It’s that time of the year again! Holidays, New Year’s, school is out, and some are even taking vacations and family trips. While it’s great to take a break from the daily routine and get away, with the little ones this often means more work than not. Breaking from their regular routine can cause some hiccups along the way, especially with their sleep. It’s hard to keep to their schedule, but sometimes even the smallest things we can do to maintain normality will help avoid the major regressions and make it a little “easier” to travel.
Below are a few of my recommendations to help avoid major sleep regressions while traveling:
1. Book your travel around nap times: If your baby still naps, try to schedule the flight or drive around his naptime. Ideally he would nap on the go, so he can catch up on some of the day sleep that he needs.
2. Sleep Space: Often times when traveling it’s hard to accommodate everyone’s sleep space, especially when staying at a relative’s house. If possible, bring a travel pack-n-play for your little one so that you don’t start creating a new habit of co-sleeping. If there’s no extra room for your baby, try to set up a sleep space as best as you can. Perhaps a corner, a hallway, or even a breathable walk-in closet with the door open. Try to create the environment that is most conducive to sleeping; like making it dark, no screens/TV’s, and the right temperature.
3. Bring the essentials: Trying to replicate his sleep environment will help with the transition to the new space. Consider packing his crib sheets, a few extra loveys and pacifiers, his white noise machine and if possible, a few of his favorite books and toys.
4. Try to keep to the schedule with a little flexibility: Keeping to your child’s schedule and routine while being on vacation is hard, especially now with the holidays. We tend to be up later, have more family gatherings and meals; we’re even out sightseeing the whole day. You can still try to keep to his feeding and nap schedule as best as you can in order to avoid major tantrums. If there’s no time change, it should be easier to stop for a quick lunch when he needs it, or when it’s nap time, perhaps take him for a stroll in the car/stroller if you aren’t home. Ideally, the more naps you can offer your child in his crib, the better, as this will allow for longer/deeper sleep. If you know you’ll be out all day, try to squeeze in his morning nap at home before you go out. If his naps were short and on the go during the day, try to come home for an earlier bedtime.
5. Give some time to acclimate to new sleep space: When arriving to your new location, try to give your child some time to get used to the new space. Perhaps take out some toys and books, and allow your child to crawl/walk around the room, play, and familiarize himself so that when bedtime comes around, he’s already used to the new environment.
Try to enjoy this time with your loved ones as best as you can. Travel and change will always cause some regression, but nothing that can’t be fixed once home. Try to stick to the tips mentioned above, and when you’re back home, more importantly, make sure to go back to your regular sleep habits.
Watching your child wake in the middle of the night screaming and crying from a nightmare is hard to do. We want to be able to calm our child down and reassure them that everything’s OK. But often times, what your child may be experiencing isn’t a nightmare, but a night terror. Many of my Clients confuse night terrors and nightmares, and then in turn don’t know how to respond and avoid them from happening again. It’s important to know what causes a nightmare and night terror, and how to respond to your child for each scenario.
Nightmares occur when your child is dreaming in REM sleep, which happens at the end of the sleep cycle. These often start happening between the ages of 2-5 when their imagination starts growing, and they are learning the difference between what’s real and what’s not. When your child is having a nightmare they will call for you, and seek for your comfort. They will be awake and able to communicate what is bothering them, and the following morning they can continue expressing their feelings about what happened the night before. It may take some time to comfort them in the middle of the night, but eventually with some reassurance they will calm down. Nightmares are very common and are apart of a child’s development. Of course, nightmares are more common after a scary situation or if your child has recently gone through a tough situation.
Make sure to:
Avoid TV and screens 1 hour before bedtime.
Avoid scary shows, videos, games, and books.
Respond to your child when she’s having a nightmare, quickly and reassure her.
Have your child get enough sleep, as being overtired can increase nightmares.
Unlike nightmares, when your child is experiencing a night terror she will not be aware or conscious of it, nor will she remember it the next day. Night terrors occur during NON-REM sleep (coming out of the deep part of sleep), usually within 2 hours of her falling asleep. Night terrors are NOT nightmares; they are not bad dreams and do not occur during the “dream part of sleep.” It is mainly your child getting “stuck” transitioning from one sleep cycle to the next. Night terrors also sometimes occur during a developmental leap. They are more common in boys, and occur in 5% of all children.
Here your child will also scream or cry out and appear a little anxious. However in this case, your child is often inconsolable. Whatever you try to do to calm your child down just doesn’t work; she doesn’t seem to be responding to your voice or hugs. A night terror usually doesn’t last more than about 15 minutes. The good thing is your child will not remember this the next morning. Ideally, since your child isn’t really awake, you are to leave your child be and let her transition to the next sleep cycle on her own. Often interfering can cause more harm, so just monitor her from afar making sure she’s safe through the episode and not getting hurt (i.e. falling out of bed).
Make sure to:
Keep your child on a regular sleep schedule, as lack of sleep can cause night terrors.
Allow for an earlier bedtime (even if by only 30 minutes) so your child can catch up on sleep.
Avoid screens 1 hour before bedtime.
If your child is having consistent night terrors, keep a log to see if there’s a pattern.
If there’s a pattern to your child’s night terrors (always happening at the same time each night), you can wake her briefly 15 minutes before the time of night terror, in order to help her transition to the sleep cycle without experiencing a night terror.
As you can see night terrors and nightmares are very different, and require different responses. It’s important to understand the difference and be able to identify them in your children.
This summer the time came for my third, and last child to drop his nap. Dropping the nap is always the hardest for the child and the parent. This was the time I would do phone calls, work, clean up the house, or even just take a break and eat a meal and shower. The truth is once my eldest dropped his nap almost 6 years ago, it’s never been the same, you’re “on” the whole day! But somehow this time around, I guess I was more resistant, maybe cause he’s #babyj.
The decision came two-fold; he’s over the age of 3, and he’ll be starting full day school now in August. Unfortunately, our school doesn’t allow for naps at this age, so it was time to remove. Also, I started to see the signs that he was sorta ready; not wanting to go to sleep (but eventually did fall asleep much later), and bedtime started getting later and later.
So how do you know when your child is ready to drop the nap?
1. He is between the ages of 3-4 years old.
2. He is fighting the nap.
3. Taking longer and longer to fall asleep, which leads to a later naptime.
4. Completely refuses the nap all together – even after leaving him in the crib for a full hour.
5. Bedtime has now become an issue, where he is not ready to sleep and/or falling asleep much later and later (because nap started too late).
How do you remove the nap?
· Don’t go cold turkey: It’s very hard for your child to go from nap to no nap. Going 12 hour days can become exhausting and they will need a nap every so often to catch up.
· Shorten nap: If your child is falling asleep, just doing it later, make sure to cut the nap short. Don’t allow your child to take a 2-hour nap starting at 2:00 as that will definitely push bedtime much later. Wake him up after 45 minutes.
· Catch up naps: Offer a nap every other day so that your child can catch up on sleep. The full days can affect your child’s mood and they will get too tired and cranky. A nap every so often will help him feel rested.
· Quiet time replaces nap: If your child is no longer napping at all, he will still need some downtime. Have your child lay in his crib/bed for some quiet time every day. He can read books or play quietly (with legos, coloring books, or any calm activity), but the idea is that he is alone, in a quiet, non-stimulating space. TV and Ipad’s are not suggested. Quiet time doesn’t need to last a full hour, but even if it’s a few minutes (15-30 a day) it can really help him.
· Move bedtime earlier: When your toddler was napping, bedtime was probably closer to 8:00 p.m. or so. Now that he will no longer be napping, you will find that the afternoons will a little bit of a struggle. Do your best to get the evening routine done a little sooner and have him in bed earlier. By early I mean, anywhere between 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Once your child is used to being awake the whole day, and is a little older, you can then adjust bedtime to later.
Remember: Removing the nap so he “can sleep longer and better at night” is FALSE. This can actually create the opposite effect. Also, make sure your child is completely refusing and showing signs of dropping his nap for about 1-2 weeks before you remove it completely.
This is the most common question you will get as the parent of a newborn baby: Does your child sleep through the night? It's not about her favorite toy or whether she likes to take a bath. The first thing on people's minds is whether she sleeps.
We all know that sleep is important for our health. But it’s also important for our being. We can’t be our best selves when we lack sleep. Our relationships with our spouses, with friends, and even with our own kids are compromised when we don’t sleep enough.
The problem is that our babies aren’t born sleeping through the night for 12 hours straight. As newborns, they just can’t sleep for long stretches. And that means our sleep will be broken up too.
The good news is that this doesn’t have to last very long. Once your baby is of “sleep training age” you can work on getting her sleeping better. But how? What does that mean? When? With all these questions we turn to books, internet (be careful with what you read!), friends, pediatricians and then before we know it our heads are spinning because we’ve had so many different opinions thrown at us.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Your child might not be ready. Every child is different, and we can’t expect them all to develop exactly the same way; so too with sleep. Still, there are some guidelines for when you can expect to start sleep training. Anything younger than 4 months is a definite no, and anything after 6 months is a go! Between 4 and 6 months, some parents will find positive results in sleep training their child, but not all.
2. You don’t have to stop breastfeeding to do sleep training. Many nursing moms feel that they will have to give up nursing in order to get their child sleeping longer and better. This is not true. Speaking as a mom of 3 who nursed all while still doing sleep training, it is possible! You can definitely nurse as long as you want, while doing sleep training. What we work on is removing the nursing to sleep association.
3. Is my only option to do the “Cry It Out” method? No. You do not have to do this method. What you do need to know is that your child will cry for at least part of the learning process. But you do not need to leave her crying by herself the whole night with no response from you. Instead, you can be in the room to comfort your child, while removing all sleep crutches and helping her learn how to put herself to sleep.
4. So, what does sleep training involve? When you sleep train your child, you are having her learn how to put herself to sleep at the onset of sleep, so she can do it again--by herself--in the middle of the night. The key is putting her down awake in her crib, and responding consistently throughout the process. If she’s already asleep when she is put down in her crib, she will not have the opportunity to learn how to put herself to sleep. And if you start responding inconsistently (leaving her to cry one time, then later picking her up, and then feeding her, etc.) this will only confuse her more and will result in inconsistent sleep behavior on her part as well.
5. What if my child still needs to feed at night? You can still improve her sleep! It is commonly recommended to remove all night feeds starting at the age of 6 months; however, there are parents that aren’t ready to do that, and sometimes a pediatrician might recommend keeping them. That’s OK! You can still have your child sleep longer stretches, and feed when needed.
So what’s my next step?
Rule out any medical concerns, and get your pediatrician’s approval.
Make sure your child is over the age of 19 weeks (adjusted age).
Contact me to set up your consultation and we can begin the process!
It’s that time again… when we change the clocks, but this time an hour ahead. This change isn’t as bad as when we moved our clocks back an hour last Fall. However, the 1 hour difference still makes an impact on our little one’s schedule.
Often times parents are happy with this change, as the early risers are now waking up later. For others, it may not have an effect at all. Regardless, you want to know what to do should it change your child’s sleep pattern.
What Can I Do?
Gradual Approach: For the younger babies, or the children who have a harder time adjusting to the change, this option may be best. Starting the week before you want to make sure you start moving your child’s schedule by 15 minute increments. That means all feeds and naps should be pushed later by 15 minutes every couple of days. So that while you may have your child going to sleep later for a few days, by the time Sunday comes around your child will be adjusted to the new time.
Cold Turkey Approach: With this approach, you automatically adjust to the new time on Sunday. As soon as your child wakes up that morning, you go by their regular schedule according to the new time.
You can help adjusting your child’s circadian rhythm by the exposure to light. You want to make sure you avoid bright lights/sunlight in the evening ex: TV’s and screens. And in turn in the morning when they do wake up, you can begin your day any time after 6:00 a.m. and expose them to the sunlight outside.
Extra shades/black out curtains are crucial this time around. It will get darker later at night, and brighter earlier in the morning. Try to cover as best as possible those windows, so that no sunlight comes in.
Remember that with the new time change, we will be losing an hour, so those first few days when you put your child down at the new bedtime, they may not be ready to go to sleep just yet. Try to be a little flexible perhaps in the timing of bedtime those first few nights, and always remember to respond consistently.
DBA means Drowsy But Awake. If you’ve read aaalllll the sleep books and blogs out there, you know they all talk about this concept: “drowsy but awake.” In order to have your child sleeping through the night, he must be placed into the crib drowsy but awake. The problem is that most people misunderstand this concept. Then, when they try to implement it, they don't even realize they're doing it wrong.
When sleep training your child, you are teaching him how to put himself to sleep at the onset of sleep so that he can do it again in the middle of the night. If your child isn’t putting himself to sleep at bedtime, it is unfair to expect him to put himself back to sleep at 2:00 a.m.
For your child to learn the skill of putting himself to sleep, you must give him the opportunity. Entering the crib fully asleep after being rocked to sleep defeats this purpose. This means your baby must be placed into the crib “drowsy but awake” so he can learn how to put himself to sleep.
How do I do it, and make sure I do it right?
You want to do the bedtime routine at the right time--not too late. Waiting till the last minute to start the process is already too late.
Once you are done with feeding and the bedtime routine, lay your child down in the crib awake, not asleep. Make sure not to rock or hold him too long, or feed him to a drowsy state.
If your child is awake when you are done with the routine, you don’t need to hold him until he gets to a drowsy state. In fact, the more awake, the better.
On a scale from 1-10 (1 being awake and 10 being asleep), your child should not be past a “6." So if your child is drowsy, make sure he’s not too drowsy where his eyes are closing and he’s struggling to stay awake.
Finally, if you child is falling asleep “within a minute,” he is entering the crib too drowsy. Often parents say, “oh, he was awake and as soon as I put him down he just turned over and fell right asleep.” If that's happening, he’s too sleepy when you put him in. On average, it takes up to 15 minutes for a child to put himself to sleep. So if he really fell asleep within a couple of minutes, then he was more asleep than drowsy but awake.
You can start practicing DBA with your baby as young as 2 months. At this point you will still need to assist your little one in putting himself to sleep, as he is still too young to learn how to self-soothe. But you can definitely start practicing!
Sometimes parents are rushing to get their child out of the crib and into a big boy bed. What parents don’t realize is that moving them too soon can really affect their sleep. It isn’t recommended to transition your child too soon. Removing the rails of the crib, and having the bed open is a very big change for your child. The familiarity and the confinement of the crib provides a sense of security that your little one has had since birth. You know your child best, so think about how much your child understands and can express themselves. Moving a 2-year-old into a bed, when he’s just not cognitively developed to understand the new bedtime rules while enjoying the freedom, will only cause more bedtime issues.
Before transitioning your son into a bed, I would make sure he is already sleeping well. Is he putting himself to sleep without any issues at bedtime? Is he sleeping through the night? Is he waking up at a reasonable time? If your child is having sleep issues, moving him into a bed won’t necessarily “resolve” the issue, it often can make it worse. While before you had a child crying in the crib, you will now have a child running out of the bed and into the living room, where you will find yourself having to bring him back and forth to bed.
Please do not consider moving your little one if and when…
A sibling is born and you need the crib for the newborn
Moving, so might as well transition him to a new house in a new bed
Your friends are doing it, so you should too.
If your child…
Is at least 3 years old
Can put themselves to sleep with no issues
Is sleeping through the night regularly
Wakes up for the day at reasonable time and does not have early rising.
Or of course, is jumping out of the crib and you have tried to safely keep him in there with sleep training methods that are now unsuccessful.
Then you can transition him to a bed. Below are 7 recommendations on how to make the transition smoother:
Involve your child in the room change. Have him pick out the new bed sheets, and any new décor/bed that is involved with his new sleep space.
Sit down with your child and have a “family meeting”to talk about this new step. Explain to him in a positive note what is happening and what the bedtime rules are. Perhaps leverage in an older sibling or cousin to explain how he too now is a big boy!
Create a manners chart. Make sure to create this together and keep it on a positive note. Discuss what the reward system will be for the sleep manners in his new bed. For example: At bedtime, I will lay down quietly. Reward: a sticker
Behavioral Tot Clock. This is great for the toddlers who can’t tell time yet, but know the difference between day and night. These clocks use programmed color lights/images to show the child when it’s bedtime and when it’s OK to wake up and get out of bed. Make sure that as parents you reinforce this daily. My favorite one is the Good Nite Lite.
Consider putting up a safety gate at the doorway of the room. With the crib railings down, you may want to consider putting the gate at the doorway to not only confine the space safely so your child can’t roam about the house in the middle of the night. But it also creates a crib like feeling to the entire room.
Make sure the bed has a railing as well. Until your child gets used to sleeping in a bed without the crib rails, you want to make sure you put up a bed rail. You can perhaps put the bed against the wall, so she'll have protection on both sides, and not fall out. The bed rail still allows the child to get in and out of his bed comfortably.
Respond consistently. With toddlers, unlike babies, they are constantly looking to test the boundaries, while still needing them. It is up to us as the parents and caregivers to provide those boundaries and respond consistently. They will soon learn how to push them and figure out “what is right and what is wrong.” Make sure that as he gets used to his new sleep space, you respond consistently giving him some time to adjust.
Many children use the pacifier to soothe themselves to sleep and end up keeping it around for a while. Parents then come to me and ask, when do we get rid of the pacifier?
I’ll start off by saying that if your child does take to the pacifier, it’s not necessarily a “bad” thing. For those first few months, the sucking sensation for newborns is calming and soothing, and crucial for a newborn. More importantly, the AAP has said that pacifiers are known to reduce the risk of SIDS. Once they know how to re-plug themselves (at around 9 months), they can do it often during the day and at night, and no longer depend on you.
So when’s the ideal time to get rid of the paci?
Before beginning sleep training, I often tell my Clients they have a choice to keep or remove the pacifier. If your child is 9 months or younger, it is OK to proceed with the sleep training without the pacifier. Once your child is 12 months or older, I don’t recommend removing the pacifier as they have already created a dependency on it.
I usually recommend getting rid of the paci once your child is older, closer to age 3. At this point you can have a conversation with your child to explain what is going to happen, and chances are she’ll understand.
Getting rid of the paci
When you are going to get rid of the pacifier, make sure you don’t do it at the same time a new sibling has been born, you’ve moved, or any major change in your child’s life.
If your child is one to have the binky with her all day, you can start limiting it to sleep only and leaving it inside the crib. Once she awakes from naps or in the morning, the pacifier must stay inside the crib.
Make sure to have a conversation with your child to explain how big girls no longer use the paci. Perhaps have your child visit the dentist so he can explain it to her. Make sure to have these conversations a few days before beginning, so as to prep her.
After having the conversation and reading some books, you can then sit with your child and decide what she’d like to do with it. She can “give it away” to a baby who needs it, trade it in for a special toy from the paci fairy, or even put it inside a special stuffed bear (like Build a Bear) and then she’ll always have it with her.
Whenever you do decide to remove the pacifier, just be prepared for a few rough nights. Make a plan and stick to it consistently. Try your best not to go back and stick to it for a few days. Good luck!
Bringing home a newborn can be overwhelming. Whether you are a first time parent or repeat, it’s exhausting. So many emotions combined with a lack of sleep can really take a toll on parents. I often get calls from desperate mothers on how they are ready to do sleep training ASAP. The thing is, your newborn can’t and shouldn’t go through any form of sleep training at such a young age. Those first few months (0-4), your baby does not produce melatonin (a calming hormone that helps control his awake and sleep windows), so they will need assistance in falling asleep and staying asleep.
Sleep is necessary for newborns (and really anyone), as they work on their immune system, growth, and memory. Newborns shouldn’t be awake for more than 1-1.5 hours at a time, as being awake for too long can overstimulate your child. That is why for those first few months while your newborn relies on you for EVERYTHING, I always tell parents do whatever you need to do to get your child sleeping. There is no such thing as creating a “bad habit” at this age. You want to take advantage and rely on all of those sleep crutches to assist your baby in falling asleep and staying asleep.
Dr. Karp’s 5 S’s:
Dr. Harvey Karp, author of Happiest Baby on the Block, developed the “5 S’s” method, which helps your newborn sleep. Try to use one (or all) of these methods in helping your newborn to fall and stay asleep as needed.
3. Side lying
Your newborn will also wake often in the middle of the night. Research suggests that these frequent wake ups are essential for their survival, as they are a signal for a need to be met - for feeds, help in regulating their temperature, and regulating their breathing.
1 month – 3-4x a night
2 months – 2-3x a night
3 months – 1-2x a night
And remember, while these days and nights seem never ending, try to enjoy it all as much as you can because when your child gets older, it is recommended to remove these crutches and teach your child how to fall asleep (and stay asleep) without your assistance.
Loveys. Pacifiers. Sucking of thumb. Just a few examples of what's known as a security object. A security object is there to give your little one a sense of security and comfort while you aren't there with him. The sucking, holding, grabbing, smelling, squeezing of whatever that object is brings a sense of security and enables the child to self-soothe and self-settle without relying on someone.
It's suggested to introduce a security object to your little one as soon as you can. The more you expose your child to it, the greater the chances he will take to it and then will have it when you are doing the sleep training. As far as which one? Below I list the different kinds with the pros/cons of each.
Pacifiers are great for newborns as the sucking really relieves the fussiness. The issue with pacifiers is that until your child can re-plug on his own in the middle of the night, you will have to do it for him. The pincer grasp comes around 9 months, and until then your child will depend on you to re-plug. The good thing about pacifiers, as opposed to thumb-sucking, you can limit/control when he has the pacifier as well as remove it at a later point.
Contrary to the pacifier, the thumb (or fingers) are always accessible to your child. This makes self-soothing really easy for your child to do at any point during day or night. He will be able to decide when he needs to suck to soothe himself and when not to and not rely on you. The issue with this is that you can't remove/stop your child from sucking his thumb. While it is possible at a later age to have him stop sucking his thumb (just like the pacifier), until then he will be able to do it at any point.
Blankets are most often used as security objects. Often times it's the special one grandma made or the soft one a friend gave us. With blankets you want to make sure that they are safe, first and foremost. Sometimes they are too big or too thick which can be hazardous. You also want to make sure that if it is a special blankie that you can get more of the same kind. Because if we lose the one, well then what?
Loveys are small little blankies often with something attached- like an animal. They are often small and light, but very soft and cuddly. These are a "newer" version of the blankie, and often less hazardous as they are smaller and lighter than a blanket.
Regardless of which security object you choose to give your little one, please remember the following:
Must be safe and not hazardous that can cause suffocation or strangulation.
Purchase 3-4 of the same kind, so you have backups in case you leave one on the plane!
Make sure you rotate them, so they are all equally "used" at all times.
When introducing the security object try to perhaps sleep with it or hold it while feeding so the object attracts some of your familiar smell.
Keep on introducing it to your baby. It takes more than 1 day for your child to get attached to it.
Be advised that the AAP does not recommend anything in the crib under the age of 12 months. Choosing a security object for your child is a personal decision. Please always make sure that it is safe for your child.
Read Full Article
Read for later
Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
Scroll to Top
Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.