As a mom of four, people assume that I know what I’m doing when it comes to parenting – and I do, to some degree. I’ve got a handle on stuff like what to do when your baby is fussy and the importance of having a zillion snacks on-hand at all times.
But I had my fourth child a few weeks ago, and here’s the thing: My kids are all about three years apart in age. So, by the time another baby rolls around, I’ve kind of forgotten some things. Case in point: My husband and I needed a quick tutorial on swaddling in the hospital after having our fourth baby, even though we took an entire class on swaddling before our first child was born.
So, when I was given a chance to preview The BabyCenter 3-stage sleep solutionOpens a new window from BabyCenter Courses, I was all about it.
(I was given complimentary access to the course as part of the review-writing process, but the opinions expressed in this article are my own.)
I was especially eager to check out the lessons on encouraging your baby to fall asleep independently without any help from a parent, an area where I feel like I’ve always been sub-par. Like, my 3-year-old still insists that I sit in her room until she falls asleep and then sneaks into my room every night around 2 a.m. to sleep between my husband and me. Clearly, I went wrong somewhere along the line here, and I’d really like to get it right with my youngest.
This course is like a (much less expensive) sleep consultant
The courseOpens a new window is led by BabyCenter parent contributor Anna Jimenez Lyle and Olufunke Afolabi-Brown, M.D., a board certified pediatric pulmonary and sleep medicine physician and the founder of Restful Sleep MD. The course includes 21 video-led lessons and 2 bonus PDF lessons, and taking it is much less time-consuming than trying to hunt down a pediatric sleep consultant, waiting for your appointment (which can sometimes take months), and actually meeting with them.
The lessons, which are all less than 15 minutes long (with many much shorter than that), cover a slew of important information on sleep in the first year: your baby’s sleep habits during different age ranges, how to soothe your newborn to sleep, establishing a bedtime routine, how to teach your baby to fall asleep without any rocking, nursing, or bouncing, how to minimize night wakings, how to deal with short naps, and more.
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The lessons are broken down by stages (0-12 weeks, 3-5 months, and 6+ months) since babies develop rapidly during the first year, and their sleep habits change as they do. So, as Dr. Brown and Anna explain, the strategies that you would use to maximize sleep for a 7-week-old are totally different than the strategies you’d use for a 7-month-old.
The course also includes four optional quizzes you can take to ensure you’ve absorbed the information in the lessons you’ve viewed. Didn’t quite catch all the details on something or prefer to see it written out? There are also easy-to-digest PDFs you can download. They recap all of the key takeaways so you can review them whenever the urge strikes.
There’s even a section on how to cope when you’re at your most sleep-deprived.
How The BabyCenter 3-stage sleep solution is different than other sleep courses
I have friends who’ve taken other digital sleep courses, and after speaking with them, I can say that The BabyCenter 3-stage sleep solutionOpens a new window differs from those in a few notable ways:
- This course covers your baby’s entire first year, whereas many other sleep courses are focused on shorter age ranges. Rather than buying multiple courses, with The BabyCenter 3-stage sleep solutionOpens a new window, you can buy one course and create healthy sleep habits that will last your baby their entire childhood (and potentially beyond).
- As a pediatric sleep physician, Dr. Brown has impressive credentials. You can’t beat her pedigree and training, and she’s highly sought after as a pediatric sleep consultant.
- You get complimentary access to a private BabyCenter Community group with your purchase. You can use the group to see how sleep training is going for other parents or ask BabyCenter editors any lingering questions you might have.
- Instead of walking through a single sleep training method for babies 6 months and older, Dr. Brown offers three for you to choose from. This one is huge. Basically every other course that I’ve heard of have one method that they swear by. But as Dr. Brown explains, there’s not one approach that works for every single family. That’s why, if you choose to sleep train your baby (and Dr. Brown makes it clear that that’s not the right choice for everyone), she clearly lays out three different options and helps you choose the right one for you.
My experience using this course
Like most moms of newborns, my day-to-day is a little…hectic. Between caring for my baby, watching my three older kids, and working full time, I barely have time to pee, let alone sit and watch a ton of videos. So – I’ll be honest – I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t actually be able to set aside time to check out all of the material in The BabyCenter 3-stage sleep solutionOpens a new window.
Turns out, I didn’t need to be. Sign-up was easy, for starters. I just used my BabyCenter login to enroll in the course and then could come back whenever I had the time to watch different lessons.
I went through the lessons from beginning to end, but you can also pause or rewind them whenever you’d like and skip around to the lessons that are most relevant to you. When you get to each lesson, there are bullet points underneath each video to give you an idea of what will be covered.
What I liked about The BabyCenter 3-stage sleep solution
The soothing introductory music used for each lesson immediately made me feel relaxed. It’s also clear how long each video lesson is, so you can gauge whether you have time to check it out between feedings, or whether you should return to it later. And I so appreciated the fact that all of the lessons were short.
Anna and Dr. Brown are also pretty great – they both speak in easy-to-understand language and don’t make you feel bad if you’re having certain sleep issues or haven’t been as perfect as you could be about teaching your baby good sleep habits. I also really appreciated Dr. Brown saying that it isn’t developmentally appropriate to try to sleep train a newborn – a misconception that many people have. (Although she does get into sleep training for babies who are 6 months or older later in the course if that’s something you decide to pursue.)
She also gives advice that feels realistic throughout the courseOpens a new window. For example, Dr. Brown acknowledges that the mantra “sleep when the baby sleeps” doesn’t work for everyone, since you often need to get things done while your baby is napping. Instead, she talks through how you and a partner (if you have one) can create a shift system to maximize each of your sleep. And if you don’t have a partner, she gives tips for that, too. The overall vibe is that you’ve got this and you can get your baby’s sleep situation under control.
Throughout the course, I picked up some good tips, like exposing my baby to sunlight during the day to help get rid of her day/night confusion. I also learned some interesting facts, like that babies might frown when they’re getting tired (which is important to know because babies that are overtired will actually have trouble falling asleep).
My baby is a noisy sleeper, and it was helpful to learn that it’s a good idea to wait 60 seconds to pick her up at night if she’s grunting or making noises.
Overall, the course offers a little something for everyone. I can see expectant parents benefiting from watching the entire thing, while those who already have a baby can skip to the sections that apply to them, based on their baby’s age.
I might also print out a PDF or two for my parents, who sometimes help with my baby, to help make sure we’re all on the same page about things like safe sleep basics.
The only drawbacks
While The BabyCenter 3-stage sleep solutionOpens a new window gives you a lot of great information to check out, it can feel a little overwhelming at first when you see just how many topics are covered. If you’re already dealing with either the pressure of being a first-time parent or the time-crunched lifestyle of having a new baby, that can be daunting. My advice if you’re in this situation is to only watch the sections that are most relevant to your baby’s current age and to leave the rest of the lessons for later, when they’ll become more important. That helps the course feel much more manageable.
Another minor complaint: While I thought the section on how to swaddle a baby was interesting, I didn’t really feel like it was necessary in the age of Velcro and zip-up swaddles (although, to be fair, Dr. Brown also says it’s perfectly fine to use these).
Ultimately, I was surprised at how much I learned
Even as a four-time parent, I picked up a lot. The suggestion to count to 60 before picking up a newborn when you’re not sure if they’re legitimately crying or are just making some noise in their sleep has helped me avoid inadvertently waking my baby up. And although the idea of figuring out how to stop nursing my baby to sleep at night was a little daunting at first (it’s something I’ve done with all of my kids!), I’ve been practicing ever since watching the course. I nurse my baby, then hand her off to my husband while she’s still awake. While it was difficult to do this before my baby fell asleep at first, it’s getting easier with time. This has helped free me up to tuck in the other kids at night, and I’m hoping it builds up some good sleep habits for my youngest, too.
My baby is too young to sleep train right now, but I look forward to using more of the strategies laid out in the course as they become developmentally appropriate for her.
Overall, The BabyCenter 3-stage sleep solutionOpens a new window walked me through so many scenarios and questions that it felt like it was giving me personalized training from a pediatric sleep consultant in the easiest and least time-consuming form possible. I’ll definitely be recommending this to expectant parent friends in the future.