Helping your baby sleep better

Published: Aug. 17, 2015 at 12:57 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2015 at 5:50 PM EDT
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TAMPA (Ivanhoe Newswire/WTVM) - The average new parent loses 1,056 hours of sleep the first year of their child's life - that's almost 44 days!

The deprivation can be even worse if a child has trouble going to sleep. Now, some parents are turning to sleep coaches while some pediatricians are asking why?

Night after night, nap after nap, sleep has never come easy for 9-month-old SJ.

"He needs help going to sleep. He's not able to put himself to sleep," SJ's father says.

"It will never get better. It will only get worse" says Certified Gentle Sleep Coach at Sweet Sleep Solutions in Tampa, Florida Stephanie Baker. Baker is keeping tabs on SJ's sleeping. She says he'll be a sound sleeper in about two weeks. It's all about the right timing for naps and bedtime.

Baker says, "It's like almost figuring out a math problem sometimes." Baker says when the child becomes overtired; a stress hormone called cortisol can make bedtime bad news.

"So that explains why children fight sleep the most when they are the most tired and it explains why they sleep the most when they are most rested" she says.

Baker suggests a 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., sleep schedule for most babies. Also, make sure your baby is drowsy at bedtime. If they cry, soothe them and put them back in their bed, not yours. She says most babies can learn to sleep through the night at 4.5 months - and habits can be formed after just two nights.

"Sleep is actually a learned skill," Baker said.

"The truth is some kids are not going to be very good sleepers," Greg Savel, MD, a pediatrician at Happy Kids MD in Tampa, Florida says,

Dr. Savel says pediatricians should be able to help with sleep issues. He suggests "crying it out" for a couple of nights.

"That has been the advice of hundreds of years of pediatricians. There have been some people that say something against that, but the truth is that's what has always worked" he says.

SJ's parents chose not to go that route. So did the sleep coach work for them?  We checked back about two weeks later and baby SJ is finally catching some z's.

It's important to make sure you first rule out any underlying medical conditions that could be related to your child's sleep trouble.

Sleep coach Stephanie Baker has taken over 80 hours of certification courses and ongoing training. Most sleep coaches charge around 500 dollars but this number varies based on location.

Dr. Savel says pediatricians should be able to address sleep concerns. He says if yours doesn't, find another one.

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