For overtired parents who struggle to get their kids on a healthy sleep schedule, the promise of a magic pill can be really enticing.
Lately, I am seeing that more and more doctors and parents are turning to melatonin as a Band-Aid for sleep issues with their children. I get emails and messages frequently from people telling me they are giving their little ones melatonin to help them fall asleep at night, and I have serious concerns about this.
To be blunt: Melatonin is NOT a long-term solution for poor sleep habits. Healthy sleep habits need to be learned at a young age in order to set kids up for a lifetime of healthy sleep habits and practices.
Here are the Facts, backed by science
While some studies have shown that melatonin can be helpful in some ways: dealing with jet lag, navigating Daylight Savings Time (If your area does this), assist children on the spectrum or children diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), the truth is that most babies and children do not need melatonin; they need to be taught good, independent sleep skills.
Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted by your pineal gland, housed in the brain and is present in every person’s body. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “no other hormone is available in the United States without a prescription. Because melatonin is contained naturally in some foods, the U.S. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 allows it to be sold as a dietary supplement. These do not need to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or controlled in the same way as drugs.”
Dr. Johnson-Arbor, a Hartford Hospital toxicologist, says, “It’s (melatonin) possibly thought to affect growth, and to affect sexual development and puberty.” Other side-effects can include headaches, drowsiness and stomach pains.
According to the National Institutes of Health, “Melatonin should not be used in most children. It is possibly unsafe. Because of its effects on other hormones, melatonin might interfere with development.”
Sleep can be Taught!
There’s no need to put your kids at risk just to get them down for the night. The reality of the situation is that children need to be taught to how to sleep properly — and being their child’s first educator, parents are the perfect candidate for the job.
The job of teaching your little one how to fall asleep independently and manage their own nightwakings well, along with taking solid naps can feel really daunting and riddled with potential failure. If this is you, sign up for a time to speak with me – I can help make this process successful and support you the entire time.
Today I received this question from a mom and she's wondering, "How do I tell if my baby is ready to move to one nap a day?" With this question, the first thing to share is what age does this tends to occur. I find that a good range for the average age for this, is in between the 13th and 15th month.
I say that, but I have seen babies go as early as nine months, and I've also seen babies hang on to two naps a day, until well into the 17th or 18th month. But if you are looking for an average, 13 - 15 months is what I’d tell you. I'm going to share with you three signs to watch for.
What to Look For
What’s pretty common is that your baby will happily continue to take their morning nap. 9 times out 10, there is nothing wrong with morning nap. In fact, most people find that it gets even longer than it's ever been.
But the trouble arrives when you put them down for that afternoon nap, and they just won't take it. Either they play all the way through it or they alternate between playing and some crying or she just flat out starts to cry from out of nowhere. Those behaviors will be the three things that you'll start to see to indicate that a nap transition is on the way.
Now, what makes all of this tricky is that those signs won't show up every single day. You'll find that you'll have three or four times in a row where they don’t take their afternoon nap, and you'll find yourself thinking, "OK, it must be time to drop that nap," and then for three days in a row, they take both naps beautifully. That can really make parents scratch their heads.
Rule of Thumb for the Transition
A good rule of thumb around that is if you notice this happening, at least five days a week for at least two weeks, then that is a good sign that it's probably time to make the transition happen. Part of why I suggest waiting at least two weeks to see this behavior more consistently is because it could be related to a developmental milestone, if they’re learning a new skill, it can throw the naps off for a week or two.
If you’re at a point where four or five times a week, for at least two to three weeks of length, that you’ve been seeing those signs at naptime, then you can go ahead and make the switch. When you do this, keep this next very important tip in mind: You can't just jump from a 10 o'clock nap to, all over sudden, a one o'clock nap.
That would be really hard on their body clock and they will get so overtired that by the time you try for that nap, it's going to be nearly guaranteed a disaster. My advice is that you slowly start to move morning nap later, no more than 30 minutes every three days.
If it's 10 o'clock, you move it to 10:30 for three days, then you move it to 11:00 for three days, 11:30 and so on, until it hits about 12:30.
I find 12:30 is the perfect time for a one nap day. They can have their lunch and go straight into their nap. And parents get to enjoy a lovely break to start their afternoon!
As always, I’m here to help if you need more support and guidance. Good luck!
Over the years of working with families who’ve struggled with their baby’s sleep, I’ve gotten used to the questions asking me what the “secret” is to getting a baby to sleep through the night.
Of course, there is no ONE secret. Teaching a child healthy, independent sleep habits is a result of a combination of lots of different things. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some quick tips, either!
With that in mind, today I’d like to share with you 7 different tips you can start trying over the next few nights to get your little one sleeping better.
Sleep Tip #1: Watch the waking hours
One of the BIGGEST enemies of sleep – especially for babies and toddlers – is overtiredness… and it can be really surprising to learn just how soon children get overtired!
Here’s a quick breakdown to how long your child should be awake between naps during the day:
Newborns (0-12 weeks): 45 minutes of awake time
3-5 months: 1.5-2 hours of awake time
6-8 months: 2-3 hours of awake time
9-12 months: 3-4 hours of awake time
13 months to 2.5 years: 5-6 hours of awake time
If you make sure that your child is put down for naps BEFORE they get overtired, you’ll find that they fall asleep more easily at naptime… AND this helps them to be more relaxed at bedtime, too!
Sleep Tip #2: Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark
Humans (babies and toddlers included), as a general rule, sleep better in the dark.
Try making your child’s room as dark as possible. (I recommend using blackout blinds, taping garbage bags over the windows, or whatever it takes!) In many cases, even the muted glow from a nightlight or a digital alarm clock can be enough to disrupt your child’s sleep cycle!
BONUS TIP: Try to keep your child’s room as dark as possible during daytime naps, too. This can often make a BIG difference in how long your child will nap during the day!
Sleep Tip #3: Be Predictable (And A Little Boring)
Babies and toddlers excel with predictable routines. Predictable bedtime routines (lasting no longer than 30 minutes) are a great way to let your child know when the time for sleep is coming.
A typical bedtime routine could look something like this:
After your bedtime routine is complete, be boring, and well, predictable. It is common for children to try dragging out bedtime by playing games, throwing toys out of the crib, standing up, etc. Don’t fall for it!
If your child has thrown their blanket or favorite stuffed toy out of the crib, calmly return the item without saying a word. Be boring, and the games shouldn’t last too long!
Sleep Tip #4: Feed AFTER Naps, Not Before
For a lot of babies and toddlers, the single biggest reason they don’t sleep well has to do with a feeding-sleep association. I’ve talked about this before in other blog posts here and here.
In other words, your child has made the connection that feeding makes it a whole lot to get to sleeping. They think that they need a bottle or nursing BEFORE they can fall asleep.
Avoid feeding them before the nap and wait until after they’ve woken up to offer the feed. By doing this, you can help your child break this feeding-sleep association.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This strategy should only be used before naps, not before putting your child to bed for the night. (A full tummy is needed to make sure your child doesn’t wake up hungry during the night!)
Sleep Tip #5: Same Place, Same Time
Remembering that our children love predictability, it’s a good idea to have your child sleep in the same place – around the same time – every day.
This means that naptime should happen in the same place as nighttime sleep – and avoid relying on naps to occur in the carseat, strollers, or in your arms at the coffee shop, etc.
For many parents, simply keeping the space where their child naps during the day consistent causes a big improvement in the length and quality of nighttime sleep.
BONUS TIP: When you are putting your child to sleep for the night, it’s a good idea to make sure that they fall asleep where you want them to stay asleep. In a nutshell, if your child falls asleep in your arms on the couch and then wakes up during the night in a completely different place (like their crib), chances are they’ll be a bit disorientated… and start crying to let you know about it!
Sleep Tip #6: Try The “1, 2, 3” Count
When your child wakes up during the night – or during a nap – and starts crying or fussing, try to wait a specific length of time before going in to check on them.
The first day you try this, I recommend waiting exactly one minute before going in to check on your child. On the second day, wait two minutes. Three minutes on the third day, and so on.
Well, children will wake up briefly at the end of each 45-minute “sleep cycle.” For those with independent sleep skills, these wake ups are so brief that they don’t even remember it in the morning. But children who haven’t learned to fall asleep independently need a little longer.
This “1, 2, 3” Count gives your child the opportunity to get themselves back to sleep – without your help. And once your child has learned this skill, you’re home free!
Sleep Tip #7: Take Five
Before you put your child to bed (for naps or at nighttime), make sure the five-minute period before they are put to bed is very calm and relaxing.
This would mean no throwing your toddler in the air… or watching a show on the iPad or tickle fights… in the five minutes immediately before bed.
DISCLAIMER: I fully endorse tickle fights and any other kinds of rowdy fun you can think of with your children. It’s fun for the whole family! Just NOT in the five minutes before bed. (Right after waking up is a great time to play!)
Like I said, these are tips – quick tricks that, for some parents, are the missing piece of the puzzle that gets their child sleeping through the night.
And while I hope that you’ll be one of the lucky parents who’s able to solve their children’s sleep problems using one of these tricks, I’m also here for you if you need a little more guidance.
Here’s an old wives’ tale that I hear from time to time: “Putting cereal in the baby’s bottle will help them sleep better.” This one has been around for years and you’ve probably had your grandmother or other family members telling you some variation of this. The truth is, as easy as it sounds, that is not true.
As we’ve been learning of more evidence that suggests starting solids too early can lead to some allergies in the future, you do want to be very careful and cautious about when you introduce solids to your baby. The rule of thumb around solids is that you’re good to start introducing it in between the fifth and sixth month, but generally not before. However, it can be really tempting when you’ve got a three or four-month-old baby who is up every hour, hour and a half throughout the night, and think, “Could this really work?”
How Do I Know If They Really Need the Feed?
When running through countless of ideas and wondering, “Is there anything I can do to help this baby sleep well?” The answer is yes, and usually the answer isn’t food. Unless, you’ve got a baby who’s been struggling with weight and has any kind of health issues. In this case, food could definitely be the answer and in this case, you should be working closely with your child’s doctor and have a plan in place to encourage weight gain . In this case, they’re waking through the night and look for food, because they truly need it.
For any healthy baby who’s gained weight well, food is not the problem. You need to look at how does this baby falls asleep initially. Most of the time it’s they’re rocked to sleep, or they’re fed to sleep. Perhaps, they’re bounced to sleep or fell asleep with the pacifier held in their mouth. What they have done then is associated the feeding, and the bouncing, and the rocking with sleep.
Wakings Are Normal
Therefore, at some point in the night, they’re going to have a wake-up. That is normal and natural. There’s no way around that. In reality, everybody has wake-ups through the night. However, if they’re used to being fed, bounced, rocked, helped to sleep at bed time, then they’re going to wake through the night looking for that help again.
It’s been my experience that feedings are hands down the number one reason why baby’s waking through the night because of the association between the feeding and the sleep, not the food. That gets confusing. I get it.
You think your baby’s waking up from hunger, but at the heart of the situation, it’s the strategy that that baby’s using to get themselves to sleep every night. It just ends up being a bonus that food comes along with the feed, and I’m sure they appreciate it, but it’s more the actual act of eating/suckling that is what helps them get back to sleep.
Don't Plan A Trip to the Store Yet!
Before you pull up Instacart, or set up a Target Drive Up & Order Pickup to buy yourself some cereal and give that a try, take a hard look at what is happening when your baby falls asleep at night? In many cases, this is the first place you need to start to teach them to sleep well and through the night.
If you’re at a loss for how to move feeds away from bedtime and naps and you need help figuring out a plan – reach out to set up a time for us to talk about how I can help, and get those restful, feed-free nights back into your home in no time!
I had a conversation with a mom this week with a pretty important question in the world of raising twins and multiples and I wanted to share a bit about what we talked about. This was her question:
“I have twin girls who share a room but sleep in their own cribs. They are six months old and they seem to take turns on who will wake up two to four times on a given night. I just do not know what to do. I feel like I cannot let them cry because one is going to wake up the other one which will make everything so much harder.”
This is a reality for many people who have multiples, or even siblings that share a room. As it is, I have also gotten this question for siblings that are in nearby separate rooms. The predominant concern is that if you let one baby cry, then the other one is going to wake up and then you’re left with a situation where everyone is awake. It can be a painful solution to recognize that is that while it may might happen to where everyone is awake in the middle of the night, it also might be what needs to happen in order to get both babies sleeping right through the night.
First Things First
But first you want to back up and have a look at how the kids go to sleep at bedtime. You want to make sure that you have a bedtime routine in place and that however your routine looks, it should be done in the same order every night and sleeping should not have started anywhere in the routine.
While it is tempting, you never want to nurse or rock the babies to sleep; the routine at bedtime should just be steps that lead up to going to bed. Once they are in their cribs, then their process for falling asleep takes place. If you have them both in the same room, you could do a bedtime strategy modeled off the approach of staying in the room for twins where you are present and you are being supportive; including you saying some key phrases and doing a little bit of comforting with touch to allow them to figure out their way to get themselves to sleep on their own. Once they have mastered those skills at bedtime, those skills will start transferring to the rest of the night, making those night wakings occur less and less often, giving everyone a good night's rest.
It Can Be Done!
By no means is there a super quick and easy solution for them to figure out what these sleep skills are and which way suits their process the best. However, for them to learn what works best for them, you have to give them opportunities to try. Do your best to remain supportive without interfering with the learning of sleep strategies. You do not want to find yourself taking over every time one starts crying for fear that their noises is going to wake up the other because then you are just sort of reinforcing this idea that the baby needs you to do something in order for them to go back to sleep. It is challenging with two children but the good news is that by six months of age, babies do have the capability to sleep through the night when all of their needs have been met and they have their independent sleep skills mastered.
If You Need Help, Don't Be Afraid to Ask For It
Knowing that babies can be successful while sharing a room with each other and learn to adapt to each other’s noises, it’s a great opportunity to capitalize on what we know is possible and put the babies on track to being independent, great sleepers. It is not always easy to move forward if you aren’t confident in your ideas to make it happen and sometimes you may need the extra support and guidance that comes along with a plan followed by support. If you find yourself feeling the same way the mom in this situation felt, feel free to sign up for a call to learn more about how I can help and how having someone in your corner can make the next step feel much easier.
Today I want to talk a little bit about playing in the crib. If you have been around the block when it comes to sleep training your baby, this might sound like something you’ve experienced. If you’re just starting out, or are looking for ideas on where to begin, this might sound like the craziest thing ever. If you’ve got a child who’s not sleeping well, the idea that they might be playing in their crib is probably a bit of a foreign concept, but it happens. If you’ve got a child who can sleep well, can sleep independently, adore their sleep space and loves to go in when it’s sleep time, you will find that there will be periods in your child’s life where they’re having a party in that crib all by themselves.
I can remember going through it with all of my littles, specifically, around nap time. I’d put them down for their nap, they’d have a party in there, for an hour or more, before they finally would fall asleep. When my families go through something like this with their baby, it’s not uncommon for these questions to come up: “What should I do? They’re in there playing and they’re supposed to be asleep. How should I respond? Should I go in to stop them? Shouldn’t I?”
Don't Stress Too Much!
My advice is to definitely not spend much time stressing about it or to devote a lot of energy to intervening. It’s often tied to a developmental phase that your child’s going through. This behavior can be especially common around the time your child turns eighteen months to two years of age. It has a lot to do with the language acquisition that they go through at that age; they’re learning so much at such a rapid pace, they need time to process these changes.
They often do it by babbling, singing, or talking, and that’s part of the process of just organizing all this new information. This is extremely normal in child development. If your child’s in there most, if not all of naptime, shouting, singing, and having a blast, yes, this does mean that they didn’t sleep. A good perspective to have is to acknowledge that it was still a break for your child. This also means that you got a break. While it would have been ideal if they fell asleep or enjoyed the long naps, it’s still a rest period enjoyed, because any gross motor movement was confined to the crib, and you were not on duty to play and interact with your child. Instead, you can just call it nap time. Go in, get your child out, and go about your day.
What You CAN Do
If your child didn’t nap that day, it is a smart move to change bedtime to a time that is a bit earlier than normal to try and compensate for loss day sleep, but try not to stress too much about this becoming a new habit. This stage in the development usually fades out within a week or two, and then they go back to napping well and settling down for bedtime more quickly. It could just be, as part of the developmental milestone, that your child needs some time to play and talk with minimal stimulation and distraction. Give it a week or two and see if it goes away on its own. If it doesn’t, then you may need to look at adjusting your child’s daytime schedule.
I find that most toddlers will happily take a nap during the day, but then at bedtime wanted to a have party until 9:00 PM at night. If you’re experiencing this and you’re headed into the third or fourth week of listening to your child partake in social hour during their nap time, it’s time to look at the nap and determine if it needs to go. Otherwise, I want you to adopt the mindset of “wait and see”. Similar to the adage that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink; you can provide the time and opportunity for time of rest, you cannot force someone, especially a strong-minded toddler, to sleep.
Trust Your Child's Sleep Skills
You could go in there and offer sleep reminders and redirection, but if they’re not going to sleep, they simply won’t. Keep reminding yourself that you’re giving them ample opportunity to take a great nap, get to bed on time, and sleep a perfect night. With your hard work, you’ve given them all the skills they need to be an excellent sleeper, and the rest is up to them. If they want to play for an hour before they finally doze off, that is fine. If they want to play through the whole nap, that’s okay too. This stage is an important part of their development, and it won’t last forever.
If you’re suspecting that your child’s play time in their crib is more closely tied to a schedule that’s not quite meeting their needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out for a quick call to see if there are some simple adjustments to make or if it’s an indication that what you’re experiencing is a bit more involved than a typical developmental milestone. Otherwise, enjoy the breaks and don't forget to document some of the funny ways your child exercises their new voice!
I wish November 3rd, 2019 was a day that would mean wonderful things, such as fluffy puppies, brown paper packages tied up with strings on my doorstep, or an hour (or two!) of zero interruptions. But alas. It’s one the two days of the year that strikes fear in the heart of many parents who have young children. On that day, Daylight Saving Time (DST) will commence, and with it, the times will be changing. But no need to worry – it doesn’t need to wreak havoc on your child’s sleep! With some planning and small adjustments, we can get your little one (and you!) through the time change and come out just fine. There are several thoughts and strategies on how to best adjust for DST, a popular one being that you start adjusting your child’s schedule before moving the clock back. Or there’s the strategy that means you adjust your child after the time change. I personally find that the latter works better for more families, so we’ll go over how to adapt your child’s schedule AFTER the clocks turn back the hour.
As a special treat, there will be graphics included at the bottom for you to screenshot a sample schedule of how to adjust your child’s schedule for DST for easy referral!
Getting Started: When to Change My Clock?
It is tempting to change your clock before you go to bed, so you can bask in the idea that we gained an extra hour of sleep, like magic! (On a personal note, I'm totally in this camp!) However, Sleeping Littles will be that niggling voice in your head and suggest that you DON’T change the clock before falling asleep. My main reason for this is so that you don’t feel your inner self dying when you see your child waking up an hour earlier, even though biologically, they are waking up at their “normal time”. If you have a smart clock that changes time automatically for you, just turn the face away from you. Don’t let that "smart" tech toy with your emotions!
When you wake up on Sunday, go ahead and start your day as you normally do. Snuggle with the babies in bed, have your cup of coffee, read the Sunday paper, start the food for the football game and so on. This likely means that you will be doing all of this an hour earlier according to the clock, but your body will feel as though it’s moving along in it’s normal schedule. Having a more relaxed mentality in approaching the time change can make a world of difference, as cliche as it sounds. Take my word on this. When you’re ready, go around and change your clocks.
WHAT ABOUT NAPTIME?
For the first three days, you would adjust naps by 30 minutes. For example, if your baby’s morning nap is usually around 9:30 AM, you would put her down at 9:00 AM. This will be a slight push for her, since it will feel like 10 AM, but it’s not such a dramatic adjustment that it’ll set your whole day back. You would do the same with her afternoon nap.
NAP 1- 9:30 AM – change to 9 AM (feels like 10 AM)
NAP 2- 2:00PM – change to 1:30 PM (feels like 2:30 PM)
EXCEPTION: If your baby is young enough where you are mostly following awake windows, and not a set nap schedule, you would remain following their awake windows and move bedtime up a bit earlier each night over the course of 3-4 days and then move them to their normal bedtime.
ARE BEDTIMES DOOMED?
In a word: Absolutely not! (Okay, that was two words). If bedtime for your sweetheart is normally at 7:00 PM, my recommendation is to put him to bed at 6:30 PM for the first three days (Sunday-Monday-Tuesday). To him, it will feel like 7:30pm. Make sure to have a huge emphasis for quiet, relaxing activities those three nights before starting their bedtime routine, as we know that our littles can get wound up easily when tiredness creeps in.
BEDTIME- 7:00 PM – change to 6:30PM (feels like 7:30PM)
For most adults and children, it will take about a week before everyone feels adjusted and caught up to the new time. To keep things more sane in your home, making the adjustments for the first three days is a huge help. On Day 4, you can move to the new time and handle the change relatively easy. But remember, everyone is different, and some kids, for example, school aged kids can handle the time change with little issue. You know your child best, so make the decision that makes the most sense for your family.
TOOLS FOR YOUR SLEEP TOOLBOX (TODDLER/PRESCHOOL/SCHOOL AGED EDITION)
If your little one is using a clock in their room, like the OK to Wake clock that changes colors as an example, or they use the alarm bell function to alert when it’s okay for them to get up for the day, you can use that to help gently manipulate their body clocks and help them buy into the subtle changes in their schedule a bit easier. Set their clock forward half an hour during the adjustment week and let them get up a little earlier as their body gets used to the new time. By the end of the week, their bodies should be back on track and they'll be sleeping until their normal wake up time.
Normal wake up – 7:00 AM – now it’s 6:00 AM
Monday morning - clock goes off at 6:30 AM
Thursday morning - clock goes off at 7:00 AM
WEDNESDAY (DAY 4)
On the fourth night of the week, which will be Wednesday, your child's body should be quite used the new change. Get them back on their usual 7 PM bedtime and move naps accordingly. And then treat yourself and celebrate - you got through this!! WHOO HOO!
SELF CARE FOR PARENTS
Parents, this is for you: Push your bedtime a little early during the first three nights of the week, given you'll be waking up early as well with your babies while they adjust and still have to uphold your daily responsibilities such as going to work, taking care of the home, and parenting the littles. Statistics show that car accidents and medical emergencies, such as heart attacks, spike around the time change, so make your rest a priority and get some sleep too!
For an easy referral to save in your phone, scroll below to get some screenshots to help you stay on track that week!
Your Pediatric and Adult Sleep Consultant
Today I want to give you some tips for handling sickness so that you don’t derail all your progress after teaching your baby how to put themselves to sleep on their own. First things first, there are a few things that you do need to keep in mind.
The first thing to note is that your baby is going to wake in the night. Anyone who is not feeling well generally do not sleep as well as they normally do. We tend to have more frequent wakings, as many as two, five, or even more nighttime wake-ups.
It is very important to be realistic to the fact that your sick child is likely going to have some night wake-ups. How you handle those wake-ups will make a big difference in how your child maintains their independent sleep skills.
For a time, there was an ad that ran pretty frequently on daytime television for a book called, “The Doctors Book of Home Remedies,” and as a curious kid, I have to admit, I was enthralled.
Use butter on a burn!
Quiet a colicky baby by running the vacuum cleaner!
Swallow a teaspoon of sugar to stop the hiccups!
Bee sting? Use aspirin!
One of the big selling points of cures from books like these is that they’re “natural” solutions. We’re not taking some lab designed chemical to solve the problem. We’re using something that’s readily available in nature. Natural is usually considered to be safe among much of the population.
There’s no way to sugar coat it: SIDS is truly is a parent’s worst nightmare.
I remember worrying to the point where I got up several times a night to check on my first child while he was sleeping. I was exhausting myself, and finally I had to stop and come to terms with my fear. It is scary, but I realized I was doing everything I could to create a safe sleep environment so the rest was out of my control. I had to trust in the fact that I was providing the very safest sleep setup that I could and let the rest fall as it may.
My advice to parents is to do the same. Take the steps that we know can help prevent this terrible tragedy, and enjoy your time with your new baby instead of being consumed by fear of “what if?”.
Daylight Savings- Spring Forward Daylight savings starts each spring season, this year happening on March 10, 2019. (By the way, I’d be completely okay if the rest of the country took notes from Arizona and Hawaii, and stopped observing Daylight Savings Time altogether!) It is time to “spring forward” the clocks. It can be a dreaded time for parents of young children because with this, comes an adjustment for sleep that does not happen immediately.
This is because children tend to be more structured in their bedtime and wake up around the same time each morning and that is why people usually can see a significant effect on children when the time changes. However, there are some things you can do to help make the transition to the new time go a little smoother.
A lot of parents who use soothers feel a twinge of guilt the first time they stick a pacifier in their baby’s mouth. Even when I ask my families if a soother is in play with their toddler’s sleep, there's a good chance that I hear a guilty tone in their voice when they admit that their child still uses a pacifier. However, dealing with a screaming infant in the grocery line or on a long car trip will make most parents try just about anything they can think of to calm the child down – and as a mom and sleep coach, I’m right there with you, so there's no judgement happening over here!
The truth is, giving your little one a pacifier often works. Babies are born with the instinct and drive to suckle. They are limited in their ability to express what they want and have no easy, clear way to let you know if they’re hungry, thirsty or in pain. Sucking is a soothing reflex and brings them comfort, which is why a baby will suck on just about anything you put in its mouth, whether it’s a bottle, breast, finger or toy.
For many families, spring break travels are just around the corner. The desire to escape the cold and get away from it all for a week is a wish that any parent can get behind. However, the stress and even fear that a parent can experience when thinking about traveling with kids can really make one second guess on whether or not they want to embark the adventure of traveling with their littles. Here’s the good news – a lot of kids are GREAT travelers. As long as parents take some time to account for their child’s routine and schedule while on vacation, traveling with children can be a great time.
Sleep is a funny thing when it comes to littles. Parents agonize over how to help their child be a good sleeper, making sure that they are instilling healthy sleep habits by creating good routines and a consistent schedule, and trying their best to not create “bad habits”. But the fact is, even if you do all of that, your child can still experience some challenges with their sleep, with some of these challenges seeming to be a bit uncommon in the world of sleep.
However, short of a medical diagnosis of sleep apnea or the rarely diagnosed insufficient melatonin production, many of these more uncommon sleep challenges can still have simple explanations and be more easily resolved without having to go to the doctor and invest in medical intervention.
When I was expecting my first child, I probably did more reading than I did throughout my entire academic career. I was determined to know everything there was to know about having a baby, raising a child, and everything that had anything at all to do with parenting.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the limitless amount of information out there, and how conflicted the various experts were with each other’s points of view. Even among well-renowned medical professionals, the differences in opinions that I read about were so conflicting: one person would say that one thing was absolutely essential, but then the next person would absolutely denounced it as objectively wrong or harmful by another. I ran into this everywhere.
As most parents do, I took that information, analyzed it, filtered everything through a combination of scientific research and common sense, and came up with a plan that I was comfortable with. But one thing I was never completely sure about, mainly because nobody seemed to have a clear answer, was whether I could sleep train while I was breastfeeding.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Picture yourself finally getting your grumpy baby down for her afternoon nap and you sit down for a much needed moment to yourself only to hear a loud vehicle (of course it is!) roaring down the street. Just like that, your Sleeping Little is wide awake and mad and your precious "me-time" is gone… NOT a good combination.
Or perhaps you live in the country and you’re finding yourself being woken up at dawn by a wailing infant who has adorable (but ridiculously loud) squirrels chitter-chattering in the tree next to their window.
Environmental noises are a fact of life that you can’t do much about… but there IS something you can do about your baby’s ability to sleep through the noise. In my experience, white noise machines can be a lifesaver when it comes to helping babies fall asleep — and stay asleep.
I get asked often about my stance on swaddling. Whether it is considered to be a sleep crutch or if it helps the baby sleep better. Swaddling a newborn can be an excellent tool. It mimics the confined feeling of the womb and it can be quite soothing for a lot of newborns. Now, there’s a little bit more concern around whether or not the swaddle can make a baby be too warm, or if the swaddle is creeping up over the baby’s face from being too loose, and so on.
For those that choose to swaddle their newborns, it’s important to monitor your baby. If your baby is sweaty under the swaddle, then perhaps you’re wrapping him too tightly or the fabric is too thick or heavy. If you notice that the swaddle is creeping up around the baby’s face, then the swaddle is likely too loose or the blanket is too big. It’s important to have common sense regarding the use of the swaddle.
This week's question is from a mom of a three month old. She writes:
"My in-laws are coming to visit for a week and seem to think that babies will sleep through anything and that they just need to "get used to" the noise. Is this true?"
Certainly, we can get used to familiar environmental noises when we sleep. If you live in an area where it’s noiser, you will get used to a bit of ambient noise. However, while we sleep, we’re not in comas, and neither are our babies, so whatever can potentially wake you up can also potentially wake up your baby as well.
This is a question I get asked a lot when I’m meeting with my families. It's not always obvious when a child is getting tired, and frankly, sometimes our babies’ emotions seem like a huge mystery! Here's how to recognize "sleep signs" so you can get your child to bed BEFORE they become overtired!
Do you recognize yourself in the question below?
"Help! Why can’t I recognize my four-month-old’s sleep signs? No yawning, no eye rubbing. He seems to go from quite happy to very upset in a split second and then it takes forever to settle him down and get him to sleep."
I don’t know about you, but in my house, we have exactly two weeks before my littles start their school year. In their district, school starts a few days before Labor Day weekend, and while the early start might seem a bit unfair, I think it’s a sweet blessing for their teachers to have a long weekend right away! Not that they "need" it, since ALL of the children are docile, mild, calm beings in the classroom. (Mine are not always included in that group, especially my oldest, ha.)
With that being said, I’m pretty confident that I’m not the only mom that has some work to do in order to get my kids ready for their first day of school, and mom to mom, there’s zero judgement coming from my end.
I know... I work as a sleep coach for babies, children, and adults, and it’s easy to think that I’m going to judge you for the late bedtimes, unenforced rules, inconsistent schedules, or any of the many "bad habits" that may have taken place over your summer vacation.
Recently, I have been getting more questions from parents that are centering around the dreaded early mornings. An example of the inquiry looks something like this: “My one-year-old is waking up at 4:00 AM, and won’t go back to sleep even after I nurse him. As a result, he struggles to make it to his first nap of the day. He goes to bed at 7:30 at night, and has two solid naps during the day. How can I fix this?”
First of all, parents, you are not alone in this. This is one of the most common questions that I hear from parents, that their baby is waking up too early. To combat this challenge, I have three tips that I would love to share.
A question I received the other day came from a parent concerned about the nap struggles that her son was experiencing at daycare. She wrote, "My 9 month old does not take good naps at the babysitter's three times a week and is super crabby by the time six o'clock rolls around. Should I just put him down early or should I wait for his normal bedtime?"
That's a great question Mama, and it's one that I hear numerous times while working with families whose littles attend daycare during the week. I've got three tips to help navigate that challenge.
This is a question I often asked my first son when he was an infant. I asked it in a sweet voice, I asked it in a harsh whisper, I asked it in a tone of desperation, but no matter how many times I asked, he never gave me the answer.
I can remember the night— and some of you will know exactly what I’m talking about— when I felt like I could not take it anymore. My son just would not stay asleep and I had hit rock bottom, exhausted from waking up multiple times every night and having to soothe him back to sleep. My husband found me at an ungodly hour one morning, curled up next to my son’s crib, with my hand in the slats trying to pat him to sleep for what felt like hours.
When our babies don’t sleep well, we tend to look for an explanation. It must be teething or perhaps it’s gas. We worry that she’s too small and she needs to eat in the night, or he’s too big and he needs to eat more or he won’t feel full. The list goes on and on.
I'm hoping that I might be able to change some minds here today.
It won’t be easy, obviously, because when is it ever? But on parenting issues, there are so many emotional ties and hardened beliefs that enter into the equation that make swaying someone’s personal beliefs nearly impossible.
As parents, we bear an enormous responsibility. Far beyond the basic tenets of parenting, which includes feeding, clothing, and raising your child. We also take our job seriously - teaching our children how to become strong, independent, viable members of our society, no matter their age or where they go.
No surprise than that we take these decisions very, very seriously.
Pacifier North Loop, 219 North 2nd Street #102 Minneapolis, MN 55401
June 9, 2018 2:00 pm – 2:45 pm or 3:00 pm - 3:45 pm
This playdate and seminar, “7 Important Sleep Tips”, is filled with valuable information and tips that parents can implement into their child’s daily sleep routines and practices.
These tips will help you develop an appropriate bed and naptime routine for your child as well as educate parents on healthy and age-appropriate expectations for their child and their sleep needs. Littles that sleep well means that YOU sleep well. This seminar, presented by Katie of Sleeping Littles, can help you and your child find your ZZZs and enjoy well-rested nights once again!
Sign-up in advance to take 15% off your entire regular price puchase at Pacifier the day of the event!*
Speaking of littles, feel free to bring them! This seminar will take place in Pacifier’s play area. Katie works with children ages 0-7 years, though she does accept older kids on a case-by-case basis.
PARKING AT PACIFIER - NORTH LOOP: Complimentary parking is always available in the Monte Carlo lot - enter on N 3rd Ave near the restaurant. No valet is present at 10am, so feel free to self-park
I am a Pediatric Sleep Consultant who works with families to help them resolve their littles' sleep issues. As a mom of two littles herself, Katie has walked in the shoes of her clients and is passionate about helping them re-discover peaceful sleeps in their own homes.