Dr. Greene's tips for the worst sleepers

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Dr. Greene's tips for the worst sleepers

For most kids, the worst sleep they ever have is shortly before they learn how to walk. During that time, they are really focused on getting upright and wanting to take those first steps. To understand what to do, you need to understand that almost all of us wake up every 60-90 minutes or so all night long. We just fall back asleep hardly remembering it. But for those kids that are getting ready to walk, when they wake up, they think, today might be the day, and they want to stand up. So they pull themselves up to standing. They'll hold on. And they won't know how to get back down. And also, to complicate matters, the peak age of separation anxiety and fear is right at this same time. So they're upright, they're stuck, they're not able to walk, and they're scared cause you're not there. It's a tough, tough time. Once babies have been walking well for a couple of weeks, even if you don't do a thing, it all changes. They tire themselves out from toddling about all day, so they're sleepier to start with. When they do wake up, they don't care about standing up. That's old hat. Been there, done that before. And separation anxiety - they're starting to feel independent and wanting to walk away from you a little bit. So it's so much easier then. So what do you do right beforehand? Well what we did with my kids, and a lot of my patients have really enjoyed - I don't like the leave them alone to cry, because it's right during the middle of separation anxiety. I do like using zeitgebers, which you can see in some of my other videos. But practically, in the moment, gently peel their hands away from the slats if they're in a crib, lie them back down, and hold them down sort of firmly and with one hand pat them rhythmically. And then sing to them, talk to them, if you want make a recording that you play for them. But do anything except picking them up or feeding them. Getting them back to sleep. The first couple of nights, they will do this for hours because they want to be picked up, they want to be held, they want to be fed. But very quickly, they'll learn, that's not going to happen. And within 3-4 nights, it will be solved. And they were never scared, never alone. They just learned, this is the time for sleeping.

Watch Alan Greene, MD's video on Dr. Greene's tips for the worst sleepers...


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Alan Greene, MD

Founder, DrGreene.com

Dr. Alan Greene founded his website, DrGreene.com, in 1995, cited by the AMA as "the pioneer physician web site." In 2010 he founded the WhiteOut Now movement to change how babies are fed from their very first bite of solid food, and in 2012 he founded TICC TOCC – Transitioning Immediate Cord Clamping To Optimal Cord Clamping. He is an author of several books including Feeding Baby Green and appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, TODAY Show, Good Morning America, the Dr. Oz Show, and is a regular columnist for Parenting magazine. He is a practicing pediatrician and the father of four.

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