“Suddenly my child is waking several times a night?”
“My baby has started protesting at bedtime!”
“He looks tired but he refuses to nap now.”
Do you have a child that used to sleep perfectly, but for reasons unknown to you he seems to have hit the 4 month, or 18 month or 2 year old sleep regression (ever notice that every age group gets labeled with the word “regression” behind it)?
Obviously, you are not alone in dealing with a sleep regression—trust me or I would not be writing about it! Sleep regressions are unfortunately normal, even for the children of a sleep consultant. Yes, I know what you may be thinking, but it does happen with my own kids too!
Sleep regression is normal, but knowing how to deal with it gets sleep right back on track. ← Tweet this
Here are the 3 top signs to look for if you are wondering if your child is experiencing a regression, and answers to help get their sleep back on track.
He needs lots of help to fall back to sleep.
Perhaps your little one used to blissfully fall asleep once his bedtime routine was complete. You could give him a cuddle and a kiss goodnight and he’d be off to dreamland, but for some reason now you need to rock him endlessly, try to feed him, or give him a pacifier, trying for a lengthy amount of time to help him fall asleep. This may show up just at bedtime or it could happen during a night time wake up.
Always make sure that your child is put in his crib or bed awake at bedtime so that he is able to fall back to sleep on his own. If he becomes dependent on an external item (“sleep prop”) such as feeding to help him fall asleep, it is likely becoming a habit at some point.
By falling asleep awake, he will develop the skill to self-soothe to sleep. Keep in mind that there are a variety of ways that you can support your child in falling asleep without the use of a sleep prop! It is best to find a method that works best for you, your family and, most importantly, your child.
Sleep trouble without signs of illness.
I can still remember my son waking for three consecutive nights every few hours well past after he had been sleeping great for months! He did have a bit of a cold and a few ear infections that winter so I was certain that this was the culprit of the wake ups. I quickly found out that nothing was wrong. What? How did I miss this? You can imagine what was going through my mind – this is WHAT I DO. So with no signs of illness and no signs of teething, I had to support him with getting back on track with his sleep and since he had great sleep habits already, it only took a few nights!
If you ever have any questions or concerns about your child’s health, always get it checked out by your Doctor or Pediatrician. It is always best to be sure and you can always get the good sleep habits back on track.
Poor sleep habits have become the new norm.
Have you been suffering for weeks, months or years? Is the last time your child slept well through the night a distant memory? This is when it is always so important to check-in. Very often I find that parents understand what is causing the sleep regression to occur but they are at a loss for how to get things back on track.
There are a couple of things that I know for sure. First, children can begin to sleep well again by implementing good sleep habits even if it has been a long time—they CAN overcome a sleep regression and it is never too late.
It’s never too late to improve your child’s sleep habits. ← Tweet this
The first step is recognizing that the current sleep habits are no longer working well to provide your child or you with the proper rest that you need and then doing something about it. This usually means getting back to basics by implementing a solid bedtime routine every night, making sure that your child is not dependent on sleep props, and realizing that the benefits of having a child that is well rested is incredibly valuable to their overall health!
P.S. If you have a child that needs some help with sleep, you can always set up a free 15-minute call with me.
My passion for sleep began once I became a mom.
When my daughter was born, she began sleeping through the night at 10 weeks of age. When I say “sleep through the night” I mean that she slept for 11 + hours without crying-it-out. We worked diligently on her sleep routines, and she caught on at a very young age.
Fast forward 2 & 1/2 years later, and our second child was born. With a busy toddler and a new infant in the home, we were just not able to put in the effort and consistency needed to help our son. Plans fell to the wayside! I was obsessed every night with sleep – how much was I going to get, was tonight going to be a good night or a bad night, and on and on it went.
Then, the sad realization that our son’s sleep habits were getting worse—much worse! After yet another sleep deprived night, I almost had a terrible car accident with the two children in the car. Yikes! We then decided it was definitely time to take action and contacted a Sleep Consultant.
It was the best decision we ever made for our family.
After this incredibly successful experience, I made the decision to become a Professional Pediatric Sleep Consultant and have witnessed families rise above the exhaustion, or as one of my clients described it as being “a walking zombie”. Having been the sleep deprived, blurry eyed, caffeine addicted mother of two, I want to share with you some ideas that I wish I had known before I “hit rock bottom” and asked for help.
Sleep training is easy.
Now don’t get me wrong when I say it’s easy. There was no magic wand that put our son to sleep. What we did have was a plan that took out all the guesswork as well as helping us to understand why sleep was going so poorly. Being knowledgeable about your baby’s sleep is a huge part of working one-on-one with a Consultant. I just looked back at my son’s sleep logs, and saw that I had written “This is amazing. We are helping him learn how to sleep.”
On day one of working with our Consultant, our son fell asleep independently after crying for seven minutes. Wonderful! There had been a lot more tears when we were trying to do this on our own. My clients often comment that the anticipation of sleep training is worse than the actual process. There are difficult parts for sure, but you can be successful knowing you have an expert Consultant supporting you.
Sleep deprivation hurts way more than sleep training. ← Tweet this
Babies do not “grow out” of poor sleep habits on their own.
When it comes to sleep, there are certainly bad habits that prevent children from learning the skill of falling asleep independently. Many people told me that my son would magically sleep through the night when he was older, but I knew that a healthy 22 lb. baby did not need to eat every two hours throughout the night. The plan initially included his night feedings, but once he had the necessary skills, he fell asleep in minutes at bedtime and happily slept through those feedings. He is going to be three years old soon, and those good sleep habits have continued despite illness, teething, travel, and other usual childhood events.
Becoming a parent does not equal sleep deprivation for life.
Yes, you are a parent, but that in no way means that you have to be exhausted with a child that does not sleep well for months (or years!). We do have to accept that we will be busier and more tired sometimes, but feeling exhausted and at the end of your rope night after night is dangerous. Your health and well-being, and relationships with others are too important to ignore. I remember how thin my patience was wearing with my daughter prior to sleep training. Once my son began sleeping, we immediately had more quality time to spend with her while he napped. My husband and I also had time for each other again in the evenings and knew that we would all be sleeping soundly through the night, every night!
Becoming a parent does not equal sleep deprivation for life! ← Tweet this
If this sounds all to familiar, I would love to hear from you and offer assistance to help end the struggle with sleep in your home. You can set up a free 15 minute call with me here.
Time to go back to work already?! In Canada, we are fortunate to be able to stay home with our children for a full year. I know that I certainly felt privileged to be on maternity leave with both of my children during that time. There are many changes happening to babies that first year, including teething, transitioning to solid food and improving sleep.
After the first six months have passed, or perhaps even before, parents will begin planning to take their baby to a place for child care while they themselves prepare to head back to work. The transition to daycare is always a busy time of juggling new morning and evening schedules, getting back into the groove of going to work and adjusting your little one to a new environment at a daycare. Most of my clients have LOTS of questions once sleep is on track about what that means when daycare starts, so to help put your mind at ease, I am going to share my top tips for dealing with the change and keeping your little ones rested.
Pick a daycare that is good fit for your child and your family. Ask any questions and raise any concerns that you have and make sure that the answers align with what is important to you for your child. A couple of important things to consider when it comes to choosing a daycare:
- It is a good idea to interview a few places and decide which is the best fit for you and your child. Getting referrals from other families, going to visit in-person during daycare hours, asking about sleep and daily schedules, how they handle emergency situations, etc. will provide information that you will want to know!
- Parents are often concerned about transitioning their child to one nap in order to follow the schedule at daycare. If your child is around one year of age, he will typically adjust well to the new routines with the other children and will be fine with moving to one nap a day. However, the nap will need to begin much earlier, so ensure that the daycare is willing to schedule the nap to begin at 11:30 a.m. so that your child is not overtired. Some babies still need two naps a day to be rested so it really needs to be discussed ahead of time.
Bring a lovey.
Lovies are wonderful transitional items to help children deal with normal separation anxiety that they begin to experience during this time.
- Some children will cling to a lovey or if they have not attached themselves to one already, parents can choose a lovey for them prior to beginning daycare. Giving the lovey to children at sleep times (if they are old enough; ask your pediatrician or doctor), when they are visiting grandparents or having play dates will allow them to form an attachment.
- A lovey can be a stuffed animal, doll, blanket or even a shirt worn by mom or dad – the scent of mom/dad is so helpful.
- Make sure that the lovey is safe and free of ribbons, buttons and small plastic parts that are possible choking hazards.
- Remember to buy two! Lovies often get lost so it is always a great idea to have a back-up that is “well loved” and used just as often.
Begin new daycare routine early.
Families should practice getting up at the same time that they need to for work a few days or a week prior to taking children to daycare. This will help parents and children align with the new schedule and ease everyone into the new routine beforehand, making it less tiring and stressful for everyone on the first day of daycare and back to work. If parents are planning to transition children to one nap a day, it will be important to transition them at least the week before, allowing their bodies some time to adjust.
It is also helpful to plan new routines for the weekdays during this time so that mornings run as smoothly as possible. Packing the daycare bag the night before, scheduling time to eat breakfast, planning clothes (yours and baby’s) the night before and having 10 minutes of free time to deal with unpredictable situations that might come up in the morning, or just to have a few minutes to be with your child before drop-off, are also helpful.
Move bedtime earlier.
A child will be tired from being in a new space, meeting new people and having busier days in general (ie. getting out the door, dressed and eating breakfast is a tighter schedule than before). An earlier bedtime of 30 minutes to 1 hour will be necessary for everyone at first. After the first 3 weeks to a month, bedtime can be moved closer to the normal time again.
If you are looking for more sleep tips to help your child sleep well before going to daycare, you can schedule a free 15-minute call or check out the upcoming More Sleep For Baby online workshop coming up Friday, April 7 (limited to 4 families).
Already? It always feels like we just changed the clocks. This is not such a big deal prior to having children, but it certainly becomes stressful when parents have to adjust their little ones to a “new time”. This is especially true if they have just gotten on track with sleep.
Losing one hour means an increase in sleep debt for both adults and children. Personally, I feel that Daylight Savings no longer serves a purpose, and statistically speaking, studies have shown that there is an increase of up to 20 % in traffic accidents every year on the Monday after Daylight Savings Time begins.
Nonetheless, it is time to move your clocks ahead one hour on Sunday, March 12, so here are my best strategies to help your child adjust to the new time within a week!
Split the difference.
For the first three days of Daylight Savings you will adjust your child’s schedule ahead by 30 minutes rather than the full hour. He may hang out, babble or take slightly longer to fall asleep. This is okay. He will fall asleep eventually and this will begin the process of resetting his internal clock.
You can begin with bedtime on Saturday night if you that works for you, but feel confident to wait until Sunday. Some people panic and begin adjusting their child a week before Daylight Savings comes into effect, which is unnecessary. If your little one naps, then you will begin with his first nap on Sunday when the time changes. For example, if your child normally naps at 9:30 a.m. you will move his first nap to 10:00 a.m. or if bedtime is normally at 7:00 p.m. you will move it to 7:30 p.m. for the first three days.
On day four, your child will be ready to move to the new time. He will now be back on track with his proper times for both naps and bedtimes.
Darkness increases melatonin production (sleepy hormone). This is a huge advantage in helping reset your child’s internal clock, as well as your own! An hour before bedtime, keep things low key and quiet, dim the lights and eliminate screens. This means no television, iPad’s, etc. that emit blue light and interfere with sleep. If you do not have black-out blinds in your child’s bedroom, now is the time to invest in some to keep it nice and dark to help your little one sleep past the early morning sunrise!
The power of routines.
A child’s mind and body are strongly cued by his routines. By following his usual routines on the first day of time change, he will be able to predict and have a sense of what comes next. For example, if your child naps after lunch, then make sure he has had lunch before his nap on Sunday, and his internal clock will naturally feel prepared for nap time. This is the same for the rest of the daily schedule; awake time activities, supper time and the bedtime routine should all be shifted at the same pace as sleep times.
Follow these strategies, and by the end of the week, your child will be back on track with his normal schedule again!
Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant
If you are looking for more sleep solutions to get your child sleeping well and through the night, you can set up a free 15-minute consultation here or check out information for my next More Sleep For Baby online workshop!
The snow is on its way out (hopefully!) and perhaps you are planning a family getaway! Feeling a bit nervous about it all? I get it. We are planning two days away with our two and five year-olds and I can’t wait, but there are a few things that I know need to be in place so that we can all enjoy our time away and keep our patience in tact. Here are my top tips to keep you covered for enjoying your spring time vacation!
Plan, plan, plan!
Part of getting away for vacation is about being flexible, taking a break and having fun. In order to do so, you must plan ahead. If you have a baby, a toddler or pre-schooler this is especially true. Here are some important items that will help make planning easier!
- Make a list. Write out a checklist of what you absolutely need to bring and check each item off as it goes into a suitcase. Bring your list with you so that you can have peace of mind by knowing that each item has been packed before heading back home. This will keep you from forgetting your iPad and preventing a melt down with a stuffy that gets left behind.
- Travelling by plane? Make sure that you have everything you need to feed your baby, plenty of diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes just in case. Try to condense it enough so that you can store it under the seat in front of you and avoid going into the overhead compartment which can be tricky.
- Taking a road trip? A DVD player or child’s favourite story book can be helpful if you are going to be travelling by car with a child between the ages of two and five years old.
- Healthy snacks. Prepare to have plenty of good healthy snacks on hand, such as homemade trail mix, sandwiches, muffins or your child’s favourite fruit to avoid buying sugar filled or fried food options at the airport or highway stops.
Keep in mind that the odd missed nap or later than usual bedtime isn’t the end of the world, but you do want to schedule important outings ahead of time so that your little one does not miss out on quality sleep each day and night. Otherwise, the overtiredness will be sure to show up at some point, which is not fun for you or your child.
- Travel days will be travel days, so just do the best that you can until you arrive at your destination. If you are going on a plane, the goal is for you and your little one to be comfortable until you arrive – if he decides to take a nap and it isn’t his usual nap time – don’t sweat it. Then, once you reach your destination, follow your child’s nap times and bedtimes as usual.
- Separate sleeping space. Just a few nights of sharing a bed with your child when he is not used to sleeping with you can lead to a habit that might become challenging to break once you get back home. Hotels usually have cribs available if you ask, or you can bring a pack and play if you are staying at a friend or family member’s home. Plan for a room with a bed for an older child or purchase a travel bed for toddlers/pre-schoolers if you travel a lot.
Make sure to have other important key sleep items on hand:
- A favourite lovey or blanket;
- Sleep sack for babies – Halo has a variety of fabrics and sizes – www.halosleep.com;
- Sound machine to create a familiar background sound and block any noise while baby sleeps; and/or
- Gro blinds to keep the room nice and dark during sleep times.
If you are travelling to a new time zone, the best thing to do is try and get in line with the new time as quickly as possible. Use sunlight to help keep your child awake and darkness to increase melatonin (sleepy hormone). Both are incredibly helpful strategies for resetting your body’s internal clock. The regular daily routines of meal times, bedtime routines, etc. are extremely helpful in cuing your child’s mind and body for what comes next. For example, if nap time happens right after lunch, following this same routine will help your child adjust very quickly to the new time.
Vacations can happen few and far between during the course of the year. Remember to have a wonderful time away with the most important people in your life!
Still need help with getting more sleep for your family? Check out my upcoming online workshop More Sleep For Baby that will have your baby and you sleeping soon!