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  • Vanessa Kao

A Shelf Life of EASY Method (Sorry! Not as Long as You Think!)

Have you heard of the parenting method “Eat-Activity-Sleep-Yourself (E.A.S.Y.) cycle"? Do you know its expiration date? How can you use it effectively and skillfully? When the expiration date has passed, what new method should you develop? Let's discuss in detail!


One of the turning points that led me to becoming a sleep coach was when I decided to set aside her life after running a piano studio for 13 years, to start writing a new score for my own family. As a new but very mature mom, I may be a bit behind in physical strength, but I still has the perseverance to read more books. Amidst the hectic days when even finding time to comb my hair was a luxury, sorting through numerous pieces of information from serious sleep training books and countless research reports was no easy task.

At that time, what touched her the most was the clear and understandable “Eat-Activity-Sleep-Yourself (E.A.S.Y.)” cycle. I first saw this seemingly magical spell in 'Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with Your Baby' by Tracy Hogg. This seemingly miraculous spell instructs parents to prioritize feeding (Eat) as the first step, followed by engaging in various activities (Activity) with the baby, ensuring a satisfying sleep (Sleep), and then allowing time for themselves (Your Own Time). Following this path with just three simple words, and eventually embracing "Be Yourself," it seems that brighter days are not far off! However, how long does this delightful EASY lifestyle truly last? Reflecting on this approach after becoming a sleep consultant, I would like to offer some sincere advice to novice families.

  • The benefits of EASY - Establishing a routine

The EASY method can help parents navigate through the extremely unpredictable stages of baby sleep. Why is that? Because newborns do not yet have a stable secretion of melatonin, the hormone that helps babies fall asleep. When melatonin is not yet stable, establishing a routine can be quite challenging [1]. Therefore, by following the Eat, Play, Sleep cycle, it can indeed help babies and families establish a basic routine during this time. One of the most important aspects of this cycle is the eating part, as babies can get many opportunities for movement through sucking, their digestive system can also learn to function, and the ingredients in breast milk/formula are also sleep aids! When we use this cycle properly, we also separate the baby's eating and sleeping, which is a preparation for avoiding habitual feeding to sleep in the future. At the same time, because activities and care are interspersed between feeding and sleeping, it naturally helps to prevent conditions like gastroesophageal reflux in children.

  • The EASY cycle, roughly has a shelf life of about 4 months!

However, as babies grow older, parents will gradually find it increasingly difficult to implement such a cycle in their lives. If a baby's wake-up time during long nighttime sleep is not fixed, then parents will always be in different stages of the "Eat, Play, Sleep" cycle throughout the day. Moreover, many parents have likely made efforts to learn about "awake time" and "sleep cues," with many articles meticulously detailing how long babies of different ages should be awake. It was originally thought that applying these concepts to the EASY cycle would be unbeatable. But why does it seem like babies can never make it through their awake time? Or why, even after parents have exhausted themselves playing, does the baby refuse to sleep past their awake time? And as for your long-awaited “Me Time”, it never seems to arrive, often interrupted by the dreaded 30-minute short naps. Therefore, I sincerely advises all parents that the EASY cycle for babies has a shelf life of about 4 months!

  • The biological clock replaces EASY as the new sleep guide.

In fact, after four months, as melatonin gradually develops, a baby's long sleep and the body's circadian rhythm should slowly stabilize. At this point, it's time to introduce the "biological clock" that adapts to the healthy growth of the baby! At different stages of life, the body has different physiological clock intervals suitable for wakefulness and sleep. Think about our teenage years, when we always couldn't sleep at night and wanted to chat with friends, but always overslept in the morning. Have you ever thought that besides friends being more interesting than parents at this stage, a large part of this is actually caused by the circadian rhythm during adolescence? [2]

When a baby can healthily be exposed to enough sunlight every day, allowing the pituitary gland to develop fully, and follow the circadian rhythm according to their age, that is the key to good sleep. By syncing sleep with the biological clock, and adapting to hormone and body temperature changes, babies can more easily fall asleep within the right time frame, improving the quality and duration of sleep. When babies sleep well, it naturally helps their physical development and creates a more stable emotional state, allowing them to interact with the world more joyfully. The additional good news is that you finally know when your “Me Time” should happen! Because the biological clock's schedule, at that age, falls within that wonderful, predictable range. With the ability to manage your day, you can schedule work, organize household chores, and even plan when to relax and unwind, all while counting down in your mind!

Babies at different stages will have their most suitable biological clock intervals, allowing babies to adjust their circadian rhythms. The optimal sleep interval can make the time before sleep sweeter and less of a struggle and tears (whether it's from the baby or you!). A good sleep coach can help you craft that transitional interlude according to your child's age and considerate of the needs of family life. The beautiful symphony of life is then left to be played joyfully by parents and babies together!

[1] Crowley, S. J., Acebo, C., & Carskadon, M. A. (2007). Sleep, circadian rhythms, and delayed phase in adolescence. Sleep Medicine, 8(6), 602-612. doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2006.12.002

[2] Carskadon, M. A., & Dement, W. C. (2017). Normal human sleep: An overview. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine (Sixth Edition), 15–24.



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