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Safephoto © 2008 Mark Evans | more info (via: Wylio)
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Last week’s post “3 Surefire Ways to Get Babies and Toddlers to Sleep” was one of my most widely-read posts of all time. It was also maybe the most controversial, bringing in 25 comments ranging in response from lukewarm to livid. This week I asked one of women who commented on the post, Hannah Katsman from AMotherinIsrael.com, to write something up about her cry-free approach to getting babies and toddlers to sleep…

When it comes to night-waking, parents are led to believe that it’s all or nothing: You have a choice between total sleep deprivation until your children grow up, or train your children to sleep through the night. But that’s simply not true.

Sleep experts encourage this attitude by promoting the idea that parents are negligent if they don’t teach their children to “self-soothe.” And how are parents to “teach” this skill? By leaving the baby alone to cry.

There is plenty of research about the risk of excessive crying. But my problem with “crying it out” is more ideological. Forcing ourselves not to respond to crying desensitizes parents, Leaving babies alone to cry goes against our instincts—we’ve all heard about one parent blocking the bedroom door so the other won’t run in and ruin the experiment.

We should be wary of methods that ask us to ignore babies, even if only for a few minutes. Maybe the baby doesn’t technically “need” to wake up at night, but at that moment he’s in distress. Responding is the right thing to do. Babies are social creatures and like all mammals, they want to be with their own kind. They’re not designed to cope on their own, and we shouldn’t expect it from them. We don’t teach children by withholding love and comfort until they “learn” what we want from them.

All children will sleep through the night and learn “self-soothing” on their own. I know it’s not for everyone, but I co-slept and nursed my younger children at night as long as they asked. The advantages are many: Just going with the flow. No worries about “self-soothing.” Simplicity. It’s the “lazy” mother’s way to a good night’s sleep. Most of my kids stopped waking at night, without intervention, at about two and a half years.

Nursing mothers do get better quality sleep, even though their babies wake more frequently than their bottle-fed counterparts. That’s because the mothers are able to respond to their baby quickly. Co-sleeping moms share sleep cycles with their babies, so when baby wakes up it’s not in the middle of Mom’s deep sleep. Nursing at night prevents post-partum depression, and extends breastfeeding infertility.

Lactation experts have learned that there are great differences among women’s breasts regarding milk storage capacity. Some women can store only 80 cc. (2.75 ounces) of milk in their breasts at any one time, while others can store 600 cc. or over 20 ounces. The mother with low milk storage capacity will need to nurse very frequently, but over the course of the day the baby will get enough milk. So it’s quite possible that a baby is waking at night because he is really hungry, especially the kind of baby who nurses frequently during the day. And despite the comment parenting expert quoted in the original post, it’s not the kind of thing your doctor is likely to know about. The only thing most doctors learn about breastfeeding in medical school is that it’s “best.” Older babies and toddlers may be too busy to eat enough during the day. Moms, not doctors, know best about when their babies are hungry.

Children’s night-waking is a big problem for some moms. The moms can’t function well, or are prone to illness, and they don’t enjoy co-sleeping either. (For the record, I used to be a restless sleeper and hated co-sleeping at first.) Here are some suggestions I give to moms in that situation. Maybe one or two will work for you.
• Rest at other times. Sleep when the baby sleeps. This can mean a nap, or getting to bed at the beginning of the baby’s longest stretch of sleep at night. Try a mother’s helper if you have toddlers. Or ask your husband to take over the morning or evening chores so you can extend your sleep time.
• Cut back on other activities. Can you eliminate paid or volunteer work, carpooling, or social events? The baby is just doing what comes naturally, when our busy schedules are really the problem (Facebook, anyone?). But make at least one favorite activity a priority.
• Stick it out. Frequent night waking is often temporary and caused by teething, illness or a new developmental stage. Try not to make important decisions about night-waking or weaning during stressful periods.
• Rule out physical problems. One friend realized that her 2-year-old’s frequent wakings were accompanies by gassiness. When she eliminated a particular food, he slept all night for the first time in his life. Pay attention: Children may be scared or thirsty, but they don’t usually wake up in the middle of the night just for fun.
• Take a step back. It’s not wise to start a battle over physical functions like eating, sleeping or using the toilet. When we are anxious, the child feels insecure. She then more attention and comfort, and will increase whatever activity we are trying to stop.
• Look at the baby’s eating habits. Nursing more frequently in the evening, or adding a healthy snack, sometimes helps.
• Clarify your motivation. Often mothers start weaning or weaning from night-waking because of outside pressure, whether from health professionals, friends, or family members. If the mother or baby is not really ready, the baby may pick up on parental ambivalence. Then the weaning becomes much more difficult.
• Read The No-Cry Sleep Solution. Elizabeth Pantley’s book gives excellent suggestions for gently teaching babies and toddlers to fall asleep on their own without a breast, bottle or pacifier.

I like Pantley’s child-centered approach. But when reviewing the book for this post, I recalled some points that bothered me. Pantley recommends letting a newborn fall asleep without nursing some of the time. Following this tip, she writes, will ensure that you don’t have to reread the book at 18 months. In the next paragraph she admits that this goes against a mother’s instinct, and she wouldn’t do it with her next baby!

When my youngest was born, I treasured every nursing that ended with her releasing the nipple on her own, satisfied. Then there were the nursing that ended by my getting up to wipe off a tush. Just like I advise moms not to spend their maternity leave worrying about whether their baby will take a bottle, moms of newborns don’t need to stress about sleeping habits 18 months from now.

Here’s my own bonus tip for nursing moms: The next time you find yourself drifting off during the day, take the baby into your bed and nurse him. Both of you will fall asleep nearly instantly, even if your baby just woke from a nap. This worked for me the better part of the first year. Breastmilk makes babies drowsy, and nursing releases hormones that relax the mother as well.

I loved nursing my babies to sleep. Ninety percent of the time, it’s the most convenient thing to do. If you lose that tool, it becomes more difficult to put baby to sleep when you’re in an unfamiliar place. I found that the few times when I needed to be out of the house at bedtime, my husband or the babysitter managed to find ways to get the baby to sleep.

I’ll close with a weaning story. My son was two years old, and I was pregnant. Because nursing was so painful, I had stopped except before bed and in the middle of the night. One evening, I put on a nursing jumper so he wouldn’t have access to my breasts. I turned off all the lights, and sat with him in the rocking chair. I held him or walked with him until he fell asleep. Later he woke up and wanted to nurse, but fell asleep after a few minutes of comforting. It only took a couple of nights until he stopped waking up at night. But that didn’t mean he fell asleep easily. For a long period, my husband or I lay down with him for a half hour at bedtime. What can you do? Children need attention, and some need more than others.

Every child will be ready to sleep alone and through the night at a different age. Our role is to be sensitive to our children’s needs throughout the day and night. When our children’s needs conflict with ours, we don’t have to take it lying down—we can look for solutions that respect our role as nurturing parents.

Hannah Katsman is a mom of six, including two soldiers, and has counseled nursing mothers for over ten years. Her work with young families inspired her websites: A Mother in Israel on parenting, and Cooking Manager to help home cooks save time and money. Click here to see Hannah’s 9 Reasons to cook with your kids as well as more about co-sleeping here: Should Co-Sleeping Be Outlawed?

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A Russian news program recently reported that a first-time mother gave birth to 10 babies. According to this news report, the mother did not see a doctor during her pregnancy, which explains why there was such off-the-charts shock when she gave birth to 10 babies.

According to the report, the husband fainted when he realized that he had been transformed overnight into a father of 10. The hospital nurses say they were in shock when one baby after another were coming out of this woman. The mother is just doing everything she can to keep the names straight of her 5 newborn sons and 5 newborn daughters.

I was just laughing when I watched this, it just seems so unbelievable. But is it unbelievable/incredible or un-believable/I just don’t believe this?

I’m leaning now to thinking this is a made-up story…Watch this video and vote in the poll below what you think the truth is…



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This was the first video I ever made a little over three years ago, and I think it’s still my absolute favorite. It’s so cute to see my big-boy Yoel as such a little baby, almost the same age as my little Tsofia Batsion is now- wearing that same fluffy blue coat, falling asleep in the same plastic crib, playing with that same brand of baby wipes.  Ahhhh! Memories…

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Baby Sleepingphoto © 2008 Sean McGee | more info (via: Wylio)
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I just had to share these incredible techniques to teach babies and toddlers to fall asleep on their own from Dina Friedman’s Chanoch leNaar Parenting Class.

I tried this technique with my 7 month old, Tsofia, and within 3 days she went from beginning 100% dependent on me to fall asleep by nursing, to falling asleep peacefully 100% on her own. This makes my life A LOT easier. And it also means that Tsofia sleeps better (she used to wake up and cry until I nursed her back to sleep, and now she just falls back to sleep on her own) and also now she can fall asleep in her carriage when I’m out, instead of crying and being miserable until I get home and nurse her to sleep.

This technique is called “Modified Controlled Comforting.” Dina Friedman estimates that the vast majority of children will learn how to fall asleep on their own within a week of starting these techniques:

For Babies ages 0-6 months
-Get your baby used to a 1)Sleep 2)Feed 3)Play 4)Sleep cycle.
-If your baby is breastfeeding, before trying this technique, consult with your doctor to make sure that your baby is not waking up and crying out of hunger.
-When baby starts getting tired, wrap him or her up in a blanket (but make sure you don’t wrap baby overly tightly or overly warmly)
-Put the baby in crib and leave the room for 30 seconds
-If baby is crying, come back into the room to comfort her. Pat the baby’s back rhythmically with your right and then left hand. You can also try putting the baby on his or side, and rocking the baby back and forth gently between your two hands. Do this until the baby calms down
-Leave room for 5 minutes
-Comfort baby for 5 minutes using the techniques above
-Leave room for 5 minutes
-Comfort baby for 5 minutes
-Leave room for 6 minutes
-Comfort for 5 minutes
-Leave room for 7 minutes
-Comfort for 5 minutes
-Leave room for 8 minutes
-Comfort for 5 minutes
Continue this until you are out of the room for 10 minutes, and continue the 10 minutes out of the room, 5 minutes comforting cycle until the baby is asleep.

For babies ages 6-12 months

-Comfort for 5 minutes (see the patting technique above)
-Leave room for 2 minutes
-Comfort for 4 minutes
-Leave room for 4 minutes
-Comfort for 3 minutes
-Leave room for 6 minutes
-Comfort for 2 minutes
-Leave room for 8 minutes
-Comfort for 1 minute
-Leave room for 10 minutes
(Continue this 1 minute comforting, 10 minutes out of the room cycle until the baby falls asleep)

For toddlers

-Establish a regular bedtime routine (i.e. brush teeth, pajamas, a story, Shma…)
-Tuck toddler into bed
-If he follows you out of the room, take him firmly by the hand and return him to his bed. Tell him with a serious voice, “If you come out again, I will have to close your door.”
-Leave room for 2 minutes
-If toddler comes out of his room, take him firmly by the hand and return him to his bed. Tell him with a serious voice, “If you come out again, I will have to close your door. You are going to sleep now!”
– If toddler comes out of room yet again, take him firmly by the hand again and return him to his bed. Tell him with a serious voice, “If you come out again, I will have to close your door. You are going to sleep now!”
– If he comes out again, return him to his bed, and close his door behind you.
-Stay out of the room for 6 minutes
-If he is crying, comfort him for 1 minute
-Stay out of the room for 7 minutes
-Comfort him for 1 minute
-Stay out of room for 8 minutes
-Comfort him for 1 minute
Continue this pattern until you are out of the room for 10 minutes— and continue the 10 minute, 1 minute cycle until your toddler is asleep.

Hope this works for all of you tired eemas as well as it worked for me! Make sure to be in touch to update me on how this technique works for you—I will be interested to hear!

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Yesterday I posted something about the Bateses of Tennessee with their 18 children, but I realized that it’s a shame to post only about a Christian family when there are so many JewishMOMs out there blessed with jumbo-sized families.

And then I remembered the legendary Sima Zalmanov of Tsfat and her 19 children. I love this lady. She is such an inspiration.

More than anything else, I love Sima Zalmanov’s clarity about the tough-ness of pregnancy and birth vs. the priceless gift of a new baby. Or, as Sima Zalmanov challenges her interviewer, “Tell me, if someone told you that you would have a difficult month, but that at the end of that hard month you would receive a million dollars, would you agree to it?

I also love when she says, “Whatever the Holy One gives, we are happy. He knows what is best for us.” Simple but infathomably wise advice for all situations in life.

Here is a news report about Sima Zalmanov and her family, with English translation provided below. Enjoy!

An English translation of the video:
Anchorman: Sima Zalmanov is 47 years old, and she already has 19 children and 7 grandchildren.
Are you confused? Eliran Tal is too…

Interviewer in voice over: Anyone who thinks that “full house” is just a term used in poker apparently has never met the Zalmanov family from Tsfat. Father Yosef and mother Sima (who is only 47-years old and is a school principal) have no less than 19 children, and the youngest of the crew was born this past weekend. (CJW: this video is from 2 years ago)

The interviewer asks Sima: My wife is in her eighth month of pregnancy and she complains: “It hurts me! it’s hard for me!” and that’s just a first pregnancy. You’ve been through 19 pregnancies, how did you do it?!”

Sima Zalmanov: Tell me, if someone told you that you would have a difficult month, but that at the end of that hard month you would receive a million dollars, would you agree to it?

Interviewer: But pregnancy is nine months!

Sima Zalmanov: If you had to suffer a bit for 9 months, would you do it for a million dollars?

Interviewer: So you have 19 million dollars?

Sima Zalmanov: At least! More!

Interviewer in voice over: So the question is, how is it possible to raise 19 children and host 7 grandchildren in a 4-room apartment that is not especially spacious. And what do the children do in their
free time in a home without a computer or television? The Zalmanov family proves that this is a difficult mission, but that it’s definitely possible. All you need is 3 refrigerators, a 3-meter long kitchen table, a bit of faith, and, more than anything else, a good memory.
(CJW: If I had been the interviewer, I, of course, would have changed this last sentence to “All you need is…a good memory, and more than anything else, a whole lot of faith.)

Interviewer asks: Do you remember all of your children’s birthdays?

SZ: Of course.

Interviewer: What about Estie?

SZ: Estie’s birthday is on the 16th of Adar

Interviewer: What about Yisrael?

SZ: On the 4th of Adar

SZ (pointing to fridge) We have a rotation system. This chart says who is bringing the younger children to nursery school. And this chart is for the sandwiches for school. So that there won’t be any questions,
each child said what he or she likes and doesn’t like…

Interviewer in voice over: By the way, even though it’s difficult at times, there are definitely plans for the future…

Interviewer asks: Do you have plans for a 20th child?

SZ: Whatever the Holy One gives, we are happy. He knows what is best for us. Whatever He does, we will be overjoyed.

Interviewer: There is room for another one…

SZ (smiling): There’s always room.


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I was really shocked yesterday to hear that a recently married woman I know gave birth last Wednesday to a baby at 27 weeks! I later found out babies born even at 24 weeks can survive outside the womb.

Nitsania Tova is teensy (1.7 pounds) but is doing well and appears to be healthy. Please pray for teensy Nitsania Tova bat Shayna Liebe that she should continue growing and will healthy and strong.

I found this video of another baby born at 27 weeks, to give you a sense of what such an extreme preemie looks like. May we hear a lot of good news from Nitsania Tova and her parents Shayna and Shaul David Judelman!

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Photo courtesy of Flickr.com user Pink Sherbet Photography


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I just subscribed to a great blog I have really been enjoying called Ima2Seven.com. In her most recent post Ima2Seven discusses “The Conversation”– women talking about whether or not to have another child. Very interesting! Thanks to Chaya of Nachlaot for telling me about this blog!

Read “Another Baby?”
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