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!
Do you ever feel like your home circulates between one virus after the other? Having young children can leave parents and little ones battling any combination of sore throats, stomach bugs and the sniffles. Sleep is such a powerful tool with amazing immune boosting benefits which is why it is important to optimize sleep as much as possible during illness. Following these tips will ensure that children are feeling better as quickly as possible.
Get more sleep.
When children are run down and sick, their sleep needs increase. Earlier bedtimes are necessary – even five or six o’clock is not too early, especially if they are running a fever – their body needs it and they will wake-up at their usual morning time or perhaps sleep in to fight off the illness. The body is incredibly smart and signals what it needs to recover.
Providing older children with a daytime nap is also helpful. As a mom to an active five year old, understand how there can sometimes be a struggle with encouraging children who no longer nap, to take one. Make sure children understand the importance of sleep and how it helps them recover more quickly. They will be able to participate in fun activities, feel more energetic and get rid of the sick symptoms more quickly if they listen to how their body – it is telling them to sleep in order to get better. Explaining it to them in simple terms, and always educating children on why sleep is important is key!
Keep them comfortable.
Being sick includes a number of ways that contribute to children feeling uncomfortable – a stuffy nose, bad cough, chest congestion or a stomach ache are just a few. Not to mention how these symptoms only worsen at night, it is important to provide reassurance and support and to make the environment as comfortable as possible.
If children have a fever, a bath is extremely helpful to bring the temperature down and to help them feel more relaxed for sleep.
Make sure that babies have comfortable pajamas and a sleep sack that isn’t going to become too warm during the night. For older children in a bed, provide them with blankets that they can easily pull on or off during the night.
If you do not have one, invest in a dehumidifier for each child (it is likely that they will be sick at the same time). I recommend a cool mist one, as they are safer. This helps with the flow of air in the room, and helps alleviate a bad cough, sore throat or stuffy nose.
If you are comfortable with doing so, providing age appropriate medicine is extremely helpful temporarily when children are feeling at their worst. There are some excellent homeopathic options on the market as well. It is always important to consult your pediatrician or family doctor to find out what they recommend.
Keep sleep in a familiar environment.
If children normally sleep independently in a crib or bed, this is not the time to have them sleep in a new space, such as the parent’s bed. It is always best to move to the sleep environment where they are going to have the best quality sleep. For example, place a mattress on the floor and be with them so that they can sleep where they will receive the best rest – this will speed up their recovery process and parents are still available should they need them during the night.
Trust your intuition.
Sometimes children need a bit of help on the road to getting well. It was not long ago that we had to make a trip to the hospital for our two and a half year old son who had a severe case of croup. Never question your intuition. Sickness can sometimes be more serious and if that is the case, a visit to the family doctor or using one of these resources to help get little ones get better more quickly may be necessary.
Here it is! The Sound Of Sleep Christmas Sleep Guide!
I have created a Sleep Guide – just for you – so that you can help your little one sleep a little more soundly as we approach 2017. This guide is a mix of my favourite products and must-do sleep strategies for any child. By the way there is a VERY SPECIAL GIVEAWAY included in this list that may just get you and your child closer to a full night of sleep very soon!
Make it early
When you are determining an appropriate bedtime for your child, make sure that it is early, especially if he is extremely fussy or has frequent melt downs. Bedtime needs to happen between the hours of 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Why? There are a few good reasons.
- Your child needs 11-13 hours of consolidated night time sleep every night up until the age of 10.
- An early bedtime is essential for your child to feel happy, healthy and energetic throughout the day.
- Getting enough night time sleep helps brain development and growth in babies and keeps older children feeling focused and at their best all day long.
- A late bedtime leads to disruptive sleep patterns and frequent wake-ups throughout the night, leaving your little one feeling exhausted the next day.
To make bedtime earlier, you may need to move an activity to the weekend or get home a bit earlier to have your little one in bed at an appropriate time. And don’t forget the bonus of getting your child to bed by 8:00 p.m. – a couple of hours in the evening to have for yourselves!
Give your angel a HALO
To keep your little one cozy all night long put them in a sleep sack. I absolutely adore the HALO company. They supply sleep sacks that come in a variety of styles and fabrics and help to keep your baby safe and warm, eliminating the worry of loose blankets in bed or toddlers leaping over crib rails. Find a sleep sack for every child:
- For newborns the Swaddle is best and you can keep hands in or out before they begin to roll.
- Toddlers have freedom with their feet out by using the Early Walkers .
- There is even one for Big Kids in a bed!
To have peace of mind and know that your child is tucked in comfortably for the night, these wearable blankets are a worthwhile purchase.
If your child is dependent on the use of an external item to help him fall asleep, then it will prevent him from developing an internal self-soothing strategy on his own. Some of the most common sleep props include falling asleep in one of the following ways:
- Feeding by bottle or breast.
- Motion (rocking, going for a car ride, bouncing).
- Needing a parent to lay with him to fall asleep.
When I meet a family struggling with their child going to bed or waking frequently, a prop is always present. Once we eliminate the prop, the child is able to sleep well and independently on his own.
Parents can compare this to how they fall asleep at night. We close our eyes and within 15-20 minutes we quickly enter into a peaceful slumber. We want our children to have this skill as well so that falling asleep is easy and prop-free, allowing for a consolidated and restorative sleep straight through the night!
Teach your child to tell the time
If you have a child over the age of two years old, getting him a clock will help him learn when it is time to wake up and when it is time for sleep. To do this, you have a couple of options:
- Make him familiar with number 7 and then get him a digital clock and cover up the minutes; then when the clock changes to the “magic 7” it is time to wake up!
- One of my favourite products is the Gro Clock. It has a screen that turns blue with stars when it is sleep time, and changes to a yellow sun when it is time to wake up. You can set it for a proper wake-up time in the morning and for naps. Your little one will be excited to let you know that his “sun is up!”
Sometimes you just need a little help
What can you do as a parent when you have tried every tip and trick but find yourself really struggling? It may have been months or even years since you have last experienced a solid 8 hours of sleep without being woken several times in the night. It is true that like everything else, sometimes you just need an expert to help you figure it out. Why?
- A Sleep Consultant can provide you with the support that you need and a clear plan to set you on the straight path to sweet dreams soon!
- We determine the reason why your child is struggling and what needs to be done to resolve it once and for all!
If any of this is resonating with you and you are tired of being tired, then enter to win my special Christmas Giveaway! A Private Sleep Consultation Package with me to help you get on track!
- A Customized Sleep Plan for your child.
- 1-Hour Private Consultation by phone or via Zoom.
- 2-15 minute calls
- Unlimited email support for the first week of implementing your child’s Customized Sleep Plan.
To learn more about the benefits of working with a consultant, read about other families success stories.
Enter your name here for a chance to win! A name will be announced on Thursday, December 15, 2016.
There you have it! My best list of strategies, leading you to a happy and healthy night’s sleep! Best of luck to all of you who entered for your chance to WIN!
Wishing you all a merry and restful Christmas holiday with your families! Sweet dreams for a blessed 2017.