Today, I am so so excited to share with you an exclusive interview with Jilly Blankenship of Baby Sleep Made Simple. Jilly is quite the expert, with experience as a pediatric registered nurse, lactation consultant, and mom! I’ll let her tell you more about her experience, and I know you are going to love her! She uses a lot of videos for her teaching sessions and Facebook Q&A sessions, and she has the most calming presence.
It’s true that our babies grow and develop as they sleep, which is why this topic is so near and dear to me. Because what good is it to feed your kids healthily if they aren’t having the quality sleep needed to benefit them? If you love what you’re reading, be sure to sign up for Jilly’s free Exhausted Mom’s Survival Kit. Also, my Batch Cook for Baby course students have exclusive access to Jilly’s Nap Transitions guide!! XO, Amanda
Can you tell me a little bit about you and Baby Sleep Made Simple?
Sure! I’m a pediatric nurse, lactation consultant and Mom. My passion is helping exhausted Moms get their babies sleeping well so they can get their energy back, start feeling like themselves again, and enjoy these precious years.
Oh, that sounds like a dream come true! What made you interested in focusing on baby sleep?
For the last decade I’ve helped parents learn how to take care of their new babies. Before I became a Mom 4 years ago, I thought I knew quite a lot about babies. 😁 But I soon realized I had no idea how much sleep deprivation would wreak havoc on every area of my life.
Getting up throughout the night with my baby drained me of my energy. I spent every day feeling overwhelmed and irritable. I found it hard to look forward to each new day and I was arguing with my husband a lot.
Luckily, I knew that lack of sleep was the culprit and that if I could get my baby sleeping better, then our whole family’s situation would improve.
I researched it all! Ferber, Weissbluth, Dr Sears, No Cry Sleep Solution (to name a few.) The problem was, all of these baby sleep training methods seemed to be one-size-fits-all. I needed quick results because I was at the end of my rope. But my daughter is sensitive and affectionate, so cry-it-out wasn’t a good option for her.
I sat down with my husband and we came up with the perfect plan for our baby. We wanted to help her sleep well in a way that worked with her temperament. So we combined specific elements from different approaches, creating a customized baby sleep training plan just for her.
And it worked! Our whole family was sleeping through the night in less than one week. My husband then said to me “You have to help other people do this. You’re a nurse, you know the sleep science. Look how much better off our family is now that we’re sleeping well.” He was right. And that’s how Baby Sleep Made Simple was born.
That is amazing. It’s like this field fell into your lap! I’m wondering…what’s the number one sleep mistake that you often see?
Having an inconsistent sleep routine. If a baby’s bedtime varies by more than 45 minutes each night, his body clock becomes off-kilter. It’s almost like he’s in perpetual baby jet lag!
It’s very difficult for young children to sleep well when they don’t have a consistent sleep schedule. It’s hard for them to relax because their bodies and brains don’t know when to expect sleep!
I’m not suggesting that every minute of a parent’s day has to be accounted for. If you’re not a routine-lover, that can be too stressful. But, when children have a consistent and age-appropriate bedtime, they fall asleep easier and sleep better overnight (click here for a study supporting this) because their body clocks have become “wired” to sleep at this time.
That makes complete sense–I’m all about routine! One of my twins always has trouble going to sleep after an overstimulating day or deviation from our typical routine. How can I help her but still fit in these fun and sometimes necessary activities?
This happens a lot, especially if your daughter is spirited (AKA really energetic!)
I talk about this is my Exhausted Mom’s Survival Kit. Every child needs a winding down period in the evening in order to relax and settle down for sleep. I’m a big believer that the best way to help children sleep is when you work with their temperament.
Energetic kids need longer bedtime routines. Also, massage really helps spirited children unwind and relax enough to fall sleep. Two hours before bedtime, make sure to avoid screen time and bright overhead lights. Sometimes a bath can even be too stimulating for certain kids, making it difficult to fall asleep.
Every day can’t be the same, that’s unrealistic and often boring! It’s important to get out and do fun activities with your little ones. Just make sure you’re home each evening in enough time to do your peaceful nightly ritual.
My Exhausted Mom’s Survival Kit walks you through the steps of setting up a peaceful nightly ritual and how you can customize it for your child’s personality.
Okay, here’s a fun question…how would you describe your mom style?
Great question! I’m a planner. Pediatric nursing attracts a certain type of person (organized, attention to detail, “Type A.”) I believe that routines help children thrive and also liberate parents.
The world is an unpredictable place for young kids. So, the more that parents can create consistency in their child’s day, the better their child adapts. In my baby sleep programs, we focus on creating a rhythm to your days and nights. Parents always tell me how much happier and more relaxed their babies are once they’re on a consistent routine. Their sleep and appetites improve, and they’re often less fussy and clingy.
Being a parent is a 24/7 job. Imagine going to work and never knowing when you’ll have a break or be able to leave?! I say that “routines liberate you” as a parent, because once your child is on a predictable daily routine, you get to know when you’ll have downtime. Downtime shouldn’t be a luxury, it should be a daily occurrence.
YES! I totally agree with this. For our readers–what’s ONE THING that moms can do tonight to help their little ones sleep better?
Begin a peaceful bedtime routine. Certain activities have been proven to relax babies, and when done in the right order, it sets babies up for sleeping longer at night. Your bedtime routine doesn’t need to be elaborate. Short and simple usually works best.
Your baby’s bedtime routine should go something like this:
- warm bath
- 5-10 minute massage
- put on pajamas and sleep sack
- breastfeed or bottle
- read 1-2 books
- tuck your baby into bed
- lights off and quick lullaby
- you leave the room
Here’s a video where I walk parents through setting up a peaceful bedtime routine.
How can a tired mama find you and your sleep resources?
I recommend all Moms start here with my free Exhausted Mom’s Survival Kit. It walks you through the first steps of helping your baby sleep through the night.
I also host weekly live calls on my Facebook page answering questions sent in by exhausted parents.
What’s most important is for Moms to never lose hope. No matter your situation, your baby’s personality or your fears, we can always find a way to help your baby sleep well!
I just love Jilly and her serious sleep knowledge. One of our girls is really struggling with a 2-year sleep regression. I stepped up the bedtime routine game and used strategies in her Exhausted Mom’s Survival Kit and there have been no more issues with fighting bedtime! Now to conquer the 3am waking…
I also want to point you towards two of Jilly’s other incredibly sleep programs!
21 Days to Peace & Quiet
This program focuses on nighttime sleep for children ages 5-24 months)
Naps: Getting Downtime in the Daytime
This program is all about naps (the best part of the day!) for ages 6 months-3 years
Drop your sleep questions in the comments below!