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Q&A with Janet Kennedy: Giving your Baby the Gift of Sleep (Training)

There is no shame in taking good care of yourself so that you can be a good parent to your child.

Q&A with Janet Kennedy: Giving your Baby the Gift of Sleep (Training)

Scouring the web at 2am for a better baby sleep solution? You are


in the right place, mama. Whether your baby requires constant rocking to fall

asleep or still insists on those midnight feedings (mostly to play peek-a-boo), we

understand the exhaustion. We understand the guilt. Fortunately, we recently

had a tête-à-tête with Janet Kennedy, the author of the new (and lifesaving)

book, The Good Sleeper. After sharing a

few of her amazing insights on scoring more rest for baby (and you), it is clear to us why she has been featured on Dr. Oz and CBS This Morning and has been quoted in Elle, Parents Magazine, NY Press, Redbook, Real Simple and the Encyclopedia Britannica website. We would

call her philosophy eye-opening, but eye-closing may be more accurate. Sleep tight!

We love the fact that

you take an honest and research-based approach to addressing more “aggressive"

sleep methods, such as cry-it-out. What can you say to our mothers who are

looking for the courage to try such a method when it is necessary, at the risk

of feeling guilty or ashamed?

I always remind

parents that, by letting their child cry to learn how to sleep, they are doing

something for their baby and not to her.

There is no shame in taking good care of your child. And there is no shame in

taking good care of yourself so that you can be a good parent to your child.

Overly tired babies are unhappy and overly tired parents are unhappier still.

Being a good parent means

making some difficult choices for your child, ones that sometimes don't feel

great. But by teaching your baby to sleep, you will be giving her a tremendous

lifelong gift. You might be

able to soothe your baby to sleep now, but those days are limited. Eventually,

your baby will be stimulated by your soothing and will fight sleep to be with you.

There comes a time—around 3 or 4 months—when they need to

learn to put themselves to sleep because you will be less and less able to do

it for them.

Babies do not inherently know how to sleep. They have to learn.

I also remind parents

that it is perfectly fine and, in fact, expected that they will be upset during

this process. It is very, very hard to listen to your baby cry and inhibit your

impulse to “help." But it is crucial that you separate your own feelings from

your job as a parent. Remember that you are actually helping your baby by not

rushing in to stop her from crying. She needs your help to learn how to get the

sleep that she needs.

Have you ever been in a situation with your own

child when you have found it difficult to follow your own advice offered

in The Good Sleeper? How did you overcome it?

When my daughter was

about 18-months old, she contracted Coxsackie virus. She had a mouth full of

awful sores and was very confused and uncomfortable. She was also hungry

because it was difficult to eat and she couldn't use her pacifier because of

the sores. The first night, she was up for hours. I carried her around, took

her outside, and did anything I could to soothe her. But she didn't sleep. The

second night, the same thing happened—nothing would soothe her. This time,

though, my husband—who has generally left the sleep realm to me—looked at me

and said: “You can't do this again. She needs to sleep." He took her out of my

arms and put her in the crib. She cried for about 30 minutes and then she slept

all night. Those 30 minutes of crying at first seemed cruel because she was

sick and truly uncomfortable. But she was able to get hours more sleep that

night because we let her do it.

That was a powerful

lesson for me. I was so stuck in the misery of the situation that I couldn't

step back and apply what I know to be true about sleep. Fortunately, my husband

was there to set me straight.

Can you offer our readers a few insights in

regard to co-sleeping and bed sharing? Do you believe these sleep solutions can

be effective in providing high-quality sleep for parents and children over a

long-term period of months or years?

Frankly, I just don't

recommend bed sharing. I don't find that it results in more or better sleep for

the child or the parents. And it can create a lot of problems. I truly believe

that babies can and should learn to fall asleep in the crib, alone. I'm sure

that there are plenty of happy bed sharers out there, but they don't come to me

for help. I see the very unhappy bed sharers who are exhausted, can't get the

baby or child out of their bed, and whose marriages are under tremendous

stress. The best and easiest time to teach babies to sleep alone is when they

are young. We also can't ignore the increase in risk of SIDS that occurs with

bed sharing in children under one year.

In your mind, what is the most important thing

parents can do to start good sleeping habits early in a child's life, so more

drastic methods are less likely to be needed later in infancy or toddlerhood?

When parents learn how

to follow drowsiness cues and avoid “overfatigue," they have a great shot at

easing into good sleep patterns naturally. When babies are well-rested, they

can learn how to self-soothe more easily and they don't always have to cry for

long stretches to do it. However, some babies just don't get it on their own,

even when their parents do everything “right."

It's no comment on your efforts if your baby needs to cry to learn how to sleep. If your baby doesn't ease into independent sleep, I believe it's just his way of telling you that he needs you to let him work it out.

It is also important

to learn to listen to the baby fuss—and even cry—before intervening. When a

parent rushes in at the first peep, the child never has the opportunity to

self-soothe. If the parent waits a few minutes to see whether the baby is truly

awake, the baby learns to self-soothe more gradually. Parents often interpret

every noise from the baby as a call to action, a signal that something needs

fixing. But parents who can tolerate a little more noise from the baby before

intervening often find that the baby begins self-soothing more reliably without

having to cry for long periods.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.

$79

Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.

$30

Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.

$32

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.

$37

The Snoo bassinet

Snoo

Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!

$1295

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.

$59.99

Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!

$46.99

Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.

$259.00

Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.

$27.95

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids—and the reality of what actually happened for me.

1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

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