13 Things You Need to Know from Our Parent Like a Pro Summit

13 Things You Need to Know from Our Parent Like a Pro Summit

In a few info-packed days, parenting experts on a wide range of topics offered up their best tips and strategies. Parent school is now in session. 

At Nanit’s recent Parent Like a Pro Summit, we hosted a series of virtual conversations around the parenting issues concerning you most. In celebration of our Community’s 3rd birthday 🎂 we gathered together top experts from a variety of fields and asked them to share their well-researched wisdom on sleep, preparing for a baby, conscious parenting, and more. 

Our goal? To boost your confidence and give you actionable tips for some of your biggest wonders and worries. Here, a cheat sheet of some of our favorite advice from the event.

Panel 1: Becoming a Conscious Parent

In this conversation, renowned parenting expert Dr. Shefali Tsabary and Nanit’s Melanie Bond explored ways to take care of yourself, be mindful, and foster resilience and authentic relationships with your kids.

It’s important to self regulate.

Dr. Shefali: “When you’re learning how to self regulate, first understand why you’re dysregulated. Maybe your schedule is too full, you’re too focused on perfection and control, you’re afraid of making a mistake, or of the unknown. 

Next, learn to recognize the signs that you’re not doing well (like a clenching jaw, or you’re snapping at everyone). Ask yourself: What can I do right now to break the cycle? So, maybe you head outside for a quick walk. Or do 10 jumping jacks. 

Longer term, it’s important to create good boundaries throughout your day and your life so life doesn’t feel so overwhelming.”

Apologize when you mess up. 

Dr. Shefali: “It can help you get a handle on your feelings if you make them more concrete and easy to visualize. So for example, imagine your situation as a basket of clothes that was just dumped on the floor. When you snap, you can say things like, "Sometimes Mommy raises her voice and says silly things and doesn't mean it." It's human to make mistakes, and your children will feel better knowing that as humans, we’re allowed to be imperfect.” 

Melanie: “The idea of repair is so important–doing the work to do things differently next time—so your behavior doesn’t become a pattern when you feel unregulated.” 

Your kids don’t have to be superstars.

Dr. Shefali: “Remember that children are just being children. When you have kids, you literally welcome chaos. Children will have tantrums every day until they are 25.

Your goal is not to make your children be happy or give them a perfect life. Let your kids be ordinary. Instead, use every day to connect with yourself, to heal your own baggage. Then quite naturally we will be great parents.”

Melanie: “It can also help to remind yourself, My kids aren’t trying to give me a hard time. They are having a hard time because they are kids!”

Panel 2: Reclaiming Sleep After Baby: How to Get Rest as a Caregiver

In this panel, Rebecca Robbins PhD and Natalie Barnett PhD discussed the relationship between sleep and stress, why sleep is so important, and how to get the rest you need. 

Prioritize yourself. 

Dr. Rebecca: “Taking care of yourself is the biggest gift you can give to your child and yourself. When you fill your battery, you allow yourself to thrive and be the best parent and partner you can be.

And sleep is a cornerstone of our wellbeing, helping us regulate emotions, manage our weight, be more productive, and have better, more connected relationships. Good sleep is all about being on a routine—you and your child—and the first few months it's so tough. But getting yourself back on a schedule as soon as you can is absolutely vital.”

Share nighttime duties.

Dr. Natalie: “If you’re feeling the impacts of sleep deprivation, try to get a block of sleep at the beginning of the night for four to five hours. If you are able to, ask other caregivers to take the first shift so you can have that time. It can be absolutely life altering to get that block of consolidated sleep.”

Dr. Rebecca: “After even a night of poor sleep, it's common for our mood to fall off, for us to snap at our partner or children, etc. When we are sleep deprived we are less equipped to deal with the stressors all around us. It’s harder to keep things in perspective. So the idea of switching shifts with your partner [so you both get sleep] can do you both a world of good.” 

Mindfulness and meditation can help with insomnia.

Dr. Rebecca: “Before bed, try writing down your worries or whatever is flying through your mind. It’s a myth that we can be so busy all day and then, come bedtime, immediately fall asleep! We need to give time and space to sort through all that’s come up during the day. 

If you have trouble falling asleep or wake up at night, at the moment when your thoughts start to spiral and the negative self-talk starts, get out of bed and only come back when you are tired. It may take some time being very diligent, but eventually you’ll start to condition yourself that bed is the place where sleep happens, not insomnia. Bed becomes the reward and sleep is more likely.”

Looking for more tips? Check out the full recap here

Panel 3: Parent School

Your most pressing parenting questions, answered! In three separate age-based sessions, Nanit Lab experts offered tailored advice for raising littles. 

For the pregnant and 0-3 month age group, we spoke with Nanit Lab experts Liza Natale MD and Maristella Lucchini PhD.

Before your baby arrives, set up support systems.

Dr. Liza: “Before your baby comes, figure out what types of support you will need and want, and where you can get that from. Think about the mundane stuff as much as the fun stuff: who will help with the dog when you're at the hospital, etc. 

And lean on people’s strengths. For example, my mother-in-law is a great cook, so I asked her to prepare meals for us so she would feel included and part of the process. Sometimes, you may also need to ask those who are not as helpful to back up a little bit and respect your boundaries.”

Expect an emotional adjustment after your baby is born.

Dr. Maristella: “We can't control the things we feel. The ways we will grow and ask for help determine the parents we will be, rather than that first initial reaction or feeling. And each baby can bring such a different journey!” 

Dr. Liza: “It's normal to struggle with things like postpartum blues, challenges bonding with your baby, or other complicated feelings and frustrations. If you or your partner are experiencing symptoms of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (also known as PMADS), seek help. Additionally, nighttime sleep for that person should be prioritized as it can help ease those symptoms.”

Dr. Maristella: “Fathers can also experience postpartum depression: oftentimes that presents as rage, not feeling bonded, etc. Many people aren't even aware of that as a concern, so they don't reach out for help.”

The 4-12 month age range was addressed by Nanit Lab pros Natalie Barnett PhD and Sarah Berger PhD.

It’s natural for infants this age to have sleep disruptions.

Dr. Natalie: “Let’s reframe the term ‘sleep regressions’ and call them what they really are - ‘sleep disruptions.’ ‘Regression’ has a negative connotation and implies backsliding. Babies are not going backwards - they are making progress and learning skills and that learning can disrupt sleep! 

So, you’re not doing anything wrong if your baby is waking up more during the night! It could be that your baby is about to reach a milestone. Don’t change your routine or habits. Try to ride it out and know that your baby will return to their typical routine and behavior.” 

Dr. Sarah: “Research is showing us that, in relation to learning a new motor skill, babies seem to be practicing in their cribs at night, moving around more, getting into poses and postures that might be related to their new skill. So keep in mind that the wake ups are a short term thing. After your baby hits the milestone and demonstrates their new skill, their sleep tends to return back to normal.”

Children cut down on napping during this age.

Dr. Natalie: “Most babies transition from three naps to two somewhere around 6-7 months. I usually recommend that you hold off on the transition from three to two naps until you are well established on three solid meals a day. This is because a good lunch before nap two can help lengthen that nap, and the longer nap can help them get through a longer last wake window of the day. Signs your baby is ready for this transition often include taking longer to fall asleep, not being ready to go to sleep when you normally put them down, frequently having to wake them at the end of their second nap, or resistance to their third nap.

Your child may be ready to transition from two naps to one when: Their first nap is nudging later and later or if they sleep longer during the first nap and it's harder to get them down for the second nap. To make this transition smooth, shorten each nap to create a longer wake window between the two naps. Over time, they'll transition to having one longer nap midday. The transition from two naps to one usually happens around 13-18 months. Children usually stop napping altogether between the ages of 2 and 4–there’s a huge range.

Nanit Lab experts Monica Ordway PhD, APRN and Maristella Lucchini PhD offered tips for the 13 months and older age range.

Predictability is the key to toddler routines. 

Dr. Monica: “That goes for bedtimes, mealtimes, or daytime activities. When creating a schedule, think about what works for your family's unique situation, and be open to flexibility. Don't stress if you get off track for a few days!”

Dr. Maristella: “Routines are meant to serve us, to help us and our children function at our best and get the sleep/rest that we need. There are always times when other things will take priority. But when you have a regular schedule/routine, it’s easier to bounce back after a few off days.” 

Your toddler may show signs of picky eating.

Dr. Maristella: “Toddlerhood is a time of learning and exploring—in every area of their development! Oftentimes when a child is pushing away food it's because they’re attracted by something more exciting. Don't be afraid to try a food a few different times if your child doesn’t like it the first time.”

Let go of the need to be perfect.

Dr. Monica: “When the parent guilt creeps in, try to remember that you are doing your best to make decisions that work for your family. It's also okay to try something and have it not work! In child psychology we say, "You need to be a good enough parent 30 percent of the time"... Things will always go wrong, but life isn’t perfect. Allowing your children to see you mess up (and apologize!) is really powerful.”

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Nanit is dedicated to delivering high-quality, reliable content for our readers. Our Parent Confidently articles are crafted by experienced parenting contributors and are firmly rooted in data and research. To ensure the accuracy and relevance of the content, all articles undergo a rigorous review process by our team of parenting experts. Additionally, our wellness-related content receives further scrutiny from Nanit Lab, our think tank of scientists, engineers, physicians, academic experts, and thought leaders.

Our primary objective is to furnish readers with the most current, trustworthy, and actionable information concerning a host of parenting topics. We strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions by offering comprehensive and respected insights.

In pursuit of transparency and credibility, our articles incorporate credible third-party sources, peer-reviewed studies, and abstracts. These sources are directly linked within the text or provided at the bottom of the articles to grant readers easy access to the source material.

CONTRIBUTORS

Natalie Barnett, PhD serves as VP of Clinical Research at Nanit. Natalie initiated sleep research collaborations at Nanit and in her current role, Natalie oversees collaborations with researchers at hospitals and universities around the world who use the Nanit camera to better understand pediatric sleep and leads the internal sleep and development research programs at Nanit. Natalie holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of New England in Australia and a Postgraduate Certificate in Pediatric Sleep Science from the University of Western Australia. Natalie was an Assistant Professor in the Neurogenetics Unit at NYU School of Medicine prior to joining Nanit. Natalie is also the voice of Nanit's science-backed, personalized sleep tips delivered to users throughout their baby's first few years.

Kristy Ojala is Nanit’s Digital Content Director. She spends way too much time looking at maps and weather forecasts and pictures of Devon Rex cats and no-cook dinners. A former sleep champion, she strives to share trustworthy somnabulism tips with other parents—praying for that one fine day when no tiny humans wake her up while it’s still dark out. Her kids highly recommend 3 books, approximately 600 stuffies, Chopin’s “Nocturnes,” and the Nanit Sound + Light for bedtime success.

Mackenzie Sangster is on the Brand and Community team at Nanit. She supports content development and editing for Nanit’s Parent Confidently blog as well as other marketing initiatives. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her friends, cooking, being active, and using the Pro + Flex Duo to keep an eye on her fur-baby, Poppy!

Holly Hays is a contributor and writer for Nanit, channeling her years as a mama and former magazine editor to create fun, useful content for fellow busy, trying-to-do-their-best parents and caregivers. Holly has written for a wide range of brands and media outlets (Ergobaby, HGTV, Manhattan Toy Company, OXO), loves to cook and read mystery novels, and leans heavily on her two daughters to keep her up to date on all the latest slang.