood opens doors you couldn't see into before. You need to have clarity and a deeper awareness of your true self to reflect on how these emotions can interfere with baby sleep. Through this process, both you and your baby will be prepared for the subtle changes you need to guide them through. 

Just like adults, babies and children must first learn what it feels like to be safe and secure, to be stable and steady, next they can learn to be adaptable, flexible and resilient, and finally they will show you that they are ready and willing to move out of their safe space. Looking beneath the surface and adding the skills that parents need in order to recognize and respond to their baby's lead is the solution for baby-led sleep! When you use the tools for emotional safety and teach with connection vs disconnection, you build a relationship with your child and send a strong message that you will be there no matter what! This goes beyond sleep work well into the toddler years for managing behavior and establishes a bond between parent and child that lasts a lifetime. The building blocks for all adult relationships one day. 


Sleep Coaching and Tears

I know my baby needs sleep but how can I support the tears?

When you have a sleep association between nursing, rocking, bouncing and sleeping or anything else in fact, it starts to interfere with your baby’s natural ability to self soothe which ultimately interferes with sleep! You must first teach the skills for happy sleep and apply the positive connections. Balance the schedule, improve the environment and practice emotional wellness during the day, before moving towards eliminating the associations you don't want at night! By helping your baby find another way to sleep, trading one association for another and shifting their comfort zone slowly, you can promote healthy sleep without assistance and support any tears!!

If you're ready to jump start by trying to letting baby fall asleep in your arms without any movement, make sure you've put in the foundations for at least a week up front. Be prepared to support the tears, she will likely cry, pleading with you to just start rocking or bouncing her and do whatever it takes to get her to sleep the old way. The crying will make you think, “This isn’t working. She won’t stop crying. I’m clearly not helping her.” Be patient, you are helping her!! You are teaching her that crying is an acceptable way to express emotion and that you are supporting her and loving her. You are helping her with emotional wellness and loving her through the tough times. Your success as a parent is not related to your baby’s cries, you are not failing by teaching her important life skills. You do not need to rescue her and fix the emotion every time. You are setting limits and showing her a new way of falling asleep.

Letting her fall asleep in her own crib, while sitting next to her helping or giving her space is the next step. It's not as hard on her as it is when you choose to leave her all alone to figure it out for herself. Babies who are stressed with parental support show lower cortisol levels then babies who are stressed without any parental support. Your baby’s crying doesn't mean that your presence in the room is meaningless! By being there with your baby to provide love, comfort and support through the tears and emotions, and giving them brief periods of time to work through it, always supporting and encouraging efforts, shows them you will not abandon them when they feel sad and upset, that you will support them no matter what and that you accept them just the way they are! Crying or no crying, the message is the same,  you will be there!

Sending an early message to your child that you will not reject them for feeling sad or angry but rather you will listen to them, embrace them and help them through it, builds stronger emotional connections and relationships. You must be careful not to reinforce the crying or the behavior you are trying to eliminate in very young babies. Supporting emotion and showing empathy is not the same as providing the behavior you are trying to extinguish. Confidence and encouragement is also important! Remember, you are simply setting limits and safe boundaries for your baby, not disregarding their feelings or expressions. Recognize the different cries and listen closely, let your child know you are there by reflecting back and speaking out loud, tell your baby what you see. Acknowledge their frustration and protest while recognizing you must still help them sleep. Mirror the emotion you want to see in your baby instead, calm, confident and capable. Provide a safe space for them to feel secure and use the nursery space as the crib boundaries. Loving unconditionally is imperative to optimal development and emotional stability. Setting boundaries is very different from rejection or abandonment. Be aware of the message you send.

Many pediatricians and sleep experts advise that extinction – letting babies cry-it-out without any reassurance – is the fastest way to getting baby to sleep and results in less crying. I have not found this to be the case. Sleep work is never fun and takes a lot of patience and commitment, but combining sleep work with emotional connectedness builds the relationship during the process. When you can apply positive foundations and build from the bottom up, your baby has less stress and knows what to expect before elimiating behavior. I think we need to stop measuring our success by minutes of crying and take a close look at the babies side of the story. Your baby won't like this no matter what and will display an emotional reaction, how you chose to support the emotion is a personal choice. A more gradual approach may take longer and require more patience, but for your baby, this may help them to feel understood while accepting a new way to sleep. I believe supporting emotion may be the best option for the long run when we consider all other factors. A crying baby may be protesting, struggling to fall asleep in a new way, or frustrated by the change, but she not necessarily in distress or despair without the added factor of removing the caregiver. Without your presence another layer of stress is added to the equation. If you have a baby who will tolerate CIO quickly and settle within minutes I agree with using this method. Some babies tolerate CIO well and do not reach the level of hysterics or despair that others do. For these babies, this may be the best approach but for others CIO can exacerbate crying, increase anxiety and escalate sleep problems causing everyone tremendous stress and disconnection for weeks afterwards.

If your baby is one who escalates to this level of crying, even with support and encouragement, be prepared for a longer journey and be willing to meet your child where they are at! Pause and pace at every step, practicing each time. Some parents feel like this approach is worse by dangling a carrot in front of the baby and saying no. I can understand this view point of view, but have not found this to be the case. In life your child will see candy and have to accept they cannot have it, you are teaching them to accept limits. Babies who get exactly what they want after hysterically crying learn to express “wants” in the future the same way and will cry more often and escalate quickly for faster results. Balancing the emotional support while setting a limit and reading your baby's cues is complicated stuff! Identify the “wants” from the “needs," the emotion from the panic and providing love and support along the way. Building connections through daily practice will help you along the way.

Parenting requires deep thought and self reflection. Nothing will trigger emotion in you like the role of being a parent. Many people are reminded of their own childhood experiences and need to do a lot of soul searching during this difficult time. Hit the “pause” button when you can and ask yourself what you feel and why? Try to avoid going to that emotion place yourself and separate your emotion from your baby’s emotion. “You can cry and it won’t upset me, I am your rock and will anchor you when you are ready to calm down.” This is your mantra for helping your child. “For now I will hold a space for you and wait patiently while you work through your own feelings.” When we let our babies know that we hear them and acknowledge their emotions, they’ll probably keep telling us over and over again how they feel and hope we will respond differently, be prepared for the test and know your baby may test you for a while longer! Just like when you are venting or upset about something and very passionate or emotional, you may need to talk and talk to get it off your chest. Your baby needs that too, emotion isn't bad it’s just hard to feel helpless with your own baby. Let them feel, help them accept emotion as a normal part of being human and teach them that sometimes life is hard and you will help them through it!!

Every baby is different, and temperament must be considered when responding, but I truly believe that most babies benefit from a gradual approach with more parental support and positive associations. If your baby doesn’t know what to do before you take away their safe sleep tools, they feel lost and alone. Give them the tools first and set them up for success. Make sure they are happy in the crib outside of bedtime and okay with you leaving them during the daytime. Sleep deprivation causes everyone to feel emotional and stressed, the challenge is to get through the next few weeks with the least amount of stress possible while finding some extra strength and patience to let your baby learn and accept the new way of managing sleep. 

Minimizing stress is the goal while nurturing on a deeper level. Your baby’s response is not within your control and crying is their way of showing you that they recognize the change and don't like it. Stay the course and support your baby while slowing down the process when you feel they are getting overwhelmed. Listen to your baby, respond and respect their needs and be aware of the messages you send and the consistency you provide. Confusion slows down the process and there will always be curve balls along the way. Expect a few challenging nights and have your thoughts and emotions in the right place before you begin!!

Sleep can be taught through connectedness vs disconnection! Ask me how!!!

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The Dreaded Diaper Change!!

Diaper changes and feeding patterns are the first lessons you teach, even before sleep. Adapting to your growing changing baby can be difficult and many mom's find themselves struggling with diaper changes and busy babies on the go!! When babies become mobile they find diaper changes an inconvenience. Babies are starting to assert themselves and make decisions based on wants not needs. When you first notice your little one struggling with diaper changes, consider what developmental stage your baby is at. Now is the time to rethink your sleeping and feeding patterns as well. "Wants" and "Needs" start to blend together! The key is to help your baby understand that "needs" will always be met but there are limits set on your baby's "wants!"

Feeding is managed by reconsidering those demand feeds and switching to scheduled feeds if you haven't already. Volumes and timing for each feeding should be documented to avoid comfort feeding and emotional dependency on feeding. Diaper changes need to managed too! Teaching your baby to wait during a diaper change is a wonderful skill for them to master. Babies who learn patience at a very young age, have better coping skills, learn to focus sooner, and are better equipped to manage emotions in pre-school. Teaching these simple concepts can actually accelerate your babies IQ!!

Babies are smarter than we think! They understand a lot more than we realize and can learn these concepts as young as 6 months old. When teaching through positive reinforcement with sensory rewards and praise, you can manage those diaper changes without jumping through hoops and standing upside down!! Begin with simply asking your baby to "wait!" It's all about the tone of voice, the expression on your face and the anticipation that something good is about to happen!

Babies can only wait for a few seconds in the beginning, but with practice you can have your baby waiting for 5mins or more while you calmly change their diaper. After introducing the phrase word and using the facial expression to communicate excitement, you pick your baby up, twirl around with him and reward with kisses and giggles!! Every time you change your baby teach the lesson and have a special reinforcement tool only used for diaper changes, I like to use bubbles, wind chimes or a bright balloon and offer the sensory reinforcement after the word "wait" is used.

Every baby has a favorite object or tool you can use for the reinforcement. Finding the right one is the key! The sensory reward becomes the distraction but over time this won't be enough to keep them occupied. The distraction must be paired with the praise and the word "wait!" Lay baby down, say the word "wait," now show them the balloon or bubbles. Change the diaper and repeat the word again just before the diaper is complete.  This time pause before picking your baby up and reward with giggles, spinning and play. After a few weeks your baby will anticipate positive connections with laying down for diaper changes. These tools can be transferred to crib time and sleep!  

This simple trick can be used for so many things and best of all...your baby will be smarter because of it!! 

I love making things easier for you. Feel free to join me for a free consultation anytime. 

Shawnee Baker RN, Sleep Consultant and Developmental Care Specialist


Sleepy Signs in Babies!!

If you're a parent you've heard the term many times! "Watch for the sleepy cues!" Many parents get confused and wonder what exactly it is they are looking for? Yawning and eye rubbing are late signs for a sleepy baby, and crying is often way too late! Here's the scoop on the "sleepy" signals and how to understand them.

When babies are getting close to their ideal sleep window they often show us in subtle ways that they have hit the "sweet spot" for sleep. The cues can be different for each baby, so learning to read your baby's cues is the key. If your baby isn't getting enough overall sleep, he or she may show signs of yawning in-between sleep cycles, this can get confusing so count the number of hours your baby sleeps. For many babies waking up at the wrong time in the sleep cycle or waking from a deep sleep will cause them to wake up irritable and look sleepy. This doesn't mean they aren't getting enough sleep, it just means your little one is more sleep sensitive. We call this sensation sleep inertia and babies are often more sensitive to this feeling. Tracking your schedule, knowing your wake windows and anticipating the sleep cues is the first step to solving the puzzle.

Some babies show signs by pulling at their ears or hair, they may rub their head or nose, snuggle into your shoulder, have faster, deeper breathing. They often appear glassy eyes or have a blank stare, disengaged and avoiding eye contact. Sometimes they will have redness around their eyes or eyebrows. Other signs include head bobbing or shaking their head, babbling or covering their face, hiccups, floppy tone, puffy eyes, cuddling and putting head down, slower movements or repetitive movements, wanting to be held or wanting to fed when it isn't feeding time, and rubbing their face into blankets. The obvious signs of yawning and eye rubbing can still help you find the perfect wake window by simply starting your nap routine 10-15mins earlier the following day. 

For some babies, sleep signs are a little different, they can become fidgety, more active, or silly. Sometimes they seem giddy and playful, blowing raspberries, laughing or giggling, having increasing movements. Others may show irritability quickly and become cranky or grumpy, at first they may seem distant, and easily frustrated, often they will push mommy away and become whiny or upset with everything. These babies may burst into tears quickly without any previous subtle signs. 

Getting to know your baby is important and understanding temperament makes a huge difference in how you manage sleep and sleep associations. Not every baby responds well to the interventions you apply, so make sure it's a good match before tackling sleep! 

If you think you've got it and have mastered the sleep cycles! Congrats!! If you need more help please reach out to me for a free consultation!

Private Schools and Baby Sleep Solutions?

What's the connection??

I decided to write this post to share with other mom's the experience I've had raising my own children in a highly competitive world and why sleep and emotional wellness are more important than ever for young babies and toddlers today. Relationship foundations and internal working models of the brain, are set for life during these early years. A child's ability to cope with adversity and to have a strong sense of self worth is linked to the interactions they experience before they can even speak. These foundations need to be strong and babies need to feel emotionally secure in order to adapt to the academic demands they will inevitably encounter down the road.

My daughter attends a prestigious prep school in CT. The boarding school is home for the children of many affluent families, parents with high expectations and others who attend on full scholarships with even more pressure to succeed. My daughter doesn't have time to talk to me throughout the week as classes run Monday thru Saturday. She is involved in rigorous courses and competitive sports. She's a lucky girl to attend this school and have the opportunities she has, but these opportunities do not without a price. 

I'm not referring to the outrageous cost of boarding school, but rather the price these kids pay with the loss of a childhood at an early age. Those who have had a loving nurturing background and experienced a great deal of family support tend to do well. Others suffer with anxiety disorders, panic attacks, depression, and even substance abuse. The research on this topic has been unfolding over the last decade and many scientists suspect a link to early childhood, even pregnancy, interaction with infants, parenting philosophies, and early suppression of emotion.

It's easy to look back and critic the areas of parenting where each of went wrong, after all is said and done. It's another thing to be proactive and to prevent the issues from occurring in the first place. Studies done on early education prove that these children have a huge advantage, but only recently have we noted the advantage of nurturing babies and toddlers.  I suspect changing the rules for private schools and reducing these high demands, is an unlikely solution. On a global scale our society must compete academically. However, the relationship with sleep and baby coaching at an early age plays a key role in providing your child with an advantage for such challenges. Private school is only one example of the changing world we live in, babies who sleep better have a higher IQ and are more emotionally stable through the pre-school years. I believe the answer lies in preparing our children better and helping them to adapt to the demands of a new generation. 

Shawnee Baker RN

Bedtime Routines!! What's the Big Deal?

As the Founder and Owner of Advanced Nurturing, full-time parent coach and pediatric sleep specialist, I often find this simple yet effective solution is easily overlooked and frequently forgotten!

Along with my professional experience, I'm also a mom to three great kids! I've been where you are many times and had the same bedtime struggles you're having! Today, I get asked the same question over and over from clients and friends; "How do I manage bedtime? "Many families begin to feel anxious as bedtime approaches and anticipate a challenge from their toddler. The biggest issue is managing your expectations and creating a calm peaceful home. Believe it will go well every time and project those emotions onto your child, while maintaining a confident and consistent approach. Keeping parents on track is truly the biggest issue! When you’re tired, worn out, had enough of negotiating and just want to give up, you often send mixed messages and become inconsistent. Little ones need you to set these boundaries and make them clear. Another little piece of advice, communicate what you want them to do and minimize the use of the word "no!" See how this simple trick changes your approach and how empowered you feel as a parent. 


Being consistent makes the world of difference in parenting. A child raised in a scheduled and structured home always knows what to expect and won’t fight you on going to bed. Practice these methods for parenting throughout the day and anticipate problems before they occur, know how you will handle the demands and what you will agree to and won't agree to, before you get in a situation that leaves you second guessing your own choices.  Teaching your children from an early age that mommy means what she says, isn't being tough, it's being fair. When children learn that tormenting and pressuring mom gets them the what they want, they learn that you are inconsistent and unpredictable. It isn't fair when you do set the limits because you are sending mixed messages. 

Young children thrive on routine and learn to anticipate what comes next. Creating an solid relationship and an environment with boundaries helps them to feel safe. Paying close attention to every detail and following the same routine in the very same order every night is the key to a successful bedtime! Setting the routine from day one helps babies and toddlers learn to associate the routine with sleep. A sleep routine takes some planning and everyone must be willing to do the same routine. If you want to read three books and daddy only wants to read one, this will create issues down the road so stick to the routine! Little ones don't like surprises that aren't in their favor, especially at bedtime!


Is your Baby Overstimulated?

Excellent Parenting Begins With YOU! After all, you are your child's first teacher!


Babies Learn best from Human Interactions with Caregivers they Trust!

Our brains are hard wired to learn specifically from our caregivers. Like primates, we are genetically designed to mimic others and watch behaviors closely. Babies who have more personal “one-on-one” interactions and less bucket time, are better equipped to handle adversities. Having primary caregivers cannot be emphasized enough! Parents and nannies play a significant role in a child’s early development. These bonds are imperative for infant mental health.

Baby’s can become overstimulated with crowds and new people. Socialization is important but overstimulation can impede learning. Knowing when to engage in baby class and when to teach at home is important for your baby’s development. The first year builds a great foundation and must be carefully managed to balance your baby’s needs. Early learning through nurturing can start right away, skills such as baby sign language have been noted with babies as young a five months old. What you do with your child from birth to three years of age affects the structure of their brain. These years are critical to brain development and strongly influence how your chid will behave as an adult. 

The first and strongest indicators of success are noted with emotional attachment and connectedness. Brain development is dependent on strong emotional connections. By removing distractions and preventing overstimulation the opportunity for learning improves. Good nutrition and healthy consolidated sleep are also major components of accelerated learning. The foundation for brain development is based on early experiences provided for your baby. Babies capture experiences more readily than adults and are capable of learning at a very early age. Knowing you have the right ingredients to support optimal brain development is imperative and not as difficult as you think!  

Advanced Nurturing is focused on ensuring those early experiences occur for your baby at the right time and that windows of opportunity for learning are never missed. Through early bird parent coaching services, weekly activities and personalized learning plans are provided with help for parenting challenges along the way! Parenting is hard work! Raising children to be the very best they can be takes a village!

The Following Ingredients are needed for success!! 

#1: Give Baby the Best of You!

Take time for yourself, nurture your needs, avoid isolation and stress.

Without the best YOU, baby cannot thrive. Nannies are great for implementing this role when parents feel burnt out. Advanced Nurturing works with nannies all the time and organizes play programs and learning goals day by day, week by week with help from nannies. Parents can look after themselves and be ready for baby interactions!!

    •    Exercise, socialize, sleep and eat well, indulge a little:)

    •    Put your relationship first, happy marriages provide great soil for growing smart babies

    •    Communicate often with your spouse, share the workload and outsource when you can.


#2: Model Happiness, Gratitude and Good Behavior!

Be Aware, actions speak louder then words.

Not just parents but everyone around your baby needs to be aware of the non-verbal communication they are sending. Working with nannies, grandparents and other caregivers allows everyone to be onboard and keep those in charge of baby, accountable!

    •    Engage when you feel happy, bonding and attachment require positive emotions

    •    Limit the amount of stress your baby is exposed to, stress is toxic to babies

    •    Be aware of your non-verbal communication, babies are experts in reading these cues


#3: Providing Good Nutrition for Both of You!

Stay healthy and strong, role modeling what your eat happens from a young age. Babies are always watching!

    •    Monitor your diet closely when breastfeeding, providing good nutrition is imperative

    •    Breastfeed for at least one year, studies show brain development is significantly improved


#4: Most of All, Give the Gift of Time.

When you're with your baby...be WITH your baby! No screen time, no cell phones, no chatting on the phone...your baby deserves YOU!!

    •    Human interaction requires time, something most of us don't have enough of, brains take time to grow

    •    If you don't have enough valuable time, provide a nanny who can give your baby all the time and attention they need

    •    Manage time wisely, even your baby can have wasted time if it is not carefully planned, organized and utilized efficiently

    •    Time is required for bonding, talking, singing, playing, discovering and learning, babies need as much human interaction as possible. The role of Advanced Nurturing is to coordinate services to manage time appropriately within the family and throughout the baby's day. Providing a plan to give your child the best education through human interactions and personal engagements during his or her most alert moments, while managing sleep, nutrition, and behavior along the way.

If you’d like more information on the early bird learning program and can see how parent coaching can keep you and your baby on track, while organizing your time and assisting with your baby’s development. Give me a call! I’d love to tell you more in a free consultation!

Shawnee Baker, Advanced Nurturing 978-831-7792

At your Wits End?

Shawnee Baker, Advanced Nurturing

I know what it’s like to have sleepless nights!


Overwhelmed with information and conflicting advice, parents often turn to professionals to solve their sleep issues. When it comes to getting healthy sleep there’s a lot to consider! Many parents look for answers in sleep books and attempt common sleep methodologies without success. Besides removing sleep associations parents need to consider other factors such as emotional wellness, biology, behavior, nutrition, activity, play, exercise, developmental stage, temperament, and parenting styles. The logistics of the family and the unique dynamics involved, plays a key role in how children sleep. Although parents come to me with the goal of better sleep, the bigger goal ultimately, is for optimal brain development and emotional wellness!

Many parents are exhausted and frustrated, too busy with work schedules and family demands to research the endless sea of articles available online to help them get better sleep! During these early years, sleep matters more than you think. Studies have shown that babies and toddlers who sleep through the night have better emotional regulation, capture experiences more readily and are capable of learning more efficiently. Finding the right balance is necessary with sleep coaching, you must avoid compromising one need for another! 

Although getting babies to sleep can be challenging and stressful for families, there seems to be some opinion in general, about what sleep coaching is and why anyone needs this service. I often wonder what it is about sleep coaching that so many people feel uncomfortable about? Is it the false belief that all sleep coaches insist on crying and leaving babies? Perhaps it’s the thought of sacrificing one need for another like having to give up night feeds or precious cuddle time? I’m here to put an end to all the assumptions, confusion and misunderstanding. Sleep coaching is anything but!! 

Certified sleep coaches come from many different backgrounds with various degrees. All of them have a passion for helping others and care a great deal about babies! Many sleep coaches like myself have a medical background in child development.  Sleep coaching can include co-sleeping, attachment parenting, breastfeeding on demand and occasional holding for sleep. It is NOT a one size fits all solution and can be done gently without crying through positive connections and daytime lessons. 

Generations before us managed many sleepless nights and accepted that babies just don't sleep! Some people say that today’s generation is selfish for wanting sleep and hiring a sleep coach. The truth is anything but! In fact it’s selfish to avoid spending what you would on a new pair of shoes or the equivalent of two dinners out, to get professional help when your baby won’t sleep! 

Consolidated sleep is important for your baby’s health and well being. Besides promoting brain development, there are many other advantages for baby’s who can sleep well. In a demanding world where education is so important and academic performance matters more than ever, sleep isn't just a luxury it’s a must, for early learning in today’s generation. Let’s not forget that we once allowed children to eat sugary cereal everyday, but because we know better and encourage nutrition food instead our kids have higher academic scores. Shouldn't we learn form the past and recognize the benefits of healthy sleep today?

So the next time you think about a sleep coach and fluff it off as an unnecessary profession, pleaseconsider the number of new professions that have evolved in the past twenty years. Perhaps parenting deserves more support and professional advice these days. Maybe then mothers wouldn't feel helpless or pressured to “do it all alone!” You are not a failure as a mother because you reach out for help, in fact just the opposite! Commend those who seek advice early, who are proactive and aren't afraid to ask for help when they need it! I hope our society begins to value parenting as much as we value other professions. Perhaps one day we will realize that parents need education and support for the most important job they’ll ever have!


Understanding Your Baby's Language

Knowing what each cry means and recognizing when to intervene and when not to is key!

Babies cry to communicate but also to release emotion. As they mature emotion becomes stronger but remains unregulated. They cannot control the feelings and often are simply unable to stop crying without help. After six months of age babies cognitively develop “wants” as well as needs. They have no other way to express these wants and so crying becomes confusing. You must decide if the cry is emotional, need based or a want. Either way it is communication and you must respond somehow. Knowing how to respond is the key to success.

I'm Hungry!

A hungry cry sounds like a “neh” sound, a low-pitched, on-and-off wail that stops when you give your baby the breast or bottle.

From birth until about 3 weeks, babies cry mostly because they're hungry. This is a good time to learn this cry and recognize it again as your baby gets older.

In the first few weeks, try to feed your baby before she cries from hunger. Among other reasons to do so: A ravenous baby can have a hard time latching on, which can lead to even more crying. So look for hungry-baby signs: Before she resorts to crying, a baby will let you know she wants to eat by opening her mouth, rooting for your nipple, trying to suck on your neck or your hand, or stuffing her own hand in her mouth. If you don't take the hint, she'll cry.

I'm Sleepy!

A sleepy cry starts out as a whimper and builds into a full-fledged wail, it sounds like an “owh” sound, the sound might quiver and make a noise that sounds more like a “wah-wah.” 

Anticipate the cry and know when to expect that your baby will feel tired. In the beginning, she will be sleepy after any social time or any outing, a walk or a visit, time at the store. Activity and stimuli make babies very sleepy. watch the clock and plan a nap before the crying.

Try to catch your baby’s sleepy cues and get her down to sleep before crying begins.  A baby who is ready to sleep will fall asleep if you let her. But a baby who becomes overtired has a difficult time winding down and can grow distraught, making it difficult for her to settle. 
I Need You!
Cries that stop the minute you pick up your baby - and start again when you put him down. This may be simply a rhythmic sounding cry or a whimper but it needs to be managed. 

Babies need comfort and human contact. They love to be hugged and cuddled. They crave this connection above all else and need to feel safe and secure. This is a need, not a want and should be considered as such. 

Spend as much time as you can holding your baby during during happy awake moments in the day. Carry your baby in a sling or baby carrier. Make connections positive and separate them from feedings and sleep. That way your baby will not associate cuddles only with feeds and bedtime.

Discomfort Cry or Gassy

This cry starts as an “eh” or “errhg” sound but then has a more of a high pitched sound and almost a screech. 

Your baby might also pull her legs up to her chest and arch her back, showing you signs of discomfort. When your baby has gas he may start out grunting and groaning trying to push the gas out. Unfortunately this pushes the air further down and makes the burp harder to achieve. Try to catch this before you see your little one doing this and work on the burp.

Colic still remains a mystery, but is believed to be associated with gas and abdominal discomfort. A newborn's immature digestive system can produce lots of gas and parents typically see more crying after week three. Frequent breaks in the feed and making sure your baby is sitting up straight or pressed into your shoulder straight not curled up, while patting her back more assertively then most think, usually does the trick. If you cannot get the burp and know your baby has gas, try rubbing your baby’s head and getting her to relax, gently rub her back and jiggle slightly but not too much after feeding! If nothing works, try "pedaling" her legs to help her dispel the gas, then lay her on her tummy across your arms.

I'm Overwhelmed!

This cry sounds like a soft whimper that grows louder and more fraught with every minute. Similar to the tired cry.

Having spent nine months in the quiet, dark privacy of the womb, your baby may be easily overcome by the world’s lights, noises and movement. In the first week or two, she might sleep through much of the hubbub. But as she stays awake for longer and her vision develops, watch for overstimulation.

You can help your baby calm down before she even starts crying by keeping an eye out for overstimulation. The most obvious early sign is avoidance. A baby who's had enough will turn his head away when you try to engage him; it's his way of protecting himself from even more stimulation. Other signs: He might get jittery, his breathing might speed up or he might look totally spaced out. Yawning, sneezing and extended hands with fingers splayed. Help him calm down by eliminating the source of stress, covering his eyes, gently rocking him, swaddling him or letting him suck on your finger or breast - and don't talk to him!

I Need a Diaper Change!

Starts with an H-sound. “Hey” before the cry. Whiny, nasal, continuous

Sensitive babies cry when they are wet or about to have a bowel movement, you'll also hear this if they have a sore bottom or feel too warm or too cold.

Newborns can't regulate their own temperature and need help to feel comfortable, they don't sweat to cool down or shiver to warm up. So you'll have to adjust clothing and covering to compensate. This improves with time but until your baby can tell you whats wrong, expect them to cry. learning body language in babies helps to limit crying and anticipate behavior.

This cry may also occur with other discomforts, such as the car seat or a tight jacket. Cold hands or feet, a hair in her eye, or an unfamiliar smell. They may also cry from a clothing tag bothering them or a twisted blanket underneath them. Babies cannot reposition themselves and rely on you to keep blankets flat and tags away from sensitive skin. Look at anything that may be bothering your baby. 

Ouch, that Hurts!

A sudden high-pitched shriek and out of control cry followed by loud wails

You won’t miss this one! This kind of cry means that something hurts and he needs help now! 

If you can't find the source of the pain and your baby keeps wailing, call the doctor and get help. Babies with twisted bowels or other serious medical conditions cry excessively. Look for hidden sources such as a hair wrapped around a toe or even a little boys privates:( 
This hurts and is hard to see, but can be very dangerous for a baby, cutting off circulation. Sometimes your baby has tummy pain from certain foods in mom’s diet. Pay attention to what you've eaten and reassess. Watch for ear infections as well! This can be tough to identify but the cry gets louder when the baby lays down. 

Panic Cry or Fear

Similar to a painful cry, but more shaking and gasping. Big tears and quivering lip. Often rapid breathing and a rhythmic cry that has the same tone over and over.

Avoid allowing your baby to feel abandoned or afraid. This can cause anxiety and increase clinginess in your baby.

Babies trust us and feel vulnerable when afraid. We are the weakest animals born in the mammal world and the most helpless. The fear is real and designed to protect your baby from predators. He doesn't know why he feels fear and doesn't know that a wolf wont eat him, but his brain is programmed to believe that.

Protest Crying

This is a frustration cry and occurs in older babies. This cry is more deliberate and often stops when the desired request is met. The cry is loud and shrill without shaking or distress. They are upset and do not like what’s happening but they are not afraid. 

A cry may start out this way but then change to become more distressed as baby becomes overwhelmed with emotion. Often the crying itself upsets the baby and they lose control. Be aware of when the cry changes and how to support your baby. Setting limits is perfectly okay and beneficial to your baby, but supporting emotion is important. 

Protest crying is ok if monitored appropriately in older babies. Your baby will not always like everything. Often you hear this cry when you are getting them dressed or changing a diaper during play time. Not everything is negotiable and the sooner your baby learns the rules the easier it will be!

Emotional Development

Babies are born with limited emotions and continue to develop these emotions at different stages. A 4 month old can smile and feel happy, but may not display anger yet. A six month old can show anger and frustration that are separate from sadness and express emotion in response to being told “no.” 

Babies need to learn that it is ok to feel these emotions but limits must be set. A baby may want to touch the stove or a hot coffee. They may want to play with a toy that isn't safe. They may protest the car seat but must learn to accept it anyway. All babies have highly unregulated emotional capabilities. Even though they feel these emotions, they have no idea how to manage them. It is up to caregivers to help them manage these emotions appropriately.

Fear develops later, around 7-10 months as well as separation anxiety. Babies at this age show intense sadness and grief with the loss of a loved one. By 12-15months more complex emotional processes form with the ability to feel pride, shame and embarrassment. This is confirmed by recognizing their reflection in the mirror. 

By 18 months the precursors to empathy appear and are seen even in younger babies when they hear other babies crying. This first stage of empathy is similar to a puppy who licks your face when you cry, they know something is wrong but they cannot understand why. 

As we know, emotions require a high level of intellect to identify and control. Some adults continue struggle with this concept throughout life. The emotions your baby or toddler feel are immature and require a certain level of cognitive ability to manage. They continue form over the pre-school and early school age years at a rapid rate. 

Understanding anger and frustration in your baby without rescuing him from these feelings, allows him to learn. Supporting temper tantrums in your toddler while setting limits and providing safe boundaries lets him work through it. Emotions are hard for us to watch, but as parents, we are the first teachers our baby will have. Our reaction to emotion sets the stage for life and is an important part of brain development.

Be patient and know when you need a break. Babies tears can be stressful for moms to hear, but knowing what the tears are communicating, will help! You will know when to rescue and when to stand by, when to meet the needs, and when to help them meet their own needs. When the crying is a “want” vs a “need,” how to teach them and when to support them. 

Setting limits provides safety. Limits and boundaries are happening from day #1. We limit the environment for our baby to sleep in, and limit the people who interact with them. We set boundaries on healthy nutrition, diaper changes and bath time. We set limits on safety with car seats and immunizations. These boundaries and limits increase with the age of your child. 

Healthy sleep needs limits and boundaries as well. Your baby will feel the emotion in you and mirror your emotion back. Be aware of the energy you bring to each situation. Mirroring emotion is not the same as identifying your feelings. A six year old may not realize they have hurt someones feelings and will need to be told, so don't expect your baby to recognize your emotions for sometime. 

Understanding where your baby is from a developmental stage emotionally, helps parents to model good behavior, teach deeper connections and support their baby’s feelings without reacting to them. Awareness of our own feelings is key. Children trigger emotional wounds from our past and remind us of our own childhood experiences. Accept the feelings your baby displays and let your baby know that it’s “ok” to feel and that even unpleasant and unfamiliar emotion is necessary sometimes!