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!

 

Night Terrors vs Nightmares

Most parents have seen some sort of night waking event in their child’s young life that wasn’t about feeding or changing their diaper. They will wonder what’s happening…Is it teething? Is it pain? Are they sick? What can I do to help the crying or screaming stop?!

What you need to do depends on whether or not it’s a nightmare or a night terror. They are 2 very different events, and each should be handled differently. So how can you know which your child is experiencing? Let’s compare the two…

Night Terrors:

-Happen during non-REM sleep (within the first few hours of falling asleep)

-Child will be in a partial awakening state and not really be awake when he/she wakes at night

-Child will call out in general, not actually calling for anyone specifically

-Child will not be able to talk to you or they won’t make much sense if they do talk

-Child will often not want you to touch him/her and may actually become more upset if you do

-In the end the child will just end up calming down on their own in a few minutes and will then return to sleep as if nothing happened

-Child will show physical signs, such as an increased heart rate and blood pressure

-More frightening for the parent than the child, who will not recall it ever happening in the morning

Nightmares:

-Happen during REM sleep (within a few hours of waking for the day)

-Child wakes up frightened and can remember the dream

-Child will be in a fully awake state, being alert and able to talk to you at that moment

-Child will appreciate and need comforting to return to sleep

-Child will usually call out specifically for you, looking for and needing help and reassurance

-Child’s reaction will be more of a mental one, with limited or no physical changes

-More frightening for the child, who can be affected by it for days, weeks, or even months.

Most children will not experience either of these until after a year old, though it can happen earlier. Both can be the result of over tiredness, which is an important fact to remember. If your child is often waking up in the first few hours after going to sleep with what appears to be night terrors, then you want to take a look at the time your child is going to bed at night and what their daytime naps look like. Chances are good that there’s a lack of sleep somewhere in their day that is causing these wakings. Fix that and you should see the terrors go away. Also, I have seen what I call “day terrors” happening at nap times for some children. They’re more prevalent when your child is transitioning down a nap, or is otherwise sleep deprived.

If your child is waking often with nightmares, I would talk to them (in the morning) about what their dream was about. Take a look at what they’re watching or doing during the day that might be causing these bad dreams. It might not be an obvious thing to you, so try to think like a child the same age as yours. For instance, my one daughter had her first real nightmare at age 5 years. She was terrified by it and could hardly go back to sleep that night or the following nights. When I did a little digging into what it was about, I found out it was about monsters chasing her. Sounds common, right? Yes, but the more I dug, the more I discovered that it wasn’t just any old monster. She described one that she’d seen earlier that day on Scooby Doo. I was shocked to think that a TV show I grew up watching could cause my daughter to be so scared, but it did make sense. There are monsters in every episode! After that we cut out watching the show at all and she got better over the next week or two.

It’s important to realize that a particular cartoon can be watched by two children and each to be affected differently. If you have a sensitive, fearful child, then cartoons like Scooby Doo will have a much greater impact on your child than another child. For me, I quickly found out that my daughter is very sensitive to scary things and has a lot of anxiety about random things that always comes out at night for her. On the other hand, her identical twin sister does not have this same issue with going to bed. Instead she tends to have anxiety about things during the day hours but will has no problem letting go of those thoughts at night. Again, it’s important to understand your child’s temperament and personality.

So the take away is this…if your child wakes crying (but not really talking) in the first half of the night, it’s likely a night terror. You’re not going to do much but ensure your child doesn’t hurt themselves during the “fit” (which could take up to 20mins). If it’s happening in the second half of the night and your child is screaming for you, clutching you, and visibly frightened, then you know it’s a nightmare. Be prepared to do some extra snuggling that night…and maybe the next few nights too!

Sleep well,

Ronee Welch

Sleeptastic Solutions

*Need help with nightmares or night terrors? Need help getting your child to sleep independently through the night? Need help with naps? Need your child to sleep later in the morning? Need help transitioning your child from a rock-n-play or bouncer to their crib or from their crib to a bed? Need help with breastfeeding? If you need help with any of these things, or any other sleep-related issue, I can help!

I offer free 15min phone assessments so you can tell me more about what is happening with your little one and for you to ask me some questions. If you’d like to set up a time for your free chat, please click HERE. If you’d like to find out more about the services I offer, please visit www.sleeptasticsolutions.com.

The Truth About Age “Regressions”

As a mom of 4 and a pediatric sleep consultant, I have heard parents complain about “regressions” with practically every month of their child’s first few years (ie 4mo, 6mo, 9mo, 18mo regression, etc). Many parents believe that because their child’s sleep seems to change every couple of months that it must be due to a sleep regression of some sort, as they are often not clear as to why the change is occurring.

Dictionary.com defines regression as the reversion to a chronologically earlier or less adapted pattern of behavior and feeling. Personally, I don’t like the word regression, as it implies that your child is going backwards developmentally, which is simply not the truth. You’re probably thinking, “well, if it’s not a sleep regression, then what is it?!” Let me try to explain what’s happening without being overly scientific. We’ll start by talking about what happens first as a newborn (0-3mos), before discussing the 4 month “regression” (the one I hear about the most), and finally moving on to the other age groups.

THE FIRST 3 MONTHS
When a baby is first born, their sleep consists of just 2 stages instead of the usual 5 stages older babies and adults have. They start off by skipping the light phases and jumping right to the non-REM stage (slowing down of metabolic activity, non-dream state), before transitioning to the REM  stage (active, dream state). This means that when your baby falls asleep, she is almost immediately going right to a deep phase of sleep. So when you feed/hold her and she happens to fall asleep, you can usually talk, make noise, move, or transition her without her waking up…well, at least initially anyway!

Being able to live life without tiptoeing around is essential in those first few weeks when you’re getting visitors and are just trying to figure out how to be a new family. It’s great that newborns sleep 14-17 hours a day, with 6-7 small nap periods throughout the 24 hours! It gives mom a chance to physically recover and start to carve out the resemblance of a new routine.

Let’s fast forward to 3mos of age now. Your baby’s circadian rhythm (aka biological clock) has now changed so that most of their wakefulness happens during the day and most of their sleep happens at night. Yay! By now many babies are starting to sleep in bigger chunks of time and requiring less night feeds. For example, instead of your child waking up at 11pm, 2am, and 5am for night feedings, they might skip the 11pm and sleep straight from 8pm to 2am before waking for a feed.


4 MONTH “REGRESSION”

By about 17 weeks old, your baby’s rhythm will fall into a more predictable pattern and mirror that of an adult’s. This is an extremely important fact, so stay with me here! As adults we start off by falling into 2 lighter phases of sleep, followed by the deeper stage (non-REM), and then into our dream stage (REM) before starting all over again. We go through about (5) 90min cycles each night (newborns’ sleep cycles are about half that).

As we transition from one sleep cycle into the next, we very briefly and lightly wake up (stage 1). If everything around us is the same as it was when we first went to sleep, then we will just roll into a new position and transition into that next sleep cycle without every really waking up. If, however, something has changed (ie our blanket fell off, our partner is gone, our white noise machine is off, etc), then we will more fully wake up at this point to investigate or fix whatever happened.

So what does this intriguing information have to do with your baby’s 4mo “regression”? Well, let me put it altogether now… If you were feeding, rocking, patting, holding, using a rock-n-play or other device, or otherwise helping your baby get to sleep in those first 3 months, then baby was relying on you or these other props to get to sleep and is not able to do it on his own. While that didn’t matter so much in those first 3 months, it very much so matters now in this 4th month. So now when you go to lay him down after falling asleep feeding (the #1 sleep prop), he will startle, wake, and cry, leaving you to wonder what’s going on. If he needed your help going to sleep initially, then he’s going to need your help getting back to sleep again…and again and again!

This is when most parents will start noticing that their good sleeper is no longer sleeping that well, or that their baby who was moving in the right direction with sleep seems to be taking a step backwards. As you can see it’s a natural developmental milestone, though I’ll admit it’s not nearly as exciting as watching him roll or sit up for the first time! The key here is to put baby down into her crib when she is sleepy but still awake! Try to let her fall asleep initially in the place you want her to end up being (ie her crib or bassinet), so that when she transitions into a new sleep cycle during the night or at nap everything will be the same as it was when she first went to sleep.

OTHER MONTHLY “REGRESSIONS”
So now let’s talk about the other months and their “regressions”. When parents call me saying that their baby “was sleeping good until recently” (and this can be any age), they are truly stumped as to what’s happened. Most often the answer can be found if you can think back to when this change first occurred. Was she sick? Was he teething? Did she learn a new skill like rolling, sitting up, walking, etc? Did you go on vacation? Chances are good that one of these things happened right around that same time.

Why should this matter, you ask? Well, this “regression” did not happen because your child was sick, teething, learned to roll, or went on vacation; it’s often caused because of how you responded when these things happened. If you changed what you would’ve normally done because of these events, then that’s all that he needed in order to change his response.

For example, let’s say your 12mo son got a cold. He wakes up at 2am, so you go in and check on him. He has a fever, so you give him some medicine. Now, what you should do is tuck him back in, say goodnight, and leave (a child who can self-soothe would let you leave with no crying); but being the loving parent that you are you feel bad that he’s sick so you take him to your bed to snuggle and to keep an eye on him. And then you do it again the next night because he’s still not feeling well. On the third night you decide he’s feeling well enough that he should be fine on his own again, however, he has other plans. He’s decided that he prefers sleeping with you now instead of his crib and he’s ready to put up a good fight about it. And so begins your new, unwanted nightly routine. Believe it or not, it only takes 2-3 days to replace all of your child’s good sleep habits with these new, unwanted ones! You want to try to be very careful about how you respond to things so you’re not inadvertently creating new, bad habits. You want to try to treat the symptoms/issue without changing your normal responses. Remember, the cold may last a couple of days, but the sleepless nights can last for a very long time!

HOW TO AVOID “REGRESSIONS” ALTOGETHER
So what are new parents to do??? Well, if you can teach your baby the skills to self-settle in the first 3 months of their life, and you will never have to worry about the 4th, 6th, 9th, 11th, 14th, or 36 month old regression! I know that’s easier said than done, which is why I offer support for what I call “sleep teaching”. When your baby is born they don’t have a preference or skill set for sleeping, so it’s something we parents teach them. Unfortunately, most parents don’t realize they’re teaching them to only fall asleep during a feed or in a swing until it’s too late. It’s so much easier to teach them these skills from early on instead of changing them later on (believe me, I should know since I had to sleep train my twins, but then I used sleep teaching with my son when he was 3mos old).

This is why I have a Prenatal Sleep and/or Breastfeeding Package, where we can discuss things before baby’s here (it’s my favorite package)! I also have a Newborn Package, where I work with parents of babies 8-15wks old to work on instilling good, healthy sleep habits, schedules, and routines. *I encourage parents of babies aged 0-7wks to spend time bonding with one another, practice going skin-to-skin, learn to breastfeed (if you’re doing so), and begin working on a daily routine. Working on sleep can happen successfully after that age, though if you think you’ll want to start earlier, I suggest getting the Prenatal Package (good until baby’s 4wks old) so you can do things on your own at home. 


If your child is already here and not sleeping well, you can avoid having future sleep “regressions” by fixing the sleep issues they have now. Again, easier said than done, I know, but that’s where I can help! It’s never too late to create a good, little sleeper or get yours back if you were lucky enough to have one in the first place. I have packages for all ages (through school aged), so please check out my Child Sleep Packages to find your child’s age and to see what’s all included with each of them! While you’re there, feel free to check out the testimonials from happy parents to see how they felt about their situations both before and after working together. Still not sure if I can help you and your family? Then let’s set up a FREE 15min phone assessment, so we can talk about your child’s unique sleep situation!

Sweet dreams,

Ronee Welch
Sleeptastic Solutions
Certified Pediatric Sleep Sense Consultant
Certified Lactation Counselor
www.sleeptasticsolutions.com

Daylight Savings Time – “Falling Back”

Daylight savings time is coming up this weekend! Let me just start by saying that if I had my way, there would not be a daylight savings time! Statistically, there is an 8% increase in traffic accidents the Monday after daylight savings time kicks in. It really does have an effect on all of us– especially in children, who tend to be much more structured with going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning! This is usually why parents notice it the most in their young children. So what is the best way to handle it?

My advice is to “split the difference.”

For “Fall Back,” my recommendation to all parents is just to leave the clocks alone so it’s not a psychologically upsetting event to see your little one up an hour earlier. Just get up at your usual time and start the day. After your cup of coffee and a bit of breakfast, then you can go around changing the clocks. It will feel much better this way, trust me! Then, start fresh with naps first.

If, for example, your little one usually takes a morning nap around 9:30am, you will adjust this to 9:00 for the three days after the time change. It will be a bit of a push for your child, but not so much that it will cause much damage to her schedule. Do the same for the afternoon nap or any others.

Let’s say your child usually goes to bed at 7pm. I recommend putting him/her to bed at 6:30pm for the first three days following the time change (this will FEEL like 7:30 to your child). It will take about a week for your child’s body to get used to this. It takes everybody’s body roughly one week to adjust any kind of change in sleeping habits.

On the fourth night, just get in line with the new time so your baby is back to going to bed when the clock says 7:00 pm. Adjust naps to the correct time on day 4 as well. Give it time and know that your child will get back on schedule within a week, possibly two.

As for the mornings, if you have children over the age of two, you can put a digital clock in the room and put a piece of tape over the minutes, so that they can see if it is 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock, but they cannot see the minutes, which often confuses toddlers. Just set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30 it says 7:00 and let them get up a little earlier than normal, knowing that, by the end of the week, they will be back on track and sleep until their normal wake up time.

If you are dealing with a baby, you will not be able to do that. Do not rush in as soon as you hear your baby waking up, because you do not want to send a message that getting up at 6am is okay now.  So if she normally wakes at 7:00, but is now up at 6:00, you will wait till ten after the first day, and then twenty after the next, then 6:30 the next day and, by the end of the week, your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and waking up at their usual hour.

Remember, that with time changes comes natural, outside light adjustments, so be sure to keep bedrooms dark for night and naps and keep bed/nap routines in place as usual. This will help your child make the adjustment more quickly!

Sleep Well,

Ronee Welch

Sleeptastic Solutions

www.sleeptasticsolutions.com

10 Tips For Traveling With Your Child

Traveling with a child or children can often be exhausting, frustrating, and potentially the unraveling of a great sleeper, but it doesn’t have to be. Yes, you will probably have to work hard at keeping your child on their normal schedule (at least part of the time) while you’re away and yes, you will likely have to work even harder putting your child back on their original schedule once you get back home, but doing so will hopefully keep the tantrums to a minimum along the way.

I couldn’t possibly write this blog without making it part factual, part tips to follow, and part sarcasm. Anyone who has ever traveled with a child knows that is far from fun and even farther from relaxing, but we all have to do it at one time or another. Every parent needs to put in their time in creating memories and the best family vacations possible (I did mine earlier this year in the form of a week long trip to Disney with my 4 kids, hubby, and parents). So how do we do that without losing our sanity??? Well, let met me break it down for you in 10 great tips…

  1. Rest up before you travel! The more well-rested your child (and your entire family) is the better they will be able to cope with time zone changes, being away from home, and traveling in general. And we all know how much rest parents get on vacations, so you might want to sneak in a few extra naps before leaving.
  2. No matter the mode of transportation, you’ll want to pack a bag for traveling! I’m not talking about their travel suitcase with their clothes, diapers, and essentials, I’m talking about packing a special bag just for the transportation part. If you have a baby, then you want to stuff that diaper bag full of more than just diapering items. You’ll want to include toys, bottles of milk/formula or juice (if you’re using them), pacifiers, books, wipes, non-refrigerated snacks, and basically anything else not nailed down in your house. For toddlers, you want to do most of these things, but then also include coloring books, an ipad/tablet, LOTS of snacks, and any toy that doesn’t make noise (no sense in annoying yourself in a car or others on an airplane). Distraction will be your friend for most of the traveling part, so be prepared to do a lot of entertaining to and from your “vacation”.
  3. If you’re changing time zones, you want to immediately switch to the new time zone if you’ll be there longer than a day or two. Try to avoid letting your child take excessively long naps at the wrong times. Don’t let your child skip meals, naps, or bedtime! Timing of meals, activities, and light/dark can help tremendously in adjusting to the new change. Luckily, most hotel rooms have nice thick, dark curtains on the windows so you have no idea if it’s day or night, so that should make things a little easier. Thankfully children are more resilient than adults, so chances are good that he’ll recover faster than you do.
  4. Keep naps and meal times the same as normal. Again, while it can be difficult to do this on the road, doing so will greatly help your child’s body remain on schedule, which will make him a happier traveler. Remember, your baby’s body is used to your at-home schedule, so you can’t expect him to just go with the flow for eating and sleeping. It takes time to adjust to these things!
  5. If baby won’t nap in this unfamiliar place, don’t panic…go to Plan B instead! Babies need to have their naps if you’re going to have any chance at a decent vacation, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t fight you tooth and nail with taking one. If that happens, take your child for a walk in the stroller, a ride in the car, or wear them while you walk. You want to do what you can to ensure baby gets her naps! Then, when you get back home, you’ll need to have her go back to sleeping independently in her crib so this vacation doesn’t go down in your child’s history as “the vacation where she stopped sleeping”.
  6. Eat familiar things when you can, or bring a back up supply of your child’s favorite things. If you know you’ll be going out to restaurants with unfamiliar foods, it would be a good idea to pack some snacks or a sandwich for your child in case she doesn’t like what’s on the menu. While you might want your child to try new things, you shouldn’t expect that they will adjust their food preference and gobble up an entirely new meal. They might, but if not, bringing snacks will go a long way to avoiding meltdowns! Remember those snacks I told you to take with for traveling? Well, get about 4 times that amount to cover you for restaurant visits, snack times throughout the day and in the evenings, and for on your way back home.
  7. Don’t over schedule! I know that can be really hard not to do, especially if you’re going on vacation, but it is so necessary if you want to have a pleasant child. Your child will most likely be happier in the morning, so try to schedule activities then and plan to be back in the early evening. You’ll want to have some down time scheduled into the day too so that your child has a chance to run off some energy throughout the day and decompress before bed. If you get back too late, your child will have caught his “second wind” while you’re exhausted. It’s never fun to have your 3yr old jumping on the bed singing and dancing like it’s 9am instead of 9pm, when all you want to do is melt in the mattress.
  8. You want to take as many of your child’s favorites bedtime items with you as possible. This means that you should take their lovey, white noise machine, favorite sheet/blanket, books, and/or any other key component of their bedtime routine. You want them to be as comfortable and consistent as possible. And be sure that you continue with their normal bedtime routine no matter where you! Hopefully your child has a lovey that’s small enough to fit into their suitcase, or else you might have to buy it a plane ticket. Either way, it’s gotta come with!
  9. Keep your child’s bedtime at about the same time (within 30 mins) as when you’re at home. Going to bed too late will only increase your chance of night wakings and early morning wakings. Try to travel during naps or bedtime, breaking up the traveling if it’s too long. Like I said, being overly tired leads to children catching that dreaded “second wind”, so try to get them to bed before it’s too late.
  10. Be understanding about your child’s potential crankiness. Jet lag, a long car ride, new faces, new environments, new foods, and a new bed can be overwhelming to a child. They might be tired, they might be cranky, and they might be clingy, but they are resilient and should recover in a few a days. Just in time for you to get back on the plane or in the car and return home!

I can’t help with the pure exhaustion that goes with traveling with a child (or 2 or 3 or 4), but if you keep these things in mind when planning your next vacation to Disney, Grandma’s house, or the beach, your child’s schedule and sleeping should be ok. If not, you might have to do a little sleep retraining to get them back to normal, but after a few days of your consistency they should be back to their old routines. And if that doesn’t work, you can contact me! You can visit the Sleeptastic Solutions website for more information or set up a time to chat. I offer free 15min phone assessments, so you can tell me all about your wonderful trip and what’s wrong now because of it. 😉

Are Schedules Really That Important?

Parents often ask me if having a good schedule is really that important, and the answer is yes! Children thrive on schedules! Whether you have a baby, toddler, preschooler, or school aged child, they all appreciate knowing what comes next in their day. If you have an older child that can talk well, then you know that they will ask several times a day what is next. Where are we going next? What time are we leaving? How long until dinner? If you have a predictable schedule, they will go from asking you what’s next to telling YOU what’s next.

When children are younger that predictability is what gives them a secure feeling. For instance, they are secure in the fact that they know that after diaper changes come feedings. They will often start rooting or sticking their tongue out during diaper changes because they’re excited about being nursed or given a bottle afterwards. The diaper changes send a cue to your child’s mind and body to get read for that next feeding. The same thing is true for sleep. Having a good bedtime routine in place will allow your child to become ready for bed.

If you have the same consistent routine each night before bed, you might notice that your child will start yawning or getting really sleepy during your routine each night. This will help your child fall asleep more easily for bed, and the same is true for naps. Having a short nap time routine will allow your child to realize that once again sleep is near. You want to use the EAT-PLAY-SLEEP (EPS) schedule throughout the day for your baby.

If you’re unfamiliar with EPS, it means that babies should be fed AFTER they wake up and not before. I know this is counter-intuitive to what we parents tend to do in the first few weeks, but this is what will ensure your baby is going to sleep independently vs having baby fed to sleep as a prop. After 6 weeks of age, I recommend changing over to EPS so that baby can start to get on a good schedule. So if you have an infant your daytime schedule would look something like this:

  • Baby wakes in the morning, is changed, and then fed
  • Baby plays or is awake for awhile (length of time depends on child’s age)
  • Baby is put into crib sleepy but awake without being fed again beforehand
  • Baby wakes up from nap, is changed, and then fed…process starts all over

If you have a toddler or preschooler, your schedule might look something like this:

  • 7am – wake up
  • 7:30am – breakfast
  • 9:30am – snack
  • 11:30 – lunch
  • 12:30pm – nap
  • 3pm – snack
  • 5pm – dinner
  • 6:30pm – bedtime routine starts
  • 7pm – bedtime

If this is your child’s schedule every day, then you will notice that he/she will start to get sleepy at nap/bed times and get hungry at the same times each day. This predictability allows your child to feel in control of his/her day and to know what to expect. It helps their body maintain a good circadian rhythm and over tiredness for sleep, and eating on a fairly predictable schedule of every few hours prevents energy dips, metabolism slowdowns, crankiness, and cravings.

Having a good schedule for your child means that you as the parent can plan your day accordingly. Whenever possible, try to plan to be home during your child’s naps. Doing so will allow your child to get the best daytime sleep possible, which will in turn help with their night time sleep. Since sleep begets sleep, it’s in your best interest in preserve those naps whenever you can! Of course there will be times when you can’t be home for your child’s nap, but just do what you can to make it happen most days.

At this time of year, with school going back into session, I’m often asked by parents of multiple young children what they should do when they have to run their preschooler to school several times a week during their youngest child’s nap time. In these cases, the best scenario would be that you try to arrange your little one’s naps around the times you have to leave the house. If that’s not possible, then try to at least get one (or more) naps taken at home. Usually the drop off/pick up times only interfere with one nap, so if you have a baby who’s taking two naps a day you’ll want to get at least one nap taken at home and the other one will need to be “on the go”. Since most babies enjoy falling asleep in their car seat, stroller, or carrier/wrap, use this to your advantage and let one nap happen there while transporting your other child.

While you’re never going to be able to be 100% consistent with your schedule and routine every single day, you can do your best to be consistent on the days that you’re home. Don’t panic if one day you weren’t able to keep your child on schedule for naps or bedtime. It’s ok…life happens! Just return to normal the next day, and expect that your child’s next 24hrs might be affected by that short nap, skipped nap, late bedtime, etc.

 

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Did you know that I always include a custom daytime schedule and bedtime routine with every sleep package I offer? Often that schedule can be the difference between the program working quickly and perfectly and not working well and lingering on for weeks. If you are having problems with your child’s sleep or their schedule/routine, contact me today for your free 15min phone assessment!

Breastfeeding Do’s and Don’ts

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7, 2015), I am dedicating this month’s blog issue to all-things-breastfeeding! First of all, I want to congratulate you on your decision to give your child breast milk!

We all know that breast milk is best, but the act of breastfeeding can sometimes be overwhelming and a little difficult. There is so much to learn and understand about lactation that I could spend many, many hours talking it about all! Since I know you don’t have that much time, I decided to put together 20 do’s and don’ts instead!

DO:

  • Practice skin-to-skin with your baby, as it promotes correct suckling, less crying, warmth, less separation, and of course breastfeeding!
  • Breastfeed or express your milk 10-12 times in a 24hr period during the newborn period.
  • Learn how to hand express your milk. It’s useful to understand how to do it, and often you can hand express an additional amount of milk after pumping, thus helping your supply increase.
  • Check with your health care provider or lactation counselor before taking any medications (prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal). You can also check online at sites like LactMed or Infant Risk.
  • Keep alcohol consumption to a moderate amount while breastfeeding. According to the Institute of Medicine, a 132lb woman could have approximately 2-2.5oz oz of liquor, 8oz of table wine, or 2 cans of beer a day. If you do drink alcohol, don’t bother “pumping and dumping”, as alcohol is water soluable and can move in and out of your milk supply. By the time you are no longer feeling the effects of the alcohol, and it’s cleared out of your body, it will also be cleared out of your milk.
  • Try to quit smoking if you are currently doing so. While it’s not forbidden for breastfeeding, it’s best for your health to quit! If you do smoke, the most important thing to remember is that your baby needs to be protected from second-hand smoke. Never allow someone to smoke around your baby. And in pregnancy, don’t allow yourself to be around it if at all possible. It’s never too late to quit, so talk to your doctor about ways to do so!
  • Talk to a lactation counselor if you feel like you’re not making enough milk or that your baby is not drinking enough so a proper assessment can be made, including a before-and-after weight check.
  • Use a back up birth control method while breastfeeding. In the first 6 months you might be able to use the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM), but it is no longer effective after that age.
  • Continue to breastfeed your child exclusively for the first 6 months, adding in complementary solids around 6 months, and then continue to nurse for 1 year (or 2, 3, or more years)! 
DON’T:
  • Introduce a pacifier until baby is at least one month old and breastfeeding has been well established.
  • Put a limit on your baby’s feeding time. Let baby nurse until he/she is finished. That being said, longer feeding times (more than 30mins) are associated with lower levels of milk transfer, so if feeds are continually taking that long you should talk to a lactation counselor.
  • Worry about the size of your breasts being an indication of whether or not you will produce enough milk for child/children. The proportion of glandular and fat tissue are not related to milk production.
  • Offer complementary solids until baby is at least 6 months old. Breast milk should be the primary source of nutrition for your child until one year old. And contrary to what many think, it will not make your baby sleep any longer! 
  • Drink excess water while pumping or breastfeeding, as it’s no longer recommended. You need to only drink to quench your thirst. More water does not equal more milk!
  • Avoid your favorite foods for fear they’re too gassy or spicy. For the majority of babies this is not needed. There are no foods that nursing mothers should always avoid. If, however, your baby seems to be having a reaction to something in your diet, talk to your doctor as there might be an allergy to something you’re eating/drinking (ex: cow’s milk). Or if there is a family history of allergies (such as peanuts), you should avoid that food both during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
  • Suffer with nipple pain! Breastfeeding should not hurt, so if it does seek help from a professional such as myself to get to the root of your pain.
  • Pump or hand express your milk if engorgement is your issue. Doing so will just cause your body to make more milk. Instead, take a warm shower/bath or use a dishpan of warm water to soak your breasts in. This will allow the milk to flow out, giving you relief without telling your body to replace the milk.
  • Be discouraged about your ability to breastfeed if you’re pregnant with multiples. Many mothers have successfully nursed their twins, triplets, quads or more! Your body is able to make the amount of milk needed for all of your babies. There are things you can do though to ensure you produce as much as possible, so talk to a lactation counselor to find out more.
  • Wait to contact your health care practitioner if you have redness, lumps, red streaks, or flu-like symptoms. Contact a lactation counselor for blocked ducts, engorgement, cracked nipples, nipple pain, latching problems, milk supply issues, or general non-emergency questions.

Besides breastfeeding consultations, I also offer a great prenatal breastfeeding package that can be a stand-alone package, or it can be coupled with a prenatal sleep plan for the ultimate in prenatal classes! For more information about the breastfeeding services I offer, please CLICK HERE! If you’re unsure about how I can help you, or just want more information, I offer a free 15min phone chat so we can learn more about each other. CLICK HERE if you’d like to set up a time!

Things That Go Bump (or Boom) In the Night!

In light of this weekend’s 4th of July celebrations happening around the US, I am dedicating this month’s newsletter to all things that go bump (or boom) in the night. Even the best sleepers are sometimes startled awake by things that sound off in the middle of the night. So what do you do when your child wakes because of some loud noise? How do you get them quickly back to sleep?

The first thing you want to ask yourself is “how did my child go to sleep initially?” Did you have to help him get to sleep by feeding, snuggling, patting, rocking, etc? If so, then chances are that you’re going to need to do those same things again (see bottom for a special offer to change this). If, however, you have an independent sleeper who went to bed on his own after going through his bedtime routine and kissing you goodnight, then your answer is a bit different. Let’s assume that you have a good sleeper, since that is the goal after all!

Fireworks, Thunderstorms, Cars, Airplanes, Trains, or Other Loud Outside Interferences:

You want to remember that just because you’ve woken up due to these noises does not mean that your child will. Children have an awesome ability to sleep through many of the things that we can not as adults. They’ve not had to worry yet about listening for a crying baby, a child escaping their bedroom, a spouse coming in late, or strange noises that could be burglars. Over the years, those things change us from deep sleepers to light sleepers, which means that we tend to hear every little noise (especially mothers – sorry dads).

Don’t panic if YOU hear a noise and then assume your child must be in his room upset and scared. The younger the child, the less likely it is that he’ll wake up scared from any noises. If you have a child who’s 2 years or older, you might notice that things not only wake him up now but that he’s scared because of them. So what can you do when it happens?

BE CALM:

Start by going into his room calmly. Do not go rushing in there saying things like “oh, my poor baby, you must be so scared” and acting like you’re scared too. Children feed off of their parent’s emotions (good or bad), so be very aware of how you respond initially.

Next, calmly talk to your child at his developmental level about the noise and downplay it as much as possible. If it’s a thunderstorm, you might want to make up a non-scary reason why we hear those noises. Personally, I tell my children that there are angels and loved ones that have passed that are bowling up in Heaven. Some people may not agree with this, but it works great for my kids. Calms them instantly!

But if you’re not religious, don’t want to tell them lies, or you have an older child, then you can respond with a science-y answer. Explain what really happens up in those clouds that makes it thunder and lightning. I would suggest going over these things during the daytime hours first so that you can just remind your child about what you’ve already discussed, when it’s now 2 AM and you’re not really in the mood to chit-chat about thunderstorms. Whatever it is you tell him, just be consistent with your answers (at least until he’s old enough for the science version) so that he can remember it when the next storm hits.

If it’s fireworks keeping him up this weekend, and you already know that your neighborhood is an active community for them, then you can prep him early that he might hear some loud noises at night, but that they’re nothing to be scared of. I wouldn’t make it a big deal, but just prepare him that he might hear something loud or new. Don’t worry about pre-warning him though if he’s younger than 2yrs old, as he’s not going to be able to comprehend any of what you’re trying to say and you might actually scare him more by talking about it ahead of time.

OFFER COMFORT AND LEAVE:

If he’s visibly upset by the noise, then you’ll want to offer some comfort and reassurance that he’s ok and that you’re there for him. If the noise was over with quickly (ex: car backfiring), then you’ll want to calm him, lay him back down, re-tuck him in, say good night and leave the room. You do NOT want to change your normal routine by taking him to your bed, getting into his bed, patting his back, re-feeding, or sitting there with him until he falls asleep (again we’re assuming you don’t currently do any of those things).

Older children have the ability to very quickly make mom and dad feel guilty for wanting to leave by asking for more snuggles, to come to your room, for you to stay, etc. I know it’s really hard to turn down those kinds of requests when you know he’s scared, so I suggest telling him you’ll give him just one set of snuggles before doing so and then leaving.  Don’t be talked into something that you wouldn’t normally allow at bedtime, or else you might find your child waking up more often in the middle of the night looking for more snuggling either that night or the nights that follow.

If the noise is a recurring thing, such as fireworks or a thunderstorm, then you might need to camp out with him for a bit until the noises end. It’s going to be very hard to convince him to return to a peaceful sleep when noises are happening left and right or a storm is right above your house. That’s when you will want to calmly and quietly talk through it, maybe sitting together in a chair next to the crib or laying with him for a few minutes in his big boy bed. It’s a good time to talk about nice, happy things in his life, like what he did that day or will do the next day that will be fun. Then, once the fireworks end or the storm passes, you will re-tuck him in, say good night, and leave.

SUMMARY:

If you only remember one thing, remember this: It only takes 1-3 days to completely undo your child’s good sleep habits! While you of course want to comfort your child through something loud and frightening, you don’t want to give him a reason to stay up the rest of the night, keep calling for you, or fight you the next night for bed. With anything that ever comes up that causes your child to wake in the night (ie fireworks, storms, loud noises, illnesses, teething, developmental milestones, etc), it’s never the event itself that causes things to spiral out of control, but it’s how we parents respond to those things. So don’t let tomorrow night’s fireworks celebration ruin your child’s good sleeping habits! Be calm. Be comforting. Be consistent. Happy 4th of July!

Let’s Talk Toddlers…

Toddlers can be very challenging, yet very rewarding if you know what you’re doing! First of all, a child becomes a toddler around 1yr of age and it lasts until about 3yrs old, when he moves up to the classification of “preschooler”. While that time frame is often filled with temper tantrums, screaming, and flat-out not listening, it is also a time of great learning! Every day your child is working on learning more words, colors, shapes, ABCs, counting, walking, running, skipping, climbing, and much more! In order to do all of those things each and every day, your child needs the proper amount of sleep each night and a good nap each day (if they’re still napping).

Bedtime Routine:

It all starts with a great, predictable bedtime routine every night. We know that babies like schedules, but we often forget that toddlers like and NEED those schedules just as much! A great sample routine might look like this:

7:00pm      Pajamas on, brush teeth, change diaper/go potty

7:15pm      Read books/quiet play in room

7:30pm      Bedtime

Bedtime Battles:

A common complaint about toddlers is that bedtime is a battle. If your child is pushing the boundaries with you all day long, you can assume she’s going to do the same at bedtime. The best thing you can do is be consistent. Set your bedtime expectations, then follow through with either a reward, a consequence, or both. Examples of stall tactics that toddlers will commonly use:

-Hopping back out of bed (if in a bed)

-Asking for another kiss or hug

-Asking for a drink

-Asking to go to the potty

-Throwing her favorite lovey or blanket out of the crib so you get it

When those things happen, you’ll want to give a warning about what will happen if she doesn’t stop the unwanted behavior. Then, if it continues, you will need to follow through with the consequence you just threatened her with. For example, if she threw her lovey out of the crib to keep you in the room or have you come back in, then you warn her that if she throws it out again you’ll not be giving it back to her.

Initially, she will purposely throw that lovey back out just to see what you will do, but that will change once she knows you mean business. After she throws it that second time, you will leave it where it lands for as many minutes as she is old (i.e. if she’s 2 years old, then you would leave it out for 2 minutes). Same rules apply for each and every time she throws it out. You want to let her know that bedtime is non-negotiable and that you’re not fooling around.

Once she sees that it isn’t a game, she will probably not throw it again. If, however, you have a really stubborn toddler, she might need to actually go to bed without it and not be given it back again until morning to know you’re serious (though most times that’s unnecessary).

Summary:

Anyone with a toddler (or two) will tell you that you need to pick and choose your battles. Sleep is one of those battles you need to choose to fight! You will have less bedtime battles with a child who is not overly tired. A consistent nap time and bed time will greatly improve the amount of battles you’ll have throughout the day, so make sleep a top priority in your house!

Sleep Well,

Ronee Welch

Sleeptastic Solutions

*Click HERE to set up your free 15min phone assessment!

Bedtime Routines

Bedtimes routines are an essential cue to a child’s mind and body that sleep is drawing near. They can be implemented as early as day one, though most parents find it easier to begin them after things have calmed down a bit. Whether you already have a bedtime routine, or are looking to start one, it’s doesn’t hurt to see what is suggested and what you should know about creating one!

Duration:  Routines should be anywhere between 20-30 minutes, though no longer than 45 minutes.  Anything longer than 30 minutes and your child will begin to lose interest, get cranky, and start to give you a hard time.  The only time when 45 minutes is acceptable is when a bath is included as part of the bedtime routine.

Where:  At least some of the routine should take place where the child sleeps, whether that be their own bedroom, a shared room with a sibling, or mom and dad’s room for those that co-sleep.  This lets them know that bedtime is near and that their room is a comfortable and nice place to be and spend time in.  Remember to keep stimulation to a minimum by keeping the lights and voices low during this relaxing time!

Consistency:  It is important to keep the routine consistent night after night so that your child feels secure in knowing what activity is next.  Toddlers and preschoolers especially take great comfort in predictability.  Like babies, they thrive on consistency and do much better with going to sleep when they know what is expected.   Now that’s not to say that if you forget to read a story or sing a particular song one night that your child won’t go to sleep for you, but the more consistent you are with your routine, the more consistent your child will be with going to sleep for you without much of a fuss.

Creating a key phrase:  Most parents have a short phrase that they already say every night to let the child know that it’s time for bed.  Maybe you say “it’s sleepy time”, “it’s bedtime”, or “it’s nighty-night time”.  Whatever your phrase, be consistent with it and continue to say each and every night, and also for naps, no matter what age your child is. While young children may not understand what you’re saying, they can begin to learn the sounds and tone of your voice when you say it and will come to realize that it’s associated with going to sleep. So if you don’t have one currently, then now’s a great time to introduce one!

What should be included in your routine?  You should only include enjoyable activities in your bedtime and nap routines that will be performed every night and day, like feeding and reading stories.  Do not include baths unless they’re given nightly and your child enjoys them.

Example bedtime routine:

6:45 pm     Bath time
7:00 pm     Pajamas
7:05 pm     Story or two, songs
7:20 pm     Nursing, bottle, or sippy cup/snack
7:30 pm     In crib/bed, sleepy but awake!
Naptime routine:  You’re probably thinking, “What?  I’m supposed to do a naptime routine, too?” YES!  A shortened version of the bedtime routine (say feeding, book, bed), along with saying your key phrase, helps to give your child those same essential cues that it’s time for sleep.
As you can see, creating a bedtime (and naptime) routine is easy to do, and it should be pleasant for both children and parents!  This is meant to be a quiet time where you can peacefully enjoy your child’s company, and it’s certainly a great way to end your day with him/her!
If you’d like to learn more about what you can do to help your child sleep fantastically through the night, please register for my FREE “Sleeping Through the Night” webinar next Thursday, July 24th at 9pm.  You will learn about the importance of sleep and the 7 important things you can do right now to get your child sleeping independently!  Go to http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=EA58DF88814A31 to register for this free, informational webinar!

Or if you need more help with your little one’s sleep issues, contact me through my website at www.sleeptasticsolutions.com for a free 15-min phone evaluation where you can tell me more about your child’s sleep issues!

Sleep well,

Ronee Welch

Sleeptastic Solutions

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