Archive for the 'sleep' Category

Daylight Saving Ends this Weekend

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

On early Sunday morning, November 3rd, we will once again roll back the clocks. While this used to mean that you could get an extra hour to snooze on Sunday morning, your little one may not quite be ready to snooze for an extra hour. Worry not, these simple tips for babies (**6 months and older), toddlers and preschoolers will help you stay on track with your good sleep habits. Give your children a few days to settle in to the new time.

1. Put your child(ren) to bed on Saturday night (11/2) at the regular time.

2. Wake up with your child(ren) at the normal wake up time on Sunday morning (11/3).

3. Set your clocks back one hour. This is where you stretch.

4. Put your child(ren) down for the first nap at the regular time per the clock.** This will mean that s/he has been awake a full hour longer during this window and may need some help to stretch. Going outside and getting lots of sunlight and fresh air is a great way to keep kids awake when you’re stretching them.

5. Follow the clock for naps and bedtime from here forward. It can take a few days for your child to fully adjust, so be patient and consistent.

**Younger children may have a harder time stretching a full hour without becoming overtired. In this case it may be better to stretch them 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon or to stretch them slowly over several days. For babies under six months I recommend pulling the entire day’s schedule earlier by 15 minutes for the four days leading up to daylight savings.

***For school-aged children you may want to make the switch a day earlier so they have the weekend to get a jump-start on the adjustment.

daylight savings sleep tips (falling back)

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Do you remember when you used to get so excited to be gaining an extra hour of sleep with the time change? Now, this is often the dreaded time change as parents anticipate early risers will awaken even earlier. Worry not, these simple tips for babies (**6 months and older), toddlers and preschoolers will help you stay on track with your good sleep habits. Give your children a few days to settle in to the new time.

1. Put your child(ren) to bed on Saturday night (11/6) at the regular time.

2. Wake up with your child(ren) at the normal wake up time on Sunday morning (11/7).

3. Set your clocks back one hour. This is where you stretch.

4. Put your child(ren) down for the first nap at the regular time per the clock.** This will mean that s/he has been awake a full hour longer during this window and may need some help to stretch. Going outside and getting lots of sunlight and fresh air is a great way to keep kids awake when you’re stretching them.

5. Follow the clock for naps and bedtime from here forward. It can take a few days for your child to fully adjust, so be patient and consistent.

**Younger children may have a harder time stretching a full hour without becoming overtired. In this case it may be better to stretch them 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon or to stretch them slowly over several days. For babies under six months I recommend pulling the entire day’s schedule earlier by 15 minutes for the four days leading up to daylight savings.

sleep q + a: fearful at bedtime

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Q: My little boy is 2 years 7 months old. He’s always been an amazing sleeper and has rarely, if ever, had trouble going down to sleep. Just recently he has started giving us a very hard time before bed and nap time. It seem like he is afraid of something — he screams and cries for mom or dad (whoever puts him to bed) for close to 30 minutes and then usually collapses from exhaustion. At bath time he will start to say “no night night, no night night.”

A: It is entirely possible that there is something about bedtime that is frightening to a child this age. It may simply be the separation from you (which is long!). Children this age have a very hard time differentiating real from imaginary so any scary content from books, tv or peers can carry over to bedtime. It is important to remove anything that you think might be scaring your child (even if the content is relatively benign). Keep things very light and reassuring. Sometimes kids this age feel a little better if there is a very dim night light in their room. Address common fears about monsters by being very clear that they are not real. Tell him that he can pretend to be a monster by dressing up and even painting his face (like Halloween), but that they aren’t real. Using dramatic play (dressing up as a monster or the thing he is fearful of) is a way to put him in a position of power over his fear and help him to conquer this fear and ultimately sleep better.

It is perfectly fine to sit in a chair in his room until he falls asleep. Reassure him a few times that you will sit until he’s asleep to get him over this hurdle. He will start to fall asleep more quickly and you can move the chair closer to the door and ultimately out of the room. This is a nice way to support him at a difficult time.

It is also possible that the timing of his bedtime is part of the problem, too. Sometimes when children begin protesting anew, it’s because they’re overtired and need an earlier bedtime. His nap should end by 3:30 p.m. and bedtime should therefore be at 8:30 (5 hours later).

Lastly, make sure you have a soothing bedtime ritual that happens at a predictable time every day. If one parent is rushing in from work and doesn’t have much time to connect before bedtime, this could be very disruptive. It is important for children to have at least 45-60 minutes with a parent whom they haven’t seen all day before going to bed, otherwise they will protest that separation more.

sleep q & a: siblings sharing a room

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Q: Our almost 3 year-old and 5 year-old have been sharing a room for the past year and we are still having difficulties getting them to go to sleep when we put them down. We’ve separated their bedtime (but the younger one waits up for the older), we’ve taken away their lovies and night light. We’ve even resorted to spanking on a few occasions (which we hated to do but felt helpless). We have a soothe-to-sleep routine every night. HELP!

A: This is undoubtedly exhausting and frustrating. It can be hard to take a bedtime that is wrought with lots of testing and frustration and turn it into a peaceful process, but it can be done. First, you need to think about how to make it a win-win. Since they are sharing a room you will reward (or not) them as a team. Keep it POSITIVE! Children respond best when they know what to expect and have a clear path to get there.

1. TIMING: Make sure their bedtimes are reasonable. If they are overtired, they will act wired and will be more challenging to get to bed. Similarly, if they are not tired enough, they won’t be sleepy enough to drift off to sleep. Assuming they are not napping during the day (though they may be) they should be ready for bed around 7-7:30 p.m.
2. You have a soothing bedtime routine, so that’s great.
3. STAY CALM AND IN CONTROL. Children get frightened and stressed when we lose control. Spanking is an adult temper tantrum and can be dangerous. Plus is teaches children that violence is a solution. I know you don’t want that. Walk away if you are getting to upset.
4. Have a family meeting to clear the air (apologize for spanking, etc). Explain that you have a plan.
5. Give them back their lovies. Soothing items should never be taken from children as a punishment.
6. If they are genuinely afraid of the dark, the night light is ok. If not, it can help to have the room very dark so they aren’t encouraged to engage one another.
7.Create a reward chart that clearly outlines the behaviors you want to work on (throw in a couple gimmes so there is success). Collaborate with them on a complete list. Celebrate their successes, big and small, as you proceed. Communicate utmost confidence that they CAN do this, even when they fall short.
8. Have a reward that they are working toward. Praise alone can go a long way, but if you feel like a bigger reward might be needed, make it an experience (as opposed to a toy) such as a family trip to the zoo, etc. Be clear about how that can be earned and cheer them on along the way.
9. Give them a few tries to get it right. This means, at bedtime, come back and remind them to go to sleep a few times. “Hey kids, it’s bedtime. I know you can do it and earn a sticker toward our family trip to the zoo. Remember you get three tries to get it right tonight. Good night. I love you.”

swellbeing on chicago’s 190 north

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Our in-home consultation services were just featured on ABC7 Chicago’s 190 North program. If you fast-forward to minute 18 you will see our clip!

190 north clip

giggle guru blog – Sweet Dreams

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Two weeks ago I began blogging for giggle on their giggle gurus blog.  The blog is titled Sweet Dreams, and as you may well have guessed, the topic is sleep.  This blog is in great company with some other fantastic blogs authored by a great network of experts in other arenas, such as child development, organization, healthy eating and creating a green nursery. Please head on over and check them out.

travel sleep tips

Monday, June 7th, 2010

It is that time of year again – the days are getting longer and our long-awaited travel plans are ready to be executed. Whether your plans include travel to distant places or places within an hour or two by car, the impact to your children can be the same – lost sleep!

Children are all such creatures of habit. They like routines and familiarity. This is precisely why our travels are often interrupted by our children’s sudden change in sleep habits, as well as other behavioral changes, such a potty accidents or eating less well. Of course it’s reassuring to know that this is normal, but even more helpful (I hope) are the tips that follow.

Prepare your child for the trip

It can be hard to know exactly how much our children understand at a young age because their receptive language skills (what they understand from us) develop in advance of their expressive language skills (what they communicate to us). As a general rule, I would argue that most children understand more than we give them credit for.

I raise this point because I find it very important to let children know that there is a change of routine coming. Invite their participation in preparing for the trip as much as you can, given their age. For tots 12-18 months this means just talking about going on a trip and saying bye-bye to the pets or house as you leave. With a slightly older child you can help to prepare them by letting them share the responsibility of packing their bag, specifically the things they need for sleep. This might include a cherished blanket, pacifier, tub toys, white noise machine and favorite bedtime books

Bring the unwashed crib sheet

A familiar scent can be particularly comforting for children when they are away from home. As such, I often recommend bringing along the unwashed crib sheet from home for your baby to sleep on. For older toddlers, this is not nearly as important.  If you’re planning to use a pack n’ play, sleep with the fitted sheet that fits the pack ‘n play mattress so it has your familiar and comforting scent.

Unpack together

When you arrive at your destination, spend a few minutes getting the room where your child(ren) will sleep ready. This means setting up the crib/pack ‘n play with the sheet you brought from home and any other sleep aids you may have brought with you (white noise machine, monitor). Have your child with you while you do this. Explain to them that this is where they are going to be sleeping.

Also, take a few minutes to unpack the toys and books you brought along. Play with your child in the room for at least 10-15 minutes so they develop a sense of familiarity and comfort, as well as a positive association with the space.

Leave extra time for your bedtime routine

Since most children are at least a little uneasy about falling asleep in a new environment, it makes good sense to devote extra time at the end of the day winding your child down for sleep. Ten or fifteen extra minutes should suffice. While the order of the routine should remain the same, you might spend a little extra time reading and/or snuggling.

Stay on schedule

I know that one of the great things about being on vacation is being spontaneous and free from scheduling. Unfortunately, children really do much better when they have a schedule that is predictable every day. Therefore, it works best when you are able to keep the routine of your daily schedule when you’re away from home. Of course, you should be able to have a late night here and there, but to the extent that you can preserve your schedule, the better your child will sleep and behave.

Adjust for time zone changes

Unless you intend to be gone for a week or longer, I don’t generally advise changing time zones. Instead, keep your child on local time. If your trip is a week or longer and you’ll be in a different time zone, here is how to proceed:

traveling west: This is always the hardest direction of travel for time changes. You’ll need to stretch your child a little bit every day to get closer to your normal schedule per the local clock. Children one-year-old and older can likely stretch one hour each day (less for younger babies). The first few days, however, they will have a very early bedtime and an early start to the day, per the local clock. The stretching begins from the time they first wake up until their first nap. If that interval is normally 2.5 hours, then you’ll try to make it 3 hours.  You will stretch another half hour in the afternoon.  By the end of the day, you should have gotten their bedtime one hour later than the night before. Proceed until you get them on local time, or as close to it as you deem reasonable given the length of the trip.

traveling east: This is much easier. Simply put your child to bed at their regular bedtime at home (this will be later per the local clock) and wake your child up the next morning at the normal wake up time per the local clock. This means your child will be shortchanged on sleep that night by the total number of time zones crossed. Proceed with your normal schedule per the local clock.

Above all, enjoy yourselves.

lingering effects of early sleep deprivation

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

A recent short piece in the New York Times Magazine titled “Infant Sleep is Destiny” showcased the research of Bernier and Carlson. In their research they concluded that there is a longer term effect of infant sleep deprivation (aside from the immediate effect on executive functioning). They reported that as toddlers, the same babies who didn’t get good quality sleep as infants showed signs of lingering effects to their executive functioning. I disagree with the article’s closing comment about there not being anywhere to turn to get advice about what to do if you have a poor sleeper. Helping sleepy babies and toddlers (+ parents) is precisely what we do well!

daylight savings sleep tips

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

It’s daylight savings time again. This time of year I receive many calls from parents wondering how to keep their child from getting up way too early in the morning. Worry not, these simple tips for babies (6 months and older) and toddlers will help you stay on track with your good sleep habits. Give your children a few days to settle in to the new time.

1. Put your child(ren) to bed on Saturday night (10/31) at the regular time.

2. Wake up with your child(ren) at the normal wake up time on Sunday morning (11/1).

3. Set your clocks back one hour. This is where you stretch.

4. Put your child(ren) down for the first nap at the regular time per the clock.** This will mean that s/he has been awake a full hour longer during this window and may need some help to stretch. Going outside and getting lots of sunlight and fresh air is a great way to keep kids awake when you’re stretching them.

5. Follow the clock for naps and bedtime from here forward. It can take a few days for your child to fully adjust, so be patient and consistent.

**Younger children may have a harder time stretching a full hour without becoming overtired. In this case it may be better to stretch them 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon or to stretch them slowly over several days.

gumdrop pacifier

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Shortly after the birth of my first daughter, my husband and I hemmed and hawed about whether to introduce a pacifier.  We worried that our daughter would have nipple confusion or become addicted and we’d one day have to pull it and go through a torturous withdrawal process.  Well, no nipple confusion, but she did most definitely fall in love with the pacifier.  This love affair ended up being such a great thing for her and getting rid of the pacifier was so much less painful than we had imagined.

So, when our second daughter was born this summer, we quickly reached for the pacifier as our trusty soothing device.  Much to our dismay, she spat out each and every one and would only suck on our fingers.  We tried and tried and tried.  On one particularly bad night I ran to the internet looking for the pacifier that would allow my daughter the sucking for soothing she clearly needed that was neither our finger or my breast.  And I found it.  It’s called the Gumdrop Pacifier.

I am a firm believer that babies need to suck for soothing and that this is one way to trigger the soothing reflex.  If you are one of those parents who worries that there is something wrong with using a pacifier, I would argue that you could be doing your child a big favor and could find yourself having a more contented baby.