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Your family's sleep routine is an integral part of the health of your whole family, but sleep issues are one of the most universal parenting struggles. Common problems include bedtime resistance, waking in the night and early rising.

But there's hope: The science of behavior can offer many solutions to these common struggles.

Whether you are dealing with a serious sleep issue or the everyday struggles every parent faces there are evidence-based suggestions that can help your family.

If your child has a serious sleep issue, it is best to first have them evaluated by their pediatrician to make sure there isn't a biological cause for the sleep disturbance. It's also possible that extra support through from a behavior consultant may be needed.

Start with these general proactive strategies and if you are still struggling try one of the intervention strategies or reach out for help.

Proactive strategies to encourage healthy sleep patterns and peaceful bedtimes:

1. Set clear expectations and be consistent

When you make a rule or expectation for your child, be consistent to follow-through on it. If your expectation is that they are in bed by 8 p.m. on school nights, then keep to it. Kids will challenge you more when you are inconsistent. Effective parenting is all about consistency.

2. Incorporate exercise and lots of fresh air

Research shows that exercise helps with sleep. I'm not sure if getting fresh air has any empirical research to back it up or if it's just something grandmothers always say, but it certainly can't hurt.


3. Create an environment for sleep

A quiet, dark, cozy, de-cluttered, toy-free room will be easier to fall asleep in.

4. Set a consistent bedtime routine.

Be consistent with your child's bedtime routine whatever it may be; bath time, story time, or other calming activities. Try to avoid exercise or screen time immediately before bed.

5. Increase your positive attention during the bedtime routine

Before saying the final good night, make sure your child has gotten a high dose of your time and undivided attention—invest in some special time, read, or cuddle. This will decrease the chance that your child will try to get this need met when it is time to go to sleep.

6. Decrease your attention after bidding them good night

After you have given the final good night, minimize your attention. Children often get really creative this time of day and come up with all kinds of philosophical questions about life, death, and our existence; now is not the time to engage; re-direct them to bed with minimal talking or attention.

You don't want to invalidate their concerns, but they need to learn that this is not the best time for additional chatting. Write those questions down so you can make sure to talk about them the next day.

7. Ensure sleep dependencies can be present the whole night

Sleep dependencies are things which are needed to fall asleep. They could be a special blanket, stuffed animal, music, white noise, night light, or parent/sibling. Sleep will be more continuous (less nighttime waking) when those sleep dependencies are available throughout the whole night rather than just at the initial falling asleep period.

This can be tricky if a sleep dependency pattern has already developed with something that is not available throughout the whole night. One strategy for this issue is to replace one sleep dependency, in gradual steps, with another that is available the entire night.

Intervention strategies when bedtime and sleep have become a struggle:

1. Bedtime pass

This is a method that research has demonstrated to be effective with young children (ages 3-10) who are having a hard time staying in bed (calling out, leaving room, endless needs and excuses).

Here's how it works: parents give their child a card (or two) that acts as a bedtime pass which the child can use to get out of their room for whatever they would like (drink of water, bathroom, one more hug, one last philosophical question). It gives them some freedom to leave their room within a clear boundary. When they use their pass, they give it to their parent and then it's gone for the night, and then they need to stay in their bed.

If they come out of their room after they have used their pass, parents gently guide them back to their room with minimal interactions and attention.

2. Time-based visits and graduated extinction

This method is based on the idea that kids are engaging in behaviors that are interfering with sleep for the function of gaining their parents' attention; if that attention is taken away the sleep-avoidance behaviors will decrease. Parent attention is given based on a time-schedule rather than in reaction to the child's behavior and is gradually decreased.

If your child is supposed to be in bed sleeping but instead is coming out of their room telling jokes and doing silly dances try not to laugh, it might increase that behavior. Instead, practice the art of non-reaction and guide them back to bed (I know it's so hard not to laugh or enagage sometimes). It's sometimes even harder not to react to them when they are crying which makes this method less appealing to many parents.

3. Reward the behavior you want to see

When your child meets one of your sleep goals (not leaving the bedroom, calling out less than X number of times, sleeps past 6 a.m.) reward them the next morning. Maybe they get to pick what breakfast to eat or go out for a special treat. You can also expand on this by making sticker charts or token economies (child earns tokens to exchange for more massive prizes). Start with small steps and gradually build as they are successful.

4. Bedtime fading

This is a strategy for children who may have a hard time falling asleep and have developed harmful patterns, often taking several hours to fall asleep. To increase the value of sleep, the child's bedtime is initially pushed later (e.g., 11:00 p.m.) so that they can fall asleep faster and avoid the pattern of lying in their bed but not sleeping. When the child is able to fall asleep in less time at that later bedtime, the bedtime is gradually moved earlier and earlier until the desired bedtime is reached.

5. Visual or auditory prompt

Use something visual or auditory as a signal to your child that it is time to sleep. This could be a white noise machine that only runs during sleeping hours or a visual clock that turns colors during sleeping and waking hours.

Rather than having to tell your child, "Go back to sleep it's 4 in the morning" they can refer to the clock or white noise machine. This also can be useful to help set a tangible goal for them to earn a reward, "If you stay in bed until the light turns green, you get pancakes in the morning."

Each family has its own unique culture that needs to be taken into consideration when addressing a problem and finding a solution. Every family communicates, eats, plays and sleeps in different ways. Behavior strategies aren't one-size-fits-all and often need to be adapted to fit the individual.

Behavior Analysts use sleep assessment tools to determine what issues may be preventing a healthy sleep pattern. When barriers to sleep are identified, evidence-based solutions are applied to fit the unique needs of that family and data is used to measure progress. Behavior strategies are explained, demonstrated and practiced so that parents feel confident in how to use the tools effectively.

This article originally appeared on Create Behavior Solutions.

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If there's one thing you learn as a new mama, it's that routine is your friend. Routine keeps your world spinning, even when you're trucking along on less than four hours of sleep. Routine fends off tantrums by making sure bellies are always full and errands aren't run when everyone's patience is wearing thin. And routine means naps are taken when they're supposed to, helping everyone get through the day with needed breaks.

The only problem? Life doesn't always go perfectly with the routine. When my daughter was born, I realized quickly that, while her naps were the key to a successful (and nearly tear-free!) day, living my life according to her nap schedule wasn't always possible. There were groceries to fetch, dry cleaning to pick up, and―if I wanted to maintain any kind of social life―lunch dates with friends to enjoy.

Which is why the Ergobaby Metro Compact City Stroller was such a life-saver. While I loved that it was just 14 pounds (perfect for hoisting up the stairs to the subway or in the park) and folds down small enough to fit in an airplane overhead compartment (you know, when I'm brave enough to travel again!), the real genius of this pint-sized powerhouse is that it doesn't skimp on comfort.

Nearly every surface your baby touches is padded with plush cushions to provide side and lumbar support to everything from their sweet head to their tiny tush―it has 40% more padding than other compact strollers. When nap time rolls around, I could simply switch the seat to its reclined position with an adjustable leg rest to create an instant cozy nest for my little one.

There's even a large UV 50 sun canopy to throw a little shade on those sleepy eyes. And my baby wasn't the only one benefiting from the comfortable design― the Metro is the only stroller certified "back healthy" by the AGR of Germany, meaning mamas get a much-needed break too.

I also appreciate how the Metro fits comfortably into my life. The sleek profile fits through narrow store aisles as easily as it slides up to a table when I'm able to meet a pal for brunch. Plus, the spring suspension means the tires absorb any bumps along our way―helping baby stay asleep no matter where life takes us. When it's time to take my daughter out, it folds easily with one hand and has an ergonomic carry handle to travel anywhere we want to go.

Life will probably never be as predictable as I'd like, but at least with our Metro stroller, I know my child will be cradled with care no matter what crosses our path.

This article is sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


The phrase "women can have it all" has always left a sour taste in my mouth. Sure, our options for fulfillment extend beyond the home. But between wage gaps, the astronomical cost of childcare, student loans and ever-rising living costs coupled with shrinking wages, can we have it all?

Some women know their calling is at home with their babies and they make it work. They budget like it's an Olympic sport and find resourceful ways to save money. Many women are single mothers and are the sole earners in their homes. Every household has different needs and we absolutely deserve to choose whatever best fits our lifestyle.

Whatever that fit may be, it never encompasses "all."

I knew from a young age that I loved babies and wanted a family of my own, but that vision always included me working. Maybe it was the 90's TV boom of Ally McBeal and Detective Olivia Benson but I knew I wanted a career. I wanted a purpose that contributed to the world outside of my home. I knew I wanted a degree or two, maybe three. The fact that I made up my mind so early and never wavered, made me sure that "mom guilt" was something that other women felt; women who maybe felt the pull to be home but other circumstances were in their way.


Mom guilt wouldn't hit me, I'd be immune, I thought.

Fast forward to the first month I went back to work from maternity leave. I ugly cried on my way into the office so frequently that I kept makeup in my car so I could fix it before going inside.

I'd dive headfirst into work until I had to pause to pump. Work, pump, work, pump, shove in some lunch at my desk at some point and sprint out the door to get my baby. I was productive but distracted. When I was at work, I wanted to be home. When I was home, I thought about the possible mistakes I had made at work.

I was in a job that was full of stress, last minute late nights, terrible pay and no appreciation. But from the standpoint of working and having a family, I had both. I had it "all."

Some days, I felt as though I was maybe just ungrateful for all the responsibilities I had to juggle. I blamed my attitude.

Facing my unhappiness at work and the baggage I brought home to my daughter and husband weighed on me. Then, six months postpartum, I lost my dad. I packed up that baby and flew home to say goodbye.

At the visitation, his colleagues shared many memorable stories, but the ones that kept coming up were his dedication to his wife and six children. They were memories of my sisters and I hanging out in his office, coloring while our mom worked. In fact, one of my masterpieces, a mosaic Great Dane, still hangs in my dad's old office window on Court Street because the owner of the building watched us grow up and didn't have the heart to take it down when he retired.

Dad was an attorney who nearly always made it home by 5:30, something unheard of in the world of owning your own practice. He didn't live to work; he worked to live.

I realized that when I leave this world, I don't want anyone to tell my children stories about how hard I worked. I wanted them to tell my children stories about how much I loved them and that they always came first. I had to make a change.

The right doors opened in the next month and I eagerly took on an entire career change (not something I necessarily recommend with a 7-month-old, but we made it work). I closed the doors of childhood ambitions that didn't match with the type of mother I wanted to be. It wasn't sad, it was liberating.

My new job included work from home days and a team of women, mostly moms, who value hard work and success but prioritize family and their roles as mothers. That attitude starts at the top of the company and trickles down. It was a breath of fresh air after seven months of feeling like I was suffocating.

Despite these life changes, I still don't have it "all." What I do have is realistic expectations for what I can accomplish in a day.

I have a house that looks like it's been ransacked Monday through Friday. I have a sink full of dishes.

I have a car littered with smashed cheddar frogs and peanut butter smears. I have a bedroom containing endless laundry baskets of clean clothes that get folded and put away maybe once a month.

I have a supportive partner whom I madly love and helps me rage clean all of the above when we can't take it anymore. I have a happy, healthy daughter who couldn't care less about dishes, laundry and dog hairballs.

I have a job that contributes to the betterment of humanity and a team who makes office days a joy.

I have women in my ear sharing their disdain for me working out of the home, but I also have women in my ear championing me as a mother, wife, homemaker, and career woman.

Maybe the answer to finding that peace was leaving a toxic job. Or maybe it was found in losing my dad and having my daughter in the same six months. Perhaps it was the priority shift that followed those changes. It could have been extending the same grace to myself that I so willingly give to those I love. Whatever it was, I'm grateful to have found it so I can enjoy living in our good old days, today. I don't have it all, but I really love everything I have.

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Work + Money

It's been more than a year since Khloé Kardashian welcomed her daughter True Thompson into the world, and like a lot of new moms, Khloé didn't just learn how to to be a mom this year, she also learned how to co-parent with someone who is no longer her partner. According to the Pew Research Center, co-parenting and the likelihood that a child will spend part of their childhood living with just one parent is on the rise.

There was a ton of media attention on Khloé's relationship with True's father Tristan Thompson in her early days of motherhood, and in a new interview on the podcast "Divorce Sucks!," Khloé explained that co-parenting with someone you have a complicated relationship with isn't always easy, but when she looks at True she knows it's worth it.

"For me, Tristan and I broke up not too long ago so it's really raw," Khloé tells divorce attorney Laura Wasser on the podcast. She explains that even though it does "suck" at times, she's committed to having a good relationship with her ex because she doesn't want True to pick up on any negative energy, even at her young age.

That's why she invited Tristan to True's recent first birthday bash, even though she knew True wouldn't remember that party. "I know she's going to want to look back at all of her childhood memories like we all do," Khloé explained. "I know her dad is a great person, and I know how much he loves her and cares about her, so I want him to be there."


We totally get why being around Tristan is hard for Khloé, but it sounds like she's approaching co-parenting with a positive attitude that will benefit True in the long run. Studies have found that shared parenting is good for kids and that former couples who have "ongoing personal and emotional involvement with their former spouse" are more likely to rate their co-parenting relationship positively.

Khloé says her relationship with Tristan right now is "civilized," and hopefully it can get even better with time. As Suzanne Hayes noted in her six guiding principles for a co-parenting relationship, there's no magic bullet for moving past the painful feelings that come when a relationship ends and into a healthy co-parenting relationship, but treating your ex with respect and (non-romantic) love is a good place to start. Hayes describes it as "human-to-human, parent-to-parent, we-share-amazing-children-and-always-will love."

It's a great place to start, and it sounds like Khloé has already figured that out.

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Kim Kardashian West welcomed her fourth child into the world. The expectancy and arrival of this boy (her second child from surrogacy) has garnered much attention.

In a surrogacy pregnancy, a woman carries a pregnancy for another family and then after giving birth she relinquishes her rights of the child.

On her website, Kim wrote that she had medical complications with her previous pregnancy leading her to this decision. “I have always been really honest about my struggles with pregnancy. Preeclampsia and placenta accreta are high-risk conditions, so when I wanted to have a third baby, doctors said that it wasn't safe for my—or the baby's—health to carry on my own."

While the experience was challenging for her, “The connection with our baby came instantly and it's as if she was with us the whole time. Having a gestational carrier was so special for us and she made our dreams of expanding our family come true. We are so excited to finally welcome home our baby girl."

A Snapchat video hinted that Kim may have planned to breastfeed her third child. What she chooses to do is of course none of our business. But is has raised the very interesting question, “Wait, can you breastfeed when you use a surrogate?"


The answer is yes, you sure can! (And you can when you adopt a baby, too!)

When a women is pregnant, she begins a process called lactogenesis in which her body prepares itself to start making milk. This usually starts around the twenty week mark of pregnancy (half way through). Then, when the baby is born, the second phase of lactogenesis occurs, and milk actually starts to fill the breasts.

All of this occurs in response to hormones. When women do not carry a pregnancy, but wish to breastfeed, they can induce lactation, where they replicate the same hormonal process that happens during pregnancy.

A woman who wants to induce lactation can work with a doctor or midwife, and start taking the hormones estrogen and progesterone (which grow breast tissue)—often in the form of birth control pills—along with a medication called domperidone (which increases milk production).

Several weeks before the baby will be born, the woman stops taking the birth control pill but continues to take the domperidone to simulate the hormonal changes that would happen in a pregnancy. She'll also start pumping multiple times per day, and will likely add herbal supplements, like fenugreek and blessed thistle.

Women can also try to induce lactation without the hormones, by using pumping and herbs, it may be harder but some women feel more comfortable with that route.

Inducing lactation takes a lot of dedication—but then again, so does everything related to be a mama. It's a super personal decision, and not right for everyone.

The important thing to remember is that we need to support women and mothers through their entire journey, no matter what decisions they make about themselves and their families—whether Kardashian or the rest of us.

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