Tired of Those Early Morning Wake Ups?

Early morning wake ups can be the worst! When we’re sleeping our best at 4 or 5am, our kids are secretly plotting their revenge for that lollipop we wouldn’t let him have yesterday. Ok, well maybe they’re not actually plotting, but it sure does feel like it! Why else would they insist on waking up at that ridiculous hour every day?

For many parents of little ones, this time of night is when a final feeding is happening. We feed them, and they will usually go back to sleep for another few hours, which means YOU get to go back to sleep too! However, for other parents, this means that while baby gets to go back to sleep, YOU do not because you have to get up for work, get your other children up and ready for school, or you just can’t fall back asleep. And some kids just decide that 5am is the new 7am and they’re ready to be up for the day. It stinks. So how can you get your child to stop waking up then?

First, you want to take a good look at when your child is going to bed. If they’re going to bed too late, then they’re likely going to be up nice and early the next morning. I know it makes zero sense, but it’s true! Earlier bedtimes are always best, but they’re especially great when you’re talking about getting your child to sleep longer in the morning. Of course, you’ll still need to take into account how much sleep your child is getting in a 24hr period. They’re only going to sleep so much in a day/night, so you can’t put them to bed at 5pm and expect them to get up at 7am. Nope, not going to happen. But, depending on their age, you could put them to bed at 7pm and expect them to sleep close to 7am. And you can’t let them nap the day away and expect them to sleep 12hrs at night too. There’s got to be balance! You can check out my blog “How Much Sleep Do We Need” to see what the norm is for your child.

Secondly, make sure that your child’s room is super dark. Most parents will say, “yes, it’s dark enough”, only to find out later no, it’s not. Next time your child is up at 4:30am, go into his room and look around to see what he sees. Does he see a fully blacked out room or is there some brightness or light coming in through the window or around the windowsill? It might be dark out now at that hour because it’s winter, but soon it will be spring which means it will be brighter earlier. Your child doesn’t need to be old enough to tell time, in order for him to know what time it is. That light coming through the window says it all. Sun? Ok, time to get up! The same goes for napping. If your child is taking short naps, darkening their room could be the answer you need. I have some suggestions of room darkening blinds I like listed below.

Remember, an early morning wake up is really just a night waking. You’ve got to get your child to go back to sleep at 5am if you ever want him to sleep until at least 6am. Night wakings are tough, I know. And even if you have just this one night waking, it might still be super tough to sleep train through it (yes, it’s sleep training if you’re trying to break this habit). There is a lot more I have to say about this topic, so if you’re struggling with early morning wake ups and would like to learn more, I encourage you to check out my Sleep School Courses or my VIP Gold or Platinum membership packages, which has lots of audio and document files to help you with topics such as this. I have an in-depth report about early morning wake ups that you’ll definitely want to check out! And with either of these avenues, you’ll get all this and access to a private Facebook page so that you can ask any follow up questions you might have in getting your kiddo skipping that early morning wake up and sleeping straight through the night!

If you’re dealing with early morning wake ups right now, I’d love to hear what you’re doing to resolve them and what the hardest part is. Just comment below or you can join me over in the Sleeptastic Solutions – Children Facebook page and/or the Gentle Parenting Solutions Facebook group! And of course you can always set up a free 15min call with me if you’d like some extra one-on-one help getting this done! Sleep well!

*Please note that I am an Amazon affiliate. This, however, does not change the fact that I only recommend products that I fully believe in!

When illnesses, teething, injuries, or milestones affect your child’s sleep

With all the happy memories and busy times this time of year brings, it also brings illnesses and sometimes injuries. There are colds, stomach bugs, bacterial infections, viruses, the flu, etc. And depending on the age of your child, you might have teething and/or developmental milestones (ie learning how to roll, sit up, crawl, walk, jump, talk, etc) to deal with too. All of these things can cause your child’s sleep to become disturbed or be completely changed by the time they’re feeling better. This is when parents become distressed and they either start looking to sleep train (or re-sleep train) on their own, or they call a sleep consultant like me to get things back on track. It’s super frustrating as a parent to comfort and support your sick, injured, or otherwise miserable kid, only to be repaid with sleep deprivation when they now won’t sleep well. So what’s a parent to do? Here are some things to keep in mind during these trying times…

 

Illness & Teething:

If your child is sick or teething, they’re likely cranky, tired, and miserable. It wouldn’t be so bad if that only happened during the day, but unfortunately it usually spills over into the nights. When it’s 2am and your baby is teething or your 4 year old is sick, it can be difficult to “stick to the plan”.  Before this illness, your child may have rarely or never woken up at night so of course you’re going to rush right in and see what’s wrong. Many parents make the mistake though of not only treating the symptoms, but throwing everything they usually do out the window.

As you stumble down the hall and into your child’s room, the only thing you’re thinking about is comforting them and putting them back to sleep as quickly as possible. For many parents that means that they’re feeding, patting, rocking, or otherwise putting their baby to sleep or laying with or bringing their preschooler to bed with them. It might not be what you intended to do, but it’s the path of least resistance in the middle of the night. Several nights might go by and your child is thankfully feeling better, yet they’re still waking in the night. Why? Well, unfortunately your good deeds of giving extra love and snuggles in the middle of the night have now given you a child who doesn’t want to do things the “old way”. Nope, they’re liking this new routine and are likely to fight you going back to their old routine where they were a good sleeper.

In order to avoid this scenario from happening to you (or again), next time they’re sick or teething try this: treat the symptoms and keep the expectations. That means that you would still check on your child, give them some medicine for pain or fever (if need be), wipe their nose, change their sheets if they vomited, and give some cuddles. The difference is that you give the cuddles, treat the symptoms, and then return the child back to their crib or bed so that they can go back to sleep on their own. Oftentimes, children aren’t fully awake when they’re crying or calling for you; they just know they’re not comfortable or are in pain. We assume they need us to do more than what I mentioned, but usually a good sleeper will take the medicine, the snuggles, the acknowledgment, and then turn over and go right back to sleep. That’s the goal! If they’re still upset, then give snuggles until the medicine starts to work or until they’ve calmed down, and then return them to their crib/bed. Take away here is to try not to create new habits you don’t want to continue moving forward. It can just take a day or two for your child to decide they like “option B” better!

 

Developmental Milestones:

If your child has learned a new skill (like rolling, walking, talking), they might want to try out those new skills during the time they spend in their crib. Oftentimes, the first time parents notice these nighttime disruptions is when their child has learned to roll. They will usually roll one way only, get stuck, and cry because they don’t like it. It can be a very long night of turning your child back over time and time again! Next you might notice they’ve discovered how to sit up in their crib, then pull themselves up at the bars, and finally maybe some jumping, walking, and talking. While we celebrate all of these things during the day, most of us don’t appreciate their practicing all night long!

The best way to handle these nighttime disturbances is to deal with them during the day. Let baby practice those new skills all day long! For instance, your baby might have recently figured out how to roll to her belly, so practice rolling her from her belly to her back during the day. If baby learned how to pull himself up but cannot get back down, then practice that during the day. The more practice they have during daytime hours, the quicker they will figure out how to do these things on their own at night. It might be a week or so though until things are back to normal, so in the meantime try to stay the course and not to change your nighttime expectations.

 

Injuries:

Injuries can quickly turn a good sleeper into a not-so-good sleeper! It could be a fall, bump, bruise, or even a splinter that can have your child filled with angst and anxiety about the whole incident. Of course, you’re going to comfort and take care of your child during their time of need. They might be fine throughout the day, only to realize come bedtime that now they’re upset or scared about it. Some kids will want to talk about these things when they happen or soon afterwards, and others will hold it in until bedtime approaches. It can seem like a stall tactic, but some children are honestly just “nighttime worriers”, as I call them. I have one of those kids myself! You never want to dismiss their feelings or fears, but you do want to be careful to not be too overindulgent in your support. While the concern might start out to be a legitimate one, a smart older child will quickly figure out that it’s working in their favor!

I was recently reminded last week how injuries can disrupt sleep for one or more family members, when one of my 7 year old twins fell at school during recess and broke her arm. She ended up needing to spend a night in the hospital and have surgery early Thanksgiving morning. It was a difficult time for her, her twin sister who was with us, and me, as she was in pain, her sister seemed to be in just as much pain as she was (through empathy), and I felt helpless. When it came to sleeping the night she would need to stay over at the hospital, we made the decision to have my husband spend the night with her so that I could finally go home after a long day at the hospital and get the other kids settled. I also needed to start Thanksgiving dinner early the next morning so that we could still have it later that day (crazy, I know)!

This sleepover meant that my little girl would have to sleep in a strange place with funny sounds, flashes of light, a splinted left arm, an IV in her right arm, and constant interruptions.  She didn’t have her sister in her room like she was used, but she did have her favorite stuffed animals. Things were clearly different for her, and also for her twin sister who was heartbroken to not have her roommate back at home. I ended up having to leave the door all the way open for her that night, something that I don’t normally do. This injury had our family scrambling, visiting the hospital, and adjusting to the crazy schedule for a long 24hr period that was supposed to be a joyous holiday time. It was certainly stressful on everyone, and because of that I needed to be flexible for all of my kids’ sakes. As parents, we do what we need to do when something goes wrong. You want your child or children to feel comfortable and soothed, so we make changes as needed.

That being said, I tried not to change too much for my other kids. My injured little one was more than happy to be home in her own bed after a terrible, scary experience. She was exhausted, emotional, and a little drugged up yet on Thanksgiving, which helped her get right back to her normal routine that night. When she cried in her sleep 2 hours later, I knew it was a mix of night terrors (from the sleep deprivation) and pain. I treated her symptoms with Motrin, repositioned her, and left. She never even remembered it the next morning (neither of them did)!  She didn’t need for me to do anything more than I did. Again, be flexible with an injury but not so much so that you’re creating a new set of habits that span over several days or more. It can be very difficult to go back to normal after all that extra comforting!

 

I wrote this blog because I can’t tell you how many times I have parents call me saying that they don’t know what happened. They’ll say, “Everything was great up until a few weeks ago. Now my child is waking up 2-4 times a night!” Then I’ll ask them what happened around that time (ie were they sick, teething, on vacation, new daycare, etc) and 90% of the time they’ll say that the child was sick or teething. Now, I’m not saying that it was the illness or teething that was the problem. Nope, it was what the parents did in response to that illness or teething wake up that was the beginning of the sleep issue. Sorry but yes it’s usually our fault as parents! I don’t tell you that to make you feel bad, but to make you recognize how quickly our positive reactions can yield negative results. But no need to worry about the roads we inadvertently travel down, because we can always make a few turns and get back to heading in the right direction!

 

*If you have dealt with any of this yourself, I’d love to hear from you! Please comment below about your situation and how you handled it!

 

**If you need help getting your child back on track, I can help! Contact me today to set up your free 15min phone call! Also, feel free to join my Facebook group, Gentle Parenting Solutions, where we talk about all kind of parenting related topics!

History and Benefits of Infant Massage

The history of massage goes back thousands of years ago to China at about 2700 BC. Egyptian tomb drawings in 2500 BC showed massage therapy and were the pioneers for reflexology. India had the first known written massage therapy traditions around 1500 BC, though the practice may have actually originated around 3000 BC or earlier. In the early 1800s Swedish doctor Per Henril Ling developed the “Swedish Movement System”, which is regarded as the foundation to Swedish massage. Today the Swedish massage is one of most common types of massage practiced in the western hemisphere, as well as the Japanese massage practice of Shiatsu.

In the early 1970s, Vimala McClure (author of Infant Massage, A Handbook for Loving Parents) brought the art of infant massage to the United States after working in an orphanage in India.  There she observed a 12 year old girl at the orphanage go around and massage all the babies. Even though these children suffered from improper nutrition they were thriving, and Vimala attributed that to the massage they received every day.

She brought these methods back home with her and later massaged her own children when she had them. She would document the experience and do much research on the effects of touch on newborns. Not only did she write the book aforementioned, using Indian and Swedish massage strokes along with the principles of reflexology and yoga, but she is the founder of the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM), with headquarters in Sweden. The program expanded internationally in 1992 and there are currently over 30 chapters in over 70 countries!

So why massage your child? The list of physical, emotional, and mental benefits for you and your child are many, but here are some of the top benefits of infant massage:

  • Helps with infant and parent bonding/attachment (especially helpful for new fathers or mothers who’ve had a traumatic or unexpected birth experience)
  • Relief for gas and colic symptoms
  • Relief for teething pains
  • Helps mothers deal with post partum depression and anxiety
  • Promotes better sleep
  • Helps parents learn about their baby’s needs and desires
  • Parents feel a connection with other parents going through the same things as they are
  • Facilitates body awareness
  • Sensory stimulation
  • Boosts immune system
  • Improves skin condition
  • Helps baby to feel loved and nurtured
  • Helps digestion
  • Relaxation for parents and baby
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Balances respiration
  • Helps with waste elimination
  • Helps to build parents’ and baby’s self-esteem
  • Pleasurable experience
  • Stimulates production of Oxytocin (hormone produced during massage that be useful as a pain reliever, has a calming effect, reduce stress, and enhances the bonding process)

These benefits can be continued for many years to come, as you can (and should) continue to massage your child as they grow. It can be just as enjoyable (and even easier) as your child grows, and they can tell you which strokes they like and don’t like. And of course they will lie still unlike babies who are on the move and toddlers who don’t like sitting still longer than 2.3 seconds!

Infant massage as I was trained is to be taught on infants under 1 year old, or under 7 years old for children with any type of special needs (including children on the autism spectrum or suffering from sensory processing disorder). But I promise you that children of all ages love to be massaged! In fact during my certification process to be able to bring this wonderful service to parents like yourself, I often practiced on my own children. There was a line up of my children waiting with open arms (literally) for their turn! They gave me the specifics of which areas they wanted massaged if I told them there wasn’t time to do it all. It was also interesting to note that it differed for each of them, showing me that each area had a purpose and that some areas would be more appealing than others depending on the child.

For those living locally in the Lehigh Valley, I offer an awesome 5 week course where each week I teach a classroom full of no more than 8 families (I want to keep the teacher/family ration low). I will introduce new massage strokes each week, as well as additional information such as how to ask your child for permission, how to align yourself and breathe before and during the process, how to read your baby’s behavioral cues, oils to use and not use, how to continue massaging your child as they grow, and songs and touch games to use. We will also have a new discussion topic each week, including things such as sleep, breast/bottle feeding, introducing solids, developmental milestones, and anything else parents want to discuss. Massage oil and handouts are given each week, and there’s a graduation celebration at the end of the 5 weeks!

If you’re not in the Lehigh Valley, or prefer a more private setting, I also offer one-on-one sessions over a 3 week period. I will either conduct a video consultation with you or in-home sessions for those that are local. In these we cover the same information as in the 5 week course, but we’re able to speed things up a bit since it’s one-on-one. It’s a great way for parents to reap the benefits without a group setting!

While I’d love for you to attend a class or purchase a private session, what’s important is that you massage your child. It’s such a rewarding activity to do with your child or children! After my last class ended, one mom commented this, “I loved this class! First, it’s the only class I had seen where I could take my child under 6 months. For me I am away from all family. It was so nice to be able to ask questions and get answers from moms in a group. But the best part was massaging my baby! I have to bottle feed, and although for us that is a time for bonding, to be able to touch him and bond this way with him is truly special. I get to look into his eyes and comfort him in a new way. It also has taught me to calm down, relax and breathe during this time too.”  ~Mary H.

To learn more about or register for my Mommy/Daddy & Me Infant Massage classes or private sessions, please go to the Infant Massage Sessions page. From there you can sign up for a 5 week course that best fits your needs or Contact Me about a private session.

Back to School Sleep Tips

I don’t know about you, but back-to-school time is my favorite time of the year! After a summer of running kids to camps, parks, play dates, amusement parks, vacations, sporting practices, and trying to keep them entertained 24/7, I am beyond done. At this point, I don’t even mind the pile of paperwork I’ll be getting, or the homework I’ll be checking, when the kids do return to school. I just want to get back to my “normal” and be back on schedule! And do you know who else is looking forward to having a schedule again? My kids! They wake up every morning and ask me what’s on the schedule for today. They are used to having their lives be very consistent, and it works well for them too.

Kids of all ages love schedules and routines! Never shy away from creating one for them because you don’t want to be “that mom”. Believe me, they want you to be “that mom”! That Mom knows the exact time they need to be out of the house to catch the bus on time, That Mom knows where their favorite shirt is, That Mom knows what time they need to be at soccer or dance practice, That Mom knows what’s for dinner tonight, That Mom will help them with their homework, and That Mom will make sure they’re in bed on time so they can do it all over again tomorrow! Routines help with their daytime schedule, and they certainly help with their nighttime one. Predictability works well for children and adults of all ages!

But after more than 2 months of chaos, life on the go, and late nights, your normal school year schedule may seem like a distant memory. Now that we’re just weeks away (or even days for some of you) from the start of school, it’s a good time to begin making some changes to your summer schedule in preparation for what’s ahead.

Here are 4 things you can do to ensure your child’s sleep isn’t affected when heading back to school:

  1. Have a good bedtime routine – If your child likes to watch TV, play on your phone or on a tablet, or play video games before bed, you need to curb when that viewing/playing happens. All electronic devices should be turned off at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime. A good routine might include pajamas, brushing teeth, using the potty, and reading some stories before turning in for the night.
  2. Get them to bed early – An earlier bedtime is often the answer to many bedtime questions. Many parents believe that if they keep their child up later than usual, then they’ll wake up later in the morning but this isn’t the case! Keeping them up later can cause night terrors, night wakings, restlessness, and then they’ll usually wake up at the same time or earlier the next morning. Stick to a bedtime somewhere between 7-8pm and you should be good. Your child might even need an earlier than normal bedtime once school resumes, thanks to earlier wake-up times and long days of physical and mental activities. And if your child is currently going to bed later than 8pm, then you should think about slowly moving this time up to a more reasonable hour now, so they’re ready when school starts.
  3. Get them up earlier – On the flipside, if you have a child who’s been enjoying sleeping in late (ie tweens and teens), it’s time to start moving that awake time earlier every few days. Let’s say your child is currently waking up at 9 or 10am. Well, needing to suddenly be up at 6:30 or 7am is going to be quite the culture shock! A week or two before school starts it’s helpful to gradually begin moving bedtime earlier and waking them up earlier in the morning. Yes, they’ll likely grumble, but they will get used to it over that week or two, and it will make the first day back to school more bearable on everyone.
  4. Allowing a short nap – If you have a younger child going to preschool, kindergarten, or first grade, they are likely to be more tired than usual. They might not be napping anymore normally, but going to school part of or the whole day can be exhausting for them. If they come home and fall asleep on the couch after school, it might be tempting to leave them be. Well, if your child is in preschool or half-day kindergarten, where they’re home by lunch each day, then allowing a small nap would probably be helpful for them to make it through the remainder. It can keep them from going to bed too tired, which can cause night terrors and restlessness. However, if you have an older child who is attending school all day and not getting home until 3 or 4pm, then that’s a different story. A late day nap like that could really throw off your child’s bedtime. You might get a bedtime battle or even a middle of the night wake up where your child is just wide awake. So instead of allowing the late day nap, try to encourage your child to stay up after school, but then put them to bed earlier. In fact, they may need an earlier-than-usual bedtime for a while until their little body adjusts to the long school days.

So go ahead and get in those last few play dates, swim lessons, and let’s not forget about back-to-school shopping, because before long it will all be over. Then we’ll be complaining about the mounds of homework, projects, sports, and other things they’ve got going on during the school year, and we’ll be counting down the days until their first holiday break!

Contact me for more information on all of my services, including my brand new Infant Massage sessions. And of course you can always set up a free 15min phone call to discuss your unique situation!

6 Things You Can Do To Have Your Kids Sleep Well on Vacation

Vacation…it’s filled with excitement, sprinkled with some anxiety, and topped with a little fear. Of course we all are happy and excited at the thought of spending quality time with our families, getting away, seeing the sights, and relaxing (I threw this in for fun because we all know moms don’t relax on vacations). For many of us there are some other emotions that go along with going on vacation, namely, anxiety and fear. Anxiety about keeping our kids occupied, happy, fed, and well-rested. The fear part comes in when we start thinking that we’ll never be able to make all those things happen, and then we’ll have massive meltdowns to deal with. And anyone who’s ever sleep trained their child, or is lucky enough to have a normally good sleeper, will have an extra fear – messing with nights and naps!

No one wants to mess up a good thing, so going on vacation can be very scary to parents. Many vacations or holiday visits include small hotel rooms, shared bedrooms, or co-sleeping in the bed, which for some kids has never happened before. Introducing a young child to sleeping with you when they never have before is like asking him if he’d like ice cream every night for dinner…um, yeah!!! Of course he would! Well, sleeping with parents or siblings is often a huge reward to most kids, and is one that can be hard to break once you go back home. So I’ve put together some helpful tips and tricks to make your vacation and transition back home as seamless as possible.

  1. Recreate their bedroom while on vacation – Whenever possible try to recreate the child’s bedroom environment in your new location. That might mean you’re bringing along a white noise machine, favorite lovey/pillow/sheets, black out shades, books, or even a nightlight for an older child. You want your child to feel comfortable in their new sleeping space.
  2. Keep their routine the same – If you’re able to have some downtime before bed, it’s a good idea to stick to their same routine. If you normally have a bath, book, bottle/nursing/drink, snack, or any other routine items you’re doing before bed, then you want to try and keep that same routine while away. Remember, those things you’re doing provide cues to your child that it’s time for bed. It can be hard for them to recognize when bedtime is when they’re away from home, so their normal routine can really help. Certainly older kids will know the drill by looking at the clock and hearing you say it’s time for bed, but it’s the little ones that this can really help.
  3. Provide individual sleeping space – If at all possible, providing your child with a sleeping space of their own would be ideal as they’re already used to that. For little ones still in cribs, having a portable pack-n-play or rented crib can often work out really nice, as it’s not much different than what they’re used to at home. For older kids, having a pull out couch, spare mattress, or sleeping bag can be great. You may still have to room share, but at least they have their own space just like at home, making it much easier to transition once back home.
  4. Sleep separately even if in the same bed – While I know how tempting and lovely it is to snuggle all night with your child, try to limit the snuggling to just during the bedtime routine. When it’s time to sleep, try to stay on your own side of the bed where you’re not helping your child fall asleep with touching, rubbing, patting, etc. The less you do while on vacation, the less you’ll be expected to do once you’re back home.
  5. Take naps when possible – Even if your child doesn’t usually nap anymore, you might find that they are in need of one while away. Vacations are exhausting for everyone, so don’t be shocked if you child needs an afternoon power nap. Let her take it (and you can take one with her)! She’s likely waking up earlier than usual during your time away, so this will help her to catch up on her sleep debt. Remember, an overly tired child can have a harder time falling asleep, can have night terrors, more night wakings in general, and can wake up even earlier than usual.
  6. Get right back to normal once home – One of the biggest reasons parents have a hard time once they’re back home is that they allow what they did on vacation to come home with them. If you have a child 3 years and up, you want to very clearly explain to them BEFORE the trip what will be happening during the vacation and once you’re back. Let them know that this is a special occasion, and again let them know your expectations both away and home. Then once you’re back you have got to follow what you said! If you’re fickle about things you say, your child will know that and push you even harder. If there’s even the slightest chance that you might lay with them again until they fall asleep, they are going to really push for it. You have to remain strong, confident, and consistent and things should go back to normal within a night or two.

I can tell you all of these things not only as a sleep consultant, but because I have used these tricks and methods myself over the years with my own kids. With 4 children I’ve seen and heard it all! Having just returned from vacation recently (those are my loves in the photo), and having yet another client ask about this, I thought it was the perfect topic for this month’s blog! I quickly remembered this past week what it felt like to be at the mercy of my children. I am not anti-co-sleeping by any means. Hey, if it works for everyone involved, then that’s great! But it does not work for me. I sleep terribly with my kids, and judging by those tired little faces each morning, I’m pretty sure they do too (though they would never admit it).

I had the lovely opportunity to sleep with 3 of my 4 kids over the week (the teenager was living it up in a single bed in her own room), and I was reminded why I need my own space. I had a forearm across my forehead, someone snorted loudly in my face, I was eye to eye with many-a-stuffed animal/dolly, I was pushed, I was hit, I was fighting for blankets constantly, and I was pushed so far over that I was nearly falling off the bed. And then in between all that I was woken up by moving and turning over noises, a kid who fell out of bed, a lovey that was lost, a kid who needed to pee, and a kid who was thought 3am meant it was time to get up since it was so dang bright in our room thanks to only having blinds on double patio doors (I put up two thick blankets after that first night).

Needless to say I don’t think I ever went into my deep, REM sleep the entire week. I felt like I never slept most nights, which made it difficult to function some mornings. After a rough Thursday  night, I decided I’d had enough. We actually packed up and left on Friday afternoon even though we didn’t have to be out until Saturday. Between having many nights of terrible sleep and having sand everywhere, I’d had enough of our wonderful beach trip.

In order to be transparent, I should mention that my 4 year old had a complete and utter meltdown when we got home at nearly 9pm. I naively thought they’d all fall asleep on the way home after waking up at the crack of dawn that morning, but I was wrong. My son must have been nearly asleep though when we got home because he went into a night terror-ish state, where he just cried and cried and wouldn’t really talk to me. Those were desperate times, so I laid down with him until he stopped crying, at which point he fell right to sleep (again night terror symptoms). So when I told you to get right back to normal, I mean to do that when you’re child is not exhausted beyond words. He needs to be able to be awake enough to understand you. If you get home late at night, then do what you have to do to get him to sleep that first night, but if you get home during the day, then put him to bed early (because he’ll be very tired from the trip) and get right back to business. Happy vacationing!

 

NOTE: If you are struggling with your child’s sleep and need some help, please click HERE to set up your free 15min phone assessment today!

*Please note that while I’m an Amazon affiliate, I do not recommend products I don’t believe in!

3 Steps For Creating Great Sleep For Your Newborn

After struggling with being pregnant what seems like forever, you finally give birth to your precious little baby. Your adrenaline is high, the “snuggle hormone” Oxycontin has been released, and you’re in love with this new bundle of joy! Life can’t get any better than this!

A few weeks pass and your hormones are starting to normalize and that adrenaline high you were on is quickly fading. You’re starting to feel exhausted, because your adorable baby is keeping you up most of the night. You knew you’d have to be up feeding your baby every 2-3 hours throughout the night, but your baby seems to have extra stamina at night. You don’t think much of it until your best friend, who already has a child, tells you that your baby might have their nights and days mixed up. Say what?!?! What does a new mom, who is severely sleep deprived and living like a vampire, do to change this around? Here are three game-changers in fixing this whether your baby truly does have their days and nights mixed up or whether you just want to ensure you’re creating the best possible environment for optimal sleep…

1) DARK VS LIGHT – If the baby is sleeping here, there, and anywhere throughout the day and night due to your survival mode, it can be confusing. The living areas (ie kitchen, living room, dining room, etc) need to be well-lit, bright, and not overly quiet during the day hours, while the bedrooms should be dark and quiet.  Normally, I would suggest that baby takes all of their naps in a dark, quiet bedroom so that they can associate that environment with sleeping. However, in the case of a baby who likes to sleep all day, I suggest limiting their naps to slightly noisier and brighter rooms until things are normalized. A child who naps in a well-lit room tends to sleep less minutes overall than one who naps in a dark, cave-like room. Then, when it’s bedtime, make sure the room is nice and dark, quiet (or a white noise machine is fine), and a comfortable temperature (68-72 degrees is ideal). Along with that, it’s important to have a relaxing, consistent bedtime routine. You want to show baby that bedtime looks different than naps during the day. A newborn doesn’t need an elaborate bedtime routine, but instead a few simple things that are just for bedtime (ie massage, bath, pajamas, final feed, swaddle or sleep sack, into the crib sleepy but awake).

2) FEED MORE DURING THE DAY – You want to be sure that your baby is eating enough during the day so that they can sleep longer stretches at night. In order to feed more during the day baby needs to be awake long enough to do so (ironic, I know). I realize it can be extremely difficult to feed a sleepy baby, but it’s necessary! You can’t afford to have a “snacking and snoozing” baby all day long, because it will just lead to a hungry, non-tired baby at night. If baby keeps falling asleep during feeds, you can change their diaper, change the scenery, talk to them, remove the breast or bottle, give a bath, or anything else you can come up with to keep the child awake. One thing to note if you’re breastfeeding is that your body is helping baby to get sleepy at the right time, as Melatonin (the sleep hormone) is increased in your breastmilk in the evening and night. This can be a great tool to help you get baby sleeping at night! But if you’re pumping and giving baby expressed milk in a bottle, you might want to label the milk by what time you pumped. If you’re giving baby a bottle at 9am filled with pumped milk from 10pm last night, then you’re giving baby another reason to be sleeping more than needed during the day.

3) GET YOURSELF SOME HELP – One reason parents get into this predicament is that after a long night with the baby, mom is expectantly exhausted the next day.  So when baby wants to nap the day away, mom is right there with the baby! Of course you’re going to want to sleep when the baby sleeps, especially if you’ve been up most of the night! But if you let your baby sleep all day, they’re simply not going to be ready to sleep at night. And then you’re back to square one the next night with the same pattern repeating itself. Before you know it, you will have completely turned your own circadian rhythm (or biological clock) upside down. So find someone to stay with the baby during the day to help cap naps and keep the baby up more while you nap. This way you will find the energy to keep moving towards getting baby to sleep less during the day.

This all makes perfect sense doesn’t it? Now all you have to do is find the strength and energy in which to get this done! I’m only half joking here, because sleep deprivation is no laughing matter. It’s extremely rough on your body to stay up all night and sleep on and off all day when that’s not something you’re used to doing. You’ve got to take care of yourself so you can take care of your little one. You need proper sleep, nutritious foods, exercise, and a way to relieve stress. This is true for any new mom, so treat yourself like the awesome mom you are! Sleep well!

*If you are having trouble implementing these things, need help developing a daytime schedule or bedtime routine, or you would like help not only with fixing the days and nights but also with teaching your newborn independent sleep skills, I can help! I have Prenatal Packages (0-7wks old) and Newborn Packages (8wks-4mos) that can help with all of this! It’s never too early to teach your baby how to fall asleep on their own. It can be very easy (and with minimal or no tears) to do this when you’re baby is just learning. Contact Me today to learn more or to set up your FREE 15min phone assessment!

How Much Sleep Do We Need?

As a culture we seem to always be concerned about how much sleep we need versus how much sleep we’re actually getting (called your “sleep debt”). We worry about ourselves, and we worry about our kids. It’s exhausting! Sometimes we’re right to worry, and sometimes we shouldn’t. Let’s talk about the amount of sleep needed for each age group (including adults) as listed by the National Sleep Foundation:

Newborns (0-3 months): 

Babies in this age group sleep an average of 14-17 hours per 24 hour period. Sleep in the first three months (aka “the 4th trimester) can all seem to melt together. Babies are basically on a sleep and feed schedule straight through the 24hr day without little variation to indicate daytime sleep vs nighttime sleep. Depending on your child’s age in this group, they may be taking anywhere between 3-6 naps or more! Many of the naps may be short cat naps, though the hope would be to get at least a few quality naps in there where baby is sleeping at least 45mins long. Instead of wondering when baby will drop a nap (like I mention in the all the rest of the categories), think of how baby is extending his/her awake time. Naps will get longer on their own, thus dropping some unneeded small ones, and baby will be awake longer in between naps.

Nights will start to get better too with baby taking a longer sleep stretch the first part of the night. If there are no sleep associations in place (ie you’re not helping your baby fall asleep with feeding, rocking, patting, pacifiers, swings, stroller, carseat, etc), then baby should drop the night feeds on his/her own when ready. For instance, if your baby is usually falling sleep at 8pm, then they might normally feed at 11pm, 2am, and 5am before waking at 8am for the day (ie feeding every 3hrs). If you’ve taught your baby how to fall asleep independently, then they would ideally drop the 11pm feed first, followed by the 2am and finally the 5am one over time.

If you need help with consolidating sleep, helping baby understand day vs night, implementing a good sleep foundation called “Sleep Teaching”, getting baby to sleep independently in their own crib, transitioning baby to their own bed or room, etc then check out my Newborn Sleep Package!

Babies (4-11 months):

Babies in this age group sleep an average of 12-15 hours per 24 hour period. This includes both sleep at night and for all naps combined. Depending on your child’s age in this group, they may be taking anywhere between 1-3 naps. The average age to drop from 3 to 2 naps is between 5 – 7 months. This means that you may have a 6 month baby who is still taking 3 naps or might be down to 2 already. It’s important to realize that both are fine! You can’t compare your child’s sleep needs to any other child’s (not even if they have a twin).

Differences happen not only because of temperaments but also because of how well your child sleeps for overnight and for all their naps. A baby who is sleeping 12 hours straight at night and napping for 1.5 hours each nap is likely going to be napping twice a day with a 3 hour awake time in between.  Whereas, a baby who is only sleeping 11 hours over night, waking up 2-4 times each night and taking 45-60 mins during the day is likely to be still taking 3 naps a day with a 2 hour awake window. Even though the second scenario may not be what you prefer with the night wakings and short naps, it doesn’t mean that your child is not getting enough rest overall (though the quality of sleep is affected). They are making up some of their sleep deficit by taking that third nap each day, which is good news. Should you decide to work on helping your child work on independent sleeping, then you would likely see them drop the 3rd nap by the 5th or 6th month.

Remember, most healthy, average weight babies can sleep straight through the night without night feeds by 6 months old. If you need help with getting baby to dropping night feeds, sleeping independently in their crib without any sleep props, creating a good bedtime routine, getting them on a good daytime schedule, working on naps, etc then check out my Babies Sleep Package!

Toddlers (1-2 years old):

Children in this age group should be sleeping 11-14 hours in a 24 hour period and are often taking anywhere between 0-2 naps per day. The average age for children to drop from 2 naps to 1 nap is between 12 – 18 months old. Your 16 month old may be sleeping 7pm – 7am and taking two 1hr naps for a total of 14hrs (that would be one lucky mom). Or you may have a newly turned 2 year old that is sleeping 8pm to 6:30am with a 1 hour nap each day for a total of 11.5hrs per day. Both would be fine! There are going to be differences in sleep based on the child’s age, personality, and individual sleep needs. This isn’t a cause for concern, it’s just how it is. Try not to compare your child’s sleep to their siblings, cousins, or friends. You will just go crazy trying to understand why your child doesn’t sleep as much as the next child!

If you need help with getting your child to sleep independently without any sleep props, getting your child on a good schedule, creating a good bedtime routine and daytime schedule, getting your child/children room sharing, dropping any final night feeds, working on naps, etc then check out either my Babies Sleep Package or Toddlers/Preschoolers Package (depending on your child’s age since Babies Packages go from 4-17mos).

Preschoolers (3-5 years old):

Children in this age group should be sleeping 10-13 hours in a 24 hour period and are often taking either 1 nap or no naps per day. The average age for children to drop the last remaining nap is between 2.5 and 3.5 years old. Chances are that if you have a child who is still napping, then you might be looking at a 10hr night and a 1-2hr nap during the day, versus a child who is done napping. If your child no longer naps, then you’re likely looking at an 11-12hr night. Be aware that your 3yo child that’s currently sleeping 10hrs at night and taking a nap should immediately go to bed earlier the first day that they’re done with their naps (or on a day that the nap was skipped). As soon as naps are over, you should look to move your child’s bedtime earlier to ensure your child gets enough sleep. Most children will not shift their morning wake up time, but they will go to sleep earlier without their nap.

So let’s say your child sleeps 8pm-6am and still naps. Keeping the 8pm bedtime after the nap has been dropped will not help to make up for the lost nap sleep as the child will likely still wake up at their normal 6am wake time. Instead you would want to move bedtime to 7pm that first night and monitor what happens making adjustments as needed (ie see how long it takes child to fall asleep, how easily they go to bed, how the night was, what the wake up time was, etc).

If you need help with getting your child to sleep independently without any sleep props, getting your child on a good schedule, creating a good bedtime routine, getting your child/children room sharing, getting your child to stay in their room or their bed all night, ending bedtime battles, etc then check out my Toddlers/Preschoolers Package.

School Aged (6-13 years old):

Children in this age group should be sleeping 9-11 hours in a 24 hour period and are not usually taking any more naps during the day. If you have a 6yo you’re likely going to have a child that’s still sleeping close to 11hrs (and maybe more), whereas a 13yo may be looking at just 9hrs a night. Assuming your child is not home schooled, then chances are good that they have to wake up early to get to school. In this case you want to make sure that your child is getting at least 9hrs by figuring out what time he/she needs to be awake in the morning and having your child to bed 9hrs before that.

For instance, your middle school child may need to wake up at 6am for school, which means that their bedtime should be at least 9pm or earlier if possible. If your child is not getting enough sleep, you might notice that they’re falling asleep after school or really difficult to wake in the morning. If bedtime can not be earlier because of homework or activities, then I would suggest letting them nap. Be careful though because a late afternoon nap can lead to them not being able to fall asleep at bedtime. If that’s happening, then don’t allow the naps and shoot for an earlier bedtime.

If you need help with getting your child to sleep independently without any sleep props (like you laying with them or them coming to you), creating a good bedtime routine, getting your child/children room sharing, getting your child to stay in their room or their bed all night, ending bedtime battles, helping with anxiety, etc then check out my School Aged Children Package.

Teens (14-17 years old):

Children in this age group should be sleeping 8-10 hours in a 24 hour period and should not be commonly napping throughout the week. The few years difference in this age group doesn’t make too much of a difference in sleep needs, but instead you’re looking at individual sleep needs. For instance, one teen may need 9hrs of sleep to feel good, their friend might only need 8hrs, and then on the weekend both teens might sleep 10-11hrs! It’s a matter of the teen’s temperament, personality, and individual sleep needs.

If your teen needs to get up at 5:30am for school, then they should be going to bed by 9:30pm to get at least get 8hrs. Your teen may complain every night at 9pm as they’re getting ready for bed, but they will thank you in the morning when they feel well-rested! And if you’re thinking (or your teen is telling you) that this can’t be done, it can! My 16yo daughter does this every night, and she is an honor student, has a part-time job, and is on the varsity cheerleading squad for her high school.

If you’re concerned about the possibility of your teen getting insufficient sleep, the first thing you need to do is to pay attention to how they’re acting. For example, if your 15yo daughter is only getting 7.5hrs of sleep each night but she is getting up easily in the morning, not tired in the afternoon, and easily going to bed at night, then chances are that she is ok with only getting 7.5hrs. Now let’s say that your 15yo has a twin brother that also gets 7.5hrs of sleep each night but he is hard to wake in the morning, crashing on the couch after school, and then getting to bed too late, then chances are that he needs more than 7.5hrs. Again, each child is different so you need to look at each individually (even twins)!

When it comes to teens their scheduling, bedroom environment, bedtime and daily routine are often to blame for most of their sleep issues. If you need help understanding all that’s involved at this age, then check out my Teens Package where I can help with getting your teen falling asleep at an earlier hour, feeling more productive and less sleepy throughout the day, getting up easily in the morning and without a struggle, dealing with anxiety, etc.

Adults (18-64 years old):

Adults in this age group should be sleeping 7-9 hours in a 24 hour period (for those interested, if you’re over 65 years old you need 7-9hrs) and should not be commonly napping throughout the week. Sleep is not just for our children! If mom and dad are sleep deprived, then believe me the family is affected. Personally, I know how different I feel with 7hrs sleep vs 9hrs sleep!

When it comes to adult sleep, you need to look at a person’s entire lifestyle to understand what’s happening with their sleep. If you’re not sleeping well because of your kids, then you should definitely work on that, whether it be with my help or on your own. Helping them helps you too! If your kids sleep great but you’re often up at night, have a hard time falling asleep, have trouble waking in the morning, or just feel sleepy all day, then you definitely need to take a look at my Adult Package!

 

Bottom line is this…all humans need an adequate amount of sleep each night to make them able to effectively learn, communicate, and be a productive person each day. Sleep deprivation is not a joke! It can affect most areas of our lives: cognitive, behavioral, learning, safety, physical, mood, anxiety/depression, gross and fine motor skills, education. I know it can feel like a never-ending battle and extremely time consuming to deal with your child’s (or children’s) sleep issues, but believe me it will be well worth it in the end. Having well-rested children AND parents makes for a much better family dynamic with more attentive and engaged parents, parents who tend to argue less, and children who are happier and more independent. So this summer make sleep a priority for your family!

And as always, feel free to reach out to me for your FREE 15min phone call to discuss your child’s or your sleep issues! Sleep well!

Why I Became A Sleep Consultant

Before I was a certified sleep consultant (for children or adults), a Certified Lactation Counselor, or certified in infant and child mental health, I was a mom. Just a plain old mom, who struggled with the ups and downs of caring for babies just like every other mom I know. Heck, before having my own children I didn’t know the first thing about babies, since I grew up as an only child! Sometimes I wish I knew then what I know now, but then I think about how I wouldn’t likely have this awesome career now if I didn’t go through the struggles I went through. This is a story about my journey to motherhood and sleep training, and ultimately the creation of Sleeptastic Solutions.

Sixteen years ago I had a beautiful daughter named Ariana. I was a young, new mom eager to learn all I could about raising a child. I was incredibly lucky in that she was a “textbook” child. She rolled at 3mos, sat up at 6mos, crawled at 9mos, walked at 12mos, etc (you get the picture). She also slept through the night at 3mos old, even though I used the #1 sleep prop – feeding to sleep – every single time she slept. One night I fed her to sleep like always, but instead of waking up in the night, she slept straight through until morning! Of course I had a slight heart attack when I realized it was morning and she hadn’t woken up, but after seeing she was still alive I smiled happily (and naively) thinking “yes, this is how it should be.”

Fast forward eight years later, and I was now pregnant with my twin daughters. Life would be very different after this birth since I would be bringing home not one but two infants, and I had my first daughter to still care for. I had quit my job after I had the babies to stay home with all the kids, which meant no security of having daycare help me structure and guide these babies! I was totally on my own and a little scared.

Because the girls were born at 36wks (normal for a twin pregnancy), I figured things might take a little longer for them and I was right. Instead of it taking 3mos for them to be able to sleep through the night, I assumed it would take 4mos. So I patiently waited, getting up for feed after feed, night after night for 4mos wondering when they were going to stop waking up. The first few months of night feeds were honestly a blur that didn’t bother me too much, but man by the 4th month I was exhausted! Because my husband was often out of town (and I was a bit picky about things), I just decided early on that I would handle all the night feeds myself. Crazy, I know! Needless to say my husband never seemed to mind.

By the 6th month, the girls were down to just one night feed at 4am. I was pretty darn excited by this great chunk of sleep I was getting each night, and I actually began to look forward to the 4am world news being on (sad, right?). While I was ok dealing with the night feed, it was how I was getting them to go to sleep at night that was really starting to get to me. After their last bottle, I would try to transfer them to their crib while sleepy or half-sleeping, but of course it wasn’t working anymore, and we’d moved on to the dreaded pat-to-sleep. I would stand there for 20mins at a shot having to pat bottoms in two separate cribs. After all that I had to ninja crawl out of the room, trying to avoid every creak in the floor on my way out. It was insane and my back was killing me! I knew that I couldn’t keep that up forever, especially since I was having to do it longer and longer as time went on.

At their 6mo appointment, their pediatrician Dr. Goff asked me how they were sleeping just as she always did. I proudly announced that we were down to just one feed (didn’t mention my aching back), and then she told me 9 little words that would change my life forever…”You know, they don’t need that night feed anymore.” Say what?! What did she mean they didn’t need it anymore? I asked for clarification. I asked her how this could be true since they were clearly waking up because they were hungry. She explained that at this point they were waking because of habit. She went on to say that they were good-sized babies (that’s putting it nicely) and 6mos old so that meant they were physically able to sleep through the night now. I questioned her again about it because they were taking 6oz bottles at 4am so they HAD to be hungry and need it. She shot me down again with a simple answer of, “well, if you’re going to offer it they’re going to of course take it, but again they don’t NEED it.” I was in shock and awe by this news (clearly in my state of exhaustion I had forgotten that babies could sleep through the night at 3mos already – aka Ariana)! But I was excited to hear it, didn’t quite believe it, and scared to death thinking about how to fix it.

I went home that day and during their nap I searched for, found, downloaded, and started reading the parts of the Sleep Sense program that I needed to know in order to start sleep training that night. Yes, you read that right! I am not good with waiting when I know that I might be doing something wrong. I’ll be honest in saying that I didn’t really spend much time researching programs. I saw that this one was  downloadable and that was what sold me. I had a pediatrician who just told me that my babies didn’t need to eat anymore at night, so I wanted all of us to start sleeping through the night ASAP. I could’t afford to wait until I could get to a library or a book store (these were my pre-Amazon Prime days), so I just purchased and downloaded it!

I started out with the girls staying together in the same bedroom as they’d been since birth, but after a couple of days I realized that this was an impossibly difficult task. I decided to separate the girls then into their own bedrooms for sanity’s sake. My one twin, Alana, did awesome with the program. After less than a week she was sleeping through the night like a champ. I was so impressed and relieved! Her sister, Giana, however was not having the same good fortune.

Giana really struggled with this new routine of ours where she wasn’t going to get her bottom patted to sleep every night. The more I tried to be gentle, the more she seemed to hate it. She would literally scoot away from me and sit in the corner of her crib crying. She wanted nothing to do with me or my comfort, and I swear she would have thrown things at me if she had anything to throw! It was saddening and frustrating for both of us. I didn’t understand why it wasn’t working for her, when I just saw it work so perfectly for her sister! Truth be told, had I not just watched her identical twin sister do it, I would have probably given up.

I remember sitting there wishing I could just ask someone a few questions. I seriously thought about emailing the author of the book to see if she could help (little did I know I would later meet and be trained by Dana Obleman)! Slowly, I began to do things differently on my own. I began to listen to what she was “saying” instead of just forcing something onto her. Slowly, she began to respond. It would take a few weeks for her to catch on and finally sleep through the night, but she did it. I was beyond ecstatic when it did happen! And I had my happy, loving baby back. She woke up that first morning smiling and happy to see me, which was what I had been waiting for.  Soon after both girls were napping better too. Finally, I had 2 babies sleeping 12hrs straight through the night and taking two 1.5hr naps each day on their own without any sleep props and it was AWESOME!

While it was a struggle I wouldn’t wish on anyone, I couldn’t deny those results! My girls were happier and well-rested and so was I. For the first time ever having twins didn’t seem so hard, and I knew that was because I had two good little sleepers. I went around telling all my friends and family about our success, purposefully leaving out the part where Giana and I struggled so much. That felt like a huge mom-fail to me, so I didn’t talk about it much. Even though I didn’t usually tell people about that part, it was always on my mind how I should have listened to her earlier. And please don’t take this to mean that there was anything wrong with the Sleep Sense program, because it wasn’t that at all. Clearly it worked for my other daughter and for many other thousands of children. It’s just that Giana’s mama needed more guidance then the book could give her.

A few years later I went on to have my son, Dylan. You better believe that I got that book back out and read the newborn section I had skipped previously! I didn’t want to have a repeat of Giana’s sleep training mess. While I didn’t exactly follow the book this time, I did try hard to make some of the suggested changes earlier on. I started to notice some not-so-good things happening with him around 4mos, so that’s when I decided I better change things on my end. I made the changes and he adjusted really well. He was sleeping through the night by 5mos old (and exclusively breastfed which is a whole other blog), and I was happy as a clam! Although I never had to really sleep train him, he’s been my toughest child over the past 4yrs! I often say that he’s what keeps me relevant in my field and able to sincerely empathize with my clients.

For those wondering if I scarred my child for life, no, I didn’t. Today, Giana is the happiest, most gentle, sweetest little girl I know. The girls would go back and forth with their sleep issues on and off throughout the next few years, as all children do (ie transitioning to a bed, night potty training, being scared, etc), but believe it or not, Giana is actually a better sleeper than Alana! While I wished that Giana and I didn’t have to go through all we went through, I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. In fact, it’s really the motto for my life. Had she been easy to sleep train, I probably wouldn’t have thought much the need for a sleep consultant. But having been through what we had, I thought that the idea of helping other parents so that they wouldn’t have to struggle and figure out what to do on their own was a great concept! So one day when I saw an email from the Sleep Sense company about becoming a consultant, I KNEW I had to do it. I had never been more excited and passionate about a career move in all my life! I believed it was the path I was supposed to take, so I took the leap of faith.

Today, I couldn’t be happier in my choice. There is no other job in the world that could give me as much joy as I get from helping parents do what can seem like the impossible in such a short amount of time (going so weeks like I did is NOT what you want to do). There are many programs and books out there, and yes many will work just fine, but having one work for your family and for your child(ren) is easier said than done. I know that some people will say that it’s ridiculous that they should have to pay someone to get their children to sleep (you know, because sleep is supposed to be a “given” and shouldn’t be that difficult), but if you’ve ever struggled with getting your child to sleep even just one time then you know that there’s definitely a value in it!

Looking back, I would have paid A LOT of money to have someone give me the answers I so desperately wanted and to help me shorten the whole process! The education, the custom sleep plan, the help with naps, and the ongoing support that sleep consultants give to parents is truly invaluable (at least that’s what my clients tell me – wink, wink). But not all sleep consultants are created equally, so be sure to do your homework when researching them. We all have different qualifications and strengths, so again be thorough in your research. If you’d like to talk to ME about your family’s unique situation, please CLICK HERE to set up your free 15min phone assessment today! Sleep well!

Transitioning Out of the Crib

When transitioning your child out of their crib, the first important thing to remember is that there is no magic age that you should move your child to a “big kid” bed. As a new mom 15yrs ago, I thought there was an age that you just made the transition no matter what the circumstance – 2 years old. So when my daughter turned 2, we celebrated by buying her a twin sized bed with guard rails and switched her. Thankfully for me, she did fine with the move, as she did with everything else (“textbook”, easy-going kid).

When my twins came years later I waited until they were 2.5yrs old before putting them into their toddler beds. That was not quite as easy since I transitioned them at the same time as I put them back into the same bedroom together. They had been separated for almost 2 years after I did sleep training at 6mos old, but once I got pregnant with my son I knew I needed the extra bedroom. Looking back I don’t know what I was thinking transitioning them to the same bedroom at the same time as putting them into toddler beds! Two toddlers in new beds and rooming together for the first time that they could remember equaled LOTS of giggling! It was definitely a struggle for a couple of weeks, but my consistency finally made a difference and they ultimately settled down.

Finally, with my son I got smart and didn’t “rock the boat” unnecessarily. I waited until he was over 3 yrs old to make the move to a toddler bed. In fact the only reason I moved him was because we were scheduled to go on vacation a month later and he would be sleeping in a bed. I didn’t want him to be afraid of the hotel’s bed, and I also figured he would likely get used to it and want to continue that routine once we were back home. So I went ahead and purchased a toddler bed for him. I have to say that I was a bit nervous moving him since he’s a very strong willed child who likes a good battle. But thankfully the transition worked well for him and after a night or two he finally understood that he was not allowed to come out of his room (but should instead call for me if need be) and has stayed in his bed ever since!

So how do you know if you’re child is ready? Well, the best thing you can do is to keep her in her crib until she’s at least 3 years old, because that’s where she’s safest! She will also have an easier time making the transition and understanding WHY she should stay in her bed. I’ve seen many good sleepers take a turn for the worst after being moved to a toddler or twin sized bed too soon! Parents like me think there’s a magic time to make the switch only to quickly find out that their child is just not ready, or is unwilling, to do so. Remember, their crib is there safe place, their comfort zone, and somewhere they spend 50-65% of their day. It’s hard for them to want to give that all up, no matter how exciting a new bed or bedding can sound. So just be patient with her and let her warm up to the idea over time.

And by all means, do not force her out of her crib too early because there’s a new baby coming soon! You might have to purchase a second crib (new or used) if the child is too young yet, but believe me it will be easier than trying to sleep train your 20mo while in a bed when you have a newborn! Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to do an immediate move to a big kid bed just because a new baby is coming. If you plan on keeping your newborn in a co-sleeper, bassinet, or pack-n-play bassinet for a while then you will have a few extra months in which to get your toddler acclimated to her new bed months later than you first intended.

When you think you might be ready to do it, you’ll want to talk to him about it briefly beforehand without making it into a big deal, just in case it gives him anxiety at the thought of moving. Just because you think he’s ready, doesn’t mean that HE thinks he’s ready. The best part about doing this when your child is older is that you can talk to them about it. Ask him how he feels about the idea of getting a new bed. Does he want a new bed or does he want to stay in his crib a while longer? If he’s not ready yet, don’t push it. Instead try slowing down the process by implementing small steps first like lowering the one side of the crib so he can get in and out himself while still feeling secure. You can also read stories about this milestone, let him see his friends’ or cousins’ “big kid” beds, and just continue talking it up.

If, when you talk to him, he sounds ready and excited about getting a new bed, then you’ll definitely want to get him involved in process. Let him have a say about what sheets and comforter set to have on his new bed. Let him choose where his bed should be in the room. Let him decide what loveys (ie comfort items) should accompany him into his bed. The point is that once you know he’s on board with this move that you get him as involved as possible with the decisions he’s able to make.

Regardless of how excited your child might be, I suggest keeping the crib up for the first night or two in case your child is frightened, not listening, or just plain changes her mind. There’s nothing wrong with going back to the crib for a while until your child is ready to make the move! It’s much easier on everyone to move her back to her crib for a while if it’s still in the room. You don’t want her to feel like she’s failed you because she’s just not ready yet. She’ll be able to try again sooner if she feels good about having control over when she transitions.

Also, moving your child to a toddler bed vs a twin/full size bed is really a personal choice. There are good and not-so-good things about both, so it’s what works best for your family. For instance, using a toddler bed is easier for those children who are on the younger side and/or less ready to make the change over. If you’re child is over 3 years old, or is tall for his age, then you would probably want to jump right over to a twin (or larger) sized bed. Bed rails would also be helpful to start off with so that he or his loveys don’t fall out.

If you need help with the transition, or with teaching your toddler the sleep skills necessary for staying in their bed/room and sleeping through the night, I can help! My Toddlers/ Preschoolers Package is popular for a reason – it works! Dealing with a feisty toddler or preschooler who has the ability to get out of bed whenever he wants can be exhausting, but I can help you get the results you want quickly with little to no tears. Have questions? Then let’s chat! I offer free 15min phone assessments so I can learn about your unique situation. This free call applies to parents of children of any age, so please feel free to book your phone consult today! 🙂

Sleep well!