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Meet Mary Cantwell: Helping Families Sleep Better

Becoming a parent brings immeasurable joy. With that joy, come sleep deprivation and the challenges of getting your child on a sleep schedule. Adequate sleep for both mom and baby is vital to maintaining optimal health; physically, mentally and emotionally. Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Mary Cantwell of Rest to Your Nest, understands this all too well and believes it is her calling to help families develop and maintain healthy sleep hygiene. CEOMOM Magazine chatted with Mary to learn more about her role as a sleep consultant and to get tips on how parents can get started on the road to sufficient sleep.

Tell us about Rest to Your Nest. Give us a brief description of your products and services. 
I am a certified pediatric sleep consultant and founder of Rest To Your Nest. I work with families either in their home or remotely via phone. Prior to our consult, the parents complete an Intake Form which goes through current sleep habits, what their sleep goals are, sleep environment and what they are comfortable and not comfortable with in regards to sleep.  I work with multiple methods because every family is different and every child is different.  There is no one size fits all approach to sleep or parenting.

After our consult, I am with the family for two weeks via four scheduled phone calls and daily check in emails.  This support is essential since the child will not do everything by the book and we will need to adjust things based off how they respond.

RTYN SittingWhat does it mean to be a certified child sleep consultant? 
I received my certification from world renowned child sleep consultant, Deborah Pedrick, from The Family Sleep Institute.  I had over 250 hours of course work which is three times more than any program. I truly believe education is important to understanding the biological needs behind sleep and this program provides a comprehensive curriculum for sleep. My goal is to educate and provide families the most up to date guidance and support in our time together.

What inspired you to become a certified child sleep consultant? 
My son, who is now almost 8, is the reason I am a sleep consultant. I expected the sleeplessness in the beginning, but thought it would get better as he got older. He was about 8 months old when I hit a wall. I felt like everything I was doing to make it better was making it worse. My family and I couldn’t go on like this.  I made it my mission to figure this sleep thing out.  After a lot of trial and error, love and determination he was sleeping through the night. Once we were all getting consistent and restorative sleep, it was amazing for our family.

I personally understand how hard it is for families when they are struggling with their children’s sleep. It all started with my own personal struggle which turned into a passion for serving families. I feel this is my calling to help support families on their sleep journey.

Should parents start putting their newborn babies on a sleep schedule?
Newborn babies’ circadian rhythms aren’t mature enough to learn how to sleep.  At four months is when a child’s sleep rhythms (Circadian Rhythms) are developed enough to be able to learn sleep and connect one sleep rhythm to another. As a newborn, you can help lay a nice sleep foundation but actual sleep training should begin around 4 months old when their bodies are mature enough to be able to learn sleep.

What are some of the negative impacts of inadequate sleep for mom and baby? 
It can contribute to postpartum issues. When you are not sleeping your whole body is off.  For your child, it is vital for their physical and mental growth. Sleep allows kids to recharge their brains so good sleep hygiene is an essential part of the family’s health.

For our older children, they are exposed over the course of a day to a mix of TV, computers and phones.  These devices emit a blue light which suppresses melatonin.  I recommend families eliminate these devices at least an hour an hour before bed as part of good overall sleep hygiene.

What are your top 4 tips for moms who are working to get their children on a sleep schedule? 
Start with a sleep environment that is conducive to sleep. You will want to make the room as dark as possible and cool (68-72 degrees) which helps with the production of melatonin in the body.  A white noise machine is a must have. If your child has a night light make sure it is either orange or red which promotes melatonin. Be sure to minimize electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime.  A consistent bedtime routine for your child that helps them transition into bedtime. You will want to keep this routine to thirty minutes.

Learn more about Mary and her services at https://www.resttoyournest.com.

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