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Prepping for Holiday Travel With a New Baby

Going somewhere for the holidays? Pre-baby holiday travel was probably pretty simple. You booked your flight and/or hotel, chose what outfits and toiletries to bring for yourself, and tried not to forget the presents you got for family or friends.

Travel is very different with a baby, and certainly can be more stressful. But don’t worry! We have all the info you need below to prepare for your holiday travels with a new baby.

Figure out what to pack in advance

Your little one may be…well, little, but they still need a lot of stuff! Your packing checklist will vary based on your baby’s needs and age, but feel free to use this general outline of things we find useful when traveling with a new baby. 

Clothes and diapers

  • Diapers
  • Wipes and cream/balm
  • Changing pad
  • Blankets 
  • Plastic bags
  • 1 to 2 outfits

Feeding

  • Extra bottles, sippy cups, nipples
  • Washable bibs
  • Formula, juice, or water
  • Feeding set and baby food, if appropriate
  • Breast pump, if you use one

Health and safety

  • First-aid kit
  • Emergency information card or sheet
  • Sunscreen (no matter where you’re traveling)
  • Sun hat for warm weather or knit hat for cold weather
  • Baby aspirin or pain reliever
  • Hand sanitizer or disinfectant gel

Getting around

  • Carrier, sling, or wraps
  • Car seat
  • Travel stroller
  • Portable bassinet or crib, if you’re not renting one

Extras

  • White noise machine
  • Nightlight
  • Favorite toys or blankets

If you’re traveling by plane (more on that later), it’s a good idea to have these items in a carry-on or personal items with you. If your flight is delayed or you need something one of these items right away, you won’t be able to access your checked bag. Have them nearby so you’re ready for anything. 

And, prepare to get spit-up or spilled food and drink on you. Bring an extra change of clothes for yourself, as well as snacks and drinks to avoid getting hangry.

Traveling by car

If you’re driving to your holiday destination, use our packing list above as your starting point. Take extra care that the car seat is installed properly in your car. Removable shade screens for car windows can protect your baby from the sun, too.

Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. You’ll be stopping to feed, nurse, or change diapers often, so you need to build some cushion into your schedule. On that note, you may want to plan a route with lots of safe rest stops, or attractions and restaurants you want to see along the way. It’ll be much more pleasant than having to stop at a gas station or truck stop.

Traveling by plane

Traveling with a new baby on a plane can feel like a new parent’s worst nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some quick tips when flying with your little one:

Fly nonstop, or choose flights with a long layover. The fewer connecting flights, the better. The fluctuations in air pressure from taking off and landing can cause pain to your baby’s ears. The less they experience that, the better. If you aren’t able to get a nonstop flight, choose one with a layover a few hours long so everyone can have a break.

Nurse or snack during takeoff and landing. To prevent that ear pain we just talked about, try nursing or feeding your baby during takeoff and landing. Swallowing can help clear the pressure from their ears. Sucking on a pacifier can help, too. If your little one seems to be in a lot of pain, consider giving them a dose of baby aspirin or pain reliever.

Pre-board if you can. Airline policies differ, but many offer pre-boarding or family boarding options. You might be able to stow your strollers and carseats early or board before other passengers. Check the airline policy ahead of time.

Yes, you’ll be nervous, and yes, things may go wrong. Your baby may cry and fuss on the plane. Prepare as best you can, and then roll with the punches. You may get dirty looks from other passengers if your baby screams mid-flight, but don’t sweat: they’ll get over it. 

Enjoy your time with family

Whether you’re taking a vacation or visiting family and friends for the holidays, remember to slow down, breathe, and enjoy that time with loved ones. That’s why you’re traveling! Once you get to your destination, don’t be afraid to give yourself time to take a nap and recharge before the holiday festivities begin.

Asking for help as a parent takes strength. If you and your family are having trouble sleeping, Sleep by Rachelle can help. Learn more about Sleep by Rachelle’s gentle sleep training method on our website.

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Daylight Saving Time: How to Get Baby Back on Schedule

You’ve finally gotten your little one used to some kind of sleep schedule. Yay!

And then, it happens: Daylight Saving Time ends or begins. (And yes, it’s “Saving” and not “Savings.” Who knew?) With that spring forward or fall back one hour, your baby’s sleep routine is thrown off. And that means yours is affected, too.

Don’t worry, mama. If you’re not living in one of the few states who don’t observe Daylight Saving Time, there are ways to get your baby’s internal clock back on schedule.

Spring forward: Daylight Saving Time begins

When the clocks spring forward for the beginning of Daylight Saving Time, you and your baby lose one precious hour of sleep. To prep your baby for the time change, try moving bedtime 10 to 15 minutes earlier each night for about 4 to 5 days. 

So if you typically put your baby to bed around 8 pm, put her to bed at 7:45 pm the week before Daylight Saving begins. The next night, bedtime is 7:30 pm, and so on and so on. Your goal is to get bedtime as close to 7 pm as possible to make Daylight Saving less of a shock. If an earlier bedtime doesn’t seem to work, you can try moving wake up time earlier instead.

Fall back: Daylight Saving Time ends

In the fall, usually around early November, the clocks fall back one hour, meaning we get to enjoy a few more moments snuggling in bed. Sounds nice, right? It also means that your little one will probably wake up one hour earlier, too. 

To get back on schedule, use the same approach that you used in spring, but reversed. About 4 to 5 days before Daylight Saving ends, push bedtime about 10 to 15 minutes later each night. If Baby goes to bed around 8 pm, set his bedtime at 8:15 the week before Daylight Saving ends. The next night, bedtime is at 8:30 pm. Before you know it, your kiddo will be used to falling asleep later. 

Stick to a bedtime routine

If all else fails, take a deep breath and relax. You’ll get back to your usual routine eventually. It helps to stick to a consistent bedtime routine: a bath, bedtime stories, feeding, and rocking help your baby prepare for sleep.

Making your baby’s room as sleep friendly as possible can also make a big difference. That means dimming the lights, using a noise machine, and putting up blackout curtains if needed at bedtime. In the morning, expose your baby to natural light by going for a walk, opening up your blinds, or having breakfast outside. 

It takes time for everyone to adjust to Daylight Saving. You might feel cranky or sluggish when the clock springs forward or falls back, so remember to give your little one (and yourself) a break if the routine doesn’t work. In time, you’ll adjust naturally.

Need more sleep tips? Sleep by Rachelle is a full-service sleep program tailored to the unique needs of each baby. Learn more about the Sleep by Rachelle method on our website!

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Keep the Kids (and Yourself) Safe This Flu Season

October is a wonderful time of the year, especially for families with kids: cooler temperatures, pretty fall foliage, and of course, Halloween! However, parents also know that October is also usually the beginning of flu season. The flu virus starts making its way around in October and typically peaks during December through February, according to the CDC. When the flu season hits and your child or spouse gets sick, it can make the autumn season as well as the holiday season a lot less fun.

Why are fall and winter considered “flu season?”

Why does the flu seem more common in the winter? Many people think that it spreads more quickly when people are packed together indoors due to the cold. Think of people taking public transit or flying on planes for the holidays. Lots of kids share one classroom and spend most of the day together, and it only takes one of them to be sick for the virus to spread. 

Another common theory is a weaker immune system. Days are shorter during the winter and people are outside less often. Because of this, people make less vitamin D, or melatonin. A slower immune response means you’ll get sick more easily, right? 

However, lack of vitamin D and people crowding together aren’t the problem: it’s the virus itself. The influenza virus is more stable and long-lasting when the air is cold and dry. Flu viruses spread through the air, compared to the common cold, which is spread by direct contact. And when the air has low humidity and low temps, that means the virus particles stick around longer, making it easier to catch the flu. 

Luckily, there are ways you can protect yourself and your kiddos during the flu season.

Protecting yourself and your kids against the flu

Kids younger than 5 years of age, and especially toddlers and babies younger than 2 years old, have a higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu. Pneumonia, dehydration, ear infections, sinus problems, and even life-threatening illnesses can arise from the flu.

Flu vaccine

A yearly flu vaccine can protect kids against the flu, reducing the risk of flu itself as well as flu-related complications. Children 6 months older, parents, family members, and caregivers can help prevent the spread of flu by getting vaccinated.

Everyday actions

Staying aware from others who are sick and avoiding contact when you’re sick can help prevent the spread of flu. Remember to wash hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing. Use the crook of your elbow to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, to lessen the amount of germs released into the air. Even though the flu spreads through the air, other germs like the common cold spread through touch: try not to touch your face, especially your mouth, nose, and eyes.

What to do if you get the flu

Symptoms

People who get the flu sometimes feel some or all of these symptoms, which show up abruptly:

  • Fever
  • Chills or feverish feeling
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Body aches or muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (common in children)

Be aware

If your child develops these flu symptoms, talk to your doctor. It’s especially important to call your doctor if they’re having trouble breathing, experiencing chest pain, have a fever, or are less responsive than normal. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral medicine depending on the age and overall health of your child. 

Recovery

Most people recover from the flu in a few days to less than a couple weeks. Antiviral drugs can prevent serious flu-related complications, and can also shorten recovery periods. 

If you or your child gets the flu, be sure to get plenty of bed rest and drink lots of fluid. Water, fruit juice, hot tea with honey, and warm soup can help you feel better and also prevent dehydration. Breathing moist air from steamy baths or a humidifier can soothe the throat and help with congestion. Remember to stay home and away from others to stop the flu from spreading as much as possible.

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Health and Fitness Tips During Pregnancy

Keeping healthy and fit during pregnancy is important for both mama and child. Safe, moderate exercise and a mindful, fulfilling diet might reduce the risk of excess weight gain, prevent pain, improve mood and energy, and help you get better sleep. 

Remember to discuss the best exercise and diet plan with your healthcare provider if you’re not sure about your options! Then, check out our health and fitness tips for pregnancy below.

Get moving every day

Regular, low-impact exercise can help minimize discomfort you’re feeling while pregnant. Some exercises can even help your body get ready for labor and delivery by toning the muscles and building strength or endurance. And regular exercise can help you control your weight, boost your mood, and regulate blood pressure.

If you had low levels of activity pre-pregnancy, taking brisk walks around your neighborhood is a good place to start. Commit to walking for just 15 to 20 minutes if you feel too tired; you may find that you can walk for a longer period once you get moving. Once you start, your energy will pick up.

Most exercises, including those you did prior to pregnancy, are usually safe to continue: swimming, jogging, yoga, barre, and cycling, for example. Avoid workouts with a high risk of falling, getting injured with heavy objects or workouts that are done while lying flat on your back, which can be tricky in your third trimester. Always warm up and stretch before your workout, and cool down and stretch after your workout. 

Eat before and after your workouts

You may already know that working out on an empty stomach isn’t the best practice, but you can push through it normally. When you’re pregnant, however, you really need that pre-workout fuel that comes from food. A quick snack will carry you and baby through your workout, and it’ll prevent your blood sugar levels from crashing.

Pre-workout, have a healthy meal like oats with dried fruit, a veggie omelet, greek yogurt topped with dried nuts, or grilled chicken and sweet potato or greens. Eat at least an hour or two before you exercise so you’ll have enough time to digest. If you can’t sneak in a full meal beforehand, grab something quick and filling like a banana or healthy trail mix at least 45 minutes before.

Post-workout, have a snack with protein and good carbs to help your muscles recover. Try a quinoa or pasta bowl with green vegetables, rice cakes, fresh fruit with cottage cheese, or pita bread and hummus.

Stay hydrated 

Water helps form the placenta and amniotic sac. Plus, the placenta is what delivers oxygen and nutrients to your baby, and what carries waste and carbon dioxide away. Your blood volume increases to handle these extra duties, which means you need to drink more water to support everything your body is doing. 

Drink plenty of water every day. Drink enough water each time to make you feel sated and prevent feelings of thirst. It’s especially important that you stay hydrated after exercising, or if you’re in hot and humid climates. Fill up a reusable water bottle and bring it with you everywhere to remind you to stay hydrated.

Quick tips

Now that we’ve covered the big health and fitness tips, don’t forget about the following:

  • Take a prenatal vitamin
  • Practice Kegel exercises and squats
  • Avoid strenuous or risky household chores that put you in contact with harsh chemicals or bacteria
  • Wear supportive, comfortable shoes, especially during exercise
  • Limit your caffeine intake
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Know what’s your “normal” and when to call your doctor with questions

Give yourself a break

It’s important to stay healthy and fit while pregnant, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow a diet and exercise regimen perfectly! Let yourself take a break when your body asks for it. Rest and put up your feet (which is a great way to reduce swelling and foot pain as your body changes.) Take a nap. Sleep as much as you can before your little one arrives. Sometimes giving yourself a break is the healthiest thing you can do for your mental and physical health.

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Postpartum Care Kit Essentials

It’s easy to focus on what you need to pack in your hospital bag before you give birth. But we’re here to remind you of something else that’s just as important: a postpartum care kit for yourself! We recommend getting together some items for your postpartum period before you go into labor. That way you can rest and heal at home, without having to rush and buy supplies (or send your partner to do it.) Check out our list of postpartum care kit essentials below.

Maternity pads

Your hospital will probably give you some maternity pads to take with you when you leave, but it’s best to make sure you’re stocked up at home, too. Women typically bleed heavily for up to 10 days after delivery. Then, lighter bleeding and spotting can continue up to 6 weeks after delivery, though it varies for every person. Whether you had a vaginal birth or C-section, your body is getting rid of all the extra tissue and blood your baby needed while you were pregnant, so be prepared with maternity pads or overnight pads.

Comfortable, oversized underwear

After giving birth, you’ll want underwear that’ll provide a lot more coverage and comfort. Your hospital may give you mesh panties, which help hold in maternity pads and prevent leaks. They also don’t have an elastic waist that might cause discomfort on your midsection. Grab these mesh panties before you leave the hospital, or stock up on some of your own ahead of time.

Pain relievers

The not-so-glamorous side of having a baby? The pain and changes your body experiences. It’s completely normal, but it can be stressful and uncomfortable. You might experience swelling, irritation, cramps in your uterus (which will help it shrink back down) and aching muscles. Trust us: have some pain relievers on hand at home, whether it’s Tylenol, Advil, or a soothing spray.  

Stool softeners 

Speaking of postpartum aches and pains, your first bowel movement after giving birth will likely hurt. Plus, you may have hemorrhoids from pregnancy or from pushing during labor. A stool softener can make your bowel movements more manageable. Also, be sure to drink lots of water and eat foods rich in fiber, both of which can also help you avoid straining when you go.

Peri bottle

Wiping yourself after using the bathroom can be very uncomfortable postpartum. Pick up a peri bottle to clean off every time you relieve yourself. You’ll avoid pain and prevent infection by using a peri bottle.

Cooling pads or cold packs

Pain relievers can help ease some discomfort from swelling and hemorrhoids, but cooling pads, aka cold packs, can also work wonders. You can buy them online, in stores, or see if your hospital has some that you can take home. Or, you can make your own DIY padsicles, as they’re often called. To make your own, you’ll add aloe vera gel and witch hazel to a maxi pad, then stick them in your freezer. They’re there when you need soothing, cold relief after giving birth.

Breastfeeding essentials

Breastfeeding pillow

If you’re breastfeeding baby, a nursing pillow and positioner can help you maneuver her into the right position for feeding. It’ll also keep pressure off your tender belly. 

Nipple cream 

Your nipples may become dry and cracked when you start breastfeeding, especially if you’re learning how to do it for the first time. Nipple cream can help you find some relief.

Nursing pads

To protect your clothing from excess milk and stains, make sure you have some nursing pads on hand. You can buy disposable, reusable, or silicone nursing pads.

Nursing bra

Finally, you’ll want a comfortable bra that will also give you some support and hold in your nursing pads. We recommend having a few nursing bras handy. Get more than one so you can rotate wearing them.

Belly wrap

A belly wrap, also called a belly binder, can decrease pain and discomfort after you give birth. It can also add some stability and support to your belly while you go about your daily routine. Plus, it may help your posture, and guide your abdomen back into its pre-pregnancy form.

Extra touches

Once you have the essentials stocked, add some of these items to your kit for some extra touches of self-care. 

  • Healthy snacks like trail mix, fruit, nuts, protein bars, and granola bars
  • Meals ready ahead of time, so you don’t have to worry about cooking
  • Books on recovery that can guide you through the process
  • Comfy clothes and/or robe

Finally, remember to stay hydrated, eat well, and sleep when you can. Be patient with your body and let it heal. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner or family members for help sneaking in a little alone time, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Take care of yourself, mama!

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Checklist: What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag

Are you an expecting mama whose due date is quickly approaching? You may be one of the many expecting moms out there: August and September are the most popular birth months in the United States! Your little one will be here before you know it, and it may feel like you have a lot left on your to-do list. We’re here to remind you about an important thing you shouldn’t forget in your third trimester: getting your hospital bag ready. If you’re not sure where to start or what essentials you need to include, our hospital bag checklist can help.

What to pack for yourself

This mini checklist is for Mom. If you’d rather split these items into two bags, we suggest using one hospital bag for labor and another hospital bag for recovery/postpartum.

Labor bag items

  • Photo ID, insurance information, hospital paperwork, and birth plan, if you have one. Copies of your birth plan come in handy in case the medical team needs to refer to it.
  • A robe and socks, for walking around during or after labor
  • Toiletries
    • Toothbrush and toothpaste
    • Deodorant
    • Lip balm
    • Hairbrush and hair ties
    • Regular or dry shampoo
    • Cleansing wipes
    • Body lotion
  • Eyeglasses if you wear them. If you wear contacts, bring a case and contact solution so you can remove them if necessary.
  • Your phone and phone charger
  • Snacks, drinks, or change for vending machines
  • Entertainment to help you relax. Books, a tablet, or an MP3 player can help you pass the time.
  • Extra comfort items like a favorite pillow, slippers, or a sleep mask

Recovery bag items

After the delivery, you’ll need the following items:

  • A going home outfit. You’ll need loose, comfy clothes in 6-month maternity sizes since your uterus needs time to heal and get back to its pre-pregnancy size.
  • Maternity bra and nursing pads. Even if you don’t plan to nurse, they can help with support and leak protection
  • A few pairs of comfortable, breathable underwear

You may not need these items, but they can be nice to have:

  • Nursing pillow
  • Breast pump
  • Nipple shields and nipple cream
  • Bath towel

What to pack for your partner

Since your birth partner will spend a lot of time with you in the maternity ward, don’t forget to pack some essentials for them, too.

  • Phone and charger
  • An extra change of clothes
  • Toiletries
    • Toothbrush and toothpaste
    • Deodorant
    • Lip balm
    • Hairbrush and accessories
    • Regular or dry shampoo
    • Contact lens case and solution
  • Pillow in case they need to spend the night
  • Snacks, drinks, or change for the vending machines
  • Entertainment like books, magazines, computer, tablet, or music player
  • Camera, memory card, charger, and batteries. If you’re using a camera rather than a phone to take photos, make sure you bring it and all the accessories you need.
  • List of people to text or call once Mom is in labor!

What to pack for baby

Hospitals will provide you with onesies and a baby blanket or two for swaddling your newborn. Plus, they’ll give you diapers, wipes, and other care items you’ll need, so leave a little room in your bags to take everything home.

  • Approved infant car seat. You’ll need one before leaving the hospital, so make sure the base is installed in your car safely.
  • A coming-home outfit. Remember to make it seasonally appropriate, and bring a few different sizes just in case.
  • Warm blankets for the ride home
  • Your pediatrician’s contact info

Final thoughts

Keep your length of stay in mind when you’re packing your hospital bag. You might also ask your hospital what they provide for mothers so you can remove those items from your list. Some common items they provide for moms include maternity pads, disposable underwear, hospital gowns, and non-skid socks. 

Once your bag is packed, you’re all set! Keep your hospital bag in your car or near the front door, and you’ll be more than ready for your new baby’s arrival.

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What Does a Sleep Coach Do?

For new parents, settling your baby into a decent sleep schedule can be exhausting. And if you turn to friends, parent groups, baby books, or your pediatrician for advice, it may seem like they all have something different to say. What can you do?

If you’re considering hiring a sleep specialist to help you and your baby, but you’re not sure what you’re actually hiring them to do, read on.

What is a sleep coach?

A baby sleep coach may have other names: sleep specialist, sleep consultant, or sleep training expert. Whatever their title may be, a sleep specialist typically works with families to help their baby fall asleep and stay asleep. The sleep training method may vary depending on the sleep specialist. Some will examine your baby’s sleep habits and health history. Others will analyze your baby’s feeding schedule and nutrition. A sleep coach’s methods may depend on their past experience with other clients, their own children, or their education and training.

To get the best help for you and your baby, you want a sleep specialist who has a lot of experience working with many families, not just someone who has worked with her own family or a handful of others. Each baby is different, which is why experience is so important!

What is working with a sleep coach like?

Every sleep coach is different, especially since there are many different methods of sleep training out there. When you first contact a baby sleep consultant, in some cases they may ask you to do a sleep study with your baby in a pediatric sleep office, which may rule out sleep disorders. However, most baby sleep consultants will work with you in your home where the family is most comfortable.

Many sleep coaches will ask you to answer questions about your baby and family before visiting your home. Then, they’ll create a feeding and sleep schedule for you to implement. With Sleep by Rachelle, your baby’s sleep cycles are used to create a customized sleep program. Rachelle also looks at your baby’s digestive system and nervous system in order to create a comprehensive sleep plan, which not all sleep coaches do. She also takes your family’s individual needs and habits into account. Most importantly, Rachelle knows that it’s not easy listening to your baby cry: Sleep by Rachelle’s sleep training method is gentle for both baby and parents. Giving a voice to your baby to help clear up the confusion around night wakes.

Interested? Schedule a complimentary sleep assessment.

How do I know it’s time to hire a sleep coach?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already considering hiring one. Some other signs you’re ready for a sleep coach include:

  • You and your partner have experienced so many sleepless nights that it’s affecting your daytime routine. You feel like a zombie.
  • Your baby is at least 4 months old and doesn’t show any signs of a health condition related to sleeping (that you should bring up with your pediatrician.)
  • You’ve tried working through your baby’s sleep struggles, but you can’t seem to get past it.
  • You’re overwhelmed by all the conflicting opinions about sleep training methods.
  • You’re not sure how your baby’s feeding habits are affecting their sleep schedule.
  • You’ve tried one sleep training method before, but you didn’t like it.
  • You’re ready to try one approach and stick with it, but you’re not sure which to choose.

Do some of these signs sound familiar? If so, you’re ready for an experienced sleep coach to help ease your stress. Get in touch with Sleep by Rachelle to learn more about your customized sleep program. We’re here for you.

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Introducing Sleep by Rachelle

Hi parents and families! We’re so excited to introduce you to Sleep by Rachelle!

I’m Rachelle: infant sleep and development expert, author of Creating Sweet Dreams, mother of four, and founder of Maternal Instincts and Sleep by Rachelle. Sleep by Rachelle is a customizable sleep training program that works toward pinpointing and reversing what keeps your baby (and you) awake at night.

rachelle-gershkovich-sleep-expert

Why work with me?

I have 17 years of experience working with families in their homes. That’s what sets Sleep by Rachelle apart from other sleep training programs. Frustrated parents looking for help can rest more easily when they know they’re working with a trained, experienced sleep expert rather than someone relying just on her own experience. By working with families and babies of all kinds I’ve learned techniques and approaches that you can’t get from working with one family alone. Being a mother of four has taught me a lot, but having the opportunity to work with other parents and their babies has been invaluable.

In addition to my years of experience, I have a degree in Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition Services from Metropolitan State University of Denver. Food and digestion plays an important part in your baby’s sleep schedule, so every customized Sleep by Rachelle plan takes your baby’s nutrition into account too.  

Parents, you might think this period of sleepless nights with your fussy baby is just a phase that you “get through.” I understand that point of view. However, treating it like a phase means neither you, your spouse, your baby, nor your other family members are getting the rest they need. You CAN work through it now so your family can find peaceful sleep.
Learn more about the Sleep by Rachelle program or reach out with your questions during a complimentary sleep assessment. We’re ready to help.

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