Finding Freedom and Confidence in Parenthood with Sleep & Well-Being Specialist, Taylor Kulik

 Show Notes:

[2:11] - Our Reviewer of the Week is hellotrb, and she says "As I was pregnant with my second kiddo, I started to routinely listen to this podcast. I wanted a natural birth SO bad as my first one wasn’t. I hired a doula, read natural child birth books, and was glued to this podcast. On 1/19/23, I naturally delivered my sweet baby boy and have NEVER felt so great. I felt like going into this birth, I knew what my options were. The MOST important thing I learned from this podcast was deep breathing and meditation. Stephanie, you suggested practicing it every night and so I did. I truly feel that’s was got me through each contraction in a manageable way. Thank you!"

Thank you for your sweet review, and I love when you guys put this stuff into action. Congratulations on your baby. That's really exciting! 💜

[3:01] Our guest this week is Sleep & Well-Being Expert, Taylor Kulik! When it comes to baby sleep, I think it's exciting to know what's normal and when it's not normal, what can I do? How can I make it a positive experience? And all of those kinds of questions, which I'm hoping we get to answer here today. Taylor is an occupational therapist turned holistic sleep specialist. She helps support families with sleep who do not want to sleep train. She tried sleep training with her first baby, but it didn't feel right. Taylor was looking for something different and became the resource that she wanted as a new mom. 

[4:09] Taylor defines the difference between sleep training and what she does for families. Her basic definition of sleep training is anything that's non-responsive (ignoring your baby's cries, letting baby cry it out, etc.) It also includes anything that goes against a parent's intuition or feels wrong (trying to force baby onto a schedule that's not developmentally appropriate for them.) It's about finding what feels right for your family and for your baby. Her main role is to re-educate parents about what normal biologically and developmentally for infant, toddler, and child sleep.

[9:24] Taylor shares her inspiration behind the idea of sleep training and what gave her the push she needed. She talks about her struggle with postpartum anxiety, which was exacerbated by lack of sleep. She was Googling, "How do I get my baby to sleep? Why won't my baby sleep in the crib?" 

[10:50] She realized she needed another approach when all the sleep training methods she had read about weren't working for her and her baby. She tried everything and was not making any progress. The breakthrough she wanted came in the form of learning how to safely bed share with her baby. At the time, there weren't a lot of studies or information on bed sharing. 

[14:45] Her experience with occupational therapy started because she wanted to specialize in postpartum occupational therapy, but it's not a mainstream OT profession or domain. She started specializing just in general postpartum care, got some pelvic floor therapy education and mental health education. She found that sleep was my specialty because that's what most parents wanted support with and what she was passionate about. 

[16:43] Society focuses on the independent and early consolidation of sleep as opposed to what infant sleep actually looks like. All babies are different. You might have a baby who does sleep really well. But there are babies out there who do sleep longer stretches earlier on and who wean night feeds earlier. But that is not the case for most babies. In terms of what sleep actually looks like, it varies, but sleep is often very disrupted and fragmented, especially in the first year of life.

[21:34] Positive words of advice for new moms: Sleeping is not a reflection of who you are as a parent or even who your baby is as a baby! Most moms just find so much assurance and encouragement in knowing that their baby isn't abnormal because that's what they think other parents think. Moms think, "Oh, my baby needs to sleep on me so there must be something wrong with them." There is most likely nothing wrong with your baby. It's normal for them to need closeness and contact, and you're not doing anything wrong. The best thing that you can do for your baby's development and for your baby to eventually learn in time to sleep on their own.

[23:03] Guidelines for safe bed sharing:

  • Baby is full term.
  • Baby is on a safe environment in a safe bed.
  • No bed sharing on chairs or couches.
  • No alcohol or drugs.
  • Baby is not swaddled. 
  • If moms have long hair, tie it back.
  • Have a breastfeeding relationship.

[25:40] Researchers that have studied moms and babies sleeping together have found that breastfeeding moms are usually more sensitive to the physiology, movements, and breathing patterns. Most of the time breastfed babies when they're bed sharing, they're more likely to stay kind of lower away from the pillows because their head is staying right next to mom's breast. Research has shown that there is actually a difference in how babies move around and how moms and babies communicate and are responsive to each other depending on their feeding method.

[27:11] Taylor talks about red flags to look for while bed sharing. Her second baby had a major red flag because of his tongue tie, and he wouldn't sleep well even while bed sharing. He would be super restless and couldn't get comfortable. She recommends reaching out to her colleague, Jen, who can help you spot any red flags. Finding a provider who can do a more thorough assessment is great.

[33:32] Taylor is sharing a resource that summarizes all of my education about how babies are normally sleeping in the first year and what you might expect. She talks about what is normal, which is a wide range, but also some of those red flags, and when you might want to reach out to a provider or a professional to help you navigate. She also shares some foundational pieces that you can implement to help optimize your baby's sleep.

[34:52] Where to find Taylor Kulik:

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ALL the best,


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