Join me as I chat with Christine Brown who is a Mom to twin boys who she jokes tried to kill her from sleep deprivation when they were 6 months old!
This experience ignited an obsession with sleep and a passion for helping families.
Christine became a certified child sleep consultant in early 2016 and founded Bella Luna Family, a parent consulting company specializing in helping parents with some of the most challenging aspects of parenting, including child sleep, behavior, and potty training.
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Trish: [00:00:00] My name is Trish Ware and I am obsessed with all things pregnancy and birth and helping you to navigate with the practical and the magical seasons of this journey called motherhood. I'm an all day coffee sippin mama of seven. I've had the amazing privilege of delivering many babies. And my 15 plus year career as a labor and delivery nurse, and as a mama of seven, I'm here to help you take the guesswork out of childbirth so you can make the choices that are right for you and your baby.
Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and does not replace your medical advice. Check out our full disclaimer at the bottom.
Christine: of the show notes.
Trish: Hello everyone! Today's topic is going to be a great one. If you are a new mama, then you know that But [00:01:00] newborn sleep is going to consume your thoughts.
And if you're still pregnant, then wait, because newborn sleep is going to consume your thoughts. So our guest today is Christine Brown with Bella Luna Family, and she is a sleep consultant. Welcome, Christine. Thank you so much for coming today.
Christine: Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here and to chat with you.
Trish: Christine, can you just tell everyone your journey to becoming a sleep consultant? Because I always find that most of my guests have just a story as to how they became, whether they're lactation consultants or sleep consultants or labor and delivery nurses or whatever it is in the mom space, they have a unique story.
Christine: So I'm a twin mama. And my twins are now eight and a half. And I joke that when they were six months old that they were trying to kill me from sleep [00:02:00] deprivation. My husband and I were at Wits End. I remember feeding them in the middle of the night and our pediatrician, the boys were formula fed.
I tried so hard to breastfeed, but it just didn't work out for us. And our pediatrician had said the boys don't need to eat at night anymore. And my husband, so I was like, that's it. We're sleep training starting tonight. And we got into it and we started fighting in the nursery, not whisper fighting, like literally fighting and yelling at each other in the nursery in the middle of the night.
Cause I was like, they don't need to eat. And he's they're starving to death. And so I remember sitting there feeding one of my sons and being like, I'm going to divorce this buffoon. The minute I can do this by myself. I was just completely like. insane from sleep deprivation. And so I went on and figured it out and I asked another twin parent that I knew.
I said, how did you teach your twins to sleep? And he said, I used a sleep consultant. And I said, Oh, what? Cause back eight years ago, sleep consultants weren't as big of a thing as they are these days.[00:03:00] And so I ended up teaching the boys to sleep and I started my certification program with the family sleep Institute.
When the boys were I don't know, a little over a year. And I graduated when they were 18 months and I launched a business and I did this all while working full time for a fortune 50 technology company. So I was doing a lot of different things. But the drive was just so strong to help other mamas that were in the same situation that I was in.
Trish: that. And it's so funny because I tell my girls inside of my membership that. I, when you are sleep deprived, you totally understand why they use that in prisoners of war camps to get information because It's a really effective tool to torture people.
Christine: It really is. And even now if I don't get a good night's sleep, I'm like, how did I do that for six months?
It's just even one night, I'm like, the next day I'm a [00:04:00] little discombobulated.
Trish: Yeah, I don't get it. Like I, I was telling someone one of one of my students, I was doing a birth consultation with her and she is a night shift worker. And I was like, I don't know how you do it. And I used to work a night shift and I loved it.
But a lot of my nurse friends would go and work out or go grocery shopping or go do things after night shift. I was never that girl. Like I had to go straight home in bed because I would be like for 10 minutes if I tried to go to the grocery store I would find myself like blanked out just staring.
I do not function without sleep.
Christine: Me either. I don't, I remember sitting in my neighborhood and this story is just like, so funny. Sitting there waiting for the stop sign to turn green. And like my neighbor is like beeping, I live in the suburbs, right? Like my neighbor is beeping and I was like, Oh, sorry.
Trish: I know. Yeah, the stories. Gosh, I know. Thank you, [00:05:00] Jesus, that my kids are alive. It's good. Anyway, so today I wanted to talk about mommies who are still pregnant and because Sleep, like I was telling you before we started recording that there's a few hot topics in my membership. So my membership is for my pregnant mamas and postpartum moms.
And it's really hard for me because when my girls are still pregnant, they just don't know what's coming. It's really hard to explain the things that are coming in postpartum, whether it's emotionally or physically or whatever. But sleep deprivation. And sleep issues, whether it's your own or your baby's or what have you, is very hard to talk to, to prepare them for.
So I wanted to pick your brain about cause I sent you so many questions sorry ahead of time, but I wanted to pick your brain and is there a way for these moms to prepare ahead [00:06:00] of time to get a feel on what. What do they need to know while they're still pregnant about newborn sleep?
How much can they prepare? And then I wanted to talk about some of the hot terms like leaps. What are leaps and regressions and things like that. So we're going to talk about a lot and try to keep it. Semi limited because we want to respect everyone's time. But I thought we could just start with pregnancy.
And what can these moms do to prepare like for newborn sleep? Like right from the get go or is there anything they can do from the start?
Christine: So the things you can do to prepare, because some of it is just going to happen and, having some base knowledge of what to do as soon as you get home from the hospital is really helpful.
But in advance of that, making sure that the nursery is set up for sleep. Now, you may not use it a ton at first for sleep but making sure even your room, if you're planning on [00:07:00] having your child in a bassinet next to your bed, making sure that you have bassinet making sure that you. The room is going to be cool.
It's going to be dark really dark. So if you're accustomed to sleeping with your TV on, you might want to start thinking about what are other things that you could do to help you to fall asleep because the blue light is not great for sleep. And it can be really distracting for babies as dastardly as they start to become more social around like the six to eight week mark.
And making sure that you have white noise is your BFF. I would, I always recommend having a standalone one for the nursery or the bedroom and also one that travels that goes on your car seats so that you can actually take that on the go. So if your little one gets upset in the car, which sometimes they do, it's really helpful to have white noise with you.
Trish: So preparing the sleep space, that's where you would start. And that's so interesting because I've not heard that about. Like that about the TV and the white noise having one [00:08:00] that stands alone because if you're using like, like my daughter in law used to use her iPad, but that would emit the blue light as well.
So that's interesting.
Christine: I recommend that there are a lot of the baby devices come with lights on them. And so when you're preparing for healthy sleep, you want to make sure there's no blue, white, purple, pink, or green light sources. Those all mimic the sun and tell our body is it's time to be awake. So it can be really difficult for the body to produce and sustain production of our sleepy hormone melatonin.
Trish: That's so interesting. And then you said, as far as a bassinet, so you're saying have
Christine: one. Definitely. If that's your goal. Some people choose to co sleep. I follow the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, so I do recommend that all sleep happens independently. If you are going to be sleeping, obviously you're going to spend a ton of time holding your baby.
But if you are sleeping in the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that our children have their own flat, firm sleep space, independent.
Trish: [00:09:00] Okay, so preparing their sleep space and then what would be your next
Christine: tip? The next would be when you get home, your baby's probably going to be pretty sleepy at first.
So they spend a good amount of time sleeping and they, they wake, they eat and they go back to sleep. But sometimes that can, if we don't get them back down soon enough, That can start to cause them to get overtired. So I always recommend watching your awake windows. And so for little ones under eight weeks, you're really looking for 45 to 60 minutes of max awake time between sleep periods.
And so that, and that's not when you want to start putting them down. That's when you ideally want them back asleep. And so really starting, getting them right back down and it feels like at first they wake up you feed them, you play, I remember Googling, how do you play with a newborn?
And that's just them looking at your face, right? And then oftentimes changing diapers and having them go right back down.
Trish: Yeah. I [00:10:00] remember when Grayson, when I had my other ones, it was like, boom, I don't know if I have seven kids all the other ones were like, together, who the hell knew what was going on?
Not me, it when I had Grayson, the one before him, my youngest above him was nine. So it had been a while. And so when I had Grayson, I was watching every move. Every single move. And I remember being like, Gosh, he's always asleep. I could not remember. With Lainey, I was probably like, Oh gosh, good, she's asleep.
She's asleep. I can get something done. With him, I was like, wake up. So it was it was mind boggling to me how much he slept.
Christine: Yeah. It's usually somewhere 16 to 20 hours a day.
Trish: Yeah. It's like all the time. It's crazy. Except for when you really want them to sleep. So you're saying to get familiar with that and know that.
And so that would be preferably not overstimulating them during that, right? Is it
Christine: what you're saying, especially their newborns? Everything should stay pretty [00:11:00] calm, anyways, and it tends to be pretty calm unless you have older kids, which that can be a little bit overstimulating. But yeah, just keeping it really low key.
Trish: Okay. And then another thing that I wanted to ask you about as far as Ruby it Normal household things when I had my children my mom always said just keep your house the same don't create like everybody be quiet the baby sleeping don't you know she said if you normally vacuum the house on Thursdays you do you know not to create this.
Like unrealistic environment. Do you get what I'm saying? Make sure it's just a normal household environment. Do you recommend that as well to your families or do you tell them to, keep it down? If baby's sleeping, no one talks, you tiptoe around the house, you, or do you say, just be normal?
Christine: So both. So the first six to eight weeks, this is [00:12:00] before babies go through their first sleep milestone. So around eight weeks, they start smiling at you. So it's called the social smile and they start to become more aware and they have, they develop FOMO. And so if you're trying to have them nap in the living room with everything going on around them, they oftentimes will fight sleep in order to hang out.
That being said, some kiddos are fine. They just roll with the punches and they're more flexible. Then you have others that are going to be, that's happening and all of a sudden they can't sleep and they're really over tired and overstimulated. And that's when I recommend always moving those kiddos into.
That's a great time to introduce their crib for naps. And moving over and trying to keep it a little bit quieter, but you always have white noise and that's so you can always use white noise, in the nursery, usually about 55 decibels is pretty safe. But if you have like loud dogs and vacuum and you're doing your life and kids, I usually recommend putting an additional sound machine out in the hallway, just so it's not waking the baby up.
Trish: Okay. [00:13:00] All right. That, it's similar. If you have the white noise, that's their normal noise, mutes the background noise. And it's hard when you have older kids, like there's pretty much not, especially a lot of the, a lot of my students, because I launched my birth classes in 2020, a lot of my students are repeat offenders, I call them, and they're having their second and third babies.
And so they're dealing with toddlers. You can't tell a toddler to be quiet for baby brother. Like they don't, they do not care. In fact they are a little passive aggressive.
Christine: Totally. Sometimes I like to put up a baby gate and have them help decorate it. And so when the gate is up, they know that they can't go, if you have a two floor house, they're not allowed to go upstairs.
And so that can really help that coupled with white noise. Yeah,
Trish: that's good. Okay. So how you said we've talked about how much newborns sleep And then what about at night? Do they do that say are they do they sleep as [00:14:00] much at night? Because one of the complaints I hear from my girls is they sleep all day and then they've got it mixed up They're not sleeping at night
Christine: Yeah, and that's normal.
Unfortunately, because it goes against what our circadian rhythm. So our internal sleep and wake cycle. So we need to sleep at night, but our babies don't have that. They don't come with the circadian rhythm developed. And so that's something that develops over time. And so at first, at least for the first six to eight weeks, it's really normal for babies to wake up every two to three hours all night long needing to eat.
And so that's normal. And if you can be prepared for that and accept it, because if you're fighting it all the time, it's going to be like, Oh, it's like you're fighting nature. And it's just a nature of what's going to happen because their tummies are small. They need to eat. frequently. And so that's really common.
The good news is as they get closer to that six to eight week mark, that's when you start to see a four to six hour stretch at the beginning part of the night, which sounds heavenly after you've been getting [00:15:00] two or three hour stretches, for six to eight weeks. Do you
Trish: think we just don't notice that it is happening all through the day and night and it's similar?
Because I think what I hear from my students is that it's. They sleep all day and they're up all night. I think maybe they just feel like they're up all night, but it's really probably the same, the
Christine: same pattern. Part of it's perception, I think, and the other part of it could be some babies just love to nap during the day.
And so this is another thing that's helpful for moms to know. Try not to let your little one nap. You definitely don't want to cut down on nap sleep during the day, but try not to let those naps go longer than two and a half hours. Okay. Because if you start doing that, you're going to end up dropping a feed and you're going to make up for that feed at night because they need to get those calories in.
Keeping those naps at two and a half hours, doing a feed and then starting to get them down, that's going to give you the most consolidated
Trish: sleep at night. So a lot of my moms talk [00:16:00] about contact naps. So a lot of them. their baby. They do a lot of their naps during the day as a contact nap.
Sometimes at night. What are you, what is your feelings about contact naps versus putting the baby down in the bassinet or in the crib? I personally, Grayson was in his wrap on top of me like pretty much 24 seven.
Christine: Yeah, and the interesting part is that really, technically, babies should really be in our bellies for an extra 3 months.
We should be pregnant for a full year, right? They really have a lot of development that they could still do inside, but our bodies just can't handle it. And so they're doing a ton of they need a ton of contact. For regulation and for development and for growth at first. So they don't want to be put down a lot at first.
And that's normal. A lot of moms come to me and when I do a newborn sleep consultation with me, they'll say, oh, my baby will just wants to be on me all the time. And that's normal, right? A lot of that is normal. You want to start though, introducing[00:17:00] the independent naps, like at least one a day, usually start introducing it in either the bassinet or the crib.
Kind of fairly early on and it's easier to do like in the morning. That's when the drive to sleep tends to be much easier. They're usually not overtired. So that's a really easier nap to have them nap independently. So that's one of my key recommendations and don't worry, holding them all the time.
isn't going to create a bad habit. You do want, as long as you're making sure that you're putting them down some of the time, but if you're wearing them most of the time, that's a great way, especially if you have multiple children to get things done and to take care of everybody. Cause your baby's just really going to want to be close to you.
Trish: Another one that a couple of my students had was that they would lay their babies down and they would go to sleep and sleep for about 10 15 minutes and then wake up and then they would have to get them back to sleep and it seemed like that would happen quite often. Do you see that happening? [00:18:00]
Christine: Yeah, that does happen quite a bit because they're used to being on you and being warm.
And so if they wake up and they've been put down, they're Hey, get back in here and, help me go to sleep. So at first, a lot of their longer naps will happen while they're on you. And some of the shorter naps will happen, when they're sleeping independently. But that's okay.
Just keep practicing, right? Cause that's your, they'll eventually get used to it and it's going to take a little bit of time, but it's okay for that to happen. Not every nap is going to be a two hour nap. So it's usually there's a cross section of naps. Some of them are longer, there's two, two and a half hour naps.
Some are 15, 10, 15 minutes. It's okay. The other thing to think about though, is sometimes our newborns. Wake up, but they might not actually be fully awake. They're just like stirring a little bit. And if we pause and give them a little bit of time, they may actually put themselves back to sleep, so that's not if they're obviously crying their face off and they're, really upset. We always want to tend to that, but pausing is a huge thing that new moms can do when it comes to creating healthy sleep habits, because. They can oftentimes [00:19:00] can put themselves back to sleep. But if we are immediately super mom I'm here, like we don't actually allow them to even fuss for a second.
But if we do that's how they learn to start to settle themselves and resettle themselves.
Trish: Okay. So just stop and wait for a second and see what they're doing. You got it. Yeah. Okay. And then another one of the questions that I had for you is what about gassy babies? What are some of the Tips or tricks that you give to moms who have gassy
Yeah. So gassy babies is very common. And it usually happens because there's less movement, right? So at night there's less movement. So The one of the key things you can do is make sure that they're swaddled Making sure that they're nice and contained because if they're not swaddled they're going to get you know, that They startle themselves awake.
It causes more tears. So making sure they're swaddled really helps because that keeps them calm and not swallowing as much air. The other things is if your baby's really gassy, you want to look at, is there [00:20:00] something going on like from a lip or tongue tie? Because sometimes when that happens, babies are taking in more air.
Sometimes you want to make sure that you're ruling out reflux if they're super gassy too. Or that you might want to re evaluate your diet. There might be something that you're eating that could be causing more gas. Also when we put them down, flat, sometimes the gas gets trapped more.
So that's. All things to keep in mind but lots of bicycle legs and that's just pulling them in and out. Pushing them into the tummy and pulling them out. And also making sure that you're doing a really good job burping after they eat. And those are really the key things that you can do.
Do you, is there anything else that you recommend?
Trish: Nope. Those are pretty much what I tell them as well. The last thing I wanted to talk about is if you could break down the leaps and the regressions. What exactly are they? That's a question
Christine: I get a lot about leaps and sleep regressions. And so essentially they're one in the same.
So a leap in a sleep regression means that our little ones are going through something [00:21:00] major developmentally, which is actually a really great thing. Those are progressions, but whenever that's happening, there's usually a regression in sleep and that's normal. So the first, leap happens at three weeks and you start to feel like you're getting into a little bit of a flow and you feel Oh my gosh, I know what I'm doing.
And then all of a sudden your baby gets really clingy and fussy. And you're having a hard time consoling them and you feel like the wheels are coming out of the bus, off the bus. It's not anything that you've actually done. It's just that they're going through a developmental leap. And so there are a series of 10 of those that happen within the first year and a half.
And a lot of those coincide with the sleep regressions. So the most common sleep regression happens, the biggest one, is at four months. And babies are going through so much developmentally. Their sleep is changing from newborn sleep and starts to mirror more adult sleep. And We might have been able to nurse or rock our baby to sleep and put them down and they stay to sleep.
What happens now is they don't immediately go into a deep sleep. And so we can do all of the things that we did to put them down. And then they [00:22:00] wake up and they're screaming at you like a spider monkey. And you have to go through that whole period of trying to get them back down. But then when that happens, they start to get overtired.
There's also a nap transition that happens around there. So most babies are transitioning from four naps down to three. And whenever they're going through a nap transition. Oftentimes they'll get overtired which causes sleep challenges. So there's a lot that's happening at that one. So my key advice before that is don't stress too much about it, but if you can start working around the three month mark of trying to learn to put your baby, have your baby learn how to put themselves to sleep, that helps them through that four month sleep progression timeframe.
And then there's another one that happens at eight months, which is that one is a transition from three naps down to two. There's a lot happening. Babies oftentimes are starting to crawl. So there's always something that's happening. The next one's 12 months. And that looks like, oh, gosh, where my baby's done with that done and they're ready to go down to one nap.
In actuality, it's just, they're going through a lot [00:23:00] developmentally. They're learning to walk oftentimes at that age. And it looks like they're ready to go down to one nap and they're not, it's usually somewhere in between 15 to 18 months is when babies actually transition down to one nap, 18 months, two years, two and a half years.
So there's a series of progressions that happen, but they only usually last a week or two. And if your baby has healthy sleep habits, oftentimes they'll go back to their healthy sleep habits after the regression has passed. Interesting.
Trish: All right. That's awesome. That's such a good wealth of information for these moms to have, in their little tool bag that I like to say.
Christine: Yeah. And my advice is you want to be somewhat prepared, but you also need to take it as it comes to if you're trying to do. Take it all in advance. It might make you feel really overwhelmed and anxious. And so it's good to start to be prepared and, to know what's happening, but don't get too and it's easier for me to say, cause I'm well rested and,[00:24:00] not second guessing myself, that I don't know what I'm doing. But. If you're trying to be too prepared and do everything perfectly, it's going to drive you a little crazy. So lots of deep breaths find a source that you feel, is a reliable source and try to stick to one or two sources instead of Googling until your eyes bleed.
Cause you're going to get a lot of different conflicting opinions. Yeah, you're
Trish: not standing in your nursery plot in your divorce right now. No,
Christine: no, not at all. We're actually happily married and go on date nights. So There's hope. Big difference. Totally.
Trish: So when a couple or a new mom is thinking about working with a lactate Lord Jesus, I am sleep deprived.
So when a new mama or a couple are, thinking about working with a sleep consultant, how does that look? What does that look like?
Christine: Yeah. So for newborns, I offer a newborn sleep consultation [00:25:00] where essentially have a family fill out a full intake form and I get all of their info to figure out exactly what's happening and the questions that they have.
And then we meet and do a virtual consult. consultation and talk through, what's normal, answer all of their questions and give them detailed insight into each of the different developmental stages and how you can develop healthy sleep habits. So I do that usually pregnant moms, throughout the first three months.
And then for family is my team and I have a team that works with me. We do sleep coaching for babies toddlers and big kids as well. And that's similar. They fill out a family intake form. We do a consultation and really formulate a plan together. And then we give them an actual customized sleep plan and then coach them through the process of teaching their little ones healthy sleep habits.
And that includes really inflammatory term called sleep training. But in my opinion, sleep training is just changing the way that we respond while our little and having a predictable response while our little ones learn new [00:26:00] expectations and uncover that they have the innate ability to put themselves to sleep and put themselves back to sleep unless they have a need.
And so we have to take a step back and give our little ones time to do that. And sleep training is just having that predictable response.
Trish: Yeah, I think there's a lot of negativity around that, but it really is important to have knowledge. Knowledge is power. It really, it truly is. So I love all of this information.
Thank you so much for coming today. Can you tell everyone where they can find you? And I'm going to have some links for everyone as well in the show notes. Sure.
Christine: So you can find us on all social channels at Bella Luna family our websites, bellalunafamily. com. And in the show notes, I think I'm going to provide a couple freebies.
So if you need assistance, you can download those or reach out to me Christine at Bella Luna family.
Trish: All right. Thank you so much for coming today. Thanks for
Christine: having me.[00:27:00]
Trish: One of the biggest struggles that I see with my mama's inside of Calm Mama Society is adjusting to newborn sleep and lack of sleep. So I hope you enjoyed today's episode. Please take a moment to hit subscribe and leave a review and tell us how much you love these episodes. As always, we'll see you again next Friday.
Bye for now!