Courtney Heck is a mom to two little ones. After having her own children, Courtney transitioned from teaching children to becoming a Toddler Sleep Consultant in Dallas. She has been helping tired moms and dads all over Dallas. Does your child have trouble sleeping? Have you considered sleep training? Courtney answers a few questions below.
“I got my Pediatric Sleep Consultation certification through the Cradle Coach Academy. They offer multiple certifications. The program includes over 200 hours of content, mentorship, and volunteer hands-on-experience. My certification allows me to use in-depth, scientific knowledge and training to create sleep plans and help parents implement their sleep plans for children ages 0-5 years old. I also think it helps that I spent my high school, college, and post college years as a nanny and babysitter. I then chose a career in teaching for eight years. I taught first and second graders, before choosing to stay home once I had my own children.”
“Sleep is so important in all ages. Babies and toddlers need restorative, good quality sleep in order to reach their milestones, grow, and heal/recover when they are sick. Most parents have heard of the term “overtired”. I remember being a new mom and panicking at the thought of my baby being overtired and that being the reason she was not falling asleep.
The younger a baby is, the less awake time they can handle before needing a reset by taking a nap and going through at least one complete sleep cycle (fingers crossed). Every baby is different, so some will give sleepy cues (rubbing their eyes, dazed look, etc.), while others don’t give any cues at all. Typically, once a baby is full on crying and upset, he or she is already overtired, especially the younger they are. The best way to avoid having an overtired baby is to pay specific attention to appropriate wake windows for their age.”
“Co-sleeping is very normal all over the world. My number one caution to point out and remind any family, no matter where or how they put their babies to sleep, is to make sure it is a safe sleeping space for their baby: no loose blankets or stuffed animals for the first year of life, tight fitted sheets, no pillows, no loose chords or decoration around the sleep space, etc. So as long as it is a safe sleep environment, I am definitely ok with that.
I believe there is a sleep plan for everyone out there. I can create very gentle, in-the-same-room as mom sleep plans if that is what the parent is wanting. My goal in helping each family is to make sure that the baby AND the parents are getting good quality, restorative rest, meaning a full night’s sleep. That does not necessarily mean no more night feeds, no more sleeping in the same room and no more cuddles at nighttime. All of those things can still happen while allowing the parents and baby or toddler to get great sleep.”
“It is best to keep a baby in their own crib until they are at least three years old. The only times I recommend going ahead and moving a toddler out of the crib and into a bed on the floor, a toddler bed, a “big kid bed”, etc. is when it becomes dangerous because they constantly attempt to or can climb out of their crib.
However, there are lots of tips and tricks to try first before making the decision to get rid of the crib for good. If the child is three and still doing great at being in their crib, DON’T change it. The longer you can wait to transition, the better. Toddlers do so much better at transitioning and understanding the process the older they are.”
“An Ok-to-Wake clock is a great tool to use for toddlers and children who have already transitioned into a “big kid bed”. I usually tell my families to start implementing the Wake clock on the same night they transition to their new bed. A lot of times, even with a toddler who was previously sleep trained, they need a new sleep plan for the transition. I will include the process of using a Wake clock and phrases to use in teaching families how to use it so that their kids will stay in their bed until the desired “get out of bed time” set by the parents.”
“This is a hard one because every child is different and once they get to preschool age, their sleep needs can vary. Most children will need a good 1-2 hour nap up until they are at least three years old. A lot of parents will stop at two years old because their toddler all of a sudden starts to refuse nap time. This is the two year sleep regression. It is a mistake to think they have outgrown their naps. They really need to continue on with naps for another year.
I help a lot of parents get through this two year sleep regression.The best way to know if your toddler or preschooler still needs a nap is if they are inconsolable and having meltdowns in the early afternoon or evening time. You can also tell they still need a nap if they are doing great throughout the day, but then crash around 3-5pm. They WILL wake back up and then have a much harder time going to bed that night.
A lot of children will start showing signs they are ready to drop a nap the closer they get to four years old. However, there are still five year olds that need a nap. You want to make sure that if your preschooler is napping at this age, that it is not too long and they still have about 6 hours of awake time before bedtime. Otherwise, it is going to be hard for them to fall asleep and/or stay asleep.
You will know it is time to drop a nap when they start consistently waking up earlier than normal (they do not need as much rest), middle of the night wakings, and making it through a whole day until bedtime while still in an overall happy, good mood, with little to no major meltdowns. One tip when trying to transition to no naps, offer a nap on the weekends or every few days. Your child will also most likely need an earlier bedtime once they have completely dropped their nap.”
“I think I am very easy to work with. I am thorough in answering all of your questions. I make myself readily available before, during, and after the implementation of your sleep plan. I communicate through an initial over the phone conversation and then through email and text. I never pressure any parent to sleep train. It has to be completely their decision because it can be emotionally and mentally tough at times. I always offer a free 20 minute phone consultation to anyone wanting to know more or if this is the right fit for them. They then can talk it over with their partner and decide if they want to go forward with a sleep plan.”
“My number one tip is consistency. We can make any plan work, as long as parents agree to be super consistent for at least two weeks. Children thrive on routine and consistency and knowing what to expect. It is also my belief that the number one gift a mom or dad can have, is the gift of sleep. A well rested parent is a happy, loving, playful, energetic parent.”